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Category: Poems

Slowly

Slowly

 

Slowly

Walking out of the darkness, shrouded in a specific heaviness

I see rays of light so bright in their intensity

Heat sears my face and a fullness grows in my heart

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

My back guards against all misdeeds

Eyes gazing towards absolution

Comfort in the mystery, seeded in the unknown

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

With each passing day I make some progress

Inching closer to everything

Leaving behind nothing but my shadow

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

I begin to shed layer upon layer

Seeking a blissful lightness

Butterfly wings emerging from a cocoon

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Sadness, sickness, loneliness and fear

Celebration, joy, tenderness and togetherness.

Every emotion under my skin makes an appearance

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Days change, seasons change, people in my life change

I continue to walk forward, bit by bit

Deliberately, thoughtfully, towards only myself

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

At first I resist, frightened and scared

Now I press forward for me, no one else

Willingly, excited with possibilities

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Time passes, my heart beats with anticipation

Living each adventure as it comes and goes

Slowly, I surrender to the path and allow hope to sing

Peacefully, I take yet another step and take flight.

-Lavinia Busch

 

 

Why is it that the answers I seek always seem elusive?  In practice, the old adage one step forward, two steps back leaves me disillusioned and lost. To this end, I had a deeply emotional experience while walking a few days ago. Writing poetic verse in my head with each step, I simply could not stop the words and emotions from pouring out.  After having written a full piece and walking over five miles, I cried.  Not bitter tears of sadness but tears of a profound letting go.

 

Having an experience such as this, I often question what in my personal life may be out of sorts. Troubles I have pushed down into the depths of my psyche, afraid of what a closer analysis might reveal. I am also aware that it takes a combination of events to ruffle my feathers rather than just one. I may have personal things on my mind, professional matters that are pressing and family dynamics that are stressful.  It is never just as simple as one thing; I am far too complex for that.

 

Walking and writing, I was reminded that life is not a sprint but a marathon.  Anything that is troubling me will find its way to resolution. Whether a resolution of my liking or not, it will come nonetheless.  I need not always have the answers. On this particular day, walking up one of my favorite hills, I once again made the decision to let go and resigned myself to living in and accepting the unknown.  My tears were tears of relief, fear and anticipation welcoming the space between conflict and resolution, doubt and understanding, an uncomfortable place to be sure. In my case, discomfort is always a precursor to growth. Like it or not this has always proven to be true.

 

“It has taken me quite a few years to realize the fact that most of the thoughts in my head are not necessary.”

― Bert McCoy

 

I inherently know that my life will end.  Upon the moment of my death, I may find myself still befuddled and bewildered, caught in that space between.  With this knowledge, I alone am left with the choice to step off the treadmill of indecision and soar. The process of enlightenment can be laboriously slow. Each life event comes with a specific lesson and opportunity for growth. Some of these lessons arrive quietly without much notice while others are abrupt and painful in the unfolding. The only guarantee is that the lessons will continue to present, even when I have had enough and think I cannot bear another.

 

That day on the hill, I found a momentary sense of calm and serenity. Even though life is forever proving the security I crave to be elusive, I am okay. I know I will persist, carry on and live my life to the best of my ability. Everything around me may continue to swirl and flex but I can stand in the middle of this vortex and free myself from the outcome.  I can create a steady and secure environment regardless of what outside forces move against me and become stronger for having done so. With this momentary enlightenment, taking a deep and soulful breath, I smiled. Feeling the wind on my face, the sun shining down, I allowed my mind to be still. I reveled in this stillness, a peaceful surrender to all that is unknown and may remain so. Continuing to live in the mystery is one of my greatest challenges and at the same time a beautiful gift.

 

The Invitation

The Invitation

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

 

As poems go, this one strikes a chord. As one drawn by the heart and soul of another, I find societies emphasis on all else tiring. I am not deceived by this costume or covering worn in an attempt to appear familiar to many and foreign to few.  I can be in the same space with another and see they are putting on errs, hiding pain, sadness, frustration. Oriah speaks to this with “if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without, moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.” It makes people so uncomfortable to be face to face with another’s pain let alone their own.  We are taught that we must tough it out, be strong, never let anyone see us in a state of weakness. My initial inclination is always fixing the problem. I try to fight this urge by using deep listening as my response instead.

