Category Archives: releasing

Let Love Lead

It is early morning. I cannot sleep.

I wander into the living room. Turn on my desk lamp. Light the candle  I light every morning.

Beaumont, the Sheepadoodle, raises his head from where he is asleep on the chaise beside my desk. I give him a pat. He lowers his head and closes his eyes.

I leave my desk where it sits in front of the window looking out over the river. I walk around the island, into the kitchen area. Turn on the cappuccino machine. Fill the receptacle with water.

I pull out the coffee grinder from the drawer beneath the window at the far end of the kitchen. It looks out onto our front doorstep. It is dark out there. No view of a streetlight shimmering on the river’s surface. No flash of a car’s lights crossing the bridge.

I pull out the jar of coffee beans. The grinder. I place them on the counter, measure out the beans and press down on the lid. The noise of the grinder startles Beau. He lifts his head. He watches me. Slowly rises off the chaise. Stretches and comes to stand beside me in the kitchen. I scratch behind one of his ears. He leans against my leg.

I ask if he wants to go out. He cocks his head to one side.

I move to the front door. Gather his leash which lays on top of the wicker basket that holds his towel, ball, and other doggy paraphernalia.

I throw a coat on over my pyjamas. Exchange my slippers for slip-on boots and head outside.

Beaumont hesitates for a moment on the top step. He stretches his head towards the river. Listening.

I listen with him.

In the quiet, I hear the river flowing, its gurgling sounds a welcome whisper in the dark.

On a strip of gravel that I cannot see but know lies in the river’s path, geese honk in the pre-dawn dark.

I wonder if they can find their way when there is no light.

We move off the stairs towards the road at the end of the walk. I stand in the crisp, cool air of morning not yet broken. Beau sniffs and snuffles in the frost-covered grass.

Morning has not yet awoken. Darkness rests easy in my corner of the world.

I have not read the news today. Have not yet scrolled through interminable accounts of the rising number of cases and deaths, of losses and grief. Of what’s happening where. Of measures taken. Steps missed. Decisions made. Changes unfolding.

I have not yet opened myself up to the tug of despair. The tears I am afraid to unleash for fear they will not stop. The wish I could do more, do anything to stop the infiltration of this virus infecting the world. To do something to ease the fear and panic. To soothe a troubled soul.

I breathe.

I am not ready to face the day filled with facts and stories of a virus taking the world hostage. There will be time enough for reality to rise up and stun me with the shrill cry of its presence.

For now, I breathe into the gentle awakening of dawn’s light pushing back against the dark.

In the stillness of the morning, I stretch my arms above my head and welcome in the light creeping into the night.

We are billions of little rowboats struggling to find our way, together, through these uncharted waters.

We are billions of voices and stories, eyes and hands, hearts and feet pounding a path to a better tomorrow. Together.

May we all find the courage to row as One.

And I dip my oar into the waters and begin to row.

And the waters part and I find myself moving with the water’s flow as the sun breaks across the distant horizon.

Light pushes back the dark and turns the sky rose and gold and blue.

I dip my oar into the river and am reminded that it is love that connects us. Love that supports us. Love that leads the way.

Let us row together. Let us Let Love Lead.

________________

Thank you Miriam of My Window for the inspiration for Let Love Lead.  (Sometimes, the words flow first. Sometimes, the painting.)

At all times, Love Flows.  Love leads.

Painting will follow. ❤

Nothing Is Too Heavy For Love.

There are many names for it.

I call it fear.

Fear of being exposed. Seen. Known. Fear of diving deep into what lies beneath the surface of the words skimming the page. Fear of falling into the darkness and losing the light.

I feel this fear. It stalks me like a wolf slipping through the trees. Camouflaged by nature. Eyes peering out of the shadows. It follows my steps. Waiting.

I keep walking.

I do not want to stop and look for it. I want to pretend it’s not there. Not stalking me. Not waiting. I want to pretend it does not exist.

I am better than this, I tell myself.

