mirror, mirror

gold lame

Unaltered photo. 5:38 pm, Oct 26

orange coats

unaltered photo, 6:03pm, oct 26


The earth shifts, a mere 5 degrees, and what was a moment ago swathed in gold lame, radiant and flowing, is now steeped in dusky orange, as if the ridge were dunked in a bath that stripped off the sparkle. Another 10 minutes and the world has turned enough to reveal that which was hidden in the shimmering, surprising me with reds, burnt oranges, even burgundies. At last, just before dark, the greens appear, on the tops of trees that haven’t yet made the transition, holdfasts who resist the coming winter until the last possible moment and then go all-at-once in a blaze of glory.

And yet, when I settled here, I’d have stated without reservation that the leaves on this particular westward facing ridge were homogenous.

Shame is insidious, the way it hides in the light like that. You look around at your neighbors and you think they all look so sparkly, dressed in their gold lame. It fools you into thinking that they are all the same and somehow its you who is different… broken, needy, wounded, inadequate, misfit, unlovable, unloving, unworthy, not good enough … Surely no one has these particular thoughts, those desires and resentments, has messed up in that way.

Afraid of being found out, you stuff it all in the closet, put on the gold lame dress. Try to move the way someone wearing gold lame moves…. gracefully. But you trip, of course. Your ankle sprains. Each step now is painful, but you keep dancing, There’s fire at your feet

Every now and then you pull one of the earth toned frocks out of the closet, try it on. It fits you so well you feel like yourself. Maybe its not so ugly after all? and you wonder if it’d be ok to wear it outside of your room. But every time you open the door, step over the sill, that light blinds you. With all that harsh light bouncing back at you, you just can’t see they’re all covering up too. Quickly you stuff it back in, erase the heresy, say ‘yes’ to compliance, paint yourself in a good light.

Until one autumn evening of your life, nearing dusk, the door busts open and the words spill out on the page. You glance up and the ridge is no longer gold, though you haven’t changed and neither have they. Somehow the earth itself has shifted. The infinite array is revealed, the subtle variances of beauty confessed.

I wonder how a shift in perspective of just a degree can paint a new portrait.  How, with the gold lame stripped off of yourself, its nearly impossible to catch a projection. How, as that blinding sun sinks, you can settle in, choose to bear witness rather than shame, to behold rather than be judged, to love rather than to be perfect.

It’s all in the turning. The turning of the earth, the turning of the wheel of life, the turning over of the mirror.

Day into night.

Summer into winter.

Maiden into crone

.Andrew Wyeth, <i>Christina's World</i> (1948). The Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Purchase. © 2012 Andrew Wyeth    

Coda: They say that the work of midlife for a woman who is making the great change from mother to crone is a labor of giving birth to the Self.  I expect that a part of that birthing, along with embodying a new way of being, is learning a new way of seeing. As with all births there comes a time, sometime after the trauma of delivery, when eyes are ready to open or when vision becomes focused. The crone comes bearing the gift of the long gaze, a perspective honed into wisdom by a lifetime of incubation that has crafted the lenses of her eyes into mirrors of her soul.

And so, the crone does not enter the room, or the village, or the world, expecting to be seen, but trusting what she sees. She lives not from a place of longing to belong, but from a place of assurance that her kind is needed in this place.   She goes out in her rags… or her robes… caring not about how she is perceived, but comfortable in her own skin. She need not squeeze into whatever small storyline is being played out in the moment in order to fit in, rather she can step into the largeness of herself and be present to what-is with compassion, a compassion that is not condescending, but transcending.


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