Being Powerful

6 Mar

Another day in Wettenbostel.  The winter sun is beginning to allow for some warmth and it is a joy to feel Wettenbostel getting closer to the edge of Spring.  Today we saw some geese flying.  Their beautiful “V” shape broke down as their flight pattern shifted into chaotic circles suspended above the fields as if their leader had lost directions or forgotten where they were going.

Today I continued to work a little with my host out in the fields cutting down trees.  At this point the trees have actually already been cut and mostly we are collecting the wood and getting the branches out of the field as the farmers are getting closer with their tractors.  The fragrance in the air lately is less than desirable as the farmers have also begun…fertilizing.

As I work outside with my host, he continues to push me to my “growing edge” in the area of strength.  Not just emotional strength or courage in that way, although he pushes me there too, but physical strength.  Growing up in the suburbs and having lived until Wettenbostel in the city, I do not have must practice or experience with outside physical labor.  Perhaps I was a little spoiled in some ways growing up in the suburbs… not ever really needing to lend a powerful hand outdoors.

Chatting casually the other day while unloading the wood my host and I discussed our upbringing.  His in Cananda, both of his parents professional people who decided to live on a farm.  Inexperienced as they were, it was still part of his culture and world to be in, depend on and rely on the outdoors.  I told him I grew up in the suburbs.  When we wanted firewood we went to the grocery store and bought it!  It would never have occurred to us to go outside and chop down a tree and then cut it up ourselves.  The idea would almost have been funny!

But here I am in northern Germany in the country and fields of Wettenbostel surrounded by forests and homes that rely on firewood to help keep them warm.  So we continue… to collect and chop the wood.  The other day I gave a try at using the axe to chop a piece of wood myself.  Ever the Aikido instructor, my host showed me a method to ground myself, get centered in what he calls “ki” energy, and use the momentum of my body to chop the wood.  This was a very new experience for me… using my body in this way.  The first few tries I laughed as the axe bounced off the wood.  But after a few tries… some success.  The blade sunk a little into the wood and began to split.  That was good enough for me.  I would live to chop another day.

Today while we were unloading the firewood I worked until all that was left were rather large pieces of wood.  I looked at them through my spoiled suburban eyes and thought, I will leave those for him and prepared my mental escape to get away from the work.  Unrelenting as he can be, my host encouraged me that I could actually lift all of those pieces myself.  I just needed to think about things differently.  Don’t use my arms to lift, he said.  Your arms are the weakest part of your body.  But they’re good for holding onto things!… Use your legs he urged and showed me how to roll the large wood to the back of the trailer, crouch down in a lunge and receive the wood with my legs and mostly just use my arms to hold onto the wood.  And you know what, it worked!  I was able to lift and carry all of the large wood left in the trailer.  I noticed it took what in yoga we refer to as core strength… that space that runs through the circle of our middle… that and the strength of my legs.

These experiences bring up for me my own insecurities about being powerful and being a woman.  I notice how I can back away from my own power in the name of being a “woman”.  And not just when lifting logs out the back of a trailer, but in other areas of my life.  I find I am hesitant with power.  Uncertain of its application and my access to it. It is useful for me to be challenged to explore it.

I finished emptying out the trailer as my host shared with me a story of this large Buddha statue he found years ago that was just “meant” to be his.  Beautiful as it was, it was big and heavy! He was able to get it back to his home, at the time in Canada, but did not have the strength to unload it.  And then one day he said, he just “knew” that he had enough “ki” energy to lift it.  So he did.  And he was successful!…

I shared with my host that the other day someone asked how old he was and was surprised when they heard the answer was 65.  They thought he was much younger. My host is not your typical 65-year-old man.  You might not keep up with him if you go out dancing with him and he may possibly be the one to shut down the place.  He maintains a huge garden and during Seminars on the weekends he is cooking up a creative storm in the kitchen.  He commented that with the practice of Aikido and Reiki you can’t quite stop time, but you can access enough ki energy to stay youthful.  I buy it!  For me that also lives somewhere in the space of spirit as I have other “older” friends who also live in the timeless youthful space.

So today, new experiences in being powerful.  And new ideas about the possibility of power.  No matter what your age, your gender and even… if you grew up in the suburbs!

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