Monthly Archives: January 2011
How can I walk into this week with a sense of wonder, anticipation, hope, and presence?
Like when we drive by the Bay and Luke says, “Water. Drink it.” Or when we’re out in the front yard at dusk and he says, “Moon. Hold it.” Or when we’re lying on our backs in the grass at the park and we’re looking up at the sky and he stretches his little arms toward the bright blue above us and says, “Sky. Touch it.”
Yes, baby, I say to him. That is the whole of life, of a life after God and all his beauty. Drink it. Hold it. Touch it. Reach out and up and take it—the world around you—into your hands, enjoying every bit of the spacious place he has invited us into.
I want to take a cue from Luke, just two years old, who already has an appetite for beauty built right into him. Water. Moon. Sky.
In addition, I will try to remember this week that . . .
- Tears are almost always sacred.
- Nothing is perfectly black and white.
- A well-lived life requires rest.
- Love is something I can choose.
- We all need to know we’re seen.
- Creating heals.
- Paying attention requires slowing down.
- Breathing always helps.
- Laughing gives life.
- Inspiration is lurking.
- Hope is not lost.
A line from How Great Thou Art keeps swimming through my head. Then sings my soul . . .
To live with a soul song. Yes! That is my desire for this week. For this day. For this moment.
Currently, I’m reading a beautiful book by Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits. Kidd is probably best known for her novel, The Secret Life of Bees, but she has a handful of non-fiction that will inspire you. I was given When the Heart Waits by my dear friend, Linsey for my birthday, and I’m not too far into yet, but I’m already sort of captivated by it. What a soulful writer.
In the first chapter, Kidd begins describing this bleak mid-life crisis she is navigating. Part of this crisis is a sense that she is being invited to do deeper spiritual work in her life, to shed additional versions of her false self and acquaint herself fully with her true self. In the dis-ease of this crisis, she is realizing that there are voices inside her that are clamoring for attention but have been silenced, suppressed. She calls them, “orphaned voices.” Beautiful. Haunting. Can’t we all relate to orphaned voices inside us? A subtle (sometimes not-so-subtle) song seeking recognition, permission, validation, expression.
My mom sent me a quote recently that I’m still chewing on. It’s from Pearl Buck, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Good Earth. Buck says about the creative mind, “So that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off… They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.”
Of course I resonate with these words. Somewhere inside me is an unorthodox prism that is always looking for something to capture and then refract out to the world. A stream of light to turn into a rainbow.
The times in my life when I have felt the most suffocated have been the times when that prism has been, for any number of reasons, covered over. During those seasons, I have let deep desires go unattended in my soul. I have left voices orphaned.
Some of the work I want to continue doing in myself, and inspire/provide space for others to do as well, is the practice of listening to those lost voices. This is soulwork, and I believe it deeply matters.
On the off days, I get caught up in wondering if some of my pursuits are making a difference “out there.” And then it all comes back to me. By sitting down and writing (books, blogs, articles, anything) and by making my unconventional art, I am paying homage to those orphaned voices. And that makes a huge difference “in here.” Isn’t that the whole point?
On December 16, I turned 35. One week later, on December 23, my beautiful babies turned 2.
The last two years of my life have been largely about learning to be a mother and learning to be an author. The difficulty is that both of those things were happening simultaneously, and so I’ve had many moments when I’ve felt completely and totally unsure. I’ve felt like I was floundering in every sense. And woven into this landscape of deep, soul insecurity were these incredibly beautiful moments of seeing my true self . . . overcome with raw love, alive from the high of creating, reborn in so many ways.
Kathleen Norris says that marriage has been a “primary instrument of conversion” in her life. As I look back over the last 2 years, I can so clearly see how mothering and writing have been some of God’s greatest instruments of conversion in my life.
At 35, I feel like I’m finally just beginning to figure a few things out.
I’m learning to let God into all the tiniest cracks in my life, all the inconvenient fractures that I’d rather keep hidden. I’m learning to ask for his help in those spaces. Painfully, I must ask for that same help over and over again.
I’ve also been starting to learn how to be a better companion to myself—understanding, patient, kind. This doesn’t come easily or naturally for some of us. We have to work at battling the toxic voices and begin to accept ourselves as humans (no more than human and no less than human), and give ourselves the grace we would extend to a dear friend. Takes practice.
This self-befriending is something that spills into every area of life because a person at ease with herself is a person who can be present and awake to the world. It’s true.
In that way, I’m learning how to be on the receiving end of love, which also takes practice.
And I’m learning how to love all over again because motherhood breaks you open in shocking ways.
Thirty-five and 2 are big ages, both filled with hope and promise and anticipation. The pediatrician told me yesterday that my kids will continue to get into more mischief this year. I smiled and thought, “good for them.” I hope I get into a bit of mischief myself.
(photos by Katie Gardner Photography)