 

I am also deeply touched by the lines, “I want to know if you can, disappoint another, to be true to yourself. If you can bear, the accusation of betrayal, and not betray your own Soul.” Coming from a very traditional home in which being highly goal oriented was valued, I found myself lost between expectations I thought my parents held and my own desires and creative urges. I was academic and could have been a doctor, lawyer or CEO. Instead I was draw to the arts, the ethereal and aesthetic qualities of movement and writing. It has taken me much reflection to be at ease with this contradiction. I know my family loves me, but my passions are not viewed as a contribution in quite the same way as more traditional work.

 

Finally, I see myself in the last stanza. “I want to know, if you can be alone, with yourself, and if you truly like, the company you keep, in the empty moments.” My best friend is myself. Strange as it may sound, I enjoy my own company. I like to be lost in thought, listening to music with no distraction. I am definitely not a recluse, but I do pull energy from moments of solitude. When I find that same quality in another, knowing we can be alone together sitting in the same room while deeply immersed in something that speaks to me, I am overjoyed. It is this type of person that I am drawn to; a person that knows when to provide space for quiet and when to meet me at the gates of my solitude, drawing me out into the world to play and explore once again.

 

You are Oceanic

You are Oceanic

You are Oceanic

All she wanted

was to find a place to stretch her bones.

A place to lengthen her smiles

and spread her hair.

A place where her legs could walk

without cutting and bruising.

A place unchained.

She was born out of ocean breath.

I reminded her;

‘Stop pouring so much of yourself

into hearts that have no room

for themselves.

Do not thin yourself.

Be vast.

You do not bring the ocean to a river’.

Tapiwa Mugabe

 

Have you ever had the urge to just walk out of wherever you may be and “stretch your bones”? I certainly have had to restrain myself from doing so on more than one occasion. A part of me is always hearing the call of the unknown, urging me to let go of the responsibilities that I have shouldered over the years. I have named these urges my Thelma and Louise moments. While I have no intention of driving off a cliff per the film, I do harbor a strong desire to run away with the gypsies on most days.

 

As a woman and an empath, I sometimes get caught in the cycle of caring for others while forgetting to care for myself. I find this part of my personality difficult to manage and even more difficult to understand. Having given far too many years to others that did not value me in any meaningful way, the line from Tapiwa Mugabe’s poem, “Stop pouring so much of yourself into hearts that have no room” speaks to me. I see that my willingness to care deeply for others never came with an expectation of reciprocal treatment, quite the contrary. My motto in life has always been to lead by example with the hopes that I inspire those I care about in some small way. By doing so, I aim to instill a healthy curiosity leading to exploration of deeper and more meaningful truths.

 

After many years of living in this way, I have come to realize that no matter how many good intentions I have, I cannot force anyone to hold the precept of love in their heart. If their heart has no room, if they are unable to see the value in this end, it becomes an action of diminishing returns.  Rather, I choose to believe in the possibility of being “unchained”, to live as if I were an ocean moving freely with the tides, predictable in my unpredictability. I wish to not worry so much about others souls with a knowing that only they have the ability to find themselves. This is not my responsibility and it never was. I can continue to be the best example I am capable of, but must let go of the end result with some grace and a belief that all will be well.

 

The gentle rhythm of the tides, holding within a fierce strength is representative of the ebb and flow of my inner self, my soul. To love another requires a give and take, a push and pull, a dance between moments of surrender and strength. At times I lead and at other times I allow the tides to take me where they will. It is in this surrender that I always find my voice, my strength. Trusting another to take the lead, becoming “unchained” from the illusions of love and not being fearful of the “cutting and bruising” that will inevitably happen, as it always will in the tides of a relationship, allows for a sense of peaceful acceptance.  As long as I am seen and valued the rest is unimportant and not worth the worry. I am indeed an ocean: deep, thoughtful, intense, blissful, gentle, beautiful, strong, mysterious and so many other things. If I value myself first, I can than reveal the deep and beautiful oceans of my soul and know that I am free to love and be loved without restriction and unchained. There is nothing more mesmerizing than free flowing water.

