Brokenness

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Today’s meander led me to look more closely at some places in my tiny community that I typically pass by without much regard – this reinforced embankment next to the state road, for instance, truly an eyesore in our picturesque village, but hidden somewhat from view. Most people passing through town, or visiting for the day, see something that looks more like this,  just downstream a hundred yards or so from the photo above.

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I had gone in search of the word, Brokenness, and, though open and curious, wondered what I might be led to that could possibly fulfill that word. In the natural world, there are many things that may appear to be broken… a fallen tree, a breach in a boulder, a flooded  earth, a dead bird… but to take a snapshot in time of such realities is to capture only a small part of the story. I resist that truncated view. Life has taught me that the tree will become earth again, providing much nourishment for many along its decomposing way; the breach will fill with debris and seedlings will sprout;  the floods will bring nutrient rich sludge from the river bottom, accumulated debris from its own little deaths, to spread  out across the hungry land; and the dead bird will provide food for the soaring vulture so that her body can craft an egg. Left to its own course, redemption and healing, resiliency and creativity prevail in the natural world.

But then I came to this sight, a naturally flowing watercourse diverted from its course by concrete, asphalt, and wire  and I wondered what could redeem this. It is much harder for me when it comes to the acts of man, where too often one selfish choice leads to further devastation. (I also discovered trash thrown into the woodlands, a twisted and tattered American flag beneath some rhododendron, and a rusted chain link fence preventing passage.) These things are hard for me to make sense of, and despite my deep trust of the earth, feel like brokenness beyond repair.

When relationships are broken, relationships that rapaciously, exploitatively take at the other’s expense rather than see and listen and honor the dignity, the needs, and the gifts of the other, real devastation can follow. Of course, given enough time and if human hands could be willing to let go of control, eventually the earth would be able to integrate even this, clear it away, take itself back.

As I looked through the images, I wondered how many of us, scarred and roughly patched by broken relationships, limp along in the same way as that stream of water. Words and actions from the past still controlling us like so-many-rocks bundled up into cages, we are unable to clear away the debris to take our selves back. We may learn to hide it from view, so that passersby don’t really notice. We may even look to all the world like that sparkling body of placid beauty downstream, until someone becomes intimate enough to look closer, to enter in to the healing conversation that is at the heart of true relationship.

I have come to acknowledge that often, hidden beneath human Beauty, I will discover patched together places, crumbling debris and bulwarks. We are all walking wounded perhaps. But if we are lucky, someone will cast a loving gaze on these places with tenderness and compassion, perhaps even help us to loosen the cages.

 

 

 

Home

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This One continues to teach me the ways of home. Those of you who have been with me on this journey for some time now will know this, as I wear this piece next to my heart (my own version perhaps of ‘home is where the heart is’) and have written often over these years of Turtle and her gentle guidance to me. (a quick search of the word ‘turtle’ on my weblog brought up 18 entries in which she is mentioned ). This one is familiar, familiar as home, so to speak, steadfast and constant.

On some level I suppose one’s entire life journey, including the slow, incremental steps we take within each moment from sunrise to sunset, is a continual homecoming. What do I mean by homecoming? Well….coming home, home to oneself and home to love.

To me, home is a place of deep comfort, where the clothes that I don to cover and protect can be stripped and discarded, along with the fears, shames and vulnerabilities that I am safeguarding with them. So, home is a place of shelter and safety, where who I am is welcome to be out and about, naked, so to speak, without fear of judgment.

Home is a lot like Love.

Some may see Turtle as shell alone, the surface only of her hard protective and sheltering layer, and miss the fullness of understanding her as a messenger of Home, and for quite some time She did indeed teach me in this way how to withdraw and hide to survive. During that hard time she safeguarded my tenderness and I am grateful for that, for I did not become hardened by life.

As the years passed, though, and She continued to instruct me, I learned that she wanted me to also learn how to carry my home with me.  I began to understand the shell, not as a hardness but, as a capacity. The home that I could withdraw into for safety and deep comfort, which enabled me to lay aside my shame and fears, was always with me. I alone carried that capacity, the spaciousness of that shell, and She reminded me to carry it with me.

Remember, Home is a lot like Love?

She began to teach me how to ‘take myself along’, how to trust in myself and my goodness. You know, the way you can feel as if you leave your best Self behind … your kind self, for instance, or the part of you that knows that all is well, or that Love is here and you are included in it’s embrace. Turtle teaches integrity, how to keep all of your parts present, how to live from that place of self containment, how to be true to oneself, the way that one can when one feels at home in one’s skin.

These last few years especially, the presence of water has been so potent in my life– thus, the mermaid, the canoe, the lakes, the beaver, and even the swimming pool– that Water was almost the image I chose for Home.  Perhaps this also has something to do with homecoming, a return to the safety and comfort of the womb. I think we do become safer with ourselves as we age, more able to be who we are without fear of judgment or fear of not-enoughness,  rather like a return to the womb where our knowledge of the world’s harshnesses are unknown and a purity of being is all that there is.  For many turtles, this return to the water is a natural part of their life cycle, a homecoming of sorts, too. I can feel that in my body when I enter the water – heaviness lifts, grace returns, freedom and flow and play emerge– each of these also belong to the feeling space of home for me… and so Turtle continues to teach me the ways of Homecoming.

I have read that if a young turtle makes it past those treacherous first years, there is little that can do it harm. This is how they grow to be so old and witness much, joining the other slow ancient ones.. gnarled old trees or weather worn boulders or plush mats of moss  … in revealing the wisdom of time in this place we call Home.

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