December 22, 2008
In the dark time, the eye begins to see. ~Theodore Roethke
Again I have fallen
into the dark well of grief.
I can feel myself paling
like the camel crickets
too long out of the sunshine
that made me shudder
and draw back.
In this deep and narrow place
I must make meaning:
a lifeline, a light,
some wide wash
of healing water
in the black crucible
December 1, 2008
For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness? ~John Steinbeck
A profound sadness envelops me this morning as snow falls outside my window. As usual, I want to distract myself, to banish it. But I am trying to just be with it instead, to notice its character, to write about it.
I know that this sadness is from several sources: lifetime accumulation; visiting sick relatives and gravesites over the Thanksgiving holiday; awareness of my own aging and mortality; too much isolation. And in spite of the fact that the holiday season has never been my favorite time of year, I am grieving the fact that it will never again be what it has been for over 30 years.
Thankfully, I also know this sadness will pass, and that joy is just around the corner. I know that soon I will recreate the holiday season, accept the impermanence of life, and move forward into health and wholeness. But today I honor the sadness that is part of life, the grief that change can bring. Today I sit in solidarity with those who are sad.
September 18, 2008
Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you. ~Rumi
There are things in this life that hurt! The challenge of the wounded, I think, is in not identifying with woundedness, in being more than that. But when we avoid or repress the woundedness, we don’t heal properly. Recently, old repressed pain has been bubbling to the surface for me (see also these references to heartbreakthroughs). An image came to me this week of a wounded bird, trapped and panicky, in need of soothing. I want to open my heart and let the grief and pain pass through and away, but it is difficult work.
When I considered the image of the bird, two things came to mind: a ring I have worn for years, and a collection of spirit stones my friend Elaine made for me a long time ago. The ring came from the Southwest Indian Foundation and has a prominent thunderbird motif. The spirit stones Elaine chose for me, and the characteristics they represent, were the following: Otter-laughter; Spider-creativity; Bee-organization; Loon-solitude, singing; and Thunderbird-spirituality. Some Native Americans believed that the water animals were healers, the land animals protectors, and the air and sky creatures embodied spirituality and wisdom. I like the idea of protecting (bandaging) myself with creativity, and of healing with laughter (and perhaps solitude and singing, too)!
I have resisted the thunderbird, though. In fact, when the ring came in the mail, I was disappointed, since the catalog image was a ring with tiny pueblos in relief. On my ring, little sections of pueblos flank a large central bird. I knew each piece was hand-crafted and so a unique design, but I expected the ring to look more like the photo. I even asked if there was any possibility of exchanging it, but received no reply. Now I think it might have been meant for me. Perhaps my life journey is moving from wounded bird to powerful thunderbird, eh? For now, I’ll do my best to keep my gaze on the bandaged place where the light enters.
July 18, 2008
When we show up for our life, we are actively participating in being a happy person, achieving our goals, and generally living the life our soul really wants. ~from the Daily OM
Sometimes it’s all about showing up…for others, for ourselves. I am about to show up in my own life for some difficult work, that “heartbreakthrough,” I think, that I mentioned here. I am acknowledging and “containerizing” my sadness, rather than pushing it down (as has been my habit), in order to feel and deal with it at times when I can. So Iris’s “No Time To Cry” will become “time to cry later” for me. I’m certain that I’ll do this work imperfectly (as we all do everything, after all), but it does feel good to finally understand on a gut level that it’s what I need.
That may be another post entirely–the lifelong attempt I’ve made to understand everything intellectually, even those things we can’t figure out that way, like emotion. The only way out is through. Grief cannot be rationalized away. So I will show up when I can and let it be.
What do you think about feeling? Feel about thinking? How do you show up for life?
July 2, 2008
There is nothing that can stop the Creative. If life is full of joy, joy feeds the creative process. If life is full of grief, grief feeds the creative process. ~Stephen Nachmanovitch, in Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts (p. 196)
Again I will say that this is one of my favorite books. The last chapter, from which the quote is taken, is called “Heartbreakthrough.” I love that idea, and in fact have been having visions of my heart breaking wide open. Although I must say, I have not been able to tell that my grief of recent days has fed the creative process. It must have (else from whence came visions?), but I’ve been “blogsick” at being unable to write here lately.
So I’m glad to be back at the keyboard today, talking to myself with a hope that someone kind is eavesdropping. Iris Dement in person last week, what can I say? Claudia said I was acting like it was Elvis, and I said, “Iris is my Elvis.” The enormous fun I had with friends brought my loneliness into sharp relief. Iris didn’t sing “Got No Time to Cry” but I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
Have you ever had a heartbreakthrough? I feel one coming on…