 

She Let Go

She Let Go

 

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Ernest Holmes/Rev. Safire Rose

 

 

Trust is a funny thing. It can only be built over many years, trials and tribulations. Especially for someone like myself that does not trust anything or anyone easily. The thought of letting go and just moving can be terrifying for me.  I have grown to understand that for me, fear is the best indicator of what I should be embracing and moving towards. To do this, I have to let go of expectations, perfectionism and self criticism by stepping into my fears.  This blog has been one of the ways in which I have faced my fears head on, by publishing my most intimate thoughts.  Even so, I certainly have other areas of my life that have not quite seen this commitment to fearless living realized. Everyone has some things that they hold close to their chest and I am no different in this way.

When I am not sure I have the courage to let go for myself, I think about my daughter and what I would like to leave as a legacy. I don’t want her to be afraid of the unknown, I want her to jump into life even with all of its uncertainty and self doubt, to live without hesitation and worry. As the poem reads above, I want her to “…let go of the fear…let go of the judgments….let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.” I wish all of this for her and more. She is already much more fearless than myself and I take pride in the fact that she can breathe so freely into her life with such joy and passion.

In my view, words are cheap and teaching by example is the only authentic way that I know how to parent. My hope is that even when I fall short, miss the mark and stumble, my daughter will see me getting back up and trying again and again.  Recommitting to just letting go and living my life to its fullest potential. I hope she is witness to more moments in which I allow myself to move without hesitation and pronouncement. Times in which I stop the constant risk assessment and discover, “There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.”

It is in these instances, when fear is replaced with a light and effortless joy, that I have arrived where I was meant to be all along. I arrive with a smile on my face, the wind in my hair and the possibilities shining in front of me. Leaving doubt far behind, I just let go.

Loving One Another

Loving One Another

 

Love One Another

Love one another, but make not a bond of love.

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together.

For the pillars of the temple stand apart.

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

-Khalil Gibran

 

On this day in which we celebrate all aspects of love, I find myself reflecting on ways in which I have personally experienced this powerful emotion. More often than not, love has been the driving force in many of my life decisions and directions. It has taken a process of growth and maturity to discern the various presentations of love and one that I continue to focus intently on even today.

 

My story is not a unique one. I come from a large and loving family. Yes, we have our differences, but we genuinely care for one another. As a young child, I recall bearing witness to the great love that my mother and father have, yet at the same time not having the benefit of discussion about what it meant to deeply love another. It was in every way, an education by example. Born into this caring environment I had no reference for the difference between infatuation and love, that lesson was yet to come.

 

Given my innate curiosity, in my teenage years I was attracted to the darker side of infatuation and unknowingly feel into its grasp. The man that would become my husband was much older than myself and had already experienced many things in life. Not being able to discern the difference between lust and love, I was completely drawn in by this relationship and felt trapped by my conservative moral obligations. It was not a healthy relationship, in fact it was quite damaging for me on many levels. Similarly, as one the connects very deeply with anyone I choose to give my heart too, it took great strength and will power to unravel these connections as well as two decades of my life to be completely free from the grip of infatuation.  

 

Thankfully, I did not leave this relationship without having experienced true love in some form. Having given birth to two children by the age of 24, I was deeply blessed to experience the unconditional love of mother to child. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to continually engage my heart in the way God intended in loving these children. If not for them I do not believe I would have felt alive during the darker years of my marriage, the despair was that intense. They are two beautiful angels that have held my heart when I could not find the strength on my own. That is love in every sense of the word.

 

“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”

-Rumi

 

Recently, beginning a new adventure that requires bravery and some faith, I find myself feeling tentative and protective of where I have come from and where I now stand. In reading the poem by Khalil Gibran, I identified with a common theme that speaks directly to my current state of affairs. Loving another is not remotely the same as ownership, it is a partnership that allows for both parties to breathe, grow and be uniquely themselves.  It is being one half of a whole and at the same time separate and apart. In a healthy love there should be no loss of self, not degradation of the other, just a gentle and persistent lifting up. When one falters, the other steps up and carries the weight of life’s many challenges until balance is regained. That being said, a loving partnership cannot and should not be one sided. It takes both people choosing to show up authentically every day, willing participants in a transformative experience for both heart and soul. One person alone cannot carry the work of the relationship; this is neither healthy nor prudent.

