Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Matters?

"Never waste your suffering." This was in response to a question I'd asked him about whether he thought that suffering makes us into better people. He said, "Not necessarily. Not automatically. Suffering just happens, constantly and randomly, and if you don't make anything out of it, then it causes you nothing but harm — it happened to you for no reason. But suffering can also be the greatest possible invitation to transform — but only if you accept that invitation, and only if you go through a complete catharsis, and only if you actually change yourself because of what you've experienced. But that part is up to you. Only you can execute a catharsis in your own life. Suffering without catharsis is nothing but wasted pain. And you should never waste your pain, never waste your suffering. It's powerful stuff, the most powerful stuff there is. Use it. Transform from it. Learn. Grow. Be better."  Jim MacLaren

I want to repeat that one line, because it has never stopped ringing in my head: SUFFERING WITHOUT CATHARSIS IS NOTHING BUT WASTED PAIN.

Don't ever let your pain be wasted. Make something of it. Use it for transformation. Harness its power and evolve.

Jim MacLaren died in 2010.

What I've learned from this new pain is that I am enough.  Or I hope I have learned it.  Before David died I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering What I Was Going To Do Next.  How I was going to make my mark on the world, or make a bigger more important mark on the world.  I was destined for greatness, I needed to find a way to Change Things. 

I thought I knew that things didn't matter.  I was never one for ownership, fancy cars, big houses, expensive clothes or gadgets.  But I still believed that more recognition, power, influence mattered.  I didn't know I believed this, I thought I just wanted to make a difference in the world; but in reality I wanted my difference to be valued so much that it would be recognized and honored.  By many.  For a little while after David died I believed this even more.  I would create meaning in my life again!  I would use my suffering for the greater good!  I would transform myself and the world!  I've calmed down a little bit now. 

Now, I am really learning that stuff doesn't matter.  I am not really any happier with my paid for car and house.  Yes, it's good to not worry about living in my car or choosing rent over food, both of which I spent many years doing, but there are new worries.  Worries don't go away.  And I just figured out that power, recognition, influence are a kind of stuff.  They don't really matter either and they never made me any happier.  When I was younger and riding the wave, looked up to, the go to person, I wasn't any happier.  I still felt like it was never enough. 

Now, what I miss most, what made me happiest, is the love and belonging I felt with David.  The community and family that came with being a part of his life and him being a part of mine.  Hearing people talk about his life and his powerful affect on them brings this into sharp relief.  They remember that he loved them, that he was present for them, that he accepted them where they were and who they were.  No one cares what he did for his work or how influential he was, how much he owned or how nice any of it was. 

I find myself relaxing into the knowledge that I don't have to do anything anymore.  No more striving or worrying or reaching.  There is only the question of how I will use this life and this suffering and sorrow.  Will I use it to make me whole?  To create in myself someone who is capable of love and compassion?  Someone who truly knows what that means?  I hope so. 

(I wrote this post a couple of months ago and found it in drafts.  When I wrote it I think it felt like too much, now it feels like something too share....)

The House Wins

This house stares me down every morning, and most mornings, it wins.  I drop my eyes, my shoulder's curve inward and I slink away. 
I sit outside with my morning coffee and every tree, bush and rock holds a memory.  I go inside and every piece of wood, tile, even the paint holds another memory.  The morning sun shining through the windows and warming the floors, the changes I've made to the shape of the rooms, these things don't keep the house from winning. 
I thought half way through the second year things would be easing off a bit.  And they are.  The grief is no longer a blazing sword, now it's more like an ever present set of eyes.  Watching, always there.  It rarely takes me down anymore but it wears away at me and I am tired.  My struggle now is not how to get through each day but how to find myself again. 
I know I feel like me when I get down off this mountain, away from the hills and trees that always feel so claustrophobic to me.  I know I remember who I am when I am with a student, teaching.  I know my soul breathes at the ocean, with the smell of salt and air I can feel on my skin.  Honestly, many days I want to leave these hills and this house and find a way to something new and clear.  
Someone told me the other day that it was just a house.  And he was right.  But right now, the house still wins. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Our Bodies Tell Our Stories