And fear laughs. It knows better.

I want to turn around, go back, rewind time.

I want to rid my body of this urge to write, to tell the stories damning my arteries. I want to free myself from these chains.

“It’s not fear,” the voice inside my head, the one that loves me in all ways, even in my brokenness. quietly whispers. “It’s grief.”

I shrug my shoulders. dismissive. Angry. I step on a dried leaf lying on the forest floor. The crackling of its spindly spine breaking rustles in the silence.

Grief?

I want to laugh. To pretend I didn’t hear the voice. I want to run deeper into the forest where the peering eyes cannot see me. I want to become a tree.  Silent. Rooted in nothing but soil and dirt.

I want to be invisible.

I can’t move.

“The river is struggling to flow free of unwritten words,” the voice whispers.

“I can’t,” I tell the voice.

“You know better.”

And I do. Know better. And I know nothing at all about this thing called grief.

“Grief is a river,” the voice whispers. Is it the trees? Is it the hawk skimming the water’s surface?

Is it the wolf?

I want to block my ears. Shut off my mind.

I open my mouth, “Damn that river.”

“You have,” the voice replies. There is no rancour in its words. no condemnation. Only patience. And love.

“It’s been a week,” I hiss.  “I’m done with this.”

“Life is never done with you. Even after your death, life carries your spirit,” the voice lovingly replies. “It is carrying your mother now.”

I sink down onto my knees. The forest floor is damp. Musty.

I gather a bunch of dead leaves in my hands. I raise them up. A priestess extending an offering to the forest goddess. To the Great Mother.

A ray of sunlight splinters through the foliage above. I release the gathered leaves from my hands. Dust motes shimmer and dance where the light finds them drifting effortlessly to the ground.

Bowed beneath the weight of that which I cannot express, I press my forehead to the earth and breathe into the darkness of its mysteries, its beauty, its light, its life and its dying nature.

“I’m tired,” I whisper to the Great Mother of this earth upon which I kneel.

“Let me carry you,” she replies.

“I’m too heavy.” The words come out as a sigh. A plaintive whisper escaping on a breath of air.

“Nothing is too heavy for Love,” the Great Mother replies.

A ghostly breath of air, soft as a feather, brushes against my skin. The leaves rustle.

I rise up from where I kneel on the forest floor.

I turn and peer into the darkness of the trees around me. I spy the wolf’s eyes watching me.

“I see you,” I say. I take a breath. “I come in peace and in grief. I come in sorrow and in fear. No matter what I carry with me, I come in Love.”

The wolf blinks his great yellow eyes and slowly lowers himself to the forest floor. I watch his eyes close. He falls effortlessly into slumber.

Life whispers through the leaves of the trees moving in the gentle breeze that stirs their branches.

Life lays silently beneath my feet where fallen leaves decay.

Life is here. So is fear. Sorrow. Decay. Grief. Joy. Gratitude. Grace.

And always, Love.

I carry on through the forest. The wolf slumbers. The trees fall silent.

The Great Mother carries my weight with loving care. The earth holds me up.

Namaste.

____________________

Thank you DS for your call. Your words of love and encouragement. Your beauty and honesty.

Cheerio Kid

It is Tuesday morning. The day of our mother’s celebration of life.

I am sitting at my desk, working on finishing touches to the powerpoint of her life. I had been struggling with the second song to go with the photos. My brother-in-law had asked that I ensure we use Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, which my sisters and I all agreed was perfect. I didn’t want to play it twice (the presentation was 4 and a half minutes long) but ‘the song’ hadn’t come to me.

Until 5 am that morning when I heard a voice whisper in my head, “What about Esther and Abi Ofarim’s version of In the Morning?”

Thanks mum!

I got up and began working on finding a version I could download and include.

Around 8, when my sister, Anne, got up, I played it for her.

