For many years I have worked with people in transition while also walking my own transitional path to what’s next. While transition is exciting and needed, it can also be full of trepidation. And it certainly is not easy. John O’Donohue’s poem “For a New Beginning” from his book To Bless the Space Between Us really speaks to those of us who have watched the the new beginning grow from a whisper until we find ourselves standing on the precipice trying to transmute our fear into courage in the face of unknown risk as we prepare to step off to embrace a promise not yet guaranteed.
John O’Donohue “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.
For me, the last time I got to that precipice, ready to unfurl myself into the grace of beginning, I still paused, wrestling with the last bit of fear I had not yet managed to overcome. Ultimately, it boiled down to something very simple. As Guy Clark sings, “Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.”