Our bodies are a container for our stories.  That scar from the time you were learning to ride a bike, the C-section scar that heralded the birth of your child, the breast reduction or augmentation that allowed you to feel more confident in your female body.  The weight you gained or lost to keep men from looking at you because they did it too much when they shouldn't have.  The child who flinches away when you are talking to her and you reach up your hand to brush your hair out of your eyes.  The thrill that runs through you at the sight of your beloved.  The hunched shoulders, the limp, the bitten fingernails.  Our bodies tell our stories. 

And this is something I love:  Ask someone about their tattoo.  Eyes light up and they start talking, even that sullen teenager with the knuckle tattoo will share his story.  Every tattoo has a story, tells something about that person's life.  Mine do.  One of my favorites is the dragonfly and the word for Breathe.  I got it when I turned forty and had been through years of therapy.  My therapist would look at me sometimes and say "Breathe!"  I forgot on a regular basis, a holdover from a childhood trying not to be seen, believing if I simply didn't breathe I would disappear.  That tattoo was a statement of a decision to take up space, taking my place in the world and allowing myself to breathe. 

Today, after months of searching for the right design and the right artist, I got a new tattoo.  A chicory flower.  When we named our property Chicory Hill Farm I went out and bought seeds to scatter on the property.  I was too impatient to wait for the weeds to find their way up our hill.  Because Chicory is a weed, growing on the side of every road and highway, in the cracks of the sidewalks, in the fields.  It gets mowed and cut down and walked on and it comes back.  Over and over it will rise up and bloom all summer long with the most perfect purple-blue, a color rarely seen in nature.  It shines with an inner light in the mornings. 

It is a symbol for me, not only for the survival of my rough childhood but my survival of this last year and half.  I've wanted this tattoo for a long time and only now felt that I had actually survived and could honestly wear it.  There have been so many days when I was cut down, on my knees, not certain I would be able to get up again. Finally, now, I know that no matter what happens I will get back up.  And like the Chicory, I will be strong and hardy and beautiful. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When Everything Was Possible

There is a spot next to the doorway of the old barn that is a snapshot of love for me.  Passing by instantly brings me back to a moment in time that defines something about my relationship with David.  We had been haying all day and it is hot dirty work.  I suspect we had just finished unloading a wagon of square bales into the old barn, stacking them into every inch of available space from floor to rafters.  A couple of folks would throw them from the wagon into the barn and a couple more folks would throw them up to someone who teetered on the top bales trying to find the best spot for each one.  Sun shines through the empty spaces between the logs and the dust and hay float in the rays.  Honeysuckle covers the fence on the other side of the hay wagon and David is leaning against it, drinking from an icy water bottle and wiping his forehead, leaving a line of dirt behind.  His shirt is soaked and sticking to him, gloves shoved in his pocket.  That moment in time: hot, dirty, clear bright sun, the smell of cut hay and salty sweat and honeysuckle, and looking across at him; is pure love for me.  We were new to the relationship and I remember being so undone by the sense of belonging with him and this group of people.  I remember believing in forever. 

Now I sit in that spot and cry for the lost innocence.  Is it possible to get that sense of a future back after it has been lost?  How will I ever trust in some long stretching future again, knowing how easily and quickly it can be derailed?  Am I sad for losing that future with David, for the innocence lost, or for the sense of belonging that I treasured so deeply?  I don't know, maybe all of it. Maybe simply for that one shining golden moment when everything was possible.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Soundtrack of My Life

Driving home from the Bair family reunion I realized my Ipod is a soundtrack of my life with David. 

I fell in to a burning ring of fire....

