northern spring awakening

April 23

Today, I walked across the ice-and-snow covered lake to the point, where a series of wolf tracks converged on the shore, then disappeared up over the granite ledge . A set of moose tracks emerged from the same general area headed out toward the island. I discovered the vixen’s den burrowed into the bank behind the cabins. I’ve spotted her out and about with her swollen teats, hunting for food, heard her barking last night.

The blackbirds are making a racket, waiting for the marsh to thaw.

April 25

Woke to the music of the white throated sparrow singing her “O Sweet Canada Canada” outside my window and the percussion of the rain pattering on the tin roof. The morning fog, rising off the ice, was thick as cotton (or maybe it was whipped frosting), blurring the separation between frozen water below and gray sky above. This afternoon, an otter went running and sliding across the lake like a child on a slip-and-slide in summer.
The rain is helping the lake to finally begin melting. Soon these rolling frozen furrows will be waves lapping the summer shore.

April 26

The day dawns bright and crisp (28 degrees), the sky a brilliant blue after a crystal night where the almost-full moon cast it’s silver light upon the birches and the still frozen water. The days are growing warmer (near 60 degrees yesterday) as each day spring inches nearer, even as the ice inches away from the shoreline. The quality of the ice changes day by day. It is now rough and pecked on its surface, no longer smooth. The waters uphill are rushing with the snow that melts by day. Inland vernal pools are filling.
The wood ducks have found their way here now, their ooeek calls fill the early evening air. The ruffed grouse are strutting their stuff, proudly puffing that ruff while displaying their tails and drumming their wings for any seemingly indifferent females who might be gleaning nearby.
Yesterday, while walking I caught a scent of something so terribly sweet that it made me pause to look closer, wondering what could be possibly blooming in these bare winter woods. Even the butterflies seem to be awakening, alighting on the cindered roads. For minerals, I presume. And O Sweet Canada continues to sing her morning song.

April 27

Tonight, a picnic dinner with my friend on a sloping rock next to the frozen bay. A beaver decided to join us, munching away on his twigs perhaps 15 feet from where we sat, taking advantage, as were we, of the late day sun ‘warming’ the 3 feet or so of open water along the shoreline. We heard him before we spotted him, chomping so noisily I thought at first he was a duck flapping his wings in the water for a bath.

A long walk ensued, following in the tracks of the moose, where we spotted a turkey and a hawk and heard the first wood thrush of spring.

The snow continues to melt, carving rivulets and tumblng over rocks and winter-fallen limbs. The sap is likewise running, dripping from woodpecker holes. I caught a drop on my finger, put it to my lips for a taste.

A rainbow, high in the sky, arced from one end to the other of a solitary cloud in an otherwise clear sky, neither foot touching the earth. My friend called it a “sun dog” and said it portends rain. The forecast is indeed for cold rain, possibly freezing, or snow tomorrow.

Spring in the north .

April 28

Cold and raw, freezing rain this evening. The day was blustery and crisp. My body is tired this evening, for though I have been sharing the delights of this late winter north, there is also much work to be done to prepare the lodge for summer guests, who are due to begin arriving next weekend. By day, I have been washing windows and wiping down walls, painting, hauling water ( it is too cold yet to turn on the taps) and firewood, doing yard work and carting debris. There are mattresses to lift and bathrooms to scrub.

However, the remuneration for me is most generous – the opportunity to dwell for a time in this place that loves me like no other. To be with the Earth here as she awakens from her long sleep, attending to each nuance of that awakening, like observing a lover in bed next to me, stirring then settling, then rolling over and snoring, then eyes peeping open with a yawn and a smile, arms welcoming me into embrace. These vulnerable intimate moments bonding me ever more.

Both of these experiences here… the physical work and the more sensual, quiet attending… remind me that I am a part of something quite precious and rare.

when god is gone, everything is holy

once upon a time, i was in deep despair. grief upon grief had broken me and i was uncertain i could go on in a life that promised only more of the same. those were both harrowing and hallowed days…months… years. what became of me during that time, i cannot fully explain. at the time, it felt like something outside of me surrounded and infused me with Love each time i was at the end of that proverbial rope, the noose round my neck, ready to step off of the chair.

sometimes it was a light so warm and bright that it completely suffused me. sometimes it was a more physical sort of love-making, my body responding as if touched.  sometimes it was small gifts of wonder, upon wonder, upon wonder, saving my life.  sometimes it was words spoken in a dream, a voice awakening me to a life in which i was ‘bound to beauty’. sometimes it was the feeling of being held by a Love that received me with such an encompassing embrace that I understood that such a Love simply could never leave me abandoned in a desolate place without hope.

