The Sky is Falling

But nothing is solid and permanent. Our lives are raised on the shakiest foundations. You don’t need to read history books to know that. You only have to know the history of your own life.
~Ron Rash
One Foot in Eden

“I told Ersken, “Lately it’s been like living on the knife’s edge, never knowing which side I’ll fall off on” Ersken clapped me on the shoulder as we stepped into the street. “Cheer up, Beka. Maybe you were going to fall off that razor’s edge before, but not today,” he said, as good humored as always. “Today we’re going to jump.”
~ Tamora Pierce
Bloodhound

I’m letting it in.  All of it.  Just the way it is.  And when it gets too scary, I close my eyes and focus on taking just one more breath.  Then I practice being brave.  Maybe that’s the best you can do when the sky is falling.

She Who Hears the Cries of the World

Remembering it over and over
leaves my soul downcast within me.
But I will call this to mind,
as my reason to have hope:

The favors of the Lord are not exhausted,
his mercies are not spent;
they are renewed each morning,
so great is his faithfulness.
My portion is the Lord, says my soul;
therefore will I hope in him.
~Lamentations 3:20 – 24

Let sorrowful longing dwell in your heart,
never give up, never losing hope.
The Beloved says, “The broken ones are My darlings.”
Crush your heart, be broken.
~Abū-Sa’īd Abul-Khayr

There’s a woman who bears witness to all the sorrows of the world; the agony of loss and deprivation, and the seemingly endless cycle of misery and anguish shared eventually by the whole of humanity.  She teaches us that our suffering is not in vain, that it does not go unheard or unheralded, but instead prepares us for the tenderness we all so desperately need. She comes to you in your darkest hour, when you have at last become unmoored by suffering.  The kind of suffering that hollows you out, divesting you of all the frivolousness of life, allowing for something truer and more precious to take root.

Stillness

No matter what happens to your body, madame,
if your heart is free, you are free.
~Martha Beck

In the attitude of silence, the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.
~Mahatma Gandhi

In your lifetime the most sacred space you will ever need to create is the space within yourself — the place deep within your soul where you go to find peace and serenity and to connect with your true self. It’s the quiet place inside where you return over and over again that keeps your thoughts sacred, your heart protected and your dreams alive.
~Nancy SantoPietro

I was writing a friend the other day, replying to an email and her simple question, “…how have you been?” when I found myself sharing with her the experience of letting go or maybe of being let go by life, and the stillness that has come into my world.  How in the beginning I resisted it, thinking I would one day recover my joie de vivre and resume my days, eventually putting this illness behind me.  But when that didn’t happen, I was forced (and I do mean forced) to make friends with the stillness because resisting was just too painful.  And how every few years now, I have a setback and fall further behind, and the stillness grows.  Luckily though, after that first, terrible ravaging, it has come more gradually allowing me time to adapt and accept.  And I can’t help but think that it’s moving me to some great end, or perhaps simply to an end. 😉 But no matter, I recently realized that I am who I’ve always longed to be and how ironic too that it should be the stillness that led me here.

Life’s Unwanted Things

I’m trying not to be broken by life’s unwanted things.  I’m trying to accept what too often feels unacceptable, to surrender to what feels too excruciating to bear.  And hoping, trusting really, that in my acceptance, in my surrender, I’ll not be lost.  A favorite author, Linda Hogan, says that, “In real life hearts break, and sometimes remain that way.  Things and people close and never open again.”  I know this is true.  I’ve seen it happen to others and on more than a few occasions, I’ve been to that edge myself… I used to pray to be well again, to be free from the illness that has ravaged so much of my life, laying waste to everything except what’s most essential. Sometimes I still pray for that, for it all to just go away; to steal off into the night and leave just as unannounced as it came. But mostly now I pray simply not to be undone by it.  I pray that if there is something to be learned from this, perhaps even something to be gained, that I be granted the foresight and the wisdom to discern and live these lessons; these gifts?  I also can’t help but wonder if I didn’t somehow, someway call this terrible experience, this illness, into my life?  I worry that perhaps I would have been too weak or maybe even too reckless to look deeply into the way things are, to really see and live what’s authentic without it?  That I somehow needed the suffering and limitations to get to this terrible, beautiful place where I would learn with such a profound intensity to have faith, to trust, and most importantly to love.

There’s a tree that grows just outside my bedroom window.  I spend hours looking at her, measuring the change in seasons by her.  Spring is glorious.  The tree grows nubby with promise, until I wake one day to see her covered in lace – the first signs of new leaves.  With summer comes the berries, and I watch the robins and waxwings squabble for every morsel.  I’ve even seen our local chipmunk brave the heights, ignoring the birds, for his fair share of the bounty.  Fall is my favorite season.  The leaves are on fire, orange and gold, one last hurrah before she sleeps.   Then winter.  The leaves have all gone now and the tree offers up her bones to me, her very soul on display.  Every season seems to teach me something, to offer me something, but it’s in winter that I noticed the tree’s branches, how they reach out into the world, growing thinner and more vulnerable the deeper she stretches.  I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t a metaphor, a life lesson, for how we too should reach out into the world?

Maybe I did need this darkness to realize the light.  Maybe without it, I wouldn’t have found the courage to live from my heart, to follow the example of the tree, and make myself thin so that the mystery of life might enter in, and how in return, I now touch everything with a tenderness before not possessed.  There’s risk involved to be sure, to be this vulnerable, to live this essentially, but I’ve come to see that I no longer have the will to live any other way.

Surrender

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart if the world.

Each thing –
each stone, blossom, child –
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up, rooted like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left Him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird must do that
before he can fly.
~Rilke