If you've been thinking you're all that you've got then don't feel alone any more, 'cause when we're together then we've got a lot. You are the river and I am the shore....

Our house is a very, very, very fine house, with two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy 'cause of you....

Multiply life by the power of two....the closer I'm bound in love to you, the closer I am to free....

Oh yeah, didn't we and don't we make it shine, we're standing in the center of something rare and fine...

Love prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.  With thanksgiving I'll be a living sanctuary for you....

Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in....

Oh we're not the jet set, we're the old Chevrolet set...but ain't we got love....

I was overcome with a kind of wild grief, sure I couldn't go on and knowing there was no going back.  Lost. 

Lost and alone on some forgotten highway travelled by many, remembered by few....searching for something that I can believe in....

The Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is one of the loveliest spots on earth.  It is another map of our time together.  We drove that drive so many times with such joy and anticipation.  Then there was the last drive when he was so sick and then again with Peggy and Michael for the memorial service and then the first time alone.
But that valley was a part of my life before David, as were the songs.  I used to hike and camp there regularly and Jesse and I would go to summer camp in those mountains.  I remember going to Luray Caverns as a child and driving the Skyline Drive in our old breadtruck on our trips from Florida to New England.  We had two eight track tapes that we sang over and over up the entire east coast.

Dang me, dang me, they oughta take a rope and hang me.  High from the highessst treeee.  Woman would you weep for me....

Oh you cain't roller skate in a buffalo herd, you cain't roller skate in a buffalo herd but you can be happy if you've a mind tooooooo......

The trick is to honor the past and find a way forward through that old familiar soundtrack. Walking by the light of a flashlight beam...one tentative step at a time.  Trusting in the light. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

It Makes You Feel Fine

This morning the ocean was a khaki green, shining with some internal light; whitecaps floating like lace on the surface.  It glowed against the deep, dark gray bowl overhead that stretched from horizon to horizon.  I love the ocean in all her moods so I decided to sit and see what would happen.  After an hour or so the gray turned to blue with a slight breeze and folks poured out of their houses to sit, swim, walk and do what folks do at the beach. 

The water is warm and slides over my skin like silk, it's so heavy I rest on the surface finding it almost impossible to sink.  Home, the place where all life begins. 

I am afraid of ponds and lakes.  I don't trust the inhabitants:  snakes, alligators, leaches and snapping turtles.  They don't seem to like me any more than I like them.  Growing up on the gulf coast of Florida I know the citizens of the ocean and I trust them.  We give each other room and get along just fine.  I feel safe here in this water that glides over me and holds me up.

My skin smells of salt, sweat and suntan lotion and my hair returns to it's natural state; a mass of thick curls that I can barely get my fingers through.  I settle in and let out a deep breath that I didn't even know I was holding.  Home.

"Yeah, now the sun goes slidin' 'cross the water;
Sailboats, they go searchin' for the breeze.
Salt air it ain't thin,
It can stick right to your skin,
And make you feel fine.
It makes you feel fine."

Jimmy Buffet "Tin Cup Chalice"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

We Should Be Dancing

We all walk around in these so very fragile bodies.  It's a miracle we last as long as we do.  I'm at the beach this week and I spent the morning watching people.  We show our story in our bodies.  I am struck by how uncomfortable most folks appear to be.  They mostly don't really inhabit their bodies, they drag them around.  Only the little ones are fully present in their bodies, unconcerned about what they look like or things that hurt.  But I like most the little old ladies, nut brown and wrinkled, wearing huge floppy hats.  My favorites also wear bikinis, not giving a damn what anyone else thinks they should be wearing.  Some of them inhabit their bodies again, moving like the little girls they once were, unconcerned about what the world has heaped on them.

I saw an older couple today sitting on the edge of the surf, legs stretched out in front of them.  They were a bit rolly-poly and I watched them hold hands and lower themselves to the sand.  I could tell they'd known each other a long long time.  Lovely. 