along the way I healed, bit by bit, and fell in Love with life again. fear of this life, and of that one, released its hold.

i don’t know exactly what That was. at the time, it felt like God to me. it certainly felt like something outside of myself, like i could not have conjured such things.  but now, i don’t know, perhaps the human spirit is more creative than we give it credit. in the end, it doesn’t matter to me what it was.

gradually, along the way, that Other disappeared from my life. not that the feeling of life being precious was gone, but that the sacredness of life was now diffused across the whole of the earth, permeating it all. this was not an entirely new awareness or way of being for me, but was more like a return to who i was, to who I had always been, and to what i had always known, as if it was that painful rupture, which had momentarily made me forget and deny life’s inherent goodness and innate beauty. what the intensity of that excruciating time perhaps gifted to me, however, was the awareness that even the terrible is beautiful, even the horrific holy. the crown of thorns is a basket of flowers. no separation. anywhere. ever.

the earth has always been a sacred place to me, particularly the natural world. the sacredness i experience in an unmanned place is exquisite. human beings can make that understanding more problematic. we hurt one another deeply.  and yet, i have also returned to that deeper knowing,  which in the child is named as naïve but in the mature adult is wisdom, that we humans are also innately divine. good. blessed. Love.

sometimes i miss those years of God loving me, that feeling of Belovedness.  it can be hard to feel as if one is cared for in a world where humans hurt one another deeply. it can be hard to feel seen, held, beloved by . it can be hard to know how to pray when there is no one ‘out’ there.

when there is no separation.

between the holy

i am the seer, the holder, the lover.

i am the One that is needed

the reciprocality for which i  long must come from the other seers, holders, lovers in this place – human and nonhuman alike. animal and plant, water and air, sound and touch – in a world where everything is God and there is no thing Other.

belovedness, revisited, again, for as many times as it takes

I awakened this morning smiling, remembering who I am, not unlike waking after a morning of falling in love, except the Love I have fallen into is my own.  Truthfully, it feels a bit disorienting, except in a reverse sort of way, as if I have been wandering confusedly in a barren and alien landscape, looking for something I believed I was missing, outside of myself, and now I am dwelling deeply within a lush landscape of bounty.

It makes me wonder how I got so lost in that search, trapped, believing that who I am is to be found outside of myself, within some identity or purpose or ‘doing’.  I do trust that the wandering deserts of my life are as vital to my soul’s journey of becoming as is this lush land of lakes, both essential legs in this spiraling (no way is it linear) life-death-life journey. I understand the necessity of traversing and exploring the dark, shadowy realms – realms I seem to be thrust into, never willingly enter- in order to reclaim pieces of my wholeness. But still, it seems I completely forgot some important truths about myself while I wandered there, and came to accept some decidedly harmful and diminishing ones in their place. I was a LONG time in that dark night, unable to hear her affirming voice of Love.

I can see in some ways how it was that I was searching for Love in all the wrong places, waking up in the wrong bed – not at all lying in the arms of one who honored the particular and unique sacredness of my soul. Gazing at my reflection in that shadowy bedroom mirror, was like seeing myself in the walls of a funhouse, my image distorted, reflecting to me brokenness where there is Beauty. Those refracting mirrors remain in my life, unable to see past superficial measures of value, and so what has been validated has been my shame, my feelings of inadequacy, my not-good-enoughnesses. Caught in measurements of beauty that have to do with the dominant cultural assessments of worth, I have discounted and diminished my very dignity.

Here, a wiser mirror, a handheld one perhaps, one that beholds at the level of soul,  is helping me to appreciate who I am. Other totems I’d misplaced are also here in this lush landscape – this enduring Vision of Goodness, that encompassing Knowledge of Love within All, this noble Quality of Soul, that Voice, whispering in my dreams, ‘You are Bound to Beauty’. Valuable pieces I’d discarded in deference to trinkets of quasi-belonging. And, of course, this Diamond I’ve been carrying, the one I’d thought was a rock tethered to my ankle.  Each one – the mirror, the diamond, the totems, now tucked into my medicine bag, along with those Golden Scissors given to me by Her. These I will tie about my neck to protect my heart from harm.

Finally, in the center of this woodland grows my Belovedness, fully mature and developed. That dried seed, deposited so long ago, the last time I traversed this way, is rooted and vibrant, thriving and strong. In blossom, here She is, planted where she would surely bloom. I’ll look forward to tasting her fruit.

