Today, the rains returned. Dank leaves cling to sparkling green grass. Somber clusters of grey clouds blanket the skies. The wind’s hallowed song wells through the doors and windows of my dwelling. All these impressions are poignant and beautiful to me, a reward for having cultivated balance in life.

People who go through life ungrounded, unbalanced and uncentered are like dry, crumpled leaves left twisting in the wind. They are at the mercy of all the forces around them. As a practical matter, what is a person to do in difficult times? I asked Cedric Red Feather and he replied:

“Finding your center? The center is right here — where you’re standing. It’s not across the street in some fancy house; it’s not in the Temple; it’s not, as many suggest, this Holy spot on Harney Peak or at the top of Machu Picchu. You don’t have to look for the center, because it’s right where you are. That is where you start from. I learned this from our Indian elders.”

“Still,” I remarked to Cedric, “we hear people suffering all the time because they find themselves overwhelmed by circumstances. What are they supposed to do when it feels as though the world has been turned upside down?” Cedric just remained calm and austere and replied, “When the world is upside down, that is the world: it is not you. You are not the reason for lightning striking a particular place. It’s just nature.”

When I view life that way, as Cedric’s wise words suggest, I am at peace. I am not looking for balance, truth or happiness outside myself: they are all within. This is hard for many to grasp, because we are taught a corrosive kind of wishful thinking. The grass is always emerald greener somewhere beyond another white picket fence. We attend workshops and classes and read books on manifesting our desires. We wish away great portions of our lives, which are already under our direction, if only we would awaken.

Il maestro, Federico Fellini, admonished: “You have to live spherically — in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm — and things will come your way.” Therein lies a path to balance: we are to cultivate a sense of openness, wonder, trust. In other words, we have to relearn what we already understood intuitively as children.

More than one religious or spiritual tradition treasures the child’s eye view. In Native American spiritual culture, children are regarded as Holy and closer to The Great Spirit. We are encouraged in homiletic biblical tradition to become as little children, in order that we may enter the kingdom of heaven. The openness we had as children was a greater connection to the flow of things. Just allow. Expand. Let go of the impulse to direct, control, and micromanage. Lao Tzu instructs, “If nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” Stop stressing over every small thing. Relax. Just let it breathe.

Cultivate a sense of wonder. In a supreme posture of arrogance, we may find that lately we are “not amused” by anything; the word “wow” ceases to leave our lips. We assume we have been there, done that, gotten the coffee mug. Go out in nature and watch the dance of tree branches. Take painterly stock of the super-numerous shades of orange among the leaves. If you look patiently, you will see red orange, yellow orange, pumpkin spice, russet brown, raw sepia, burnt sienna, and light beige.

Trust a little more in the process. Realize that everything that happens ultimately contributes to our highest good. Now and then the wheel turns and life seems to spiral away from us. When, as this month’s prompt suggests, everything seems upside down, smile gently and thank the Guides for all experiences, without judgment. We tend to travel full circle, only to land in a better place than that from which we came.

How do we lose that anxious feeling that, any moment now, life will spin out of control? Just embrace it. Be in the moment. Things change. Through surrender to our own center, peace and balance are thereby restored.

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Janet Michele Red Feather

Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.

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