How we stand and move in our skin tells so much about our story.  What we are afraid of, where we hurt, what we try to hide.  Fragile.  We are just so incredibly fragile and we walk around like we don't know it.  I want to go up to everyone, one at a time, take their face in my palms and tell them they are beautiful.  Just go from person to person, in case they have forgotten, which most of us have.  We are beautiful and fragile and perfect.  We should be dancing. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Let The Rough Side Drag, Let The Smooth Side Show

My soul's been feeling a bit ragged lately so today I ignored everything and took myself off.  I drove the ten miles of snaking swirling roads down to the bottom of a bowl our mountains make and into a two block town called Hot Springs.  It's claim to fame is that the Appalachian Trail runs through it.  Locals know it for the outdoor hot-tubs that sit on the edge of the French Broad River.  On a cool summer evening you can rent one and sit as it fills with hot spring water, listening to the river talk and watching the fireflies light up the trees.  There is also a large grassy field dotted with huge old oaks  and every year this time the Bluff Mountain Music Festival happens.  It's a hidden joy.  The people who come love their mountains fiercely and the Hipster vibe that has taken over Asheville and is encroaching on my little town hasn't made it this far yet.  The people gather with their lawn chairs and sit in the shade, eating barbeque, listening to old time mountain music and dancing.  Everyone dances, whether they know how or not, no matter how old or young they are.  Daddies with little girls, ten year olds and teen agers, and couples in their eighties who circle the floor with complete ease.  Ninety year old women sing the old ballads and tell stories about the mountains and folks who have been playing together for forty-five years add a twenty year old and keep on playing. 

I set my chair in the shade of an oak and settle down, tipping my head back to find the edge of that deep green bowl that we are in, letting the twin fiddles soar over my head, and my soul sinks to the ground.  The edges smooth a bit.  Why don't I come here more often?  Why did I stop learning the mandolin?  And oh, I miss dancing!  Still, those things don't feel like a critique, only thoughts, good ideas to consider once again.  Times like these, I love these old old mountains and the life they contain and have sheltered all these years. 

Coming home I am reminded of an old Jesse Winchester song: 

It's a good thing the sea's not dry
Such a good thing that cows don't fly
What a good thing to make a joyful noise
It's a good thing that beds don't talk
Such a good thing that chairs can't walk
What a good thing that God made girls and boys
Let the rough side drag
Let the smooth side show
While you pull that load
Everywhere you go
It's a good that the air is free
Such a good thing that a man can see
What a good thing the Lord above has done
It's a good thing to be young and strong
Such a good thing we're not old for long
What a good thing that making love is fun
Let the rough side drag
Let the smooth side show
While you pull that load
Everywhere you go
Let the rough side drag
Let the smooth side show
While you pull that load
Everywhere you go
While you pull that load
Everywhere you go
While you pull that load
Everywhere you go

Monday, May 12, 2014

MIracles and Magic

It's been a rough few weeks and I got really scared.  Not scared like when I was a single mom and didn't know how I was going to pay the rent, or when David was sick and dying, or even when I was a kid in a really bad situation.  Then, no matter what happened, hope lived inside of me.  I never doubted that I could make things different.  This was different, I realized that place inside of me where hope lived was empty and it scared me. I didn't know how to live without believing I could make things better. 

I've been stumbling around for a while, trying to figure out what happened and what I needed to do to bring hope back.  I finally admitted to myself that I had no clue and that scared me even more.  Finally, I did the only thing I could think of to do, I told the folks in my grief group that I had lost hope and I was terrified.  It helped to be heard and then on the way home I saw these beautiful and perfect things:

The first of the fireflies.

A few adult geese in a field and all around and among them a tumble of puff ball babies.

And then perhaps the most perfect thing of all:  Looking down a side street I saw a young man riding his bicycle home from work or the university with a beautiful red and blue cape flowing out behind him.  You know, the silky superhero kind. 

