“We must consistently open our awareness to the countless ways in which we already belong to each other, the ways that we are already reliant, supported, and interdependent.” ~Kristi Nelson, Wake Up Grateful
When we first learn that the stars shine during the day but we simply can’t see them, it’s a revelation, a kind of threshold understanding that shifts the way we look at the sky. This invisible constellation of daytime stars is a beautiful metaphor for the web of connections that sustains us even when we don’t take notice – even when we’re unable to see. On this first day of the practice, we begin by attuning ourselves to this constellation of relationships, whether it’s shining brightly in our lives or feeling hidden from view. Today’s practice brings our attention to our interconnectedness and interdependence.
Sketch the constellation of your belonging. Please peruse the following steps before you begin; it will help clarify the activity. If sketching the suggested spiral doesn’t resonate, simply note your responses in list form. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
- Gather the materials of your choice to map a constellation of your relationships. A plain sheet of paper and pen are perfectly fine – or a page in a journal, colored pencils, markers. Consider putting on some music you love.
- Place a mark of some sort in the center of the page; this is you. From there, draw a spiral outward with at least 5 or 6 rings. Make it large enough that you can add names and words along the spiral. Remember: if this is daunting, you can adapt the following prompts to a list form.
- Starting at the outermost ring, allow yourself to mentally travel back in time and name some of the people who paved the way for your being alive today. These might be familial ancestors or historical figures who made your existence a possibility. Write their names or represent them symbolically, taking time to consider the sacrifices, choices, and love they made in order for you to exist. Use the outer ring or two of your spiral for these names, leaving space for the next steps.
- Following the spiral inward, bring to mind some of the people whose work in the world allows you simply to be kept alive and connected – people who grow food, develop medicine, make clothing, build roads, deliver your mail. Add some of these people or roles to your spiral. Attune yourself to them in grateful appreciation, naming the ways they make your life possible.
- As you continue tracing the spiral toward the center, appreciatively acknowledge and write in the names of some of the colleagues, friends, and family to whom your life is tethered. Include those who may be very close to you now as well as some who have been in your immediate orbit at a different time in your life. Don’t try to name everyone; allow yourself to make note of whoever arises.
Once you have sketched your constellation, use this “map” for guided reflection or meditation. Following the spiral in or out, hold these relationships with your most humble and generous regard. As you tune in to this constellation, consider how you are held in the world’s wide and gracious embrace. What does it feel like to notice and name these connections? What brings you comfort, and what evokes longing? Where is the constellation shimmering, where has it dimmed? What arises in your heart? Add other names/roles if they come to mind. Close your reflection by giving thanks for being part of this constellation, for all its complexities, sustenance, and beauty.
As you continue this week’s practice, please keep your image or list accessible for reflection and reference.
Cherishing Our Connections, a short essay by Kristi Nelson, author of Wake Up Grateful
Please share your reflections below if you feel moved. We’d love to hear what emerges for you from today’s practice.