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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