Posted by: meditati0n509 | February 23, 2016

Finding Your Way Home in a Blizzard

Finding Your Way Home in a Blizzard

In the Prelude to his book ‘A Hidden Wholeness’, Parker Palmer tells the story about the mid-American (Great Plains) farming practice of tying a rope from the house out to the the barn at the first sign of a blizzard. The practice came about because many people had perished in dire conditions because they were unable to find their way back home in the whiteout of heavy snow. This simple safety measure has saved the lives of countless farmers, in a part of America where heavy snowfalls are a normal part of winter.

The closest to a blizzard experience that I have had was one February, about thirty years ago when my husband and I were driving on a motorway in England. Visibility was so poor that we stayed on the inside lane and drove at the minimum speed allowable. Even so we were being overtaken by trucks and lorries, which only added to our lack of visibility. It was impossible to make out the road lanes or even the edges of the road. This was rather frightening and we were delighted to be able to exit the motorway at the next service station. Our safety net was to leave the motorway as soon as it was possible and to wait until driving conditions improved before continuing our journey.

Blizzards of the World

Parker Palmer extrapolates from this simple idea of creating a safety mechanism in a blizzard to looking at the ‘blizzards’ we are encountering in modern life and which are every bit as dangerous for the human psyche or soul, as a physical blizzard. He cites “economic injustice, ecological ruin, physical and spiritual violence”  and their resulting  greed, and indifference to suffering and so on.   Indeed we have political blizzards, wars, economic blizzards and many more.   He says that his book  “is about tying a rope from the back door out to the barn so that we can find our way back home again.”

What is Your Rope?

Each of us have had experiences of being or feeling ‘lost’ or of not being able to ‘see’ which way to turn. He asks ‘What is our safety rope?’ and he encourages us to put some measures in place for those times when we need to be guided ‘home’.  In other words, what leads us to the safety of ‘home’? What does it mean for us to feel ‘at home’?  What is ‘home ’for us?  What is our anchor in stormy weather?  What is it that we need to do so that we can be restored to a state of comfort or balance in which we can function effectively?

It is good to have some activity or practice which brings us back into the moment – back to our true selves, back to our soul. It could be as simple as having a leisurely cup of tea or coffee – in a favourite cup or (mug) and allowing the situation to clarify. It could be taking a few conscious breaths before proceeding to the next activity. This is especially useful before answering the phone, or answering the doorbell. It could be mindful walking – that is walking a little more slowly, consciously lifting each foot and placing it back on the ground again.

Our safety ‘rope’ will obviously be much more effective if it is grounded in a more prolonged daily practice such as Mindfulness, Meditation or other spiritual practice. Yoga, T’ai Chi, jogging, walking and so on are all examples of such daily activities.  Have fun choosing your own and adapting your regime to suit both your needs and your schedule. However, any ‘rope’ will be effective, once you have consciously set it in place, so that you can call on it whenever you need to. Happy blizzard navigation!

[‘A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward and Undivided Life’ by Parker J. Palmer is published by Jossy Bass. The edition I have was published in 2008]

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