After watching the bluebirds choose a nest box, build a nest and feed babies I saw the fledglings take their first flight, something I have never seen before.

I woke up the next morning and that empty spot in my heart wasn't empty.  Hope had come back, quietly at first, but over the last week it's voice has gotten stronger.  The light in the afternoon makes me happy, working in the garden satisfies my soul, and somewhere I believe life will be good again.  I still don't know how it will happen, or what I need to do, or where I will end up but I believe again that I will figure it out. 

It's all miracles and magic and I will be satisfied with that. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

All I Would Ever Need

The redbud sapling in the side yard is set against a backdrop of dark pines and this time of year it glows.  Each delicate heart shaped leaf is illuminated from within with it's own particular shade of green.  It is a glory against the black branches and pine boughs.  At first, I thought it was the sun lighting the leaves, but today with a cloudy start the leaves glow with even more intensity.

I sit with my coffee between two native azaleas that are just in bloom.  They smell like the beach.  I can't even name it any better than that.  It is something of sun and salt and sand, a biting slight sweetness.  Mos of the azaleas are as sweet as honeysuckle,  but these two are Beach.  Planted in just these particular spots for me to sit in my patch of morning sun and sip my coffee.  Pure pleasure. 

But the glowing redbud - that's a delicious surprise.  Every Spring there are surprises.  I don't keep a neat garden and plants rearrange themselves at will.  Every year the Columbine, Evening Primrose, Four O'Clocks and strawberries move around.  They come up in unexpected places, even the driveway.

Unexpected glories, traveling mercies, and inner illumination.  If I could manage those with the abandon my garden appear to, it might be all I would ever need in this life of mine. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Isn't Life Just Like That?

It rained last night.  That's an understatement.  It poured, and lightening flashed and thunder roared.  This morning the creek is up over the bridge.  It's a good twenty or thirty feet up the road on either side and the force moves boulder and tree trunks.  There is one on the bridge that will take a tractor to move.

The water flows, thick and creamy like milk chocolate, and creates a back wave as it leaves the far side of the bridge.  Watching, it's hard to believe the creek will be calm, clear and blue-green again.  There's a three foot high sapling that is almost under water.  It appeared last summer after a storm and I am almost sure it is what I called as a child, a powder puff tree.  I love it for my childhood memories and I don't care that it's a "trash tree."  It has an orange ribbon tied around it in an attempt to protect it from the men and their tractors. That blaze of orange is just visible over the milk chocolate waters.  It bends with the force but it's still there.  I often wonder about it's story and how it came to be rooted exactly there, a gift from the chaos of a summer storm. 

When David was sick I identified deeply with this creek; how the landscape of it, like our lives, changed regularly.  Normal for a creek is a fluid thing.  For a time it is clear and green and I can see into the deep spots, then it floods and it's hard to believe it will ever have that calm beauty again.  But it does.  There is a new boulder, a new sapling, a sandbar where there wasn't one, but the creek settles into this new landscape with it's old beauty shining through. 

Isn't life just like that? 

I am graced with our farm creek to remind me when fear, chaos, and upheaval sweep through my life:  normal changes, but the essence stays the same.  Water returns to it's state of Grace every single time. 

Isn't life just like that? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Forever Being Changed

Spring is the hardest time of year for me.  It is such a tender time, new life pushing to be born and being knocked back over and over again.  I ache for every Lilac bloom and new leaf, the fragile Bleeding Heart with it's translucent stem curving into those dripping pink and white hearts, the deep red Peony leaves with their tightly closed buds, the graceful curve of the pink and green Japanese Maple.  I have always said that I hate Spring with it's teasing and endless days of becoming.  I think maybe what I dislike the most is the fact that Winter simply does not let go as easily as the other seasons.  Spring turns into Summer without much fuss and Summer becomes Fall, with it's simple letting go.  But Winter, Winter holds on with a vengeance and just when it seems like we are free of it, it comes back.

