Equinox – The Balance Point
In the Reiki tradition, there’s a graphic symbol for harmony – for balance. Sei hei ki. To me, it looks like a dancer, or maybe something winged, and I’ve heard that to draw it well requires open, relaxed and sweeping gestures. People who know and practice Reiki use this symbol with clients who are living in the wake of trauma, recovering from addiction, or lifting out of depression. They say it helps the Reiki process restore equilibrium and creativity to body, mind and spirit.
This is where we humans on the planet are in the turning of the season – at spring equinox, a balance point. The sei hei ki symbol may be especially relevant to our days in the change from winter to spring, from COVID times into what comes next.
With a year gone by, we’re tired. We all want COVID to be over, but we know it’s not – yet. We want our vaccines to be enough to protect us from here on, to open our lives up to each other and that joy that seemed more accessible – before. It probably wasn’t more accessible or plentiful, but there is no denying how overwhelmed we’ve been through the COVID year by the steadily increasing heaviness, the inertia, the meaninglessness. The vaccines will help, but they won’t restore what we imagine as the good time before. They can’t. We’re different, now.
A young scientist friend said yesterday, “The people in my neighborhood are at the lowest yet. But at the same time, we’re all seeing this little glimmer of hope.” She offered this after talking about her professional work – her nearness to data that show how the virus mutates to form viable variants. “Of course, we don’t really know what this means except that we’ve got to keep paying attention and learning from this super crafty life form.”
So, the balance. We want to be realistic, as prepared and preventative as possible. And we want to play. We want to laugh and, heck, we even want to frolic. We long for slices (big ones) of time unencumbered by vigilance and worry and constant grief.
So, what does the natural world have to show us about all of this?
We know that nature works through relationship – everything is connected – and, of course, that includes every one of us. We know that vitality of connection relies on vast and lively diversity. And we know that with connection and diversity, the natural world always tilts toward surviving, toward thriving.
We know that plants are “smarter” together. Take the forests. They’re a symphony of life forms, playing together in the same key. And after a disruption like a wildfire, the notes quickly reassemble – bacteria and fungi in the soil, including morel mushrooms, coming online fast. Beetles, grasshoppers rising from under the ground. And as the insects rise the birds come – the kinglets and the woodpeckers, bluebirds and flycatchers. And the beautiful blooms of fireweed, lupine, monkeyflowers – stabilizing soil, securing moisture, allowing shrubs to return. Then sun-loving trees, which cast the shade needed by shade loving trees. The strength, the ability to show resiliency in the face of change – and life is always about change – arises from the broad array of interdependent lifeforms. This is balance. This is what we call sustainability.
And this nature – it’s who we are, too.
It’s part of our natural expression to know the added challenges of deep grief and anxiety. As of today, Covid has claimed 538,000 real lives. Lives with stories – each person born to live days with joys and challenges with boredom and delight, all of it mediated through their one body, personality and character. COVID 19 hasn’t taken whole towns, but it has ravaged whole families, whole neighborhoods. And it has smoldered in our collective sensibility, ever the threat – it could happen to me.
Here – in all this loss and fear – the fullness of our ecology calls us to live on, one step following the next, into the balance that is surely restoring itself, whether it matches any story of how things were or not. To do this, we must get better with grief. With feeling grief in ourselves, listening to it in others, walking with all we’ve lost and all we’ve gained. When there is room for grief, there is room for laughter and delight. The forest – its trees and animals, its birds and blossoms – cannot stop the wildfire once it has started. The loss is tremendous. And even in that loss, life dares a resurgence. Again and again.
I sometimes see the sei hei ki symbol when I walk among trees – especially in the time moving from winter into spring – new growth on deciduous plants, the sway and dancing in the breezes. Balance through storms and high water. Balance among all that bends and all that breaks – all that lives, all that dies.
Anne Lamott, author and activist, tells her Sunday School kids – “Life has always seemed to pull us up to our feet. We’re good at hard.” And, since we’re nature itself, we’re also good at balance. Balance is not perfection. It is not uninterrupted eternal bliss. Balance is moving forward from our truest nature. Evolutionary biology shows us we humans are essentially and continuously cooperative and kind – on balance.
We can do this.
Through this welcome springtime and into whatever comes next.
We’re good at hard.
Precious Mary … big hug to you and Gary…
I Love you and love the “we are good at hard”. May we be good at Love….
You write flowingly… love the whole piece!!!!
Keep going dear Hearts!
Thank you, Kathy –
You know, I hope, how we learned and learned from our time with you and the Maddoxs last February. You all have lived this balance in West Texas as long as I’ve known you – so, always ~
I am reading Gary’s book, The Eight Master Lessons of Nature, and looked up your website. Then I stumbled onto this article there…Reiki and Sei He Ki jumped out at me. Your words are beautiful and I have spent the last 2.5 years trying to find balance in the storm that entered my life in 2018. From the deaths of close family and friends, to financial difficulties, to health issues and surgery which led to my own cancer diagnosis at Christmastime and more…it felt like I had been thrown into a tornado where the nothing in my life was the same once it had died down. Grief on many levels set in, even as I began to navigate through life with cancer. Reiki entered into my life because of cancer. Reiki, I believe, helped save my life…as did the power of nature and finding ways to breathe in healing and exhale dis-ease as I walked, and walked, and walked. I had Reiki at each chemo treatment…and when I entered remission was drawn to find a teacher. I have now been practicing Reiki (Level 2) for over a year. It has helped immensely as I endured a cancer-related surgery, was fired from my job because of my cancer, and Covid really hit…all of that literally in the same week during March 2020. It was another whirlwind of change and grief. But…Reiki and nature saved me again. At this moment, I am still unsure where life will take me. I am writing a book about my experiences, I am practicing Reiki on a limited basis because of Covid, and doing some freelance book editing for a publishing company…but my life has been turned upside down and inside out. The chips have been tossed up in the air and only a few have landed thus far. But whatever it is, nature and Reiki, will be with me. I am happy to have picked up Gary’s book…it is filled with so many thoughts and philosophies similar to mine and is helping me to find some balance, as did your lovely article. I wanted to say thank you for sharing your words with the world – and I am glad that I happened down a path that lead me to reading them.
I also just wanted to share a bit about my story with you because I know how wonderful it is for me when the things I put out into the world are read…and later I get to find out that they have helped someone else and resonated deep within their soul.
Many blessings to both of you.
Wow – the tornado does seem the best metaphor, Pamela. Wow. And Nature. And Reiki. We’re so happy you found 8 Master Lessons in the process! Just this past week, our new book Full Ecology – Repairing Our Relationship with the Natural World made it onto bookshelves. It’s the book that helps move the 8 lessons into everyday life – offering ways we humans can recognize and reclaim our true nature. We’d love for you to check it out. The virtual adventure/book launch we had on Earth Day – complete with a great intro and Q&A with Sister Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking) is still live for the viewing, too – check the button on top of our Home page.
And, thank you – YES – it’s so poweful to hear of ways our words make a difference. Yours here are generous and quite full of life. Reiki and Nature. Yes.