I’ve just cleaned my office with the hope that it will tidy up my life. What remains on my desk are those reminders—practical and otherwise—that keep me honest.
Directly in front of me is a lithograph from the Metropolitan Museum of Art of a woman sitting on the porch of her summer cottage, naked to the waist, typing something. I presume she is barring her soul and that her truth will set her and others who read her work, free.
There is a sepia photograph of my mother as a child looking very impish and sure of herself.
Under my computer screen is a card given to me by a fellow Iona pilgrim which is nothing more than a bench upon which is carved: Sit here and feel the peace of Iona.
Several angels, one painted tin, another made of medal, and a third carved from wood dangle from a nearby window keep me company.
On the windowsill is a small candle holder which has carved into it the words: I am enough.
And a vase of a woman’s naked torso that fell off my desk and broke into many pieces. My husband glued it back together and I place dry flowers or leaves in it according to the season.
These are, but a few of my momentoes. They remind me to:
Bare my soul and seek truth; to be certain about self as I was as an unspoiled child; to find a place to go each day and just sit; that there are angels to lean on; that I am enough; and that, although broken I can piece myself back together again and again.
What do you surround yourself with?
The other day I was tearing around buying birthday gifts for a grandchild whose birthday comes too soon after Christmas. I am almost always late shipping off his gifts and this year I was determined to succeed. In order to make my UPS deadline, I planned so well as to have wrapping paper and scotch tape with me in the car so I could head straight for UPS with packages ready to go.
But alas, I slowed the car down when I noticed some creatures on the side of the road. Once on top of the pack it was obvious that they were a family of wild turkeys. The father was already making his way across the street and the others were nibbling on brush with no interest in crossing. I was fascinated, especially when two of the birds opened their amazing fantails. To be in nature with nature is a gift I always treasure. And it can’t be programmed, can it? “I find, I do not seek,” said Picasso, and so I found! It took another 5 minutes for the entire family to cross over and be on their way into the woods. Of course, I missed my UPS deadline (the truck was pulling out as I was pulling into their parking lot) but never mind. Serendipity is better than planned fun. My grandson will also have a treat—a second celebration two days after his birthday. We all win!
My fisherman friend, Hillary, stopped by the other day with a Xmas gift.
“I was touched that you remembered my party for the winter solstice,” he said, “and what you learned from me, of all people.”
We chuckled. “Well you are a spiritual man,” I informed him. “A cowboy of the sea. No different from a cowboy out west or a farmer. I see you all as seriously in tune with nature. I guess you have to be or, in your case, you wouldn’t catch any fish.”
His gift was a fisherman’s calendar. “Well, I just wanted you to see that since December 21st when the sun set at 4:14, today it sets 4:30. We’ve gained 16 minutes of sunlight. Isn’t that uplifting! You better start thinking of how you are going to use all the extra daylight as the winter turns into spring. This has got to be the best time of the year. Everything is growing, including us!”
And with that, he was off leaving me with a sense of the “lightness” of being.
Instead of making sweeping resolutions that I almost never abide by, I decided this year to unchain myself from achievements, per se, a recognize what I call “the littles” that so often go unnoticed in our hurried, fractured, and driven endeavors. The idea began when asked what I wanted for Christmas and I could think of nothing—that is nothing material. What I wanted was a more calm existence and individual time with special friends and particularly family.
The first gift came on Christmas Eve when our 14 year old grandson chose to sit next to his grampy on the couch and for the next hour I basked in the joy of watching the two just BE together, my husband’s arm wrapped gently over his shoulder. My first gift came sooner than expected. But I was filled with such delight that I “felt” and therefore possessed warmth, truth, and history at that moment.
A similar experience was had 16 years before when during the same hectic season I found myself knitting in front of the hearth with my mother and my new daughter in law. The gift remains with me—a heartfelt memory which can not be repeated. So, this new year I shall revolutionize my resolutions and meander so as to develop a rhythm that allows for me to be gifted by those moments which are meant to be.