March 5th, 2008

alexander calder

Morning thoughts -

Steve and I rose early today to go out to Muir Beach to pick up Karen and take her to the Marin Airporter.  The hills came into the light, and the ocean was pounding.  I greeted the huge bell and Kwan Yin, the gifts that Karen and Peter have placed with a view of the ocean.  We came back with the light.  I love the early morning light and do not appreciate daylight savings time that makes us wait an hour for it, and means the transition occurs when so many cars are on the road.  We were "it" this morning.

I received an email this morning from Laryssa, the 24 year old daughter of my cousin.  She, her mother, and sister are now in Adelaide for the cremation of the body.  The ashes will be scattered on their property in Alice Springs, on the land that he loved.   She will send me a CD of the Celebration of his Life.  It is a modern world.  Australia is six hours behind us on the next day, so I sat this morning reading her email with tears in my eyes., and prayed she was asleep.  She has been having trouble sleeping.   She wants to know what to do with this grief, pain, loss.  I had told her I could relate to her pain since I lost my father in an accident when I was 19.  I still feel the pain.  

I cried as we drove out to Muir Beach this morning,  tears for loss, her loss, my loss, all loss.  I came back to write her and what I came up with is nothing new, but I still believe that the more we grieve, the more we feel joy and love.  I think joy and grief come from the same trough.  I believe pain does slice us open, does thin the walls that separate us, and yes, it hurts. 

Growth hurts.  We talk of growing pains in children, and these huge wounds of loss cut deep.

I answer her that I don't think we ever "get over it."  What I see is that we learn to accept it, embody it.  This is who I am now, I say to myself, a woman who knows grief, and joy.  Once I was privileged enough to think  the world was all happiness and light, and, then, I was handed a piece of the dark and then another and I take those pieces in, and store them, and maybe transform them, but what I am coming to see is grief is grief, and it builds with each loss.  I seem to cry easily these days.  Each morning since Greg died, I seem to find myself with moist eyes and face.  It is a quiet grief.  I will just suddenly touch my face and realize it is wet.  I realize now that last night, this morning I was crying in my dreams.

Grief triggers easily in me now.  It is as though the boat filled with those I love who have died is becoming more and more full, until one day it will sink, and I, too, will join the seas and the sky.

Each day I feel a little more fragile, feel a little more of the preciousness of this life, and how my heart is like a prayer flag, becoming more tattered, so it has more fingers to feel the air, and soon it will let go.   Not today.  I have a strong heart, and I know that each loss is absorbed and held, and I honor this being I am, so able to hold hot and cold. 
california poppy

Dealing with grief -

I could tell I was in the kind of place that needs action.  I used to paint on silk, and now, I rarely do.  I would place silk in hoops and paint what I felt.  I called them sacred hoops, and if I liked them I kept them whole, and if the design didn't cohere, I cut the silk into hearts and gave them away.  Each heart was a beauty.   I haven't painted now in a few years, but today was the day. 

I decided to use paper, water colors, and then, I got out acrylics and mixed the two.  I painted what I needed, and words came as I painted.

The first painting screamed, "No, Death cried, I won't let go, I won't."   It morphed into "Let the heart walk."

The second work is very simple and says, "The Heart is not alone."

The third began as "The trail is wide," and became, "The trail has tides," then, "The moon says now I thrust," and finally it came to subside with "The moon says, Sun, I'm gold."

The fourth began, "Where do we touch when the lamb is nudge," which became "Land is nudge," and finalized as "How do we let kinetics fly?"

The fifth was easy.   "Toothmarks of Heart."

I like the idea of toothmarks of heart.  There I came to rest.  All will now be gathered up and carried downstairs until the next time something is needed to ease my heart, and let pain flow out through my hands to come to rest on paper.

I suggest it if you are having a tough time.  It is not about the finished product.  It is about letting your heart speak, about listening to what roams within.


Peace -

I am peace this evening, ready to settle in with some books.

My book group is reading Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase.  It looks like a winner.  

May peace flow through your veins tonight.

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind."

-- William James