Lessons from the Lake



There is great power in expansive stillness. There is great power in the depths.

Lately, I’ve been meditating on the powers of the Lake. This is one facet of the Norse rune Laguz, but mostly, it is what I need in this time, right now. Those who are familiar with me know that I am an instigator, a mover, a goer, a will activator. I tend toward the yang rather than the yin, often quipping that I have one nurturing bone in my body, pointing to the tip of a pinky finger. We all have our tendencies, and our lessons to learn.

For me, so often the holder of the torch of impatience – enjoining all my friends to “Come on! This way!” – to learn the lessons of the Lake is requiring the trust of opening, of softening, a word I barely even know how to write. Each morning I return to these watery practices: slow strengthening stretches in the sun rather than the hard push of lifting weights. Sinking into meditation from there. Allowing myself to float, as though I was resting in a still body of fresh water. To float requires a trust in the stillness within. To float requires both strength and opening.

I have cultivated this stillness, but only as a core for decisive movement. Now I return to it to teach me other lessons.

This week, while cleaning the old sixteen burner stove at the house of hospitality, pressing the rough green scrubber against the tough metal “I love you” rose unbidden to my thoughts. This was not some practice of connecting to the stove, this was connection to the stove. The divine presence was there. I moved with it, continuing to clean. I moved with it, in every interaction. Later, while cleaning the compost bins, I practiced saying “I love you” as I poured the food-filled water through a sieve. Happiness was there, despite the connection to the newer green plastic bins not feeling as immediate as the connection to the stove that had cooked meals for hungry thousands.

Having written and spoken about the presence of divinity in all things, the teaching is finally striking home. It has taken noticing, practicing, returning, and finally, being ready to float upon this water instead of always seeking the more volatile fire and air. I feel grateful, and will keep returning to these spaces, waiting for the lessons yet to come.

What are you learning these days?

6 Responses to “Lessons from the Lake”

  1. Savitri

    I have recently realized that I needed to transmute complaining into joy of the moment, in some sense pain into pleasure. It was relevant to your loving the stove that feed many but in a slightly different way. To move in ‘have to’ was always a problem for me. I love the ‘want to’ such as creating, writing, and flowing in the creative essence. To be able to say I ‘want to’ during a ‘have to’ moment was how I’ve woven a stream of experiences together for the greater appreciation of chores. They have now transmuted to everything being an opportunity to create upliftment. Thanks for helping me see this as a water practice. It’s touched deeper than the surface. ~ Savitri

  2. Green Monk

    I think you are hitting on something very profound. In that place of stillness to see the sacred within all things (even a stove and composter) is a powerful thing, I would think! I only get tiny epiphanies (I call them piffs!) of such things once every blue moon and I am left floored. You responded with love to them, a connection. Thank you so much for sharing this with me and all of us who read your posts. Blessings to you!

  3. Michael Butler Smith

    As always – beautiful and inspiring Thorn. Isn’t it glorious that just when we think we “get” it, another facet we never thought ourselves capable of or had ever considered suddenly opens up and takes us even deeper – into practice and insight. Even in this, you’ve opened the door, you guide with your torch, you point the way to deeper stillness and new levels of presence. For me I’m also learning the deeper lessons of Water lately – in my case surrendering to the float. Letting go and allowing what is to be ok in its “isness” – which my Airy Type A personality-self rises and falls with! Like you I often sit in my stillness as a prelude to correct centered action. But now I’m learning to lay back in the stillness and let that be enough – sometimes. The beauty of it is each day we always get another chance to practice! Blessings and Love.

  4. Karina B. Heart

    Some great cosmic wheel is turning. As you float and learn to trust water, I am all aflame and burning. So beautiful to witness you. Love welling up like that is nothing short of Holy. Blessed be the stove, the bins and your heart.

  5. Ryan

    Beautiful post! (I’m fairly new to your blog, but I recently read your book, Evolutionary Witchcraft, which I found deeply inspiring and empowering. Thank you for that!)

    You asked what we’ve been learning, and your post today reminds me of one of my favorite poems, by the early gay rights and women’s right activist (who was also a poet and a pagan!), Edward Carpenter. I use this poem in my morning passage meditation to help cultivate the stillness you so eloquently describe. This poem has taught me a great deal.

    The Lake of Beauty
    by Edward Carpenter

    Let your mind be quiet, realising the beauty of the world, and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.

    All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your Nature so specially fits you for – that or the counterpart of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you. It will surely come to you.

    Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come. All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.

    Therefore do not begin that game at all.

    Do not recklessly spill the waters of your mind in this direction and in that, lest you become like a spring lost and dissipated in the desert.

    But draw them together into a little compass, and hold them still, so still;

    And let them become clear, so clear – so limpid, so mirror-like;

    At last the mountains and the sky shall glass themselves in peaceful beauty,

    And the antelope shall descend to drink, and to gaze at his reflected image, and the lion to quench his thirst,

    And Love himself shall come and bend over, and catch his own likeness in you.

    • Thorn

      Ryan, thank you for the gift of this poem. I did not know it.

      Everyone else, thank you for writing of your experiences, your lessons. When we can share in these ways, we are enriched and the world itself grows richer.

      May we serve the Beloved Community. Sending out love to you all.


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