Algonquin post script – seed coats

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To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. – Thomas Merton

2 days home.

Well, reentry was, as re-entries tend to be, violent in some ways as my body adjusted to changes in pressure and sound.  Already, I have binged on food and mindless distractions, and stayed up far too late into the night, feeling lost in the dark.  Already I have noticed the places in me where hardness wants to return to protect me, like the armor of old deep water diving suits, designed to equalize pressure upon return to the surface.

The hardness in me shows up as a harshness I feel more than reveal (I hope) –  judgments of other’s preferences, choices, their ways of being, their tastes, their weaknesses and strengths. Oh, how did this armor grow up around me? Was it for self-preservation? Did it come from being judged myself, my defensive lack of acceptance of others coming from feeling dishonored/unheard myself? Or is it my body/soul’s attempt to resist being sucked back into the vortex, consumed by the relentless ?

Something inside of me begs, ‘Soften me, gentle me, please.’ This hard seeing of myself is an important seeing of myself, a wisdom-bringing seeing of myself.  What is the healing/wholing invitation?

I know it is not my job to fix, control, or change the other. The only thing that I can change is my own response, let it be a heart-honoring one, a heart-softening one. I can begin by trusting myself, by trusting that I am safe, by carving out safe space for my heart to come out and take up some room in my life. I can begin by continuing to nurture a witnessing presence, a curious presence, an accepting presence, an ‘everything belongs’ (including me) presence, a presence I so easily slip into when sitting on the edge of the water.

And so, here this morning I sit in the clearing on the ridge above town, in the game lands just south of the pump house that provides water for our village, witnessing with Love. I have come to this clearing , a place that has drawn me before, a tug I have largely ignored and neglected to follow. Here is a view of the sky, of the ridge beyond these overgrowing, ripening fields (left behind when the gypsy moth consumed all of the trees in this place over a decade ago). Today, I can almost imagine the cleared space between me and the far ridge being filled with water, and I sit along its banks.

It is good to be here without the terrible feeling of restlessness I felt in the stifling stillness of yesterday’s marketplace. My spirit despairs so in that place. Is the binging on food and information an attempt to fill up the feeling of emptiness inside that despair?

What rises in me is the desire for all of my days to look like this morning. Then I think about how much there is to ‘do’–house painting, laundry, child-care, the never-begun garden, that canoe I’d like to build. My calendar is filled with scheduled obligations. Is that how I am to spend my days? Is there another way of valuing them?

Color is just beginning to kiss this place, mostly yellowing the poplars, which change early and let go quickly, rattling in their browning when the breeze picks up. Here there are insects at work, crickets and grasshoppers, ants and bees. Each, save the cricket, has come to taste my skin since I settled down here in the grasses.

grasshopper A grasshopper has come to my pantleg- again. The first time she bit my leg! and the surprise caused me to fling her away. What does she find attractive in the brown synthetic fabric of pantleg, of shoe? She is moving sluggishly, tasting her way along. Oh, now here is another. It must be that my shoes smell of Algonquin muck. The two of them get into a tussle, one hopping on the other’s back, biting and scratching like cats, until the original visitor pushes off the clinging intruder with her strong hind legs.

She is female, her egg depositor is full. (Oh! now there are three of them!  and yet another! My shoes are a virtual mecca.)

Perhaps they are determining if my shoes are a safe place to deposit their eggs. No, my dears, not enough depth here. Here, they will surely get stomped upon or washed away! Choose more carefully, these shoes of mine are an imposter for the mud that you seek.

The grasshopper is related to the katydid, a cousin of sorts. What was it that the katydid had to share with me? I page back through my journal, to the entries I recorded when the katydid song was so soothing me a month ago, when she crossed my path, then came to sit on my windowsill.  There are scribblings about changing my way of approaching things, about shedding the old for the new, about individuating and initiating new lines of work.

I am feeling ready to go back. It is nearly noon. I am hungry. Nothing tremendous has happened, but I feel perhaps something has begun.

I have called the four directions, cast a prayer circle to begin my practice here, blessed it. May this space be a sacred place of blessing and vision. May no intruders desecrate this place. (ok, now a grasshopper has come to sit on this page!) May I learn from this space, inhabit this space, give something back to this space.

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3 days home

I have returned to this sacred spot. Already I feel it has held me. The appearance of grasshopper, so determined to get my attention, brought such a gift. May I likewise be a gift to this place, belong here with all of the qualities of deep belonging.

The wild pea stalks and leaves are yellowing, their pods drying in the sun before they burst or crack open to deposit their seeds, hardened to survive the cold winter ahead, then softened by spring thaws to populate this clearing again next summer. Each of the plants in this meadow has developed an ingenious way to ensure that its seeds survive. Some have feather-like fluff to ensure that they are picked up by the wind, others are brightly colored to attract birds that will consume them and carry them off in their bellies, some cling to my clothes as I pass, others are in clusters so tightly packed that when one is pulled loose they all come tumbling free.

A golden brown leaf has tumbled onto the page upon which I write. How is it that something blazes in golden array even as it is dying, browning, crumbling?

May my autumn blaze like this as my seeds are set free.

