Gifts from Gisela

Gifts from Gisela

By Chelsea Wakefield

I just returned from a weekend retreat/training with the remarkable Gisela De Domenico, creator of Sand Tray World Play  It was a training, so I learned a lot, but the weekend was really for me.  It was good to be a participant rather than a leader this weekend.  I rested into Gisela’s good teaching and the safe, expansive space she generates.  Eight women gathered in the glorious Blue Ridge Mountains, with autumn ablaze around us, to enter the realm of story and archetype and the pathos of our lives.

Gisela reminded us that we live in a culture that seeks to avoid suffering.   We want quick fixes, to feel better fast.  We deny that the swamplands of existence are part of the terrain of life and that the gifts born of vulnerability and defeat are as important as those born of power and victory.  Those who cannot bear unbearable sorrow are limited in their capacity to dream impossible dreams and embrace profound joy.  And so this small group sifted through our collective and individual pain, celebrated life and re-created ourselves anew.  I find that just being with Gisela, in her wise, gentle, playful essence expands my capacity to dance with life.

The leaves fluttering down at 4500 feet were a stunning gold this weekend.  A time of letting go.  The cycle of life continues whether we fight it or flow with it.   We are shaped by every event and encounter.  The meaning of those events changes over time.  Our stories evolve as we do.  The important thing in life is not to get stuck in any one interpretation, or favored story, or an identity that no longer serves us. In the barren places of life, it is hard to trust that life will ever be green again, but spring does come.  Clinging to the past does not bring back what was once wonderful.  It only obscures our capacity to see something unexpectedly wonderful coming to us in new ways.  You have to trust that life always comes bearing gifts.  Open your eyes and see the gifts at hand.

A lot of leaves let go of their limbs this weekend and as they fluttered down around me I felt myself releasing old hurts that have cluttered my heart and clouded my vision.… I created some worlds in the sand that allowed me to see how much wisdom and strength have come from experiences where I felt struck by the lightening of life and was forced to part with things that I desperately wanted to cling to.    Sometimes it takes a while to see the gifts and feel the grace.  Today I am grateful for all of it and I am reminded of the following poem.

The Lesson of the Falling Leaves

by Lucille Clifton

the leaves believe

such letting go is love

such love is faith

such faith is grace

such grace is God

I agree with the leaves

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