Living in the Layers

This morning, I am sitting outside with cool breezes, delicious morning sunlight, the calling of the wingfolk all around, a not-so-small boy playing in the sandbox, and an old man cat resting in his bed beside me. It is a perfect moment, one I want to hold forever, inner and outer worlds aligned. Grief is here, too, in the perfect moment: the old man cat has gone nearly blind in the past week, the marvelous boy with the giant-sized heart is growing so fast I cannot keep track of the changes, some of my beloveds are hurting and anxious. It is all part of the wheel of changes, and grief and uncertainty have their place. It is part of the package of being human.

And it’s not only the boys and the cat who are aging and changing. I am about to complete my fiftieth year. It feels right and good to be here on the cusp of my half-century, still learning to be who I am: mother, spouse, teacher, friend, writer. I feel a new story rising, wanting to burst forth. I have spent this past decade learning to trust my voice, honing my craft, taking baby steps. Now it is time to find a way to take my words out, further out. I’m not entirely sure what that will look like, but it is the promise that I am making to myself in this moment. I am ready to leave the safety of the chrysalis.

(And now there is an older boy here, golden as the sunlight, and he is telling me words that are beyond my understanding, this child who came from my body–he is so much smarter than I am, already–his mind making connections at lightning speed, learning every new thing. What a marvel it is to watch these beings absorb information and grow and develop, extending ideas of their own, creating new things. The wheel turns. . .)


“I saw you once, Medusa; we were alone.
I looked you straight in the cold eye, cold.
I was not punished, was not turned to stone.
How to believe the legends I am told? …
I turned your face around! It is my face.
That frozen rage is what I must explore —
Oh secret, self-enclosed, and ravaged place!
That is the gift I thank Medusa for.”
―May Sarton, “The Muse as Medusa”
*
Pablo Picasso:
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
“Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”
*
“Our religion is relationship. Our relationships are our religion.” ―Bruxy Cavey
*
“The work of the eyes is done.
Go now and do the heart-work
on the images imprisoned within you.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


Gratitude List:
1. (How did you encounter the Divine Wow?) Synchronicity. In this case, it had to do with armadillos. “Protect yourself,” says the wise woman, and the Mystery adds, “What she said.”
2. (What awakens you?) All the butterflies swinging down the breezes: monarch, swallowtail, fritillary, buckeye. “Isn’t that chrysalis becoming a little claustrophobic?” they ask. Isn’t it time to emerge and fly?
3. (What quickened within you?) It is time to fly, time to learn a new kind of noticing, time to address the claustrophobia, time to break out of the chrysalis.
4. (What do you take deeper?) The layers of my living–photos of very young children who are both gone and here in this moment, time with friends which is both this moment now and last year and the years before, this morning sun slanting into the hollow and the blue jay and doves calling which is the essence of this very moment and also a hearkening to my own ancient story.
5. (How will you carry the past and the present into the next moment?) Allowing the little bird of grief for what is past and gone to sit on my shoulder and sing her songs. Anticipating the joy that comes with the next ray of sunlight, the next bird call, the next “Mom, look!”

May we walk in Beauty!

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2 thoughts on “Living in the Layers

  1. I love your posts and this one is especially dear to my heart. Also very much resonated with the questions in your gratitude list and will write them in my journal to remember and answer hopefully daily. Thank you for the beauty and depth that shine from you and your writing! And whatever is waiting to be expressed through you in your next stage will be amazing. I am very much looking forward to whatever it will be. It will be gift to all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And I greatly value your feedback! Thank you. I developed the questions a couple years ago in response to the Ignatian Examen, a daily spiritual exercise created by St. Ignatius of Loyola, which my father introduced to me. While I do somewhat situate myself within the Christian (Mennonite) tradition, my own work is pretty universalist in style, and really churchy language can make me feel skittish. But I love the examen, and I love sharing this work with my father, so I translated the questions and points for myself. I re-translate them often, as you can see from some of my other examen-posts–sometimes really loosely.

    Here are the Ignatian exercises, simply stated, from http://www.ignatianspirituality.com:
    1. Become aware of God’s presence.
    2. Review the day with gratitude.
    3. Pay attention to your emotions.
    4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
    5. Look toward tomorrow.

    The writing idea that currently fires me up actually includes some work with these questions, so your feedback today goes especially deep for me. My hope is to acknowledge my teachers from many spiritual traditions, and to offer my interpretations and extensions. Something like that, anyway.

    Bright blessings to you.

    Like

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