Opening as a way of beginning

On a recent trip to northern Michigan, lying under a canopy of fragrant conifers, I spot a particularly splendid pinecone. With woody scales tightly closed and feeling surprisingly smooth to the touch, I carefully lift the cone and place it in my pocket. Walking back to the inn, I wonder about pine trees at their very beginnings—specifically, how do they seed? I assume it has something to do with the pinecone itself but I’m not exactly sure how it works. Do buried cones give birth to future trees?

Once in the room, I set the pinecone on the bureau and head straight for my laptop, but before I can type in my password, I hear a distinct tinkling sound coming from the cone, similar to that made by snowflakes hitting a warm windowpane. Thinking my new treasure must be housing an insect, I walk back to the bureau, where I now see the cone, scales fully open, surrounded by a scattering of winged ebony seeds.

. . .

Opening is perhaps the optimal first step to beginning anything and so I’m wishing you and me and everyone we know a mindset of openness as we head into the new year. Thank you for your openness to moving along with me here for another year. I’m wishing you sufficient time and space for your own making, whatever that may be, and I’m grateful for the many ways that your making supports my own.


For A New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

                                                     ~John O’Donohue