Blogs >> A Sacred Dialogue – when language isn’t enough Louise Pardoe

A Sacred Dialogue – when language isn’t enough Louise Pardoe

What would it be like to sit with the speechlessness?’

This fantastic question, posed to me by Ally my course mentor, finally gave me permission to stop fighting the utter desolation that I felt during my third week on the MSc in Holistic Science.

During this life-changing week, my fellow students and I had been exploring applied Goethean Science by entering into relationship with a beautiful plant called Groundsel. In the Goethean way, we were guided to come into enquiry with Groundsel; describing her as we saw her directly, from root to flower so that in the process we could become, according to our course tutor Craig Holdrege, ‘better, more transparent instruments of knowing’.

By opening up a space within ourselves for Groundsel to ‘talk’ and express herself, we found ourselves in a unique position beyond labels and prejudices; opening up a dialogue with Groundsel without pertaining to ‘know her’ before she had chance to tell us who she really was.

As the week progressed I felt increasingly sad. In addition, I also became increasingly unable to find the appropriate language to convey why I was sad, even though I somehow felt a strong recognition of this sadness on an extremely deep soul level.

Somehow I had lost the language that I needed to express myself, or even enter into a dialogue with Groundsel. In losing language, I found myself in a very strange position. I write for a living and am a qualified guidance counsellor. In short, words are my life, and I love nothing more than spending hours carefully selecting exactly the right ones that will help me convey the thoughts that formulate in my mind. I then lovingly place these treasures onto my computer screen; reading, editing, re-reading, re-editing, over and over again, until I am happy that my thoughts have been captured as accurately as possible in the letters and words that I weave into a story on the page.

However, during the third week of my Masters course, I found myself completely and utterly devoid of the appropriate language that I needed – and desperately wanted – to describe how I was feeling.

My safety net of language and words had developed a small hole, and as the week progressed the hole seemed to become bigger and bigger, until I was in very real danger of falling through to the cavernous depths below into utter speechlessness. I literally had nothing to say or offer. My feelings of sadness were so strong, and words were not enough to explain what I was experiencing. I felt very uncomfortable and, I have to admit, a little scared.

Groundsel made me acutely aware of my difficulty to find appropriate words, yet each day, she continued to lovingly invite me into a relationship/dialogue with her, encouraging me to see the dynamics of her being; radiating her beauty and willing me to see her exactly as she presented herself, communicating directly with my soul so that in a sense, there was no need for language.

Indeed the practice of Goethean science (also known as phenomenology) requires a shift of attention within everyday experience. This is not an easy concept to grasp hold of practically, let alone describe with words. However, the way of practice is to enter into a relationship/dialogue with the ‘object’ you wish to explore in more detail, entering into the dynamics of its being and letting it disclose itself. This is best performed by cultivating openness, curiosity and interest; paying attention to the senses, thoughts and feelings, bringing forth words over a period of time to describe what is perceived.

This is where I became unstuck.

While as a child I remember being able to ‘talk’ with Nature – trees, rocks, plants and animals; the dialogue occurred on a deep, sensory level. After I started school the dialogue stopped and I never revisited Nature in this way again – the disconnection was too painful and I banished all memories from my mind.

The intellectual, left-brain way of viewing the world that rudely interrupted my discourse with Nature at the age of five taught me to perceive an object from the standpoint of ‘we already know how to know’ (plus my school teachers told me is that ‘inanimate’ objects can’t talk!). However, the short time that I spent with Groundsel and Craig opened by eyes to the fact that when we do this, we are already what Henri Bortoft (Philosopher and author of many books including The Wholeness of Nature) describes as ‘downstream’, and have labelled the world in terms of our past, biases and judgements.

In this case, we already find ourselves at a cul-de-sac in our perception and no matter which way we turn, we are in effect, stuck. We constantly label objects, and in a sense we meet them knowing them already; any dynamic life that might be within them squashed by the folly of our preconceived thoughts.

Informed by our biases from the past, we immediately recognise what we already know and never allow the phenomena to show itself as it really is, in that moment, in that particular space. When this happens, everyday ‘objects’ which hold the story of the world in every fibre of their ‘beingness’ literally die before our eyes; and it is we who hold the executioners axe.

Gently, Groundsel slowly helped me to realise that as a child I was naturally practising Goethean Science, and that this intimate way of knowing the world had been blocked from my experience of ‘reality’ when I started school. I then spent the next twenty years in the reductionist way of thinking; leading me to a total separation of myself from Nature, and me from myself.

I was a broken person in a reductionist world – physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally; living in a dead world, separated from a meaningful dialogue with Nature and everything around me. And although I have spent the past fifteen years working on my personal baggage, slowly coming to understand that positive and loving relationships with ourselves, each other and Nature hold the key to health and wellbeing; in just five days Groundsel showed me exactly how her existence and transformation was strengthened by her intimate relationships with the environment around her – the warmth of the sun on her leaves and the richness of the soil blanketing her roots.

Through these non-judgemental, loving and reciprocal relationships, she gives voice to the warmth of the sun, the richness of the earth and the life-giving power of the rain; bringing forth intricate leaves over time, developing and growing though a process of transformation, finally yielding into a delicate yellow flower – the direct expression of the wholeness of Nature living through her.

The sadness that I felt during my week with Groundsel was a deep recognition of a treasure that I lost when I was a young girl, and this sadness morphed into speechlessness and awe, as through our dialogue she helped me to see her authentic beauty and dynamic expression. In our sacred space of togetherness, my calculative, reductive dictionary of words had no place in my relationship with her, and so we sat in together in speechlessness.

Reflecting back on that week, I am so glad that I welcomed speechlessness and Groundsel into my being – sitting together in an open space of interest and curiosity, allowing them the space to come fully into expression.

Groundsel became my ‘counsellor’; helping me to understand myself a little more fully – not through language, but through a deep connection, a sense of knowing, feeling, sensing. Just as she allowed herself to be transformed and brought into expression by her relationship with the sun, wind, air, water and earth, she also brought into expression my sadness and speechlessness, helping me to gain some understanding of their purpose in my life.

I am so grateful to Groundsel, Craig and Ally for their love and authenticity during this life-changing week, and for bringing into being in a very real and sacred way, Goethean Science.

Groundsel had not only shown herself to me, but she had also brought forth a deep understanding of myself as we connected in a reciprocally rewarding, symbiotic relationship. And, while I need more time to process the many revelations that my dialogue with Groundsel has given me, I am now watching my mind as it gently ‘saunters’ and begins to ask further questions based on the journey that we took together…

What if humankind shifted its consciousness and allowed the natural world to speak purely and authentically in its own environment? What might the world around us become? How might all our relationships be transformed in reciprocally rewarding ways, and how might we start to understand ourselves and our place within Nature with more reverence and a sense of the sacred?

Perhaps I’ll leave those questions for another blog ?

Blog Category: