The wind moves the empty branches outside my window ever so slightly, as silent snow falls. It’s one of the first snowy nights of winter, and the tree lights twinkle in the window’s reflection. How quickly summer grass gave way to autumn’s colors, and now to winter’s silence.
Life is indeed a journey, and so far the path has had rocks, long straight sections, mountains, hills, you name it. Just ahead today, there is a sharp bend in the road. I can’t see what’s around it, but the snowy clouds that are coating the night are surely giving way to tomorrow’s crisp blue sky.
In the past, not knowing exactly what was around the bend would send me into a tailspin, and I would tighten my grip on what I could control. Lots of different terrain has taught me that trying to bulldoze the path into my idea of “right” is frustrating, usually impossible and not necessarily the way I should be going. Instead, slowing my pace and being gentle with my footfalls offers a better outcome. I don’t avoid all that is uneven, but I am learning that slowing down and paying attention to what is happening to myself and others, makes the journey more enjoyable.
It also gives me a moment to gather my courage, collect my thoughts and begin to move confidently in the direction of my dreams.
I am a radiant spiritual being. Spirit, living in me, shines brighter than a thousand suns, and radiates out warming me and those around me. I sometimes allow Busy-ness and Anxiety and others to cover up my soul, and block the light that waits within me.
But it’s still there, it’s still warming me from within, and it’s up to me to uncover that Light and share it with those around me.
Light shines within them as well, within you. When others see the Light shining through me, I pray it reminds them that they are filled with the same radiant Spirit that fills each of us, that created each of us.
That Light longs to warm us, to connect us with Itself and one another.
(I have begun a practice of meditating, which has proven harder than I thought it would be! Yesterday I started a 21 Day Mediation Challenge that is quieting me and opening me to myself in beautiful ways. You can join the challenge here; https://chopracentermeditation.com/home ) Today’s post was based on my meditation.
I love the visual of climbing a ladder. It is a journey, and an upward one. And yet, you cannot run, skip steps or focus your attention on what is above or what is below. You must pay attention to the rung you are on. Right now. You must focus your energy on where you are, knowing that this step will successfully lead you to the next one. Today, and in the days to come, my life will be filled with lots of new opportunities, lots of new ladders. Yours will too. Focus on the rung you are on, and do the best you can where you are. Trust that it will lead you ever higher.
It is late as I climb the stairs for bed. I am not finished with the day’s chores, and it weighs on me; but the day is done.
I open the door to Robyn’s room and inhale the peacefully invigorating scent of menthol, and the sound of silence. She is healthy and sleeping soundly.
Silently I move into Sylvia’s room. There she lies, in the same position she said, “In Jesus name we pray, Amen,” so many hours ago at bedtime. Her hair smells of baby shampoo, so much that my breasts ache to nurse her. My milk is gone, she is weaned, aches of sweet memory.
Down the hall and in my own room, I pull back the sheets, set the alarm and inhale the musky, manly scent that is Aaron; my lips linger on his arm as he sleeps, his quiet breath so even and smooth.
All the scents and sounds of peaceful happiness swirl together in my soul, sweeping out the clutter in my head, gently untangling the knot in my stomach. The whole of me relaxes into this beautiful life; this glorious time of renewing sleep that awaits. Sometimes in hindsight I see the beauty of what I had, but I cannot recall feeling this completely whole in the moment. What a gift.
I just uncovered an old journal, and found this letter to my youngest daughter, written the night before we met.
Tomorrow, finally, we will meet. I will look into your eyes and count your fingers and marvel at your nose. We will call a zillion people who wait with eager anticipation to learn about you. Daddy will hold you and his eyes will twinkle and he will fall in love with you; and I will, too. Your sister is not quite sure what’s going on, but she already knows she loves you and can’t wait to tickle your toes. Family has traveled many miles to look into your eyes and tell you they love you on your very first day in the big wide world.
But for tonight you wiggle and move within me, trying to get comfortable, I think with very little success. You feel so huge and so heavy inside me, your fingers seeming to find my hips, your feet and knees dancing on my ribs and lungs. And that bum! You are already quite the dancer, shaking your bum so often. I am exhausted and sore and eager to meet you. I know tomorrow you will seem so light and small in my arms; and so beautiful and loved, cherished always and from the first moment in my heart. I love you, baby of mine.
For some of us, there is a place that so resonates with our very souls, that no matter how many miles or years separate us from that place, we feel as connected to it as if it were just down the street. For me, Montreat, in the mountains of North Carolina, has been that place for most of my life. Whether attending conferences, working in various capacities, or just stopping through while vacationing, Montreat is a beautiful and deeply spiritual place. While riding in the car the other day, a memory so filled my thoughts, that I scrounged around and found the back of a coloring book so I could write the following love letter to Montreat.
Montreat – an amazing potter’s wheel. No matter your age, no matter how many times you feel you have been fired in the kiln, driving through those Montreat Gates is like climbing on the potter’s wheel that is Montreat. You are once again wet clay, open to the gentle molding of our ever present Creator. Somehow it’s easier to listen in Montreat, to the small voice of God and believe the things you hear. To let down your guard and let God mold what will become in your life. The others that come to Montreat see you as a child of God, and act as the hands and feet of Christ, working together to learn and create and grow. Then, with full hearts and friendships that weave connections far and wide, it’s time to leave Montreat, but only for a while. You will be back, for a piece of your soul will always be there.
For more information about Montreat, visit www.montreat.org , you’ll be glad you did!
I see a glimpse of my muse, shy and timid – or is that mischief in her eye? She’s peeking around the corner, daring me to meet her eye. In my Busy-ness, I banished her months ago; or she stomped out in a rage at being ignored. I forget which now.
But we’ve missed one another more than we were mad, so I think we’ll make up soon.
As children, the most offensive injustices were met with loud anger, brief silence (usually with wonderfully awful faces) and then an outstretched hand to move on to the joy of imagination shared. I miss that.
Today there usually is no loud cry over injustice, just a head shake and a feeling of helplessness. We don’t stomp into the silence, rather we simply stop connecting; lulled into a zombie-like state brought on by laundry and dishes and our endless addiction to Stuff (buying, maintaining, accumulating. . .) And then there is the ongoing affair with that abusive lover – the Light Up Box (read “computer” or “TV”, whatever your lovers name is).
But every so often, a splash of sparkles in a stranger’s dress, an unexpected twirl of melody, a glimmer of connection with a kindred spirit~ and the muse bounds back, wearing pink and orange and red together. Glorious in her beauty and undying love for me. Suddenly everything else falls away again, if only for a little while. . .
Oh to find the balance between journal and reality!
I saw my mother’s hand today. It was sticking out of my sweater, wiping homemade cookie crumbs from my daughter’s chair in my dining room. It made me incredibly homesick.
I saw the design of black and white and gray that covered the kitchen floor of my childhood, and felt the hard wooden chair beneath me that I always sat in at the kitchen table. It made me want to grab a book and climb up in the Happy Chair, our La-Z-Boy rocker that was the place to go when Mom had a few minutes to read to me. Mom is hundreds of miles away, in our hometown.
But. . . the Happy Chair was re-covered (a mere 20 years ago) and now sits by my window, waiting for a book and a child and a grown up to fill it. Soon I will travel home for Christmas, bringing giggling children to my parent’s home, to fill our days and hands with joy. Today, I will use these hands to give “one more cookie AGAIN please” to a sweet three year old. We will no doubt grab a book when the lunch dishes are done, and read in our Happy Chair.
I cannot wait to hold my mother’s hands in mine again, and thank her for all those lazy days of my childhood; days that I am realizing were only lazy for me.
Three year old hands have cleared her dishes from the table and found a music box. They are holding ribbons as a beautiful dance unfolds in the living room.
Childhood is such a gift, not only to the child. I think that flutter in my chest is my muse and my childhood memories, holding hands and dancing with my daughter.
As I researched for my book proposal, I felt led to pray for some friends. I stopped and prayed, and the prayer grew longer. Then I heard myself add my book to the prayer, and felt a little voice respond “not now. Put it aside and write what you know.” Here’s what I know today:
The beautiful green tree in my yard turned a brilliant yellow and lost most of its leaves while I wasn’t paying attention. Usually, I love simply sitting with that tree as it stands in its golden glory, in the middle of autumn. The calendar and the house are too filled with things to be cleaned or completed these days. I cherish the people that surround me, but I’m noticing how often things and useless appointments are robbing me of precious connections.
I keep believing that somewhere there is a balance between cleaning and producing and experiencing joy. I think if I just organize better, or get rid of enough obligations or things, then I will step into a nirvana of balance and peace. Perhaps simply acknowledging that both exist, I can begin to find peace in the midst of the the swirling leaves of the messiness of life and the peace of stopping to look.
I feel guilty to notice that Sylvie has been quite cranky and ill tempered lately. Some is, no doubt, due to the fact that she is three; and potty training is hitting a few bumps in the road. But perhaps part of her willfulness and short tempered fits could be due to the fact that I am busier lately. Stopping to allow time for her pretending, together, is such a fleeting opportunity. Already there are times she has no use for me, no desire to come to me for assurance or snuggles. Soon that will increase, and I will watch her learn to care for herself, needing me less and less. I have been invited to become a mermaid, and play with her friend the butterfly, and I sometimes felt that the dishes or laundry or a million other things were more important.
After preschool, I hope to have some tea with a butterfly and a mermaid. Right now, I think I’ll finish the dishes so they don’t steal my attention later. Thankfully, I have today. And the realization that it can be filled with so much more.
While collecting pieces for my manuscript, I found this one and wanted to share.
I bought new throw pillows. Somehow the bright blue chenille is like a whisper of spring promises on a gray February day. Not just the promise of changing weather, but the promise that if the mounds of snow and ice can give way to tulips and climbing roses waiting underneath – anything is possible in time.
I have always had trouble writing at home. Somehow, all the chores a house requires call to me as I try and relax to sit and write.
I was struck recently with an epiphany of sorts. Sitting in an airplane seat at the beginning of a long flight, I grew frustrated as I tried to fidget and wiggle into a comfortable position – it was NOT working. A quiet yet firm voice in my mind said, “You can’t ‘get comfortable,’ you must learn to relax where you are.”
I figured if I could be completely relaxed on the floor after a yoga class, I could relax anywhere. I slowly visualized each part of my body relaxing and later stepped off the plane invigorated!
That realization spoke to the rest of my life, as well. Instead of spending years anxiously waiting, as if in line, for my heart’s desires that may never be fulfilled; I will try to relax where I am today and simply be in the present.