Snow Goose, Hideoki Hagiwara,1978 (Stephen Ellcock)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Handcrafted Life

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
~ Wallace Stevens

In my part of the world, it's been snowing steadily--persistently--for the last three days.  It's the kind of heavy, ice-rimmed snow that builds up and sticks around for a spell--it's also mid February which means it could be gone two days from now as the temperatures are expected to rise.  However long it lasts, I find it beautiful in all its particulars from the cold crunch of it under my feet to the shadows cast by drifts and the way it changes the light in a room. I'm not one who hates snow or winter--I enjoy the changing seasons and revel in their unique and varied beauties--snow, to my mind--is a gift and one I fully appreciate in its time.  Yet, my inner compass turns ever more towards spring--I'm increasingly ready to see new growth, green shoots of leaves from the already swelling buds and the way crocuses nose their way upwards as soon as the sun extends her reach over the northern hemisphere. I was a "spring baby" as early family memories tell the tale--born in early March, the claim perhaps jumping the gun a bit but they may well have more properly read my temperament and character than even they realized--I'm always on the watch for the changes as they come and I prepare for them, whether the seasonal cycles of the year or changes in my life because i know that change is the one constant--nothing stays forever the same, nor should it, but the desire for changelessness haunts us, especially when it involves the people and things we love and hold most dear--we don't want to let go; we don't want to lose what we have or believe we have but that's not our determination to make--life and circumstances, errors and missteps, decisions made through hard discernments bring change and our task is always to learn to accept and flow with them as best we can.

I haven't written here in a long while--I intended to, but in truth, I came to a place where I wasn't sure I had anything worthwhile to say and I was living my life in a contented and peaceful way that suited me--and still does--and so didn't feel any urgency about writing beyond the book reviews and short essays I've offered for publication in various places--that seemed like enough but so much has happened--is happening--in the world around me that I realized some time ago that it's time to at least start interrogating the questions, even if answers are in short supply.  Obviously, I can do this in my private journals--and do--but it feels more honest and more useful to engage companions along the way--are any of you still following me here? Perhaps not but maybe you'll return or others will find me and want to read along for a bit---in any case, I know that what I write here will find someone who reads it, whether they respond or not, and, like praying the liturgy of the hours or sitting in meditation or communal silence--in all those ways in which we stop to listen for and to the collective consciousness around us--my hope and my trust is that my writing will once again tap into that primal, ongoing thread.

We're living in perilous times: our politics--around the globe--is fractured and divided in ways we can't  comprehend in terms of what it will mean even a year from now.  As I examine the politics in my own country over the last 24 months, I have only to look at my relationships with people--some I've known over a lifetime--to see how much it altered our views of each other, brought something to the surface that had been buried, perhaps, or not acknowledged.  I have lost a couple of beloved friendships largely over political disagreements although, of course, I know that perhaps the politics was simply the cover story for a deeper malaise or misalignment but the instigating elements lay in our often only slightly different views of what was needed for us to move forward as a country--and I'm not alone in this as many people have had the same experience.  Most of us do the bulk of our communicating online, on social media and the like and I have come to view that as almost entirely negative--which also contributed to my inability to write here as I viewed engaging with one more online medium to be more than I could handle--perhaps more than anyone needed to hear from me--but that too, has changed.  My little writing cubby here feels, now, like an old, comfortable friend--a place where I can say my piece quietly and with as much complete thought as I'm capable of in a given moment and hope for a thoughtful response from anyone who might care to give one--and that is my invitation: I want to examine our shared life, talk a bit about my own and the thought that creates, supports and nourishes it and hear from others about how they're doing--how are you choosing to live and respond to the world in these times? What has changed for you? What are you hoping won't change?  I'm so eager to hear what you have to say.

My life is quieter than it used to be--no longer a practicing midwife--many years retired now although I've come out of retirement here and there in the last few years to do a birth for a friend or former client--and I work as a spiritual director--an "Anam Cara" (soul friend) to those who want to talk about what is most in need of attention in their lives and facilitating a more contemplative and attentive way of being in the world.  I review books for two published reviewers.  I work as a music programmer for two venues--I book musicians and host their performances---and I make beeswax candles for sale, a craft I dearly love and that I've spent the last three years working with to the point where I have candles I'm proud to sell.  I experience real joy making a Saturday breakfast for my husband to enjoy after he comes in from shoveling the snow and while most of our kids are now adults and on their own, we're still a family and our kids all live in the area and we see them frequently.  I spend my days reading, writing, making candles, making music, cooking, tending to the needs of our household, family and community in varied ways and I am at home with myself and my world. There is such simple joy in a handcrafted life--one put together like a stone wall with care, attention and a willingness to accept and work with the happenstance--the events and necessary alterations that come with time and living--but nothing here is ordered ready made--we--my husband and I--made this home and life here and I long to share what that means to me with all of you--what questions we asked in the course of ordering our steps; what questions we're asking now. There is still much to know and to say about living "close to the root".

 I'm not a young woman anymore--this "spring baby" is nearing 60 years old--but I have enjoyed the process of becoming an elder--I am at peace with the life I've lived and truly contented with the life I enjoy on this old homestead where we've lived for so many years now and looking forward--eyes straight ahead--to seeking out the right questions to ask of myself and of our time--where are we now and where are we going?  Forming the right questions is key and that's no easy task so I'm going to take my time here and write the questions as they arise. Sometimes, I'll just muse on whatever comes to hand.  I'll use a lot of poetry and wise thought from many sources, ancient and modern, and I'll look forward to your responses as they come.

I'm glad to be back.

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