I used every sheet in the house last night to protect that new life  just becoming and trying to be born.  I'm not sure it helped.  The blueberries and strawberries seemed to appreciate the cover.  The other tender things are doubled over this morning, their lifeblood frozen in their stems, in spite of my attempts to help.  I can only trust to their inner nature and the warmth of the sun, hoping they will spring up again and sing like the Daffodils did not so long ago. 

Perhaps it is my tender nature that empathizes too much in the Spring.  I want so badly for life to be easier.  For all of us. In the last couple of weeks two friends have lost fathers and two others have had terrifying and life changing diagnoses.  Life turns on a dime, changes with the swoop of the North wind, a flash of light, a phone call.  We hope for "normal,"  for life to ease into Spring the way the TV and magazines show it to us, with sun and bunnies and beautiful flowers.  But here is the thing, there is no normal; we are brought to our knees and if we are lucky and strong and flexible enough we get back up again.  We get back up changed, scarred and perhaps a bit misshapen, but up and on to what comes next.  No one, no one gets out of here without forever being changed. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Closer I'm Bound In Love To You, The Closer I Am To Free

I woke up this morning to one of the cats chittering on the bed, tail flicking, intent on the chickadee winging from screen to screen on the porch outside the bedroom.  It happens every spring and I have no idea how they get in, unless it's through the hole the cat's have created for their ease of entering and leaving the porch.  You would think that once in the birds would find their way out again. 

I am prepared.  I grab the bungee cord kept on a hook for just this purpose and secure the screen door to the porch rail.  I convince the cat, against her instincts, that she does not want to be out there with us and I begin to talk the bird out the door.  Murmuring as if to a child, "It's okay. Don't be afraid.  Come this way."  Then going still to give her time to think.  Just as I begin to wonder if I will have to throw a towel over her she lands on the open space where the door was and she is gone.  Up into the huge soaring pine on the edge of the hill. 

Don't I fly around like that?  Desperate for a way out - blind to how I got here but able to see so clearly where I want to be.  

As a child I used to fantasize about these worlds within worlds.  This bird on this porch, with me the compassionate and benevolent great being seemed just like me as the bird with some other great being opening the door to safety, and so on and so on.  Worlds within worlds.  This could keep me occupied for some time, even if it didn't particularly provide comfort.  More often than not, I got lost in trying to figure out where the rescue was, why it did not seem to come.  I grew into an adult who believed that freedom from love and all those things that become walls, was where safety lay. 

Now I believe otherwise.  Love is what frees us.  Love is the power that opens the door.  After loving and being loved well, connection no longer feels like a trap.  The door opens, the walls disappear, and I am free to come and go.  Holy ground, full of possibility.  There really is only love or fear.  I choose love, over and over again.

Ambushed By Grief

I have been ambushed by grief again.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was sad.  Not just sad, but kicked in the chest can't breathe, sad.  It has been all I can do to get out of bed and do what must be done. The dishes pile up in the sink, the laundry goes unfolded, cat and dog hair coalesces into puff balls.  I cry as I drink my coffee and on the way to work, where I gather myself together bit by bit and then I cry again on the way home.  It takes so much energy to keep the pain at bay.

Do you know how hard it is to swim and cry at the same time?  I force myself to swim a couple of times a week.  Eventually, my body responds to the warm salt water and I move with some spark of joy, wishing I could swim all day.  The easy parts are so few and far between. 

It has been bothering me for a week and a half, this sadness.  Usually I can tease a feeling apart and find it's source, work with it, move through it.  This sadness eluded me until driving home from work yesterday when the chorus of a song caught my attention.  "I am a stranger here, just passing through but each new place leaves it's own tattoo.  I go along gathering stones, building alters on the side of the road."  I miss belonging to someone.  As soon as this bubbled up I relaxed into the rightness of it.  Now I could cry in earnest.  I miss belonging to someoneI miss being seen and known.

