Saturday, July 29, 2017

Endings and Beginnings


It's only because I need to exhale. And probably to breathe. These last years have felt all about loss to me. There've been so many big ones. But out of the losses, new life has emerged. And there's some great stuff on the horizon. When I'm in the middle of mad loss, sometimes it's hard for me to remember that rebirth follows. It's how everything works. The forest burns down in a fire and the ground becomes so fertile and rich that tremendous new growth springs up as if overnight. The energy of plants after flowering turns inward and the plants seem to die away, but their energy is busy creating fruit and seed for the harvest and for new cycles of growth. The moon waxes to full and then seems to dissolve before our very eyes, growing dark before waxing again. Winter's quiet activity beneath, deep in the earth, defies the death we see all around us. And spring always springs back with flowers and greening. The sun sets and rises again. A new day.

Nature is a brilliant teacher for our spiritual struggles.

So then why are the lessons so hard to remember?

Before I run ahead to rebirth, there's some exploration in the darkness to engage. Like the Earth, I need to notice the quiet activity in my wintry soul here in high summer. I'm in the middle of some big good-byes these days. A close friend moved back to England last week. And next week my daughter moves to Chicago to begin graduate studies. This weekend feels like a threshold. And like so many thresholds, it's a bit intimidating to step across.

I've been lucky because I really haven't had the extreme letting go of my kids that so many have. They both went to college locally, and even though they both are long out of the nest, they are close by. If we want to get together, I just jump into the car or onto the train, and there they are. There we are. In person. Together. Yesterday my daughter said, "Mom, I'm 29!"

As if that makes a difference. I'm laughing as I'm typing.

Did you ever see the remake of Father of the Bride? When Annie Banks is sitting at the dinner table telling her dad she's fallen in love and is going to marry a wonderful man? We look at her and see a bright, animated young woman excited about the future opening before her. Her dad looks at her, incredulous, and sees a little girl speaking the same words. To her dad, they seem ridiculous coming out of her mouth. It's hard for him to wrap his mind around what is happening, even though it's what parents want for their kids. I don't see a small child when I look at my daughter, but I do see all of her, an entire lifetime with her, from the tiny baby on my belly right after her birth, to the bright and beautiful child on stage at her first piano recital at age six absolutely illuminated by the spotlights, to the phenomenal artist exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts just a few years ago, to the woman of substance sitting before me with her life partner at the table in a hipster cafĂ© in South Philadelphia yesterday afternoon. 

It's hard to say good-bye.

When we're on the threshold, in the Underworld, in the liminal space between realities, in the between times, it's hard to see what's on the other side. Space and time seem to spread out before us like unending darkness. And we just can't see beyond it. Of course, the truth of all this that is sometimes hard to wrap our minds around is that this darkness is not objective reality, it is simply what we're able to see in the moment. And it's the kind of darkness that is the substance of pure potential. The darkness before the light. The silence before the speech. The feminine principle that underlies all creation.


I need to remember to breathe. Remembering to breathe is akin to putting one foot before the other if we are trying to get someplace and can't imagine ourselves going there. I should probably go outside and take a walk. Put myself into nature and remember the lessons of life. So I can trust life and let go, trust the energy of endings and beginnings.

And then I need to stop thinking about what I'm losing and get back to thinking about what I am creating. 


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sometimes the Growing Season is Long

I hope I can remember how to do this.

It's been quite a while since I've written. I walked into a dream and spent a lot of time bringing it into form. The last time I wrote, I talked about a vision I had: to hold my poetry book in my hands. It went to the publisher on Friday, just before the new moon -- a time to end one thing before beginning something new. I also wrote about how that vision included gathering people together for workshops in beautiful places. On Saturday, I led the first of these workshops in a beautiful old house in the rolling hills near New Hope, Pennsylvania. It was just after the new moon, a time of energetic rebirth and the beginning of a new cycle. Gardens, fruit trees, a pond, a beautiful and bountiful table, and a great group of women gathered for the first offering of 13 Moons: Tracking the Wild Mare.

I spent most of the week away in the mountains in a small cabin in the woods, writing and planning, thinking about what's next. Being spacious. I've needed space to meet this transition well. And I've given it to myself. I spent time poring over process books and journals, gathering goals and action steps and forming them into a plan. I spent time reading through writing journals of poems, essays, reflections, short stories, and memoir. I found this on the first pages of a journal I'm currently using. It's from March 2016:

This is the beautiful morning pages book that my daughter made for me and gave me at Christmas. It is amazing, and I thought I'd save it for something special. And then I decided that my life as it is, right now, is the special gift I have, so here it is -- open and opening to whatever new is coming. It's a good day to begin this book because I'm seeing today as a new beginning. It's the last day of new moon week -- tomorrow is the first quarter. ( Do something!) So here it is. I'm feeling drawn to doing, gently, today. I signed up for an evening yoga class. I have a list I made yesterday. I drew out the weeks before I leave for California, five of them. There's some great time here to make some changes I'd like to make. This book feels so rich and amazing. I love the size and I'm not worrying that it won't fit on my bookshelf. What beautiful pages to write upon. Yes. It feels rich. And it's indeed an auspicious time, just days before the Equinox. So many beginnings. I'm seeing some clarity around a plan coming together. And it's beautiful. There is so much wonderful potential swirling all around -- and I feel free now to take my finger and touch it. I can see a desire building to reach in and get my hands dirty, first one and then the other. And to go in, all the way up to my elbows, then to my shoulders -- then just to fall, or dive, right in, fall in and be completely swallowed by it!

Potential is a beautiful thing. It's all about creating space so something can happen. Sometimes we carry so much clutter in our thoughts, our feelings, our living space that there's no space to see possibility, no time to take time to dream and to plan, to manifest. There have been times in the last few years when I felt like I'd lost my center and had no direction, but I just kept trusting where I thought life was leading me. I was listening deeply for what was emerging, rather than trying to impose something on myself. And, suddenly, as if a mist dispelled, things became clear and I realized I was just a few small actions away from harvesting a crop that's been long in the field.

Sometimes the growing season is long.