After a bulldog meets you on the road even a bird in a bush may startle you, at first. Yeah, both of those things happened to me recently, but it tells a true story all the way around…doesn’t it?
I’ve taken to a semi-regular sabbath nap in a hammock a dear friend gifted me. I placed it beneath the old willow in view of the big maple, their shelter and the hammock’s embrace reminds me of the way I am always among friends, even when evidence seems to oppose it. The willow’s long elegant limbs in contrast to the sturdy sprawling limbs of the maple make me smile and feel at ease in my own particular shape too.
I can’t help but think often how that maple shouldn’t even still be there; its roots got dug into several years back now. Yet, she is. I don’t know her whole origin story, or how her future days will unfold, but I like knowing the parts I’ve been entrusted with so far. No matter what happens next, she’s proven her strength to me.
With these thoughts I breathe deep, I let that Breath sink all the way down into my heart, and sleep ushers me into the sweetest rest alongside the breeze, while all the gold-tinged light filters into my nearly closed eye lids—I am immersed. I sleep, I heal. And then, I rise again.
Beneath that canopy sometimes the dreams are strange but hardly for naught. Sometimes the nap is short but rarely less than restorative. It keeps me coming back again; meaningfulness and nurture are like that.
I hope that is why you come here, and read a new letter I write to you even after being gone awhile, that it’s meaningful and nurturing. The past few years have brought grief into my life that has not only impacted me but my entire family. As I have endeavored to grow as a writer, even as my children grow up like trees all around me, I’m always watching to see how best to honor the people closest to me—the ones I share my story with and who share their story with me. It’s a precious keeping in my care. To be very open with you writing publicly has been confusing to me this past year. How to best be mindful of what is not only my story but my family’s has taken time.
When I have written I’ve tended towards sharing less details but rather more big pictures, the take-aways, and the human experience that I think may be relatable and yes, meaningful and nurturing. That said, the changes here in our slice of wilds have been sizable… and after writing regularly for the most of seven years, I just couldn’t for the better part of a year.
One of the reasons for this is because I have shared a lot of details here in the past and the questions of whether you all would feel I have not been “honest” with you if I did not continue to share at that level bothered me, a lot. Ultimately I’ve realized dishonesty is not what is occurring in these lack of details, change is. Gracious, change comes with a lot of learning.
Thank you for your patience and kindness towards me while I have been absent here, figuring some of it out.
It could be said of my family that we’ve met a bulldog on the road and sometimes even little songbirds startle us. Yet, it is also true to say we could be likened to the maple in the meadow where our deer family likes to play. Her loss remains great and we don’t know yet how her story unfolds but I see remains of beauty and strength to observe, to smile at, and even take shelter beneath while we wait to see, not all has been lost.
We are not alone (though evidence at times seems to say it). We do our best and savor this day, today. We remember and hold stunning truths in our hands, like…
“Just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel
And it doesn’t get old, because it’s true.
And truth comes at the most significant moments, the ones where it seems we might not be able to keep breathing. Truth speaks joy in hushed tones the way sleep whispers on a breeze and eyelids let gold-light filter in gentle and kind and deep. True is that complete breath that reaches and sinks all the way into the heart, opening it and letting it release old darlings and traumas alike like leaping she-deer, straight out of our heart and back to the earth again becoming something usable…again, and again, and again.
How else could the forest flourish and teem with life and give life except for all that it receives and reuses as it falls to the ground?
Well, if you’ve been here long — and I thank you that so many of you have — we’ve been practicing theses things for awhile here now, haven’t we? So, yes, death(s). But there is also rebirth too. Things that have been released and leapt from our hearts, returned to the earth where they came from and became new, renewed. Even if we cannot recognize them yet, life IS.
I turned to my son (the one whose name means faithful and true) a day ago and he said easy and clear and timely, “Well, mama, what we resist persists, but what we face and embrace makes space…right?” He’s quoting a poem of mine wherein I quoted a teacher of mine. And all of these echoes off the canyon walls simultaneously make me cry and feel alive, human, meaningful, and nurtured too.
There was a time when the saying
“What I resist, persists” was like a stone in my shoe
unforgettable but not exactly helpful
Well, not for awhile
I finally found a use for that stone
I placed it around the memorial I built
The day I finally knew there is no resurrection
The day I etched my epitaph
What I embrace, makes space
The day I died
The day I was born
-From my Diary of a Woman Healing in Our Slice of Wilds
We’ve been practicing this long enough that I think we can expect of ourselves, a little bit at a time, to not wait for death to come, or any such forcing of the hand to let things go, but rather to let renewal, to choose nurture the way the earth does—releasing.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control. -Psalm 32:9
It may never not feel oxymoronic to us, human as we are, most especially in the moments of devastation but that’s why we need the whisper on the wind and semi-regular naps both. We need what is beyond us and what is within us and our reach, both. We need to stay in the Breath and be immersed in gold-tinged light often enough to know this truth all the way down in our spirit, our hearts.
Then it is not only upon us to not be like a senseless mule, it is our very inheritance, to guard the gifted legacy of freedom valiantly—for ourselves and all who belong to us. I’m aiming to be valiant with you today. That might find me crashed for a nap in the hammock soon enough, but that’s all right.
These things do not mean we won’t start at a bird in a bush from time-to-time, and reasonably so. It also doesn’t mean that our life is over when our roots get a big and violent bite taken out of them. Life is calling to us from the very places our feet walk, (supposing you still have yours, one of your fellow-readers here does not, and that one knows more than many of us…) LIFE calls, from the lowest, most humble, most grounded places where the story of resurrection is speaking every moment of every day—over every death, every release, every goodbye.
I write to you today from such a ground; a convergence in time that, even on my best days, I have no idea what to make of it. Yet, I recall such places have been known to be called holy.
I wanted to write and say: I am grateful to live at such a time as this, with you. I see you there, living at convergences and loving in the midst of all the unknowing—on hallowed ground. I am grateful to be alive today where we have the choice to feel, name, see, gasp and not be afraid of dogs around us nor the senseless mule-like tendencies within us. I’m listening with you, and sending so much love, from my wild spaces to you in yours. We were born for this.
P.S. The new moon has come, the last day of the sixth month of the Biblical calendar. We stand at the precipice of the most holy month of the year, the seventh month and what the sages aptly named the ten days of awe. We don’t have to know all the names or words to sense the fresh invitation in the wind, a call to return and release. Here’s a song for you that has stirred my own heart to such potent themes of late:
I’m a writing, photograph-taking, qigong-practicing, homeschooling-mama-of-six exploring the wilds of the Pacific Northwest and me. Subscribe to receive my letters directly in your inbox if you’d like.