Just as the rose consists of many petals held together, so the person who attains to the unfoldment of the soul begins to show many different qualities. The qualities emit fragrance in the form of a spiritual personality. The rose has a beautiful structure, and the personality which proves the unfoldment of the soul has also a fine structure, in manner, in dealing with others, in speech, in action. The atmosphere of a spiritual being pervades the air like the perfume of a rose.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Life can be limiting at times. Despite these limitations, I have the deeply held desire to unfold completely by sharing my light even when I feel constricted in the process. My light, my spirit longs for the freedom of eternity. This journey of a lifetime can be difficult, the pathway strewn with thorns. One is meant to walk this path with the intention to become more like a rose in its infinite perfection, greeting each new day with a continued commitment to purity of the heart.
This journey requires a freeing from the entanglements of a thorny and messy life. Rilke speaks to this unfolding of the soul in the opening poem of “Unfolding”. His words serve as a powerful metaphor for a spiritual journey and one that has led to much introspection and participation on my part.
Reflecting on the beautiful imagery of Rilke’s poem, I cannot help but see associations in my own life. My favorite flower growing up was never the rose. Roses were far too perfect and classic for my taste. Draw to lilacs and lilies, I feel in love with their elegant yet simple aesthetic. My home had a gorgeous lilac bush right behind it. The vibrant purple color and seductive smell wafted into the house cementing the sensation of these flowers into my senses. My first memory of roses was as a dancer. I received bouquets of roses after performances; big beautiful and colorful roses that intimidated me with their boldness. I always felt undeserving of this grand gesture and found the whole experience a bit over the top for my liking.
As a newly married young woman, I rarely received flowers from my husband. He didn’t understand or enjoy the practice of gifting, stating it was a commercial enterprise and one he refused to participate in. I witnessed the many times my father bought roses for my mother even into their fifth decade of marriage and was sustained by this display of everlasting love, something I was sure I would never have. All the while I had begun the journey of spiritual awakening by taking tentative steps toward the unfolding of self. It was a rocky time in which metaphorical thorns pricked at me constantly reminding me of my own imperfections and mortality.
“Often the prickly thorn produces tender roses.”
Within the darkest of days, one can always find some small ray of light. During this rocky time I gave birth to my children, rediscovered a love for education and cherished the many days spent dancing in the studio. The thorns irritated only when I choose to step off the path, distracted by my limitations. These limitations seemed to abound; a long term marriage in which I was not valued, silencing my voice while allowing others to speak for me and shrinking away from my inner light. I was tired, frustrated, sick and disillusioned. Finally, in a moment of severe distress, I was forced to evaluate everything leading to a deeply uncomfortable unfolding. Extremely vulnerable, I was forced to break down walls I had built over many years in order to navigate my unhappy life. Fearful yet determined, I choose not to look back and asked my guides to help me “see” which direction was meant for me. I did not trust my inner voice, at least not yet.
In this intense moment of unfolding, I recognized and honored that young girl inside who loved to write, dance, sit in the grass while making dandelion chains and was a truly free spirit. Gentle-hearted by nature, the hard exterior I had worn for so long was now ill fitted to my new sensibility. I began to recognize that I was in fact a beautiful, intelligent, creative and loving soul. No amount of thorns could take that from me unless I choose to give it. Light was shining through the cracks in my armor ushering in a necessary yet chaotic fracturing of self. My old self that had moved about the world hidden and invisible, as well as my true self that was free to express all the light and beauty within. Each part of this fractured self was important to my wholeness. Nothing exists without a balance and as such, we are nothing without having visited our shadow and making peace with it. I continue to use light and spirit as my guide and have not looked back since.
I cannot help but be mystified by spirit. In shining my light outward I found another soul, one that gently tended roses out in the desert. Having been witness to the beauty he nurtured, in times of unimaginable grief, I can only say that when souls speak to one another it transcends all else. I am astounded that our lives have intersected at this point, one blooming rose calling to another. A call finally heard and answered.
“Little flower, but if I could understand what you are, root and all in all, I should know what God and man is.”
Today, I still encounter thorns on my path but they are far and few between. I am a trembling young bud continuing to bloom completely into eternal life. Each day requires a rejection of fear and a conscious acceptance of love and the unknown. As I continue to unfold, I find the thorns less piercing, more manageable and the blossoms breathtaking. When I refuse to hide who I am, I find the limitations less constricting. They have loosened their grip and I can finally breathe. I know complete perfection is unattainable and just as each bloom is unique so too am I. With this I allow myself to just be and bloom into the unique and beautiful soul that I am called to be.