Immediately, tears started to flow and she agreed. It was perfect. We had sung and danced to that song when living in Europe and later, whenever my daughters were with us at my eldest sister’s home for dinner, we would play it and we’d all dance and we’d tell stories of our ‘growing up years’.

We were not dancing this morning. But my sister and I were moved by the song and its capacity to transport us back through time.

And that’s when the magic happened.

As Anne is listening, eyes closed, tears streaming down her face, I looked out the window in front of my desk and saw him.

The Coyote.

I’m pretty sure he’s the same one I wrote about on January 30th, my youngest daughter’s birthday. This time, he doesn’t just glance up and move off, he stands at the fence that separates our yard from the riverbank and watches me closely.

It is as if he too is listening intently.

My sister and I watch. He watches back.  A long time.

And then, he turns and walks slowly away.

It’s then that we see her. She is waiting slightly upriver. Hidden in the trees. His companion. His partner. His soulmate.

My sister and I watch the two coyotes lope off through the trees together.

We are both crying.

In the big tin box I have of mum’s keepsakes, the box Anne and I have been going through for photos for the powerpoint, there is a stack of letters and poetry dad wrote to her during WWII after they were married. In his missives, he often called her ‘kid’ or signed off with, “Cheerio, kid.” He also promised that, no matter what, he would be coming back to India for her. And in 1945 after the war ended, he did. Come back for her.

I wonder now if that lone coyote was also a sign. Our mother was growing tired. The signs were there. She was becoming more and more weary of this life on the earthly plane. Dad was waiting for her.

During the war, our mother waited patiently to be reunited with her beloved Louis. He died almost 25 years before her and she believed with her heart of hearts that they would one day be united.

On Tuesday morning, two coyotes loped off through the forest that lines the river in front of our home. One stands hidden in the trees, waiting patiently. The other comes and stands outside my window. He is listening and watching. And, when he turns to go I hear a voice say,  “Cheerio kids. “I’ve got her. She’s safe.”

_

 

All Things Are Possible

Iris as a little girl.

Lent leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday were very important and sacred times to our mother. To give up her earthly body on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, was a testament to her faith and her belief of the forgiveness of sins through penitence and prayer. For our mother, there could be no holier time than this to ascend to be with her Father and those she loves.

As a child, I remember my sister Anne and I going to the church on Friday evenings and helping my mother change the flowers. She loved flowers and looked upon her duty of keeping the altar and church filled with beauty as a sacred trust.

Anne and I would rather have been out playing but mom insisted we attend to the needs of the church first, especially during Easter season.

Solemnly we’d kneel with her in front of the altar, pray a rosary and then, help remove the deadened flowers from each bouquet. My job was to place each dead flower on a sheet of paper, wrap them up carefully so that no stray leaves or petals fell out and carry them to the waste bin in the church offices. Older and bigger than me, Anne was allowed to carry the water-filled vases to the sink and empty them.

Then again, Anne’s being allowed to carry the glass vases may have had nothing to do with age and size and everything to do with the fact my mother knew she could trust Anne to take her job seriously. Me. Well… She probably feared I’d try to dance with the vase in my hands or even sprinkle the water on the floor of the sacristy like a priest sprinkling holy water on a penitent’s forehead.

I liked to play in the make-believe. My mother never quit praying that one day I’d learn to keep my feet on the ground.

She often felt I was too irreverent, too wild by nature, too free-spirited and strong-willed. I can still hear her cautioning me to ‘be careful’. To take heed. To watch my words, my steps, and even my dreams.

She wasn’t big on dreaming. Life was meant to be lived in the service of God. It was serious business, too weighty for dreams to take flight. Life, for my mother, was about living by God’s will. Walking humble. Staying true to her faith and being His servant here on earth.

She was ‘pure of heart’. She held no hypocrisy. No guile. No hidden motives. She dedicated her life to God and through extension, to her family and community.

She imbued the spirit of the Church she loved so much. She wore its traditions and rituals, its liturgy and songs like a beautiful velvet robe of grace and sacred service.