At night when I get into bed my heart stops for a moment.  I can still feel how we settled into the night together.  My arm still knows the shape of his hip and how to wrap over it and up his chest.  My legs still know exactly how to twine over his.  I know the smell of the back of his neck as I fit my body into his.  It is both real and unreal, a body memory that will not go away.  I feel half here.  I know who I used to be, when we belonged to each other.  It's true what they say about two becoming one and when that was broken I was lost.  I didn't know how to be in the world anymore.  I walk around now with a slowly, oh so slowly, healing wound. Just when I get comfortable with it something rips the scab off.

Love really does break us open.  I do not know yet, or truly believe, that we are put back together again.  However, because others have said it before me, I have some small hope that I carefully keep alive.  In the meantime, my heart remembers belonging to another. 

                                "...and when the work of grief is done,
                                the wound of loss will heal
                                and you will have learned
                                to wean your eyes
                                from that gap in the air
                                and be able to enter the hearth
                                in your soul where you loved one
                                has awaited your return
                                all the time."
                                           John O'Donahue (For Grief)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Love Wins, again

Here's the thing ya'll:  We only have this tiny little moment.  We might have forty years, or five; we might have only this next breath.  So dream, plan, prepare but don't put off.  Do what you love, what brings you the greatest joy.  Be present with everyone you meet, most especially those you love.  Do not lose of moment of that. 

Life will knock you down and as you get to your knees it will knock you down again.  Keep getting up, it's worth it.  Love will break you open, let it.  It will catch you by surprise, show up when you thought it wasn't possible.  Stay open to the possibility. 

Life will be terrible and wonderful and it will be okay. 

Sometimes I believe all this, I even know it deep in my bones.  And then sometimes I scream at the sky and fall down on the ground and cry in the sun.  Sometimes peace floods through my soul and I am in love with the world.  Sometimes I hate that I am the one left behind. 

But here's the thing.  There is NO time!  Hurry up, run to that thing you love and drop those things that dull your soul.  Just walk away, it will be okay.  There will be a day when you wonder what the hell you were thinking all those years, what you were waiting for.  Don't let there be regret.  Go out in a blaze of glory knowing you loved your life and every single thing in it. 

I know these things are said over and over so often that they are platitudes and clich├ęs.  AND they are true. 

Just take my word for it.  Leap and the net will appear.  Be brave.  There really is no other choice.  In the end, Love Wins. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

1,000 Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Ground

This morning I witnessed a tipping point.  I sit every morning in my little patch of winter sun, on the edge of the porch, my feet on the stone that serves as a step.  It doesn't really matter how cold it is, I get so tired of the woodstove fire and I'm not really an inside sort of person.  I watch, taking in the changes brought in by the new day and the Daffodils are one of my first sightings.

 Do you know how the Daffodils, those bright brave heralds of Spring, unfurl right on the edge of the right time?  It is such good timing for me, so weary with winter and longing for warmth and such ill advised timing for them. And do you also know how they bend to kiss the ground when they are hit with the inevitable return to winter?  And how somehow during the day they come upright again?

A pure miracle. 

Today as I took a sip of coffee, one popped upright and stood vibrating for a long moment.  A few minutes later another, and then another.   They sing when they lift their heads from the ground, I swear they do. 

And of course, I thought of Rumi and then myself.  If I could be so brave in my fragile body, trusting in whatever magic, or grace, there is.  Wouldn't I bow and kiss the ground and then vibrate and sing when I lifted my head once again? 

“Today I wake up empty and frightened. Don’t go to the door of the study and read a book. Instead, take down the dulcimer, let the beauty of what you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground, there are a thousand ways to go home again.” – Rumi

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Awkward Grace

We are in that in-between time where it's too chilly to not have a fire, but when I do, I have to crack the windows.  After three days of warm sunny weather low heavy clouds have blown in on the North West wind.  The trees are talking to each other, rubbing elbows and murmuring softly as they do when the wind rolls through.  My little puddle of winter sun is not so warm today, it's no match for what the the wind brought in.  The birds are busy, a sure sign more weather is to come.

