Sunday, October 27, 2013

Seed Talk

What matters is these five women, holding space for one another--angels on earth, angels in the ether of E's heaven.

"This could be heaven," she said matter-of-factly, looking around the circle, sort of assessing us before reasserting, "Yeah, you could all be in my heaven." We laughed but were inwardly honored, without speaking it, by the notion. By E including us in such a place in her heart.

What matters, then, is this tower and the seeds we have planted here. They rain down from the sixth floor like petals or snowflakes and settle in the rich soil beneath us.

Each day we have gathered here in earnest. The sixth floor of the tower at Awaken Whole Life Center. Together, with pens in hands, layers of trepidation and restraint shed for the opening, the unveiling of our own personal truths, each of them nestled into the nest of this larger Truth. Satya.

What matters then is a village. People who are trying, really trying to be whole, good, light. People whose practice it is not to judge but to open themselves one limb, one petal, one thought at a time to what is possible in the world.

It took me a while to realize what made this place so special. It was, all around me, the collective 'essaie,' the effort to be good. The intention of each person who walked there--the chefs, the bookstore clerks, the spa staff--to be kind to one another. To see each other clearly and come from a place of acceptance for each interaction, whether with strangers or friends.

What matters then is the miracle of a dog. A boy with words in his heart. A mother willing to give him the spoon that feeds him.

N, you are so beautiful in your love. It is, we could all see immediately, without condition. It is for everyone you encounter, everyone with a hurt or a need or a hope. How lucky your children are to have such a strong presence of maternal compassion in their who is rooted in her feminine lineage but not bound by it.

What matters then is a formidable woman who embraces a girl--forlorn in a foreign land, rejected by those who would love her, confused by the incongruity of culture, family, propensities and lives that enveloped her in eighteen short but enduring months.

What an honor, P, to be among the midwives of this amazing birth. Your story will unfold itself before your eyes. All you have to do is "show up" to write. This story wants to be told by you; it picked you, as I believe a child chooses its parents...I can't wait to see all the ways it will grow!

What matters then is an ageless woman with a love for life that supersedes all fear, all inhibition, all self-consciousness. A woman who, after 87 years, continues to evolve, grow herself, attend to the business of blooming.

Thank you, E, for modeling sheer gratitude for life and all it brings. For reminding us that we are constantly and ever evolving, and for giving us so much to look forward to!

What matters then is a mother of six who springs into the autumn of her life in beauty, in joy. She is a fountain, she is a source of life in and of herself. She, too, seeks to blossom heavenward.

C, whose 'peasant feet' root her to the earth. Ground her in her present and give her the steadiness of heart and step as she moves through a life with the intention of becoming what it is in her to become...never forget that what you are already is beautiful and worthy of every good thing.

What matters then is a woman cupping the heart of a man in her warm hands. Her own beats like a sparrow's--quick skittering rhythm hidden in her breast as she breathes in his brokenness, exhales what would heal him.

T, I wish you could have fully grasped the amount of admiration and appreciation carried in the hearts of each of the members of our group...for you, friend. For you.

This time together, here, in a seven-story tower, we have leaned in to one another. It has been a time of intrepid openness and unfettered self-expression, each woman moving toward a light that she herself placed before her. Each one holds the space toward this expansive motion and shared evolution. We know ourselves as in the process of becoming, but also as already embodying that perfect thing toward which we strive. Time is inconsequential in the mapping of our intent.

This weekend was the synthesis of souls, intentions, efforts, but also the synthesis of my own gifts and offerings. We are the "seed group." We acknowledge it aloud. We know that it will never be like this again and this we speak, as well. "We are the 'good old days,'" E asserts, having most certainly looked back and known herself like this in other settings, other circumstances over the course of her 87 years. She grins broadly, and we know it to be true. "Seed Talk," we called this meeting...Sunday evening, the last of our retreat. Indeed. Seeds and talk and love and the cultivation of this fine thing that has already begun to grow in the garden of our collective consciousness.

What matters, then, is my own effort to tend to this garden of unruly but fantastic flowers. And to trust in the process. There is a way to give it all and be left full to overflowing. Be a gardener, Kim. Be a fountain.

**Thank you to Margaret Robison whose untitled poem inspired the refrain of this post: "What matters then..."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Art of Being Still

I have sometimes thought that I had nothing in common with my mother, content to raise her children, keep our tidy house, put food on a maple-wood table. My mother who never heard the call of distant countries or foreign cultures but instead hunkered down and laughed about being an "Okie," though each step she took distinguished her as "other" than what her Oklahoma Dustbowl lineage might define.

In California, she watches the sea from the shore, her feet firmly planted on East Cliff Drive, arms wrapped around her body against the chill of North Pacific breezes. My mother, resigned to working in the same tiny medical office for over 20 years, all the while anticipating a time of rest in retirement. Slowly working her way up a pay scale and growing in the esteem of the doctors whose insurance billing she governs.

I have spent my adult life in a steady progress away from this kind of stillness, always moving, always driving in the direction of the unknown. Driving seaward, lusting for the adventure of ocean swells. Winds of change. Only now, in my 42nd year, the year that for my mother held the wedding of her daughter and the diagnosis of breast cancer, do I begin slowly, slowly, to learn the art of stillness. To know the difference between still and stuck.

I see now the strength in making a choice and carrying it out over time. Being very still and waiting out times that don't measure up. Nurturing hope and indeed action for incremental change, rather than flying to the dramatic: abandoning your post in the face of a picture of life that is incongruous with the picture in your heart.

Looking back over my own story, I consider counting the number of times I have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, fled from a place that was still becoming "home." Created the need to rebuild, start again in a new place under new circumstances.  What has been the draw of utter and complete upheaval? Have I never known moderation?

But there is no point in doing this. No point in trying to imagine what might have grown had I ever had the perseverance, the patience, to nurture something akin to a garden. In fact, I have come to see gardening as the symbol of the kind of rooting of the self that I still don't really know how to want. The kind of rooting of the self that I believe I will evolve to find myself understanding. Even desiring, one day.

In the meantime, I will practice the art of being still in Vermont. Because my children love this place in which I have begun to learn it. It is the place that held up a mirror for me to see my mother's features in my own brown face. Her expression of steadfastness. Her constancy. These endow me with a kind of beauty I did not have before now but which was always in her, though I did not understand its origin. They provide me with an anchor. I drop it here among the carrots and the lettuces. I find comfort in the tautness of its line, as the waves of my life lift me up and away from it. But the line holds. I stay. Still and not stuck.