She told me once that most of the gold and silver jewellery she carried with her from India when she left to build a life with my father at the end of WWII was sold off in the early days of their marriage. Times were tough in those days and she had to do what needed to be done to take care of her family.

There was no regret in her voice for the loss of her jewels. Family always came first.

What never left her possession, however, was the rosary and wooden crucifix her father gave her as a child, and the statue of her beloved Saint Teresa of Avila. They had travelled the seas and continents with her, always finding a place at her bedside no matter where in the world she was.

Like Saint Teresa, my mother prayed for peace. Of heart. In her family. In the world.

She prayed for her Church. For her family and everyone she knew.

My mother prayed. Always.

It is one of the things I admire most about her and hold in awe.

No matter the challenges, no matter her losses, her sorrow, my mother never gave up her faith.

She also never gave up praying I would learn to keep my feet on the ground.

It’s something I never had to learn how to do, keep my feet on the ground. I am blessed. My life has been grounded in the constancy and faithfulness of my mother’s prayers.

This morning I sit at my desk, tears flow and my heart breaks open, filled with the beautiful gift of my mother’s prayers. I know,  deep within my being, my mother is looking down on me now, clicking her rosary beads in an endless circle of love, whispering her words of benediction and praying I keep dancing and laughing, living and loving with all my heart.

My mother is praying I have faith. In Love. In God. In her prayers.

She is praying I live my life in kindness, grace and Love.

It’s what she prays for all of us because she believes, like St Teresa of Avila, all things are possible.

 

My Mother’s Hands

My Mother’s Hands

These hands
that have been worn through time
their knuckles swollen and distorted
by years of living and caring and praying.

These hands
that have feasted on joy
and been consumed by sorrow
that have collected tears
and rainwater in their cupped palms
and washed clothes and floors
and sprinkled flour on a counter
to make pie crusts roll out
in round circles of perfection.

These hands
have never fallen idle
in the passing of years.
They have carried me
soothed me
fed me.
They have pulled back my hair
when I was sick
and stroked my back
while I lay sleeping.

These hands have woven stories in the air
with their dancing insistence, they can speak
without words
they have given benediction and disapproval
without sound
always silently carrying
the burdens
of a past hurt, a long-ago pain.
In their silence
they have grown tired and weary.

They are resting now
these hands
that do not need to knock
at the door of eternity
for these wise and loving hands
know God is waiting
at the open door of the eternal beyond.

These hands are resting now.
They lie silently on the heart of my mother
who rests at this sacred threshold
as if to catch her breath in the here and now
before crossing over
into the forever after.

These hands are resting now.
Soon, they will be at peace forevermore.

Where the light wavers, love flows freely

My mother. Photo taken Feb 5, 2020

Yesterday, David Kanigan over at Live & Learn shared an excerpt from – Ann Napolitano’sDear Edward: A Novel (The Dial Press, January 6, 2020)

The light wavers;
perhaps the person holding it is tired.
The steps slow.
The rush seems to be over.

Last August, my mother turned 97. She is mentally still sharp as a tack though her hearing is no longer what it used to be. Physically, she does not fare quite so well. Since a fall that broke five bones when she was 94, and two hip operations to repair the damage, she has been confined to a wheelchair. Her arthritis is crippling. Her hands are gnarled and her fingers crooked. She can no longer hold a magazine, her knitting needles or a pen to do her crosswords. The bones in her mouth have deteriorated making it painful to wear her bridge and impossible to eat anything but soft or pureed foods.

The doctor tells her that her heart is strong. Her body, she says, is tired.

Years ago, I asked my mother to tell me her life story. One of the things she told me she regretted was leaving her family behind in India when the war ended and she set sail to join my father in England. She was one of 10 children with lots of extended family around. They spoke French. Were raised Catholic – up until meeting my father, my mother was convinced she would become a nun.