 

to love and to honor from this day forward

There is a scene in the 1990’s remake of Miracle on 34th street, in which the girl-child, setting her unhappy mother straight about her disbelief, quite succinctly states, ‘I’m very sorry mother, you have it perfectly wrong’. It’s a favorite line for me.

Something like that happened to me today. Similar words, twice, from my soul to my self, setting me straight about the delusion I have been under, a delusion that has been causing me undue shame and despair.

All of these years, I have been believing my real life was on hold, awaiting my arrival after that huge detour that I took, when I was in truth living! Growing and becoming, expressing and embodying.  Authentically so. I got caught in the cultural(ego) trap, which dictates that certain accomplishments or ways of being are more worthy than others, so often in perverse proportion to their actual value.

First came a little morning validation. That always helps, especially when the usual mirrors in your life have no way of seeing because your experience is outside their range. Yes, this mirror reflected, what you have done, in fact what you are doing is HARD! And it is REAL. And it is a LOT. And you have performed it with the fullness of your flawed humanity, which, by the way, also includes grace, resilience, love, nobility, courage, perseverance, patience, compassion, and presence alongside that fumbling inadequacy and weariness.

That validation was followed by a good afternoon dose of soul truth revealed in the pages of a book that fell from the shelf onto my lap. Expecting to find myself indicted in its pages, and therefore in need of a lot of remediation and retrieval of what had been lost or stolen, I was struck once again by the whispered dignity and integrity of what i had labeled as less-than and broken.

After your many years of performing your (role) , you’ve not only mastered a form, but more importantly, you’ve acquired a deep-rooted familiarity with what your soul qualities feel like as they pour forth from you. On countless occasions you have observed your soul powers at work in the world. you saw the ways your best efforts affected others, how you changed the lives and experiences of people, perhaps how you shifted the collective field, or how certain human or natural habitats were rendered more wild, diverse, or vital. In these ways, you’ve acquired a nuanced feel for the results that your soul desires.  Now, (in the next stage of your life) you will engender those kinds of results regardless of how you get there, and often enough you in fact no longer know how you’ll get there. – Bill Plotkin

As I received the deep blessing of my life in these words, something healed in me. as if I recognized myself for the first time. That dim mirror wiped clean for a moment of the fog that covers it over, I could see clearly how it is that each role, each stage of my being HAS been infused with my soul. A soul that yearns for each human and non-human in this place to be received as beauty, to be valued, to know its original goodness; a soul that desires for each one to be, not only allowed, but encouraged to be uniquely and authentically who she/he/ki is because he/she/ki is breathtakingly vital; a soul that longs for the girl to know she is vibrant and the boy to know he is love, for women to know they are beloved sisters, for all to know they are sacred; a soul that longs for the earth to be wild with the gifts of blossom and fruit, beauty and bounty, and for humans to have a real place in that wildly mutual gifting.

My life has been spent nurturing and protecting the preciousness of life, and ‘perfecting this delivery system’ for whatever is next, the way of which will open before me, and into which my soul will infuse its gifts.  This time of my life is not at all about casting off stones, but carrying forward the diamond that has been honed by a life well lived.

 

sweet darkness?

What is this place? 

This newfound feeling of surrender – could it be healthy relinquishment? Or is it merely giving up? How can a body know?, when each new terrain that a human being treads is previously unchartered territory. I look around and wonder if this is simply what life looks like here, how it feels to be across this threshold, like reaching the summit…

and seeing a desert landscape on the other side.

From this vantage point, I turn to witness the passion of youth, so full of dreams and ideals, and I smile, though it feels like a façade, behind which there lies doubt. I feign because I don’t wish to despoil their hope. It is their time to plot and plan, to imagine and create. 

Perhaps I am simply weary, because if I test this new feeling of surrender, it’s not quite contentment that I am experiencing. It feels more like defeat, as if having hit too many walls, I no longer have the ambition to push back nor the energy to climb. The burning that filled my being even 6 months ago, is suddenly extinguished as if from a flood of rain.

Is this what it feels like to let go? Of attachment. Of desire. Of need. Of longing.

I wonder if vibrance also departs with those. Somehow, in the movement from doing to being, from household to forest, I expected that joy would deepen.

Perhaps THIS is how a body knows then that she has not arrived, for vitality sings of her health. 

Perhaps I have taken the wrong path.

 

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.The dark will be your womb
tonight.The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free inGive up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learnanything or anyone
that does not bring you aliveis too small for you.– “Sweet Darkness” by David Whyte, House of Belonging

 

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