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 café 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.