Over the Thanksgiving weekend my husband, Kip, and I pulled out our Bananagrams game and started playing. If you aren’t familiar with Bananagrams, it’s sort of like Scrabble in that it has little tiles with letters on them, but it has no board. You use the tiles to build your own grid of interlocking words based on the letters you’ve drawn, like a crossword puzzle.
But the other thing about Bananagrams that’s different is that you can rearrange your words at any time. If you draw a letter that you can’t fit into your existing grid, you can tear apart any or all parts of your puzzle and start over.
Kip and I played collaboratively rather than competitively, because it’s just more fun that way. We would draw the next letter and then we would both look at how it could be incorporated into the grid we had built together.
What I learned in the process is that Kip is totally fine with tearing things apart. He has no compunction about dismantling entire regions of the grid if there’s a word he sees could be built with the latest letter, and he always trusts that it will all turn out okay, that there’s a way all the letters can be reconfigured into something new.
I was doubtful at first, and a bit chagrined as I watched him tear apart whole chunks of our precious creation. But he was always right. It always worked out.
Playing the game with him has been an important teaching for me (and convinced me that it’s a really good idea not to play competitively with him!). I’ve been pondering how easily I can get locked into the existing configurations of my life, believing I have no choice but to build on what already has been.
But witnessing Kip’s freedom to begin again has been inspiring, and his faith that it’s all going to be okay has been heartening.
All of this seems like a really important teaching for all of us, frankly, as we near the end of this grueling year. We have watched with varying degrees of alarm the old patterns that governed our lives and that we took for granted being ripped apart. But maybe, ultimately, that’s necessary.
Because the new thing that wants to happen on this planet can’t be built upon the grid—the assumptions and paradigms and precious beliefs—we’ve held in the past. What wants to emerge will be a totally new configuration.
At the center of the old pattern were a few basic words, a few basic beliefs that cannot serve us any longer. Words like FEAR ISOLATION COMPETITION EGO ALONENESS SCARCITY ENEMY.
The new world simply can’t be built on that grid. It will be created from totally different core understandings, like LOVE TENDERNESS COOPERATION CREATIVITY COLLABORATION POSSIBILITY BEAUTY INCLUSION UNION JOY.
And it isn’t just the collective pattern that is being dissolved and reconfigured. More of us are experiencing it in our own lives. I know I am. I can feel something stirring in the deepest recesses of my being. A joyousness and lightness of being is taking shape that wants to be expressed in new ways.
Here in the northern hemisphere we are in the season of the long nights, which is absolutely apt. Darkness, to me, isn’t a bad thing. It is the Mystery. It is the Unknown. It is the time of Gestation. In the darkness we can’t see what is going on or what will emerge. We can only trust that the process that is underway will do what it has come to do.
So many of the celebrations we observe this time of year—Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Christmas—all remind us of the truth that it is in the time of the greatest darkness that the light is reborn. And just like the darkness of the womb, the darkness we find ourselves in right now is serving a purpose. It is holding and gestating possibilities that are yet to be born.