I'm tired before I've begun.  Sore from digging garden beds yesterday, foggy from a restless night of dreams and lonely.  This time of year is a lonely time for me.  I long to share the work and the wonder, to sit and plan over morning coffee.  To do our work and come together again over dinner and the too warm fire. 

This morning as I walked out to feed the chickens I stopped, listening to the turkeys calling to each other in the trees down the hill.  Unseen and present.

Yesterday sitting on the porch in my tiny pool of weak winter sun  I looked up to see a small herd of deer grazing on the edge of the garden.  Peace and a hint of joy over the existence of that sort of thing were my first instincts.  Hard the heels of that was, "I'm going to have to plant the peas somewhere else this year."  Awkward grace, so beautiful in the deer, in my friend's giant Great Dane puppy, is not so lovely in us humans. Once we leave that early adolescent, long legged awkwardness, it's hard to see the grace within or without. 

So much joy and beauty, so much grace and awkwardness, unseen and present.  Mostly, I'm just tired before I begin and longing for Summer.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kind of Like Me

The garden is at it's worst right now.  Tired, half dead, raggedy with the detritus of fall littering every space.  Here and there are brave green shoots of Iris, Daffodil, and Lilly.  Too soon.  They peek up and are stung into stillness.  Not able to move forward or back, having to sit and wait for warmer weather.  The weeds however, flourish.  I pull them absentmindedly all through the darkest coldest days.  Even though I did what I thought was a fine job of preparing the garden for winter it does not look comfortably put to bed.  It looks like a restless child, covers tossed here and there, toys, crumbs, clothes scattered over everything.  Does the garden dream in winter, wondering if it will make it?  Feeling lost in the darkness?  Or is it better at this than I am? 


I haven't written on here in so long I forgot how to get to the blog.  My mother insisted I needed to write again.  She might be right.  Sometimes she is.  She was right about this: 

Almost a week to the day after David died she stood with me in our bedroom, insisting that I choose my favorites of his shirts and put them in a black plastic trash bag to take with me to the first memorial service in Hanover.  I didn't want to.  I wasn't ready to have them gone.  She insisted, standing there with that bag open.  I did it.  One of David's nieces had told me that when I was ready she would take the shirts and turn them into a quilt. 

She has been teasing me a bit during the year, sending an email telling me where she was in the process but never letting me know anything about it.  Then on Friday, March 7th; she wrote that it was finished.  A full year to the day later the quilt was ready.  It came in the mail on Monday and was so perfect, so full of his presence that I simply sat with it in my lap and cried.  Good crying.  It was like I got him back.  I remember every shirt, the old plaid flannel one that he wore every morning as he drank his coffee, before it was quite warm enough for just a Tshirt.  The old gray one with holes in the elbows and a frayed collar that I wouldn't let him get rid of because I loved it so much.  The blue one that matched his eyes.  The one he wore when he had to dress up. The two that his ex-wife made him, that I should've hated, but I loved the linen fabrics that changed color depending on the way the light hit them.  The list goes on.  So many memories held in those fabrics.

It is the perfect size to wrap up in on these crazy spring nights and it looks like it was made to be in this house.  Which I guess it was. 

This was a gift in another way as well.  In the back of my mind when I think of all the gifts I received during this time, I am sure that I will never have a gift to give when it is my turn.  I don't cook well, I can't play music, I'm not a super good organizer, but I do quilt.  I could do this for someone.  That realization moved me forward just a bit more. 

I've been writing again, on paper, maybe I'll start up here again.  A bit over a year into this I still have days where I simply manage to get through what is required of me.  But sometimes, sometimes, I have glimpses of something that makes me think I might find joy again.  Love wins, right?