I am reminded now of the wonderful poem by John Donne, "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning."
I've loved the idea of the two legs of the mathematical compass since I first read this poem in high school. I connected with the image, the leaning, the knowing that "Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun."
I wonder now if young people know what a two-legged compass is. With the proliferation of GPS devices, perhaps they don't even know the compass, have never stood in the woods and held one in their hand, and if that failed, looked for moss growing on the northern side of trees, at least in this hemisphere.
I haven't posted since I spent my day with Annemarie Roeper, and enjoyed her fine mind. I might have taken notes, but I was more interested in absorbing her whole. I thought I had all her books but I didn't have her latest one, and in that, I learned how she influenced Sesame Street. She lived across the street from Sigmund and Anna Freud, and after consulting with both, she became the youngest person accepted to study psychoanalysis with Anna Freud. Unfortunately, she and the Freuds had to flee Vienna when the Nazis invaded Austria.
Perhaps what is so tender for me right now is the loss of three German women, Charlotte Selver, Marion Rosen, and soon, Annemarie. All three had to flee because they were Jewish. My father was a pilot in WWII, flew a B-17, was shot down over Austria. I've been to the village where he landed, met people who turned him over to the SS. I'm 1/4 German. He was 1/2 German, and yet as an American, he dropped bombs on Germany. How do I integrate all this?
Annemarie said she and her husband came to this country to found a school without "meanness". Charlotte would say we have wars because people don't listen to each other. Marion, too, worked to heal the wounds that lead to anger, fear, war. She kept saying we work with the parents, not the children, because the parents influence the children.
I was there when the Hospice Chaplin came to talk to Annemarie. She feels she has time. Perhaps, she does. And, yet, the study of transition is with me. My book group has decided to read Aging as a Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond. Gratitude seems to be key, the cultivation of gratitude, walking along each day, saying what we are grateful for. As I sit here right now, I am grateful for fingers that touch keys to send a message to you. I am grateful for bird song and photosynthesis, and for a heart that sings.
I am grateful for these words of Dogen Zenji, a Japanese Zen master:
“If you go out and confirm the ten thousand things, this is delusion. If you let the ten thousand things come and confirm you, this is enlightenment.”