Cultivating Sensitivity

On the eve of my birthday, I go walking in the woods with Ceridwen. She takes me by the hand, leading me to the shore of a dark lake. The sky is cloudy; mist drifts slowly across its surface. The air is damp. The last dry leaves of a dying autumn crunch under my feet.

We pause to stand at the shore, at the liminal edge, with our bare toes in the cold lake water. She reminds me that I was born in a liminal time, the days between Yule and Twelfth Night, a time when the world is deep in its cycle of hibernation.

Ceridwen bids me to quiet my mind, to still my thoughts and focus on the surface tension of the lake. After a few false starts, my mind finally quiets; I can sense the pressure needed to bridge the barrier between misty air and the surface of this deep pool. A lone leaf, brown and crisp, floats down toward the surface of the lake. I watch it drift slowly, time outside of time, until it meets an animal – a red fox – who is lying stunned, barely afloat in the water. Is the fox dead? I am unsure until the leaf drifts gently to meet the fox, barely touching it on the head, and the fox’s eyes suddenly fly open. The animal begins to sink and struggle in the cold water.

I want to charge into the lake to help the struggling fox, but I am stopped by Ceridwen. She bids me watch. And wait. Just when I think the fox will surely drown, an old log floats nearby and the tired animal scrambles aboard. The log continues floating silently to the edge of the lake, where the grateful fox jumps off on the shore. The fox pauses to shake the water from its thick fur before disappearing into the forest.

Ceridwen now places the brown, crisp leaf in my hand. It is so dry as to be nearly weightless. She asks me to consider how a mere breath of a touch from this fragile leaf was able to wake the fox from its frozen stupor. As I stand before Ceridwen, I realize that I am the leaf – I am this light touch, blown across the dark lake, by the warming breath of Awen.

When we cultivate sensitivity as strength – when we learn about it, practice it, honor and protect it – we master another kind of magic. We can employ our sensitivity, with discernment, to become torchbearers and touchstones on the paths of those who struggle. We are the breath of Awen waking the world.

With love,
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Featured photo credit: Hiroyuki Igarashi via Unsplash.