A spider has followed its silk to the brim of my cap. Isn’t that a sight, me perched atop this sawn-off trunk, the spider perched atop me!  The trunk upon which I sit was cut quite some time ago, probably around the time those gypsy moth consumed her. Her bark has fallen away and lies about me like the peel of a banana around the ripe fruit. I sense she is a sister to that “great fallen tree that graced me with a perch from which to view the unfolding‘ in Algonquin. She sounds hollow when I tap her, so dry is she, and her wood is beginning to separate into those corky boxes that fascinate me so, incredibly lightweight with all of her moisture withdrawn. I want to remember to witness like this, with gentility and grace, the unfolding in all, the unfolding in me, and I ask her if I may take a piece of her home as a symbol of that desire. Easily a chunk breaks free.

The sky is new today. No longer the unbroken, brilliant blue, but beginning to pull a blanket of sirrus clouds over herself. Perhaps rain, or cold, is coming.

I dreamt the full-term pregnancy dream last night. It has been long, it seems, since I have dreamt this, my perennial dream, longer still since I have felt such a stirring-to-life in me, such a ripeness in me. Again in the dream, the doctor ( a woman this time) wanted to give me a pill to stop the progress of labor, to ‘quiet things down’. She had other things to do that made the timing inconvenient. In the dream, I ask, ‘But am I not full-term? Is the time not now?’

I refuse to take the numbing drugs, to acquiesce to her busyness, to silence the urgency in me to give birth, to undermine the power of my womb.

Spider has reappeared on the edge of my brim. She is fuzzy and brown. She invites me to look up, to take off my cap. I pause, listen – a small creature, likely a bird, scratches in the dried leaves in the brush next to me. Crickets chirr and chirp, a jay squawks. I slide down the trunk, allow her to become a rest for my back.

On my walk home yesterday, I jumped – two-legged full-bodied long jumps – down the path through the woods, from pump house to avenue. I thought it was just one more exercise I’d chosen to strengthen my legs, not consciously connected to the grasshoppers who’d pilgrimaged to my shoes. I wonder, do pilgrims leave something of their spirit behind in the places they visit? Is their presence in a place as much a gift to that place as that place is to them?

Back at the house, I read that grasshoppers come to remind us to trust the leaps forward in our lives. Also, to trust our instincts, listen to our inner voices. It seems, like the katydid, they have a tympanic organ on their front legs, near their ‘elbows’. As they breathe this listening organ is activated.

This past year and a half has been a time of attending to my body, of honoring it, strengthening it, moving it. I have had the felt sense that this has been a different experience than previous body-image pursuits that have obsessed me. This has felt like a soul-calling, a deep desire to care for the body that pilgrims my soul in this place, so that it can continue to carry me to the places my soul longs to go. Likewise, the strength I have nurtured has felt like one strength, congruent and connected, body-mind-heart-soul.

My body and soul are one now, and I am much more than skin deep.

I can jump now. I can leap and skip too. I can fling from my back.

I can carry a canoe, a canoe that pilgrims my soul to places where I can hear its voice, catch glimpses of its beauty, to places where my arms hear the call of the water and beg me to paddle awhile in her depths, plunge in and draw nourishment from Her. I can carry pieces of Her spirit home in my changed heart, bits of Her soil on my shoes. I can leave spirit memories of myself in a place, gift it with the wonder and music of a woman in love, like a grasshopper who leaves behind some memory of leaping in my legs. Did my union with Her also change her somehow?

Yes, I can listen now.  Breathe, and then trust these instincts of mine. Then, jump or push off that which wants to cling to me. Not like the last time the dream came and I unwittingly gobbled up those numbing pills.

2 weeks home.

The meadow is browning and wet. I sit on her shoreline, baptizing myself in her seeds, plunging in with my camera, beholding.

One month ago I was crossing the border, on my way.

Today, a small aphid-like insect explores the contours of my fingers. It’s touch is so soft, so lightweight that I do not feel its presence on my skin. Only when I look intentionally do I know he is still there.

Two tarrying butterflies visit late blossoms.  I’m uncertain at first if they are just leaves caught up by the wind, or butterflies propelling themselves forward, drawn to one last drink.

insect on the pageYet another insect, the size of a small wasp lands on the page opposite my pen. Is that an ovipositor I see?

Oh my.

I have come down with a cold, an incredibly fatiguing cold, the first for me in over a year. Late nights writing and sleep deprivation will do that. What is my body/soul revealing? Clearly, something is off-balance.

This balance thing is tricky. Balance is not the same as juggling, and stealing hours is not the same as carving a space for my heart to come out and play. Something must be flung from my back.

Still, my body, through this illness, has given permission to be still, to take care of myself, to spend hours with words, reading and writing.

There is something in me that is yearning to be born, to leap into life. It seeks a birthing room that smells like the fecund soil of an Algonquin autumn.

And it safeguards these seeds in me.

JPEG Image (11122)seeds JPEG Image (11463)  JPEG Image (11226) JPEG Image (10649) JPEG Image (9960) JPEG Image (9624) JPEG Image (10201) JPEG Image (10078)

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. elaine
    Oct 16, 2014 @ 08:07:04

    I have so enjoyed reading your posts. I look forward to our Blue Diamond time later this month.



  2. emmaatlast
    Oct 16, 2014 @ 09:34:25

    thanks Elaine. I didn’t know you were reading. I’m looking forward to that sparkling time too. 🙂



  3. Trackback: What is stirring in your belly? An invitation to you and to me. | Emmaatlast's Weblog
  4. Trackback: standing on the edge of something | Emmaatlast's Weblog
  5. Trackback: seeds | Emmaatlast's Weblog

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