My father was an only child. There wasn’t a lot of love lost between my father and his parents. He had never really recovered from feeling they had abandoned him when he was 9 and they divorced, shipping him off to boarding school from England to the prairies of western Canada. He spoke limited French when they met though he did speak Farsi, the language of the region in which my mother was born. My mother spoke limited Farsi as Pondicherry, where she lived, was a French protectorate at the time and her family was Euro-Asian, not as they were all sure to tell you, Hindu.

For my mother, family was everything. For my father, family, at least the one he’d known as a child, equalled pain.

Together they built a family of four children and then a huge extended family of friends my parents adopted over the years. They were well-loved by many. My father for his outgoing nature and generosity not to mention his amazing baking skills. My mother for her kind nature, gentle ways and her gift of creating beauty all around her.

My father left this world over 25 years ago. My brother followed a year and a half later.

My mother struggled to recover. Struggled to make sense of the loss of the men whom she loved with all her heart.

Up until my grandson was born 2 years ago, my mother often talked about how she wished she wasn’t in this world anymore. How life felt too heavy, too dark to see her way through.

And then, she met her great-grandson and she felt energized, alive, willing to perhaps even reach 100 years of age.

She’s not so sure of that benchmark any longer.

She has lived a full life, a life complete with love and sorrow, the lightness of being and the darkness of night, joy and loss, happiness and grief.

Last week, she said she felt her time was drawing near.

She has come to that place where ‘the light wavers’.

The beauty of her years has made this place poignant and gentle and illuminated with grace. There is acceptance mixed with love and gratitude for the beauty of her light in our lives over these many years.

The grief can wait until after she is gone, whether that is this month or in years yet to come. For whatever her time on this earth, it is a time to celebrate, to cherish and to love wildly this tiny matriarch who has travelled so far from the young woman who met a ‘flyboy’ from the RAF during WWII and followed love from India to England to Canada back to England then France and Germany and Canada again.

My mother’s light is wavering.

She grows more and more tired.

Her steps as she moves her feet along the floor beneath her wheelchair have slowed.

There is no rush to say good-bye. Only this gentle easing into what will inevitably come when the pain of one more exhale grows heavier than the life that rushes in with every breath.

I feel my heart melting quietly into that place where the light of Love does not waver. That place where Love is all that remains, to carry, to embrace, to share and to remember.

_______________________

Thank you, David, for the Lightly Child, Lightly inspiration.

The Age of Grace

 

I am sitting in meditation when a question slips into my mind as effortlessly as a leaf falling to the ground, ” I wonder if a rose resents its petals for losing their bloom?”  Or the tree for that matter. Does it resent the leaf for dying and falling?

I am getting older. I know. Amazing right? But wait. So are you. We all are. It is the inevitable drawing of time that began when this sacred journey of our life was first conceived.

And the fact is, while I may sometimes look askance at the evidence of time’s weathered marks etched into my skin, resenting it is like the tree resenting the falling leaf.

It makes no difference to the leaf (nor to time for that matter) how the tree experience’s its fall. Just as it makes no difference to ‘life’ how I weather my journey. It does, however, make a significant difference to me and my experience of life, how I navigate the inevitability of aging.

Holding myself in a sea of resentment at all I tell myself I’ve lost, I lose precious time to sing and dance, laugh and play, create and learn, Love and be loved.

Holding myself in joyful acceptance of all I learn and experience with every passing moment, I gift myself time to live joyfully with grace in this moment right now, dancing and laughing, spinning about, leaping for joy and embracing all of life’s wondrous gifts at every state of my journey.

Sitting at my desk right now, looking out the window at the trees that line the river, I watch a golden leaf release its hold on a tiny branch and drift slowly to the ground.

It does not rush. It does not plummet. It dirfts, effortlessly, enraptured by its timeless dance with gravity and air. Light. Joyful. Grace in motion.

The leaf will fall. The seasons will turn. Time will pass. Life will continue to evolve and each of us will continue to age until all that is left are the memories we leave behind and the Love we knew, the Love we shared, the Love we embraced.

