My Season of Surrender


“Rebellious leaves going out in a blaze of glory, setting trees aflame in riotous color. Reluctant surrender to rumors of coming winter.” ~John Mark Green

“Dreams and myths take us into the dark world of our personal and cultural unconscious, where the roots of the continuing oppression and the spiritual imprisonment of lives lie. If we are willing to look, ready to see whatever may appear, and if we will listen to the voices stirring within us, we will find that out of our transpersonal depths, the gifts of understanding and transformation are at hand.”  ~ Massimilla Harris, Ph.D., and Bud Harris, Ph.D. Into the Heart of the Feminine. p.50

In midlife when Jungian psychology awakened me to the reality of my unconscious self, I grew new eyes and ears. I saw the underlying meaning of images in my daily experiences and nightly dreams. I heard voices in my previously neglected emotional responses to music, literature, and poetry.  I identified with characters in certain fairy tales that spoke to my story and filled me with joy to know I was not alone. I learned that I am part of an archetypal story that has been told since the beginning of time.

I began to observe and understand the metaphorical meaning of Nature: the characteristics and qualities of trees, flowers, birds, animals, mountains, rivers, oceans, sunrises and sunsets, earth, air, water and fire that reflect parts of myself; the responses that Nature makes to the cycles of seasonal change and how my inner life reflects this change.

My new way of seeing and hearing gave me glimpses into hidden chambers of my unconscious whose existence I never suspected. I’ve stubbornly resisted, then eventually accepted painful truths about myself. Gained profound healing insights. Learned to love learning the hidden story of my soul that lay beneath the one my ego believed was true. Grew passionate about sharing what I was learning in my books and this blog. I’m grateful beyond measure that I’ve had, and am still having, the most fascinating, exciting, if not always pleasant, adventure of a lifetime.

Yet, with all all the lessons I’ve learned, growth I’ve experienced, and acceptance of the fact that life and human consciousness are evolving and always will be, a part of me has expected to reach a sense of completion in my elder years. I knew I’d never be perfect or know all the answers, but somehow I thought I’d be enlightened enough to make peace with aging without too much fuss and bother. I imagined myself sitting in a sort of perpetual lotus position, serenely oblivious to my aching back and the pains in my legs while fully enjoying the blessings of age and enlightenment. Yeah, I did.

If that is a reasonable possibility, I still have a lot to learn. If it’s not, and I’m laughing as I write this, I still have a lot to learn! It now seems to me—and nature appears to support this view—that life is a journey with no destination. With no other purpose than to keep recycling old life into new life. And with no other payoff than the exquisite joy of living, loving, and learning.

It strikes me that if this is, indeed, true, then maybe despite all the grumpiness, frustration, and self-doubt I’ve been experiencing of late, this is the very lesson I was meant to learn all along. Maybe it really is all about the journey, and not the destination.  Maybe experiencing the wonder and miracle of my life with the hope of finally coming home is the whole point. Maybe death, and whatever it may bring, is the ultimate prize in this, my season of  reluctant surrender to the rumors of coming winter.

As Persephone returns to Hades,

We too must revisit darkness,

sleep awhile before we rise again,

for fading daylight demands

more logs for the inner soul-fire.

~ Deborah Gregory, “November”. The Shepherd’s Daughter p. 157

You may have noticed that my posts no longer appear regularly.  This is a by-product of my surrender to the vicissitudes of aging!  Some are quite pleasant, by the way. But I haven’t forgotten you and still love you!

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at 


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11 Responses

  1. Oh, Jeanie, you speak to my heart once again, and, as always! What a lovely piece that addresses the confounding fact that my mind is still busy but my body doesn’t want to follow…”the spirit is willing g but the flesh is weak” . I’d love to be more at peace with aging. Start a class after the New Year and I will be there!!! Much love, Beth

    1. Dear Beth, I think our hearts have been in sync ever since we met around 30 years ago. Our paths have varied widely but we’ve both dedicated ourselves to follow and manifest our inner light in our own ways. I suspect that will continue regardless of what happens to our bodies. Start a new class after the New Year? An interesting idea . . . Much love, Jeanie

  2. What richness and joy you offer the world, Jeanie! Thank you so much for planting hope, inspiration, wisdom and love in this poet’s heart today. I found myself resonating throughout, of how I too encountered Jung in mid-life and woke to the reality that relationship with my psyche and nature were two fundamental keys to freedom and healing that I’d been seeking all my life, never understanding why I needed them so much, until I felt them jangle in my hands. And so my long search, above and below, for the locks they would open, began. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be a ‘man’ (an animus figure) that would lead me to unlock them and myself too, but I also had so very much to learn and heal from, I still do.

    Thank you for reassuring me that as soon as I reach the end of one cycle, I’ll soon be starting another, and that I should join you in tearing up any long-held fantasy I may hold of reaching any lasting sense of completion in life. Deep down I think I’ve always known this Truth as I often share with clients when our work together is drawing to an end, “we arrive half-way through one story and exit halfway through another”. In the words of Ursula le Guin, “It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Please know that ‘Matrignosis’ has been a beacon of light on a high hill for me for many years! Thank you for sharing those lines from my ‘November’ poem. Love and light, always and forever, Deborah.

