The Element To Which We Belong

Yesterday I co-led an intention-setting retreat with my friend and yoga teacher Hannah Leatherbury.  We had lovely participants and an inspiring day of opening to allowing and receiving our heart’s visions for 2012 in the serene setting of Soul Source (

It was amazing to see and feel the change in people over the course of the day…Faces that had been tired, uncertain, and holding the stresses of daily life at the beginning of the day were soft and beaming at the end.

One person talked about how she has pushed her natural tendencies as a healer to the side for many years because of other people’s uncomfortable reactions to her gifts, but is being called in a way she can’t refuse to do healing work with people now.  Her joy and excitement about moving forward on this path were palpable.

Her story reminded me of a poem by Rilke that describes the beauty and grace of the swan when it moves from land, where it is awkward, to the water, where it belongs.

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.

-Translated by Robert Bly

Here’s a beautiful essay by David Whyte about the poem and his experience as the swan.

May we all have an opportunity this week to experience the ease and joy of moving toward the element to which we belong.



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