When I first heard Charlotte Selver, my teacher of Sensory Awareness, talk about unfolding, I didn’t know what she meant.
Now, 26 years later, I begin to get a hint. At the time, I thought of it as origami in reverse, would see myself as a swan unfolding outward to how I was “before”, the blank slate so to say.
Over time, I’ve folded into roles, roles I love, daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and with intention, perhaps a bit of sage, and now, as sage I unfold page by page, and revel in what’s here now.
My feet are on the floor, receiving, and my hands move through the air, each finger a probe, a ribbon, a waving trust playing with the light. I embody the realms meandering like rivers through my blood and bones, and one day I’ll reach the sea.
I wake aware of feeling like a pillow of silk sewn together to hold fine sand that’s been lifted to fall and fill with air between each beautiful and powerfully contained grain.
It’s the time of year to even more gently and tenderly allow the particles and waves of gratitude to coalesce and flow through.
On Saturday I learned a friend was ill, very ill, and I was struck, penetrated by daggers of sorrow. My web of connection had a tear, but it wasn’t a tear. It was a re-weaving and she is fine now but even so it comes back to how we meet what comes, how we come together and apart all the time. I’m feeling even more clearly how the point is to receive, balance, and in healing, radiate our own powerful and unique force.
Yesterday I was in a larger grocery store than my usual one. I stood still in awe, over and over again. Piles of apples and pears. Rows of cooked food, prepared, a bakery, lines of meat, fish, chicken. The back row of this huge store is lined with dairy products, different kinds of milk, eggnog, eggs, sour cream, butter, cheese, cottage cheese. I’m not sure why it struck me so clearly yesterday but it did. Perhaps it was because I’ve been reading of walking the Camino in Spain and food is not guaranteed. One must allow the stomach to rumble and contract, and here I was in a place of gathering where food, wine, and decorations are abundant in offering and display.
I had come from meeting a friend for breakfast, so was full, full in all ways of fullness, and perhaps that allowed a deeper appreciation for what is here.
We are connected, and again, perhaps the emphasis is deeper now as the days come to darkness, and we celebrate each in our own way, together or apart.
Blessings bind us when we feel the grains of sand we are, as we come together and part, like sand in silk.
I love this time of year. I light candles at twilight and sit with the flickering light. We had our first fireplace fire of the season. Delight. Now, this morning, the fog is in, hugging the house tight.
The news, of course, is sobering, and yet, people come together this time of year, unite. It’s a time to pause and be with what’s within, to honor the light birthing inside.
Since the vowel I seems to stand out this morning, I’ll delve into my December nourishment.
This time of year, I pull my favorite holiday books from their 11 month place on the shelf. I re-read Wind in the Willows of course, but there is another book that celebrates the season, The Father Christmas Letters. These illustrated letters written between 1920 and 1942 by J.R.R. Tolkien were for his children and may have provided the inspiration for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Each year the letter explains what’s happening at the North Pole, and why the gifts might be scanty that year.
Each year, the North Polar Bear, trying to be helpful, makes a huge mistake that destroys most, or all, of the gifts.
The North Polar Bear is the most lovable of bears, a Winnie the Pooh type bear, and each year I imagine the excitement of Tolkien’s children as they ran to their stockings to see what the NPB had been up to that year.
Amazingly, Father Christmas wrote letters to my children, too, sharing the exploits of NPB, and now I have a grandchild, and Father Christmas may need to step away from his hot chocolate and candy canes, and shake out his hand and fingers as he sits down to write of exploits at the North Pole, where in the last letter I believe life was a little shaky from melting ice, and the Pole was leaning, requesting support from those who love bears, whales, otters, and seals.
Pablo Picasso wrote: To draw you must close your eyes and sing.
Let’s draw new breath, close our eyes and sing, and when we open them again, who knows what springs and wings.
I’m reading Joyce Rupp’s book, Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino. At the age of 60, she decided to do a pilgrimage and walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
This morning I’m with two things. One is when she rearranges her pack, it becomes comfortable. It’s important to know how we pack as well as what we pack. How do we carry what we need?
Second, she begins to question her memory when she can’t remember where she spent the last night, and names of cities she knows, but then, she realizes she’s in the present, in the now. Of course, she doesn’t need to remember details of the past, or fling herself forward into worries of the future. She’s walking step by step, and pausing to rest along the way.
The book brings me back to my trek in the mountains of Nepal. The task is to walk and be one with the landscape, the beauty embracing us all.
I’m reading a wonderful book by Brian Doyle, One Long River of Song. I could put much of the book here, as it is a series of beautiful and touching essays but I’ll share one little bit from a piece called “The Praying Mantis Moment”.
He’s writing about a soccer game in which his six year old twin sons are participating. He’s remembering back when to when the “tiny intent players on the field all formed a loose circle on the field, and play stopped”. The ball rolled “slowly by itself into a corner of the field”.
Alarmed, parents, coaches, and referees ran to see what had happened and who was hurt.
“And then the circle devolved into a sort of procession, with all the players on both teams following a girl in front, and cupped in the girl’s hands was a praying mantis, which she and all the other players on both teams were escorting reverently off the field, because, as a child helpfully explained to me afterward, the praying mantis was on the field first, and maybe even lived there, while we were all visitors, and you’re supposed to be polite when you visit someone’s house.”
And that’s your feel good story for the day. If you want more, I suggest you read his book, or look around. Stories abound!
Yesterday I saw the play “Mother of the Maid”. It was presented at my local theatre, and has also played in NYC with Glenn Close playing the mother of Joan of Arc. Sherman Fracher who played her here was excellent. Written by Jane Anderson, the play explores what it is to be the mother of a saint. What is it like when your teenager comes to you and says she has visions and is being commanded by Saint Catherine to put on armor, carry a sword, and lead an army?
How does it feel to see your daughter put on pants at a time when that was forbidden? I was surprised to learn that though Joan of Arc was tried by the Catholic Church for heresy, the charge she was convicted of that led to her burning was violating the Biblical commandment of Deuteronomy 22.5, which says, “the woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man.”
The power of the play is in showing what it is for parents to lose control of their daughter and yet stand by her through the unimaginable. Her parents come across as saints.
Her mother Isabelle Arc walks 300 miles through mud and storms to see and support her daughter who has gone to court. After her daughter is burned at the stake, she goes to Rome to talk to the Pope to ensure her daughter is acquitted of her supposed crimes and eventually canonized as a saint.This is a woman who couldn’t read or write but knew right and wrong, and love, true love.
At the end, the mother speaks of the beauty of what her daughter felt and touched on, and that is the beauty that is right here, in the flowers, soil, fellow creatures, and air. It comes around to Mother Nature, and the soul we share.