The Unknown and The Interim Time (blog)

After a fairly lengthy break for most forms of social media – apart from sharing pictures of Ralph on Instagram (he is adorably Instagrammable) I thought it might be an idea to share some thoughts and practices to help us through this time of not knowing. It keeps me out of mischief during this time of physical distancing and will, hopefully, be of benefit.  

I wondered where I might start and then this morning, I got an e-mail from a colleague asking for resources that we can share among our yoga teaching community, and then I at least found a reason for the indulgence.

Fear of the unknown is the worst kind of fear. What we cannot predict, or quantify is always much scarier than that which has a known or likely outcome. When things are predictable, we can plan, prepare, do what we need to do. Even if what we end up knowing is incredibly hard, knowing is always better. 

And so, I recorded a  (slightly rambling) video as an introduction to some stuff I will be talking about this week about the nature of fear, and especially fear of the unknown. I will link it to my work in yoga for cancer, and healthcare chaplaincy, and in future videos, I will offer some practices. In this video, I end with John O’Donohue’s poem ‘For the Interim Time’ – words below. 

For the Interim Time – John O’Donohue

When near the end of the day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,

No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.

In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.

You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.

“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”

You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here in your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

From ‘Benedictus – A Book of Blessings’ – 2007 Bantam Press

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