power

divine-light

When I sat at the computer with today’s word boldly keyed across the top of the page, the words spilled out below it in so many directions, synapses firing this way and that as my brain is wont to do. But nothing seemed to connect in any cohesive way, and I couldn’t keep them inscribed within the margins. So, I finally stopped, picked up my journal, to search with my pen beneath all that chatter for what was at the heart of the matter.

There, I wondered if that ‘spilling all over the place’ was perhaps an apt metaphor after all. They speak of ‘harnessing power’ and I suppose once upon a time I would have heard that phrase as oppression, picturing wild horses being subdued with bits and whips and wire. Now, I think I understand the way that one’s power is diffused, one’s energy diluted, by too many draws. Paradoxically, however, our gift IS connected to our freedom — We are free to follow our star. We are not free, it turns out, to follow them all.

But what does that mean in regards to human power? Are we here to focus the energy of our passion in order to bring to fruit(ion) the one unique gift that only our particular line up of genes might bring forth? In a way that seems a bit too mechanistic, but it makes me think of the African proverb that supposes that each of us comes into the world with a specific cargo we are to deliver down river. Nothing fills our lives with more meaning and power than finding and offering that gift.

Some of us fear missing that boat. Some of us spend all of our lives, it seems, scurrying about on the shore, grasping for every possible scrap of potential cargo we might possibly carry on the voyage that t­­he boat drifts away in the distraction like Dorothy’s balloon – just as she realized the one thing that she needed was with her all along.

Life teems with potential, but any one of us cannot carry it all. We are limited, no matter how many multitudes we contain. But we want to taste it all! Choices are necessary and pruning is hard. It feels like cutting off a part of ourselves, cutting off something or someone that we love, to focus the energy of our life force (power?) into that singular fruit.

And we pray that the nurture is not merely for us alone. Somehow the deepest part of ourselves knows we belong to each other and wants that gift, which can feel so particular and individual, to feed all. Perhaps it feels selfish to board that boat alone, to allow ourselves to experience the profound joy of that. …. But perhaps that is just my female conditioning, taught to believe that harnessing my own power is selfish when I ought give myself away . Load others into that boat. ­­It is near to impossible to give that kind of permission to myself….

And so it is that the power of the passion dissipates.

Stars fade.

Words leak all over the page……….

I should stop here….

The truth is probably that I am unable to grasp the essence of the word because I have no idea what it feels like. When I close my eyes, search for it inside my body, I imagine it there in my heart the way it must feel when a bird propels herself in flight from that center of power in her breast. The power of wings– not necessarily the kind of power one typically imagines when envisioning a powerful creature, no roar (they sing?) nor thrust of muscle and speed, and yet they inspire.

I once read an explanation of the mechanics of flight written for northern nature lovers who might understand the physics of moving a canoe through the water, the paddle not unlike a wing, the resistance of the water not unlike the air. I can’t really recall more details than that, but I took in those words, chewed them up, and the energy of that understanding remains in the cells of my body. I can feel the power of that.

If the power of flight feels like paddling a canoe, I know what it feels like to step from the shore into that boat with only the cargo I can carry on my back (for the times I might have to walk across dry land with it) I know how to lighten the load., how to deem what is necessary, how to be creative without. I know how to harness my power to that boat -neither one of us making it down river without the other – my knees in her ribs until she is an extension of me, I of her. Our power not coming from force but from subtlety, the angle of the blade in the water, the lean of the hull, the pull of the paddle, the curve of the rocker, the twist of a wrist.

I know what that kind of power feels like. It is not loud. It does not pollute. It is not about force, speed or distance or powering through. It does not disrupt, destroy, disrespect. Canoeing, the way that I do, is not about conquer, it is about encounter. Encounter where I must put myself forth, meet the world with the fullness of my being…my competence, my experience, my attention, my integrity, my presence, my joy, my gentleness, my strength, my wisdom, my silence, my aliveness, my stillness, my body, my mind, my heart, yes, my love. Be met BY it as well, for this is a humble kind of power that knows I am not one and only, which honors the power (wisdom, presence, integrity, strength..) in the other’s wildness and enters that place of belonging with joy. That means sometimes I pull my boat ashore.

I suspect that this sense of aliveness and belonging and respect is where the seat of my true power resides.

