What Are the Necessary Structures in Your Life?

It’s 6:30 am.  I’m on Whidbey Island attending the board retreat for The Circle Way. I arrived a few days early to circle up with and settle into my island friendships.

Stories of inspired travels and its lessons gleaned invited in to send off dear friends on what we each know will be one of life’s momentous journeys.

Kitchen tips about good cookware and the uses of oils passed on as we prepped for our communal stir fry.

Beach walking and eagle gazing.

Seashell and stone gathering. I settled on a hefty, smooth and flat stone that fits between, as if made for my palms, notched to hold my thumbs, the perfect prayer stone.

Breathing in the sounds and colours of a spring yet to bloom at home – robins singing, golden forsythia and daffodils, pink plum and white apple blossoms, coral and indigo hyacinth, red tulips, green grass. The rain-soaked ground smells as good as the morning’s fresh brewed coffee. Even this signature Pacific Northwest sodden grey backdrop holds appeal as a contrast to the vividly awakening palette.

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A late night chat with a friend over a dram of local single malt watered my languishing inner writer. “How’s the writing coming?” he inquired with a genuine need to know, we, having shared during past meetings our curiosity with and commitment to this craft. I admitted to not having written for several months. Revealed to having fallen into the half empty glass of doubt despite hearing, from a trusted and established writer friend, how delightful, fresh and worthy of continued effort my initial foray. Disappointed as my naïve hope that I was almost finished with this first manuscript was a just beginning. Full of excuses and explanations none of which I shared, knowing none of which held substance.

“Just write,” I knew deep inside to be the only way out of the confines of the glass and into creativity’s life-giving stream.

And so, after hearing my friend share for the second time in as many days, the value for him of writing four days a week, every week, to putting into words what he notices as his offering to the world, his recognition that it is a practice that helps him feel good, my inner writer woke me this morning at 5:30 to write.

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As a board, we work in circle, and start every retreat, after our first dinner, with a fulsome check-in. We each received a post card created by photographer Carla Kimbell from her Revealed Presence collection to focus our reflection and words. Mine was a summer photo of farm buildings – grain silos, an iconic red wooden, tin roofed barn and a Quonset – easy to imagine seeing anywhere a few miles away from my home on the Canadian prairies. Titled Layers of Curves on a Farm, it posed the question, “What are the necessary structures in your life?”

An invitation to notice.

A resurrected commitment to write.

Wednesday Words

Considering Haiku…

I

Predawn April.

Snows have melted.

Darker now than winter even as the sun rises early.

II

Muted edges of night time dreams give way to morning musings.

Which are more real?

Which are more helpful?

III

Candle in the corner illuminates an altar of elements.

A resting place of beauty.

A pause for morning prayer.

Perspectives with Panache, 2017

Self Portrait Emerging

This year I began writing about my current threshold, transitioning from a career to creative oriented life, another of life’s letting go to let come.  A few posts ago, I framed it as the shift from ambition to meaning, and shared some internal signposts that pointed the direction to this new path.

Since then I’ve gotten a good bill of heart health.  And while my crown and bite are still off a bit (the metaphor isn’t lost), I’m optimistic this will resolve in right time.  I’m feeling rested, waking with sweet anticipation for the day like I did those mornings when I lived in Germany for three months, five years ago. I’ve taken up with a flamenco teacher whose “deconstructed” approach to this complex dance form fits better now at this point in my practice.  I celebrated my echoing day in this new eldering decade.  And to celebrate a dear friend’s new decade, I finally found the way into creating the artwork for a story she had written a few years back.  Ta Da…I finished and sent in for a first draft read my collection of love letters to poets.  Right now, I’m participating in a global online dream walker’s course, reviving a practice I know bears fruit, and a couple of weeks ago I attended a most lovely workshop on poetry and photography hosted by local writer-poet, Shawna Lemay.

During the winter interim after registering for BeComing, I read some of Shawna’s work,   her novel, Rumi and the Red Hand Bag (an alluring title with a deep fondness for both) and her latest collection of poetry, Asking.  There, she introduced me to the “poem-essay,” a form  that totally synchs with my way of thinking and writing.  And not a page turned without feeling a quickening of recognition, a jolt to my senses that here is another who is kindred.  When during the workshop, I wrote and recited my quick reflection to her prompt Wabi Sabi, she looked across the room in recognition.  Sources of appreciation and inspiration discovered.  We draw from the same well.  Again the evidence of an earlier realization: everything I need for a life well-lived lies in my own backyard.

Now, a couple of months later, a new invitation to consider this person I am becoming, in response to taking self portraits to see what is evoked, to dreaming images of light and shadow:

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Who is this person I am becoming?

Feet that carry me along the path

Made only by its walking to

God. Knows. Where.

 

It’s been said that by looking at one’s shadow

We come to see the face

We are before

We. Are. Born.

 

A spider crawls upon my hand

To write a web of possibility

To catch a moment of illumination.

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(Not a poem essay, instead a form borrowed from Alice Walker in her collection, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth.)

Forsythia

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For the first time, in a long time, forsythia in bloom.  Granted, nestled in a sunny sheltered south exposure, and still, can you recall the last time you saw those golden yellow flowers, made like a child might draw his first night-time star, in the middle of a prairie April?

I was driving to the boulangerie when those blossoms caught my eye.  Yes, we have one here in our prairie city.  The real deal owned by a real French baker.  The testament to his fine levain loaves, a line up of folks, big and little, out the door and onto a sidewalk bordered by bicycles, baby buggies and scooters.  I smile to myself coming upon the scene, imagining how much more Parisian than here in my own winter weary prairie city.

Taking my place, feeling a bit pressed for time, I acquiesce to the moment and notice in front of me the iridescent wisp of colour in a child’s hair.

“Tell me, how did you catch a rainbow in your hair?”

Her fit and handsome father shares the story of his sister, their aunt – gesturing to his two other daughters a bit further down the street, each with barely-there colour shot through their dark manes – treating them to this bit of feminine whimsy when they visited her in Nelson a month ago.

“Hard pressed to say ‘no’ when she does me the gift of babysitting,“ he shrugs.

“When in Nelson…” I smile in return.

By this time all three sisters huddle in together with us, now perched in the doorway, on the threshold of reaching our morning’s shared destination.

“Do you have children?” he asks.

A quiet “no” and gentle shake of my head.  Inside, I’m surprised he thinks me young enough.  Then again, it might simply be the way I engage with his.

Loaves chosen, bagged and tallied.  His for lunch with family, tomorrow’s brunch with friends.  Mine for tonight’s dinner I’m eager to prepare for my husband and me, to re-create the crostini sampled at last week’s cooking class.

Goodbyes exchanged, together with wishes for a good day.

Driving home, those forsythia again catch my eye as I wonder who else to invite, to share with me my sudden love of this splendid spring?  The fine French baguette and a bottle of good wine?  The heady perfume of purple hyacinth?  The golden glory of those first time in a long time forsythia?  The memory of three young sister-beauties with the colour of spring woven in their dark hair, wishing for a moment they were mine?