Sunday, April 12, 2009
The whole enthralling experience
It is Easter Sunday, a day of renewal and resurrection for many. Out my window here at my Carmel Valley “Roost”—my home away from home, my creative refuge, my retreat—the day is glowing green, a wisteria vine is exploding with blossoms and bees, and the hills are calling. I look at the world out there, that chaos of life, and am able to see its unity and coherence. Yet I find it difficult to do the same with my own chaos: the thoughts and feelings and desires and dreams that roil about in my head and heart. Just this morning, so much has entered into this self-contained space of mine: the tenets of Congregationalism; foxes on an island off California; amazon’s new policy regarding “adult” books. These things appeal to my intellect; they are interesting—and in the case of the amazon thing, outrageous (if true)—and I am glad to know about them, to engage with their meaning for me personally or for society more generally. Other things, though, hit me squarely in the heart: photos on Facebook of a Search & Rescue mission last night that I missed out on, which bums me out; a conversation with a friend about all those old, deep wounds that are so difficult to heal; sharp disappointment over another friend not getting in touch this week, though I “knew” he wouldn't. And of course, joy is in my heart as well: at the beauty of the day; at hearing by email and phone from several people who I know do care about me; at being able to focus on my steady, strong breath, the blood flowing through my veins, and appreciate the fact that I am healthy and, well, alive.
I know the joy and contentment are there, and yet the pain keeps bubbling up. And . . . it’s okay. The pain is part of me. Some days it’s unnervingly insistent and makes me feel almost shattered. On those days, I need to be extra attentive and allow myself space to simply be: to breathe, in, out; to allow tears, salty and mysterious, to trickle down my cheeks. Today seems to be one of those days. Other days the sorrow pools back within some hollow inside me, and I’m able to fully inhabit the self-confident, positive self I know most people see me as. Some days it’s a bit of both. I am never happy to feel that dark shroud descend upon me. However, after many years of not acknowledging that the sadness was even there, I am beginning to realize that I do not need to consider it an enemy; rather, it can be a wise teacher, and a worthy friend. But only if I listen. Which means letting it in, feeling it as fully as I can, and understanding how it contributes to the unity and wholeness that are uniquely and beautifully me.
A friend sent me this quote this morning. It sparked this musing, and so I will end with it. It's by Eleanor Roosevelt: “I wish with all my heart that every child could be so imbued with a sense of the adventure of life that each change, each readjustment, each surprise—good or bad—that came along would be welcomed as part of the whole enthralling experience.”