We come into this world through an act of Love. All we can carry with us when we leave is Love and all we can leave behind is Love.

How we fill in the pieces between the Love is up to each of us.

It’s my choice whether I fall through time resisting gravity’s pull, or let gravity hold me in its loving embrace as I fall through time joyfully dancing in a sea of grace.

 

Namaste.

 

 

 

Carry Only Love

Last night, when I read an email from someone, tears welled up and spilled over my eyelids down my cheeks. Not because what they wrote was sad or disappointing. Rather, it was because what they wrote touched an aching tenderness within me. A tenderness that I hadn’t realized, or considered, was in need of my loving attention and healing.

Tomorrow, three beautiful women and one I don’t know, are coming to my studio for an afternoon of companionship, community and creativity. I am excited.

The afternoon will form the foundation of my yet to be launched/created/formalized, Wise-Woman of Wonder Workshop Series, affectionately to be known as the W-WOW Series. My intention for the day is to create an organic threshold for the W-WOW Series that will inspire my next steps in its creation.

Last night, as I meditated on the source of my tears I realized tomorrow’s workshop is an opportunity to put my loving attention on that aching tenderness and release its pressure point.

I know its source. I know what is stirring up my peace of mind, creating moments where, seemingly out of the blue, I find myself in tears, with victim thinking sweeping away my self-awareness with its singsong litany of reasons why, I’m right/they’re wrong.

In a world of possibility, it doesn’t really matter all that much whose right or wrong. What matters most is how will I choose to be present in all of it.

When I choose to blame, criticize and condemn others, I am letting myself off the hook for being accountable for myself. I am giving myself an excuse not to turn up and be present in my own life.

And that doesn’t actually work for me. It does not create the more of what I want in my life and the world around me. It only makes my heart feel heavy and me feel  small.

Enough.

I deserve more. I am worthy of better.

When my daughters were small and even into their teens, whenever they fought or be in distress over something that had happened, I would hand them a dozen eggs to throw at the firepit in our backyard. The objective was to release their anger, tears, fears and recriminations.  There was only one rule – they couldn’t throw the eggs at one another.

As an adult, I too have gone into the woods to throw eggs. After the abuser was arrested I spent many afternoons writing out my pain and anger, grief and sorrow onto eggs and hurling them against rocks and trees, howling and screaming out my angst. (They’re biodegradable and the animals will eat them and the last time I asked a tree, it said it was pleased to be of service.)

It was cleansing. Clarifying. Healing.

For each of us there are aching tendernesses inside that yearn to be released. No matter if you say, “I can’t” release it or “I’m not ready”, taking the first step to physically let go of it creates a pathway to setting yourself free of its burden. Releasing it doesn’t mean ‘the other’ is absolved of accountability, guilt, responsbiility or anything else associated with whatever has caused you angst.

It doesn’t matter the depth or width of the angst. it doesn’t matter if you measure the pain as small or big. What matters is that there is no judgement of yourself for being courageous enough to acknowledge there is an aching tenderness within that needs releasing. What matters is that you initiate the process to release it so that you are relieved of its burden and your heart, mind and arms are free to carry only Love.

Tomorrow, to set the stage for my first session of the W-WOW Series, I shall be in the woods along the river behind our home throwing eggs. it is an important initiation. An act of cleansing and clearing to set the stage for my bigger intention of creating space for community and creativity to awaken the Wise Woman of Wonder who lives within each of us.

So if you happen to hear a woman howling by the water’s edge tomorrow, please send her your blessings. She is releasing a burden that is holding her back from stepping fearlessly into her new beginnings, her rejuvenation, her next adventure. And if you’re so inclined, let the wild woman of wonder with you howl with her. Throw an egg or two and scream joyfully at the sky, “I am a Wise Woman of Wonder! I set myself free!”

And so it is.

___________________

A note about the painting:  It is a mixed media on acrylic which sold at my very first art show in 2016.  She is one of my favourites. 🙂