 

Love is also accepting a partner, child or family member for everything they are not, without stipulation.  It is easy to love others for their strengths, but quite another to show up each day and see the shadow side of a loved one.  Each of us has this side that we hide from the world.  It takes a strong and trusting relationship to pull the shadow out of the darkness and explore ways to support one another in that discovery.  

 

Finally, as Gibran so eloquently writes “Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” I wish nothing more than to have my soul connect deeply with another.  It is within the expansive and flowing nature of water that love is best demonstrated, moving and morphing against life’s many continental conditions. Love finds a way to erode the walls that we erect and seep into our souls, breathing new life and hope. What a beautiful thing to behold.

 

Unfolding

Unfolding

 

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 – 1926

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
   enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
   enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

 

Having lived a life with many chapters, I find that I still constrict parts of myself that are true in an effort to maintain the status quo, to function in this world as it is. This “folding’ of self is a self imposed confinement of all that make me a wonderful and unique person.  Just as a caterpillar endures restriction in order to experience a true metamorphosis into a butterfly, I too have found patience in this process with the knowing that I will indeed completely unfold as Rilke states in the poem above.

 

This unfolding will be unsteady and foreign for anyone that has lived a small existent, presenting as less than to the world.  Fully accepting our true self and infinite wholeness can be so expansive and vast it becomes frightening. Why this fear? I do not know.  We live with the desire to be seen and heard, to live large, make a difference and achieve goals.  Yet when talking about our true self, we shy away from the discourse and choose instead to talk about more concrete desires. It is just too revealing and anything that is that intimate can be intimidating and difficult to approach.

 

Admittedly, I have grazed this topic for many years. Even as a child I remember quite vividly knowing that I had a different perspective on what was important and how I viewed the world.  I have always danced around my inner self, my soul. She and I are old friends and over the years have become more connected, functioning in unison more often than not. We are one in the same, mirror images of each other.

 

This self study from an early age is best described by Rilke with “..I want to describe myself like a picture I observed for a long time, one close up”.  My picture is well worn on the corners from many years of introspection and detailed examination. It is a visual representation of my life thus far. This self-portrait shows all areas of my life in which I have clung to my faith during times of complete and utter sadness and despair. It is also representative of the many joys that have graced my life, far too many to express here. No picture is complete without the shading of both darkness and light.

 
This does not mean that I have a complete understanding of self, I am not sure that is even possible. I can only hope that I have had more instances of unfolding instead of constriction and that this will continue to be the case moving forward. My wish is to be expansive and open, to escape the bonds of self-doubt and to move freely through the remainder of my life with my heart and soul wide open.

Head Versus Heart

Head Versus Heart

As one that is both an emotional being and a deeply intellectual thinker, I am in a constant search for the proper balance between the two approaches to life. My natural inclination is to lean into what my hearts says and follow my intuition, but even so this leaning is always peppered with a fair amount of intellectual analysis and strategizing of end results. This push and pull can be limiting and a place I try not to inhabit for very long.  Life having the sense of humor that it does, this analysis usually happens in the middle of the night when my mind is more prone to wander. As such, I am a frequent guest of sleepless nights and find solace in the wakefulness and introspection.   

 

Upon reading a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke I was immediately drawn to the first sentence, specifically “O Anxious one”. Anxiety is ever present when I allow my mind to take the lead and neglect the very important role of the heart.  The problem being the mind is extremely clever and can come up with a million eventualities before an event has even taken place.  If I resist this catastrophizing and allow my heart to lead, I am at peace with the unfolding and feel a sense of calm that the mind does not make space for.  This poem is a simple and beautiful way to facilitate a gentle drawing back to a state of equilibrium, especially in moments when the mind stubbornly races along.

                           

   I am, O Anxious One. Don’t you hear my voice

surging forth with all my earthly feelings?

They yearn so high, that they have sprouted wings

and whitely fly in circles round your face.

My soul, dressed in silence, rises up

and stands alone before you: can’t you see?

don’t you know that my prayer is growing ripe

upon your vision as upon a tree?

If you are the dreamer, I am what you dream.

But when you want to wake, I am your wish,

and I grow strong with all magnificence

and turn myself into a star’s vast silence

above the strange and distant city, Time.

