Learning More/Another Way

by Shannon McArthur

I came looking for a picnic bench and found comfort instead…

To be my best for the clients of my new business, I’m taking a course presented online by James Wells: Tarot Counselling For Self and Others. One of the assignments for the second week is a lesson in being present. I think I’m pretty good at it already and enjoy it, but don’t often give myself the pleasure. I took my iPad with me so I could write about the experience, as requested. The dearest lesson I learned – it would be a good practice to do for my own self, without it being assigned!

The assignment is to find a spot that feels good and be present in it while taking a couple of minutes each to notice the 7 directions: before, right beside, behind, left behind, above, below and inside. (Oh, that’s not right! In front, right, behind, left, above, below and inside is the right way to say it – but I liked it the other way!!)

Here’s what I wrote:
In front of me there is a sunset, progressing; and a school yard and gardens of bordering family homes. No-one is here but me. As I came, I looked with intention for a place that would suit the exercise but there were no picnic benches. There was a children’s playground with all the pipes and slides but it didn’t look comfortable. I walked on. There was another playset, another slide, and I noticed a wide place at the bottom that would allow me to sit with my feet down. I sat. I breathed. Noticed the area in front of me and the sky with the clouds – one that looked like a shark – no, a porpoise! The fin was curved! There’s a light at the top of the hills, pulsing its red beacon for all to see, atop the sleeping curves of a being too large to hold in my mind.

On my right is a road, far off beyond the playground, and an occasional car goes by, a skateboarder, a truck, a couple talking to each other, laughing – houses and streets and afar off, a train and more hills. I am in a wide valley held in her body like an embryo. Behind me the cars, a truck and people pass away and merge into the low hum of the city, swallowed up by the masses that protect my back. The school building is there so, once the noise-makers pass the solidness of it, their sound becomes indistinct. Behind me also, but closer, is the structure upon which I sit. A child’s slide, a wide yellow curve that invited me to sit, stay, rest here while you do your task. “That’s what I’m here for!” it says.

On my left, now, a few lights punctuate the darkness that once was a playing field, the one upon which I found the dead seagull I honoured a few weeks back, before the kids came back late after the strike was over. I know there is a large amount of grass and more homes on the other side of an alley that runs along the south border of the field. I’ve walked there.

As I sat, drinking in the scene and touching my tech, I realized I could lie back to enjoy the space above me. Gently I let myself down and was enfolded in a hug unexpected. The walls of the slide are just far enough apart to accept me, hold me and deep enough to shelter me. My view of the sky now, has stars in it, little twinkling lights looking down on me – my ancestors? Thin clouds diffuse the brilliance, as do the streetlights, even though they are far away. As I lay there, I realized that I could do the next part of the exercise best by taking off my shoes! My toes dug deep into the gravel provided for the children and I felt Her presence in my bones. And I thought, as I lie here with all the glory above me and all the solid wonder below me, I feel so very thankful for the amazing experience this Being within this body is having. And I shed a few tears of gratitude at belonging with and being a part of something so hugely awesome.

That, and this little bit of prose, will have to do for the 7th direction of the assignment (inside me) because I also feel a deep shivering – it is COLD – shoes replaced and a brisk walk home toward a hot bath… This was great but it’s time now to take care of the outside me!