    1. Thank you, Deborah, for your always uplifting words and poetic imagery—keys, locks, entering and exiting through doorways, a beacon of light on a high hill. They add so much to every thought you convey. My earliest visual memory is of following a pinpoint of light through twilight’s gathering darkness as I walked alone and lost along the shore of Lake Michigan. I was three years old. Each parent had gone back to our vacation cabin high on a cliff thinking I was with the other. The light gave me hope. A foreshadowing of things to come. Now following my inner light does the same thing. It brings great comfort to know I have been a light for you, as you are for me and others. Love and light always forever, Jeanie

  3. I know I am a bit younger, but I understand your point of thought right now and feel exactly what is going on in your beautiful head. (especially, I can’t stand the sunless weather here!!)
    I think we are here to pass the exam of life and learn as much as we can, but your quote fascinated me: “To keep recycling old life into new life.”
    In 1940, Jung wrote: Evil is relative, partly avoidable, partly fate; the same goes for virtue, and one often does not know which is worse! (CW 11, §291)
    In any case, I may not know where I am going, but I know I am on my way! Take care, my lovely teacher.

  4. The weather may be sunless where you are now, Aladin, but you are also someone who brings light to others in your original, enlightening posts! I’ve not read that quote from Jung before. It gives me much to think about. Years ago there was a period of time when I argued with my God-image about whether a choice I was tempted to make about a painful inner conflict was evil or virtuous. And sure enough, I did not know which was worse. It turned out that my willingness to surrender to what my religion thought of as evil was a virtue that sealed my fate. It was a choice to leave the collective and pursue my own path. I did not know where I was going then, and I still don’t know, “. . . but I know I am on my way!” Blessings and light my dear friend.

    1. I forever carry your worthy, wise, and kind comment into my heart, my lovely Jean. Your choice to leave the collective and pursue your own path was a virtue, and I dare to say that we might never know where we’re going, but we are on our way. Love and blessing.

  5. I love this, Jeanie. Like the good Virgo I am, I’ve been timely and orderly about sharing blogs and thoughts for so many years. Hearing loss (it gets worse along with the vertigo of Meniere’s Disease) insists I slow down, breathe deeply, and take long walks with my dog. I’m otherwise healthy, but the symptoms of this inner ear chaos make it clear that something has to give. So will it be the blogs every other week or will it be the almost finished Monarch book with all the hurdles to publishing and promoting, hurdles I don’t feel able to jump? Your post gives me a permission to relax. As Vic often said to me, “They’ll write on your tombstone: ‘She tried really hard.'” I’m trying to learn to give up the inner achiever and hang out with my goddesses Artemis and Hestia as we watch deer run through the fields and leaves fall from trees. Sending you love and gratitude.

  6. Dear Elaine,

    I chuckled at the influence of Virgo on you. I must have that somewhere in my horoscope too. As a Taurus, I’m supposed to love comfort and beauty, and in fact, I do. But as the descendent of Dutch Reformed Calvinist ancestors who emigrated to Michigan in the early 1800’s to escape religious persecution, I have spent my adult life being an orderly, hard-working perfectionist. Perhaps the tension between these opposites accounts for my many inconsistencies and inner conflicts! For example, I loved having Bear and Izzy with me all summer at the cabin for so many years. And the long walks we took were medicine for my soul. When they could no longer be with me I missed them desperately. But I also welcomed the extra time to write and meet my self-imposed deadlines. Now I’m giving myself more permission to relax than I have since I was a teenager. Especially if I’m reading. I don’t consider that a waste of time. For me it’s a necessity. But even reading is usually accompanied by a wee dose of guilt. And lately I’ve been seeing ideas for a new book everywhere!! Still reluctant to surrender to the rumors of winter. Love, Jeanie 🙂

  7. Thanks Jeanie so much. This aging business – a mystery in many ways yet so real. I guess the best way is to accept its reality and surrender to it and, in playing our part, hope that the Fates are kindly. I’ve been unwell for far too long and impatient in the process. Until my hand was forced and I had to accept it and slow down.
    In my darkest moments I painted something that I really like. I sent a photo of it to a friend of mine who thought it showed great energy. So that was comforting! I’m getting better but golly it’s been a long haul. Love, Susan

  8. Dear Susan, I love it that your impatience with being unwell brought out your creativity. I think that’s an excellent lesson to ponder. Psychologically, at least, there’s nothing more healing than tapping into our creativity and using it to express the deepest truths of our hearts and souls. Writing has been my primary creative outlet, as I know it has been for you at certain times in your life. I love visual art, but I’m no artist. My inner eyes — in-sights? — are far more refined, and their expressions more comforting to me, than my outer ones. I think the fact that your friend’s thoughts about your painting brought you much comfort is of key importance. It’s a big part of the healing. I’d love to see a photo of it if you’re willing to share it. Aging brings unexpected gifts. Love, Jeanie

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