   

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

In addition, the sentence that reads “My soul, dressed in silence, rises up and stands alone before you: can’t you see?” is like home to me. My soul is in a constant interplay with the exterior world, harboring a desire for others to “see” me by searching the silence of what remains unspoken within.  This is no easy task.  It is as if I am shouting from the top of a mountain to be seen, yet all the while hiding behind a cloud daring to be discovered. I suspect that when another chooses to look beyond my external self, they will begin to see shades of this declaration and be confused by my apparent waiving. The truth is that no amount of intellectual analysis alone will reveal the truths that I harbor.  Engagement of the heart requires a vulnerability that is not approached when using only the brain. This heart work requires strength of character, the ability to live in the discomfort of this space and even some grace. It is in the exposing of hidden truths that one really learns about themselves and about others, a lifelong task and one that is meaningful for all willing to dive in and take the risk.

 

You’ve got to get out of your head and into your heart. Right now your thoughts are in your head, and God seems to be outside you. Your prayer and all your spiritual exercises also remain exterior. As long as you are in your head, you will never master your thoughts, which continue to whirl around your head like snow in a winter’s storm or like mosquitoes in the summer heat. If you descend into your heart, you will have no more difficulty. Your mind will empty out and your thoughts will dissipate….

St Theophan the Recluse

 

As part of my journey, I continue to search for that balance.  Sometimes I lean into my heart as intended and other times I allow my brain to completely run the show.  Fascinating how we all choose to cope given any particular circumstance. Constantly striving for this balance, I will be silently drawn to the discovery of hidden truths; the simplicity of this affirmation is humbling. I find comfort in the solitude of this work with the intention to listen to my heart speak in the silence. For me this end is well worth the struggle.

Hadewijch II and the Blessing of the Written Word

Hadewijch II and the Blessing of the Written Word

 

I recently discovered the writings of Hadewijch II, a 13th century poet and mystic, and proceeded to order every book possible about this fascinating woman. History says little about her save the belief that she was from a wealthy family but chose to join the beguines, a group of evangelical women existing outside the traditional monastic system. These women took vows of poverty, chastity and service but remained in the world rather than hidden away in a monastery.

 

A strong believer in the synchronicity of the universe, Hadewijch could not have come to my attention at a better time. I have been feeling exceptionally isolated in regards to my ideas and life. I have a persistent thought there is so much more to life than my routine,  job, family and assembled reality. Frustrated by this nagging feeling, I have been more contemplative than usual, which is saying a lot. It is easy for me to get lost in my thoughts; it is much harder to pull myself back into the world. It would be disingenuous if I said I had never considered hiding away, off the grid and away from people.

 

Hadewijch wrote so expressively about her expansive knowing, the depth and wonder of feeling the infinite beyond what is seen. I read her poem and connected immediately; she understood what I have been feeling.  It spoke to me so directly that I got deeply emotional knowing that others felt as I do. I closed my eyes and experienced this energy wanting to expand beyond my skin, these walls and this world. It is this infinite and divine energy that stirs me up and can make me anxious while at the same time serenely peaceful. I implicitly understand that what I am searching for is within and not in some other place; we are all Divine beings and as much a part of the universe as the stars and the moon. No amount of geographic relocation will solve this persistent longing; it will surely follow me wherever I go. Hadewijch felt this very same thing yet managed to navigate the world without allowing this feeling to suffocate her. For that I admire her strength and courage.

 

All things

are too small

to hold me,

I am so vast

 

In the Infinite

I reach

for the Uncreated

I have

touched it,

it undoes me

wider than wide

Everything else

is too narrow

You know this well,

you who are also there

-Hadewijch II

 

Even so, I am confident that I can manage the restrictive feeling of this world. If you have read my work, you have heard me speak to this before. I have no doubts and have always known that I am not from this place. Some will judge me simply by reading that last statement, I am not concerned nor ever have been with their judgment. I know, and that is all that matters. The frustration comes from not being able to completely own this other while I am here. I can look inward and do all of the “mirror” work that Hadewijch speaks to, but even that will not be enough. It is a longing as if for a loved one with a constant desire to be with them. I hate this world at times; it is not anything like this beautiful other. No, I am not sad, nor am I being reticent. All I know is that I am here now for reasons that must be important for my soul.