­­­ Once upon a time,
When women were birds,
There was the simple understanding
That to sing at dawn
And to sing at dusk
Was to heal the world through joy.

Terry Tempest Williams

­­­

Perhaps there is power in that

vision

 

Tonight’s word is vision. I so wished it would’ve been journey, or healing, or home, or bloom, or a dozen others I could name, because that is the way the day unfolded for me, but Vision it is, so with vision let’s go….

 

 

A dear friend, during a long conversation this afternoon, offered me a new way of seeing myself, reminding me again of how vital are mirrors  –  ones that behold our belovedness – in our lives.  With some sadness I wonder at how it is that the day-to-day of our lives and our loves casts a film over that glass, so that ‘now we see dimly’.  How is it that the Beauty in our midst goes unnoticed or becomes merely mundane?

I do it all the time, fail to see the Beauty in my own back yard. If I change the lens through which I am viewing, I can find it, right there, hiding in plain sight where it has been all along. But it can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to see myself clearly from inside the funhouse of my own psyche, no matter what corrective lens I employ.

You know how it is that, even when you gaze into a perfect mirror, all of your features are reversed in that ‘mirror image’. What is right appears left- the part of your hair, the curve of your chin, the symmetry of your breasts. Add to that the curves and the angles of your internalized shames, wounds, and the distorted lies you have been told about who you are or who you should be, and suddenly what is elegant can seem backwards, truncated and squat. Not that truncated and squat doesn’t have its own kind of beauty, but to truly see a thing is to give to it its true name. 

We walk about as if we are carrying a grotesque growth of some sort on our faces, one that everyone can see as an evident flaw, until one day someone comes along and tells us, ‘You know that is a mark of great beauty where I come from’  That’s how my day felt today. As if someone I met from a foreign country told me that my kind of face was Beauty.

Yesterday I took my granddaughter to see the snow geese and tundra swan, who stop over in my part of the world every February, on their way home. That instinct in them so trusted, they lift as if with one wing when the season awakens.  I have felt instinct like that in my life. More often than not I talk myself out of the feeling, naming it as squat perhaps when it is pure elegance. How did I learn that the opening of wings, like a blossom, was ugly?

I had wrapped for my granddaughter’s gift a copy of Hans Christian Anderson’s, The Ugly Duckling, a cherished fairy tale of my youth that I uncovered when clearing out my books. Thought that it fit the occasion. Wasn’t thinking at all about mirrors.  On the hillside next to the lake, I pointed out to her the gray yearlings, not yet grown into their snowy white feathers- the ones that keep them safe from predators that damage wings. Later, we played with the binoculars, turned them around backwards and forwards, made things appear so much larger than life and then so far away, so easily flipped. We measured the span of our wings against theirs, traced on the wall, then pressed the button that lit up their path on the map. (Wouldn’t that be helpful?!)

Once upon a time, I surrounded myself with swans. Swan paintings. Swan photos. Swan jewelry. Swan carvings. Swan glass. The story was quite literal for me as a youth. Over the course of one summer I had blossomed into Beauty as if overnight. Returning to the schoolyard that autumn, peers, for whom I had been labeled as one kind of creature, now called me another, though I was no different inside. What did that mean about Beauty and what makes one worthy of love?

Later readings found the fable offering its empathy to my feeling of being dropped into the wrong nest, into a family that never quite understood who I was, for whom the kind of beauty I bore was unseen, unappreciated, unnoticed, unknown, uncelebrated. Foreign. I suspect that this is a common human feeling, common enough that we write fairy tales to express the pain of it. Perhaps that is where the distortions in the mirror begin, in that twisting ourselves into desirable shapes to be seen, to belong, to be loved. Those feelings of not being seen persist long into adulthood. We carry the broken mirror into each room of life that we enter, measure ourselves in its image.

I wonder this evening, where that swan has been hiding? Gone from my home, replaced by earthbound creatures who carry their homes on their backs rather than opening wings, by subaquatic creatures who build dams and craft homes of isolated safety. Powerful totems have they been for me, but I wonder are they truncated and squat….

for I also know the feeling of power in my breast, the lift of my heart, the opening of the blossom, the vision of the earth beneath me, revealing the way of true home, and from that elegant vantage I see

All that I am

and I see

It is good.

 

 

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