Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rock My World

Stone is the face of patience.       

Mary Oliver 

Even rocks have stories to tell,
deep old stories of time passing through eons, 
slow and fast moving water 
shape the stones over millennia. 

I have such a stone, ancient, from a creek bed in the Colorado Rockies. 
It fills my whole hand with its weightiness. 
Hefty. It feels hefty.
The color of dusky charcoal with white threadlike veins running around it,
tracing the paths of its life, telling the earth's story. But my stone has another story; the story of how it came into my life in the summer of 1982 during a family vacation through the west. 

My husband, our ten-year-old son and I had climbed an easy sloping mountain where we sat, all three of us, hushed by the beauty of it all, the vastness from on high. The only sound, the flapping of a bird's wings. We sat in awed silence for a while, we three, with our own thoughts before we made our way back down the mountain. Our son, always fearless, made it down way ahead of us. It seemed like we all were craving continued silence as we went our separate ways to explore the creek bed, remaining within sight of each other, but feeling no need to talk. 

The creek was lively, yet easy to navigate. As I waded the shallow waters, the rock caught my eye. It was sitting there alone, glistening, serene, tempting. I moved to pick it up, but hesitated for a second, not wanting to disturb it in its ancient bed. In the silence it seemed to call me; a connection on a cellular level that has stayed with us for 32 years.  

She's a good traveler. (I think of her as female.) There is always room for her in my suitcase. She went to Scotland with me where I picked up a couple of traveling companions, two pieces of green marble from Iona. On a tour of the Isle of Coll, we saw formations of gneiss, some of  the oldest rock on earth. I think she felt at home there. 

I look at her every day. I hold her every day. She  has been a silent witness to my journey. She's seen every emotion it's possible for a human to have. Sometimes I look to her for answers. She never has any. What she does have when I hold her in my hand is solidity. She takes me right back to that ancient silence, which gives me the space to be calm and focused. It's her never-ending gift to me. One that I never take for granted. 

The few steady influences in my life are very precious to me. She has been a most steadfast presence. She doesn't judge. She abides. 

Rebekah for the Poplar Grove Muse

Monday, July 21, 2014



Today, I put the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle that has waited over eight years to be completed. The puzzle has set on various shelves in various closets over the years. Occasionally, my eyes would come to it as I searched for other things but they never lingered on the puzzle box.  It made me too sad.  The day finally came though, when I decided I would take it down from its shelf and put it together.

As I worked it I thought of my daughter, the puzzle had been a birthday gift from her.  Ten days before my birthday eight years ago the driver of a semi ran a red light and hit her car broadside. She passed away two weeks later.

She was almost twenty-nine when she died. Married to her high school sweetheart and a new mother to my ten-month-old granddaughter.  She taught first grade and always said the only thing she wanted to be more than a teacher was a mom. 

After her death, my son-in-law gave me the wrapped package. He explained why she had decided on a puzzle that year.  He said she had noticed that her dad and I liked to work puzzles together and it made her happy to see us enjoying each other’s company.  

It was a thoughtful gift, but that was her way. Being thoughtful. On her birthday she would always bring me flowers and thank me for giving birth to her.  She had been thoughtful and kind and had grown into such a beautiful woman.  

She would have been thirty-seven last April.  As the puzzle took shape before me I wondered about what she would have been like at that age.  What joys, what sorrows, what experiences would have shaped her thirty-seven-year-old self?   I think all parents that have lost a child must wonder about this and count the years. We are always left with the what ifs..., the I wonders....

I also wonder about those of us she left. Who would we be if she hadn't died? 

Our grief was so profound that it changed us on a molecular level. We are different beings now. We were turned and made to travel down a rock-strewn path that took us to an alternate universe.  We eventually found our way in this altered place but like beams through a prism our lights were shattered and our colors are a different hue now.

The world moved on and the years have passed and I found I could look at the puzzle.  I found I could hold it and remember all of the beautiful things about my daughter.  Perhaps, I also hoped for a cathartic healing, some purging of the sorrow, some definitive answer to “what if,” by finally working the puzzle.

Sadly, grief doesn't work that way.  In the end, the puzzle was just a puzzle. A last gift, from my beautiful, thoughtful, loving daughter who is gone and who I miss every day.

Diana, for the Poplar Grove Muse

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reflections on Nourishment

After a 24 hour Nourishment Retreat

Her true pleasure lies beyond rage…beyond sadness…beyond the things she can never change.   It requires that she feel her anger, weep her tears, accept what was, what is, let go, and forgive it all.  

This is a continuance of life work.  Important, necessary, sometimes very difficult.  May it be also joyful work.   

Her true pleasure lies in the feel of the air on her skin, nourishing water to drink, to float in, solid ground to walk upon. It travels on paths through the trees, stands on a lake shore, looks down from dizzying heights.   It requires a new kind of bread, fresh veggies, fruit and the newfound delight in food that nourishes and satisfies…it requires indulgence when the body, mind and spirit want to indulge, in dark chocolate and wine.  It requires loving touch,  a re-strengthening of the parts of her that have grown weak. 

Revisit the core.  Re-adjust daily priorities.  Reclaim parts lost, but not forever-so.

Her true pleasure is not to have to work too hard at this, but work on slight adjustments and create the space to embrace and live these pleasures.  These are small movements, really.  More and more doable as the demands from others lessen and as she learns to listen to her yes, her no and to sweet words she whispers to herself: "You do not have to be in charge",  "You can rest now", "I love you just the way you are."

Her true pleasure is in the exchange with other beings who seek pleasure and depth, the wisdom of their bodies and souls;  these are allies for the journey who, in embracing the changes in themselves, whether intentionally or unintentionally, change the atmosphere around them.

I take her true pleasure with me, this weekend.  I leave behind remnants of “can’t do that”…and enter another bend on my own spiral, seeing possibility, knowing something deep inside of me is capable of ever more generosity to myself and that this can only be good for me and for the people around me.

24 Hours on Kelley's Hill.  Thanks to Kelly and Allison and all the circles of women in my life who find nourishment in words shared and conscious community.  

BLR July 14, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why We Go

Today our weekly Sunday hike had its share of figurative hills to climb and poison (ivy) to avoid. These obstacles are so very much with us each week, no matter the season. They resemble for us what the seasons of parenthood have looked like. Sometimes we climb, step over, stumble, stand strong. We are often on unsteady feet until the phase or obstacle finds its way into our normalcy or we forget it was something in our way. 

Today we knew feet that refused proper shoes would get itchy and tired, bellies would ache though they'd just been fed. We probably knew we'd rush like we do so often when we set ourselves up for being somewhere "on time," and we knew that among all the things that can make a couple mile hike feel more like ten, there would be more gifts than challenges. 

This is why we go each week. Why it is on our must do list. 

Out Here is where we give our thanks, learn to listen together, to step so lightly in case something small may be under foot. 

Here we look with intention. 

It is where kindness towards others and ourselves is modeled, requested, remembered. 

Here is where the much that is alive on earth and sky is noticed. It reminds us to do so at home. To find joy (screaming, LOOK! joy) in a cardinal, a worm, the moon.

 Here, we are out and yet so very much a part of the whole. We meander, we wander, we have direction. 

Here we are kept on our path when the other moments of our week mean to weaken our spirits. We hold on to these moments, speak of them often, go back to them so we can be filled back up when we are feeling a little low.

 We are each seeking 
treasures: to touch, to keep, to witness, to quiet, to bring togetherness.

We find what we seek.

This is why we go.