 

You who want

knowledge,

seek the Oneness

within.

 

There you

will find

the clear mirror

already waiting.

-Hadewijch II

 

I do not find many others that see this as I do; in fact I rarely speak aloud about these things. It most certainly sounds crazy to those that do not have the same sensibility. So what am I to do? How do I live while feeling this constant pull to what I cannot fully embrace? I suppose that answer is as always held in my heart. I must persist in this word and continue day after day waiting for the moment when I am free of this shell and can shed my false self to be…infinite. It is in works by Hadewijch that I find respite, a brief moment of serenity.  This woman, who graced the planet so many years ago, is still able to share her love and belief through her words. I will continue to read her writing every time I feel lost, isolated and alone. It will be a tremendous comfort to me as I am sure it has been to others.

 

What I Am Most Thankful for This Year

What I Am Most Thankful for This Year

3400300-grateful-and-thankful-quotes

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

 

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

 

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Emily Dickinson

 

 

I recall every Thanksgiving sitting around the table with each of my siblings taking a moment to say what we were most thankful for.  As children the answers were often a favorite toy, the family dog or maybe a best friend at school.  As we grew, the list began to change. In early adulthood it might have included a new job, a new relationship or even the first taste of independence.  Now in midlife I find that I am thankful for so many things that a short list seems impossible. Just being here at my age is a gift and one that many are not afforded. Nevertheless, there are a few things that I am especially thankful for this year that are worth mentioning.

 

My family and friends

I am continually grateful for my loving family and friends.  My parents had their 50th wedding anniversary this year and celebrating this milestone with my siblings was definitely a highlight. My two children were able to attend as well as all of my nieces and nephews. It truly was a beautiful gathering. In addition, both of my children will be in town at the same time for the holidays. What mother would not be happy about that?

 

My job

I am blessed in that I have a job that I love, working with wonderful people.  I am able to mentor any number of young adults, learn their life stories, hear their dreams and help direct their goals. Working with this group of young adults is inspirational and something that I do not take lightly.

 

My health

After much hesitation, I started my fourth disease-modifying drug for my MS and made it through the difficult transition period my body experiences when introducing a new medication. After two relapses this past year, I am hopeful to enter an extended period of restful equilibrium. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful supportive team that includes my neurologist, my always-attentive children and my family.  I savor every moment of health knowing that nothing is ever guaranteed.

 

My spiritual growth

Nothing has given me more reason to be grateful than my growing sense of peace and calm within. It has taken many years, trials and tribulations to get to this point, a very personal journey that has renewed a desire to write once again as demonstrated by this blog.

 

I hope everyone takes some time today to really appreciate the things that make life meaningful.  Hug those that you love and slow down enough to see all the miracles around you. Be thankful, all is well and you are loved.

 

The Journey

The Journey

the-summer-day-mary-oliver

 

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

‘Mend my life!’

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations

though their melancholy

was terrible. It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice,

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do

determined to save

the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

 

The Journey by Mary Oliver has been one of my favorite poems for some time.  Each of us will face the struggle of identity in our own way.  Do I fit in? What is my life calling? Along with this, a litany of voices telling us what we should or should not do will rise up.  Of these voices, some will be well meaning and some not. It can be a struggle to silence these words, especially if spoken by those that we love.

Mary Oliver speaks to a desire to be authentically ourselves, even when hearing so many other ideas of how we should be living and showing up in the world.  Life presents so many expectations of who we should be, from those close to us and even ourselves.  Disappointment and frustration exists when we either cannot or will not move in the direction of our true self.

We forget that our lives are just that, ours. No one can live it for us. It is entirely up to us to choose how we spend our time and talents, who we love and what we ultimately contribute. It will never be easy; it’s not meant to be. Mary Oliver says this best with, “It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones.” There will be many impasses, roads blocked with branches and stones throughout the journey.  Moments when we will question if it is best to remain on our current path or make adjustment in the hopes of a different and more pleasing outcome.

All we can do is our very best, embracing the person that we wish to be and moving in that direction with passion each and everyday. By doing so we are breaking free from stereotypes given without permission and striving to be uniquely ourselves. We may never get to where we aspire to be, but the lessons and ultimate satisfaction is always in the struggle not in the end result.