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Posts Tagged ‘surrender’

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is storm.

That tempest in the heart, that storm in the head…have you ever felt it? It’s an agony of indecision, a quandary of impossible choices: should I paint this way or that way, choose this one or that one, spend it here or there, move now or later, do this or that? It’s a pain that starts slow, like a migraine twinge, and builds to a frenzy. Any decision in question seems so very consequential, almost life-threatening.

These words look so calm, so benign here on my screen, like amusing ‘postcards from the edge.’ But the experience is a miserable one, and it always shakes my confidence to the core. It’s an experience that illustrates in living (black and blue?) color that expression, “Down here without a map.” Lost, lost, dreadfully lost. And time is going by! If you’ve been to this particular dreary destination yourself, you know what I’m talking about.

Fortunately, like any storm in Nature, this furious energy eventually reaches its apex and begins to dissipate. Like Dorothy and her tornado in The Wizard of Oz, I am deposited on solid ground once more. The still, small voice is again accessible, and a path, however faint, reappears before my weary feet. I have noticed that Surrender can look a lot like exhaustion.

Next time, I promise myself to remember sooner: Sometimes I just don’t know…can’t know in advance. Realizing that calms the storm.

Above: Storm   (watercolor, pen & ink, gouache, colored pencil)

Right: Of Two Minds   (watercolor, pen & ink)

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is surrender.

There is no getting around it: limitation is misery. Whether it be a dearth of space, time, money, ability, success or love, “not having enough” of the thing we need (or think we need) is akin to that proverbial slow trip through Hell. Most of us would do anything to avoid it.

Alas, (and as spiritual teachers of all persuasions have always written) limitation does have a purpose. Surely Eleanor Roosevelt was referring to limitation when she said, “A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” We don’t have to like it… but limitation is, indeed, a great teacher.

Many of us (with the exception of those who are still testosterone-driven and/or caffeine-powered) have begun to suspect that the true name of Life’s game is surrender. This is not the surrender of giving up, losing, passivity, or any other similar mind-set, but Surrender as in an alignment with the greater wisdom, the greater plan of Life. The words of Lao Tzu (previously posted here) describe this definition of “Surrender” quite clearly, translated here by Witter Bynner.

“…When a man is in turmoil, how shall he find peace, save by staying patient till the stream clears? How can a man’s life keep its course if he will not let it flow? Those who flow as life flows, know they need no other force: they feel no wear, they feel no tear, they need no mending, no repair.”

Yet there is this thing about humans and free will: the freedom to choose. We grow and become wise from whatever choices we make, but there is (of course you’ve noticed) a steep price for choosing to go against the flow of Life. Edward Bach, in his classic book, Heal Thyself: An Explanation of the Real Cause and Cure of Disease, wrote convincingly that the root cause of all disease is to be found not on the physical level, as modern medicine would have us believe, but on the level of the spirit. He states unequivocably, that the cause is a conflict between Soul and Mind. (In New Age lingo: a conflict between Head and Heart.) In the words of Lao Tzu: a resistance to Life’s flow.

When I honestly look at my own health and the mirror of my life situation, I see the evidence of resistance to Life’s flow everywhere. That being said… Surrender is not easy. If I ever knew how, I am long out of practice and very rusty. Where did I put that oil can?

“Of It’s Own Weight” (oil on board)


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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is sneaky.

Friendship is such a sneaky thing. One minute you are minding your own business…and the next moment you find yourself borrowing sugar or lending ladders, babysitting each other’s kids, and sharing joys and griefs with someone who was a complete stranger only a year ago. But now they are part of your life’s underpinnings…part of the sweetness of life.

Friendships can be seeded by any circumstance: sharing the same grouchy clerk in the market line, the same flood or hurricane experience, the same job, class, world view or ex-boyfriend. Friendships are not predictable or made-on-demand. And like their more intense cousin, Love, they are subject to the laws of ebb and flow. They are subject to change, and therefore call up the highest, most demanding lesson on life’s journey: surrender.

Like all other Surrender lessons, friendships (and love) challenge us to welcome the new when it arrives, stay open for the duration, and gracefully release the old when its time has come. Sometimes the letting go must happen almost immediately, sometimes it will be required only after a lifetime of connection. The time frame and circumstances will vary, but Change will always find us.

Hopefully, it will find us non-resistant.

Isn’t it interesting how The Mystery has built this great need for love and friendship into our very hearts…which, in turn, requires the stretching of those same tender parts?

Two of my favorite quotes about friendship and relationship…

“Shouldn’t relationships come with an expiration date…so that we know when they’re going to go bad?” (Unknown)

“Where do they go, the friends who sail into our lives like green leaves…and disappear like snow?” (Rod McKuen, American singer-songwriter and poet)

“Encounter” (watercolor, gouache, pencil, colored pencil)

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is acrobat.

I seem to have been born with a lot of checks in the Control column. More, really, than I like to admit. Surrender does not come easily. But sensing the importance, I have wrestled with ‘control tendencies’ for most of my adult life. If this actually were a wrestling match, most days I would be pinned in the first thirty seconds…

Letting go to the ebb and flow of Life, to some greater plan and power, to some far-wiser intelligence is indeed wonderful to contemplate… I imagine it to feel so, well, safe. But in reality, the experience (to this beginner, at least) feels so much more like the acrobat who must let go of one hold, one swing, even before she can grasp the next one. In a word: scary.

And yet, the whole question of Surrender comes down, once again, to that Big Question, that Albert Einstein quote that I’ve mentioned before… do I believe that the Universe is hostile… or friendly? (Will the next swing be there when I let go of this one?)

The challenge looks like this…

“When you have come to the edge of all the light you have, and step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of the two will happen to you: either you’ll find something solid to stand on… or you’ll be taught how to fly.”   Richard Bach

Where is that acrobat in me? It’s on the Parts List, so I know it must be here somewhere… ?

“The Acrobat” (pen and ink, watercolor, pencil)

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