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.