March 26, 2013

The Invitation.

During this year of what seems to be divine self-exploration, love for myself and the world, and opening up I've been coming upon words (there are always so many words) that just speak to me. This poem grabbed me and hasn't let me go.

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Oriah, Mountain Dreamer

March 22, 2013

10 (more) things.

I've been reading (as in I've read and am rereading) Susannah Conway's book This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart. I don't have words for how much I love it so I won't even try. I just think everyone should read it...and so I recommended it to several people and one friend in particular who I KNEW needed it. As she was reading through it she'd text me and we'd meet and we had some of the best conversations. Last time we met she asked me about my 10 things (an exercise Susannah included at the end of one of the chapters).

So, I tried to come up with things I haven't already listed here.

Here you go Teresa. This list is for you. And me. And whoever.

 1. I'm a hugger. It's true. I love to hug. Sometimes.
 2. I love solitude.
 3. Until I need my people, then I NEED my people.
 4. My idea of heaven is big water and big trees.
 5. Music is necessary. Absolute must have.
 6. Quiet is golden. It's important to have both and know when each is needed. I suppose that kinda goes along with number 2, so I should add a number 11.
 7. I over use commas (a lot, lot, lot) and exclamation points (I'm so not sorry about this!) and ellipsis(ses...)...oh and (parentheses). I guess I just overuse punctuation. It's ok.
 8. I don't like clocks. Some people think this is weird. But. Whatever.
 9. I like to underline my books. Which is is why I need to buy non-fiction.
10. I swear. A lot. My child reprimands me and I try to keep it appropriate (like in public and such) but I do swear and I don't apologize for it.
11. I have a fourth sibling. On my other list I said I love all three of my siblings. But now I have four and I love him too...I love all FOUR of my siblings. And I think that is the perfect way to end this list!

March 14, 2013

Grandma's wall.

Growing up my grandmother had a wall of grandchildren. Photos covering a small space next to the loveseat. I wish I had a photo of that wall. A photo of the photos. I would be so happy with that right now.

The focal point were two long, vertical frames that housed school pictures of all the grand kids. Every year those photos changed out, a ritual grandma saved until all the pictures were collected. She would take the frames down from their place on the wall and we'd take out the old pictures one by one comparing them to the new. Noticing things, longer hair, same color shirt, goofy grins, someone who obviously needs retakes...The handwriting on the back, either mom's or the child's, if no one wrote grandma would jot down the year and into the frames the new pictures would go.

One always knew their place on the wall. It didn't change. Those pictures were hung in age order and that certainly was set in stone. Tracy, John, Shaun, Lorinda, Jerrie, Jennifer, Scot, Jeremy, Gina. Always.

six of the nine kids on the wall.
I loved this ritual. I loved being a part of this tribe. Except, oh of course there is an "except," a couple photos were mystery kids. Boys on the wall, but not one of "us." Faces that changed every year without fail but faces none of us had ever seen in person. Occasionally we'd ask a question of grandma, "Who are those boys?" "Why are they on our wall?" "Where do they live?" "Are they are cousins?" The answers were vague and grandma, being grandma, would shut down discussion and move onto something new. Funny, it was as if she satisfied our questions, until we realized that she hadn't answered us at all. She had that way.

I was fascinated with these boys on the wall. Watching their pictures change every year. They grew up right along with me. I imagined walking into grandma and grandpa's house one day an having them sitting there on the loveseat. I imagined a family reunion where I'd be in line for potato salad and I'd glance up and the boys would be getting a drink from the cooler. I imagined them showing up in Glacier and joining our kickball team. These things could happen, I thought, since they were part of us, part of the tribe.

However, these things never happened. We all grew up. Our pictures froze in time. Perpetually 18 years old on the wall. Our faces quit aging, our clothes remained the same, we were all just there, in order forever. The boys on the wall never showed up. They remained mysteries, secrets locked in the vault that was grandma.

Until. Until 2009. Until grandma left us on a chilly January morning with a few of those kids at her bedside. Until we were tasked with the inevitable of clearing out the home that grandma and grandpa had shared our entire lives. Until we had to sift through belongings that we'd always wanted access to but then felt too invasive to actually be doing. Until the end of life as we knew it.

2009. I officially had a new brother. And he had a half-brother who grandma added to her grandchildren. A card, a few more pictures, a notation in grandma's well preserved Bible.

One of those boys on the wall was mine. The first words to escape my lips were, "I've always wanted a brother." Of course this brought a strange look from my aunt and a laugh from my cousin. My aunt who says, "You have two." And my cousin who knew exactly what I was talking about. I had a new brother.