Reflections

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Mud Season

I emerge embarrassed at my absence from this column. Does anyone read it? If so, does anyone think I’ve stopped reflecting? I have not. As those of you living in the northeast this winter know it has been quite a white one. The weight of snow and grey skies.

Today, a Sunday, before heading to my favorite café to pick up The New York Times and enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts, I dropped a DVD into the library slot. In front of the library were proud green shoots of daffodils and short, tender crocus buds, emerging through the earth.

Mud season is here and on my dirt road it is especially tricky. I’m always happy for mud season though if I were more fastidious about having a clean car I’d find it challenging. Thankfully I have other priorities – reading, writing and teaching.

I guess this piece is a simple “hello out there” its finally spring and I am grateful for the warmth of the sun, the longer days and the receding snow.

Begin Again

Aren’t all beginnings new? Where does a beginning start –when I recognize my own beginning? My morning begins in the dark when tangled in dreams and thoughts I emerge. Often I burrow deeper into my pillows filtering through what I remember from the night’s journey. Sometimes I begin in prayer. Other times I simple get out of bed, put my slippers on as my cat, Merton, brushes against my feet, hungry and impatient. He has been my guardian while I slept. I take the stairs carefully. White Christmas lights twist around the banister. I leave them on as I find them a good nightlight.

I feed Merton and pop the button of the coffee maker I set up the night before. I heat my mug with hot water. As the coffee brews I look out the kitchen window into darkness. I know the woods are there and perhaps the deer. I read the quotes I have tacked around the windows. My morning mug is from New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur. It has a drawing of a monk facing a butterfly on it. I fry an egg and toast a piece of rye bread. Taking all with me- the coffee, cream and raw sugar, top it with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon, I sit on the couch by the window watching the sky change. Some people would say it is still night – 4:00am and others say it is morning. These are my monk hours- solitary and with a peace beyond words – a profound silence within.

When does the day begin – sometimes before I see it since it all rolls over – time without beginning or end? My waking is a passage through time. – universal – sacred. Grateful I begin again.

Words are my hermitage

Words carry me away from remembering the dark, from feeling the weight of sorrow my skin remembers, can pull me into a story, a country of someone else’s heart if I open to where the bookmark is and my eyes move across the page. The page is my safe place. My eyes focus, locate characters names and places in the novel, the words catch me and I breathe evenly again.

When remembering pulls me into the blackness where knowing is forgotten I gasp for breath. There are times my mind slows into “no thought” and I am clear. Sometimes remembering is like it the radiance of thirty butterflies and their whispering wings like yellow laughter. Then the dark place emerges from within me and I am lost again as I struggle and my hand reaches for a book and I find comfort in the shapes of the letters themselves, even before I see them as words, the simple shapes of letters leading me to words.

There are times the drug heavy danger of depression is so ringed with longing and heart lost, rocking me into despair’s undertow, lost in a funnel of thoughts, beckoning me to a place that feels like a kind of madness then words release pictures, colors, rhythm, releasing me from those shadows.

Words are my hermitage.

The solstice

May we be grateful for optimism in the presence of pessimism and may we remember the homeless, the hungry, those in pain, those wandering and those for whom the world is too difficult to understand. May the Great Creating Spirit be with us and may we be grateful for this life, filled as it is with conflict and confusion. There is always delight and kindness….look for them.

#4 Reflections

It is about 4:00 am and  I reach for my bed lamp and pull the chain. The dark is lit. This is a holy time for me– the quiet, this secret hour. I wonder whether I’ll choose a book or a pen. These are my pleasurable choices.

I am me in this quiet, a woman reaching  for words. This world of words has sustained me since childhood. This is where I find myself – a woman looking for words, to read or to write. Sometimes I stumble on a truth so delicate and strong that I am astonished.

This time, this privacy is where I find me, usually with words though sometimes on an island walking the tide line, or heeling a boat highest into the wind. I find me there, too. Other times I find me in the words I share with students in the classroom, a privilege that carries responsibility, and other times I find myself in my grandsons’ eyes.

I don’t think I saw me clearly in my lovers’ or husbands’ eyes as some people do. The completeness I yearned for years, thinking it was in the joining of body and life with another person – that never happened for me. Maybe I expected too much.

It is on the page I can be most myself.

There – that is truth, as I know it now – finally. Perhaps that is why the search for someone to be with is over. No more searching, no more glancing up to see in the face of a stranger if he might complete me. There is relief in knowing the searching is over. I am not sad about it.

I know something about me I didn’t know or accept before. I try not to weigh myself down with expectations. I have my four o’clock hour where there is silence and words.