musings and a poem
What Wants to Be Born in You? by Hollie Holden
I have become grateful for the moments When I remember to stop In order to listen To what the earth has to tell me. This morning it was a flower Who took me by surprise And shared her secrets with me. She told me of her journey. How it began in darkness, In the quiet, cool embrace Of the quiet, generous earth. She told me how the light called to her, And how, slowly but solidly, She began to unfold towards The simple inevitability of her calling. She told me of the exquisite cracking-open Of all she knew herself to be; The opening that felt like death Until she realized it was her birth. And then, with her open petals, She asked me in the way Only a full-bloomed flower can ask, 'What wants to be born in you, beloved? What does the light want to call into being From the quiet, generous earth That waits patiently In the cave Of your heart?'
Dear gentle reader, This question has been on my mind for months now. Since my mother passed in April and I began seeing an art therapist, I've been actively writing, journaling and processing so much. The following is an excerpt from my journal notes, because I feel that this work of recovery in the cave of the heart is the most vital work I have ever done. It's not over yet, but here are some musings on the process.
In my reading and writing of family stories, I have discovered what is possibly the mythos or motto of origin for my ancestors. My parents were both brought up during the Great Depression and WWII. Their underlying motto, like many in the same period, seems to have been: strive, push ahead, work hard to succeed and rise above; and at the same time, the underlying message was to ignore those pesky emotions that show weakness, too much feeling is dangerous. This combo led to generations passing down anxiety, depression, harsh self-criticism, and a low level of loving kindness to self and others. Toughness was valued. There was also a playful side, thank goodness, in their younger selves, manifest in their love of storytelling, theatre and music. But it was regulated overall by the authority of the Father figure, who gave permission for it if there was good behavior, and shut it down if it got too loud or out of control. In my family, with eight kids, the latter was very likely. Their motto worked in times of adversity, something like being in the army - the expectation is you keep soldiering on; and my father was a lieutenant during WWII and a captain in the reserves after the war. As children growing up, even though we received the needed care if we were sick, as soon it was deemed feasible, it was up and at at’em! enough whining. Time to get out of bed, get back to school or work. That was my father’s attitude at least. Whereas my mother more and more began to drag and resist this military model; no longer the sub-lieutenant or sergeant - she resisted by pulling back, or letting the housework slide. Drinking to feel her ‘spirit’. As the eldest, the yoke of responsibility was placed on my shoulders (along with my second sister). Overarching boss of everyone comes naturally to me. My psychological profile said I would make a good army sergant!
Last fall I came up against all of that programming, not for the first time. But now it made me feel stuck, unsure of how to move ahead with my work. I began to see a therapist to talk it out. Then COVID-19 arrived in March, my mother died, my dog died, and I began to withdraw to tend to my grief, and also to all the other small griefs - the endings of things that hadn’t come to pass, the two miscarriages, the death of beloved pets, the books not published or feted, I began to create space for honouring these ‘slivers’ of pain with slivers of time. Mostly, I read books, poems, made SoulCollage(R) cards and wrote in my journal.
This whole season of Covid has been a descent to the Death Café, (gently) allowing the grieving process to be felt, allowed, ritualized, veiling myself in a subtle shawl of sorrow. Swimming into the deep DNA of ancestral wounds, reverberating with echoes that go all the way back to a great grandmother's story of time a mental breakdown and time in a sanitorium. A grandmother who lost both her parents at a young age and was brought up by an aunt. My mother’s own depressive tendencies and time spent in detox and recovery. Oh Goddess of Never Not Broken – I am feeling broken, not whole, but am willing to abide, and befriend all the mixed feelings. Feeling and dealing is healing. And still the question comes up - What is calling me? What wants to be born in me? Constant listening for that, constant questioning. Never feeling ready or sure of a complete answer – little bits and drabs of a vision still float in the haze around me.
I wish I could learn how to say no to all that distracts me from my artist’s vow and know in my bones that I am worthy and deserving of taking time for creative loafing, dreaming, reading, soul-tending, writing or collaging. It gets easier, because during this time of pandemic, there are fewer outer distractions (aside from the US election, gawd what an awful mess).
I want to learn how to say Yes to what my soul is calling me to; I do say yes to daily meditation, and journaling time; to weekly yoga, walks outdoors. I am still asking, What is mine to do in this world
In the meantime, while I’m musing on this and wondering if I should spend money and redo my website, and what do I want to put on it anyway about who I am and what I have to offer…. I had a therapy session that shed new light on matters. The big aha moment came when I heard - it’s ok to hang out in the swamp of not knowing. What if I am simply not ready yet to hang up my shingle and announce anything new to the world at large? What if the box I have imagined I fit in is just too small and I can open my imagination wider to include all the parts of me? The writer, the poet, the singer? not just the facilitator, trainer and workshop leader.
What if I need to feel safe, secure and connected to my solidity, to anchor my inner child who feels overwhelmed and unsupported in the Center of my own presence? What if safety and belonging are the secret keys to my well-being and also a clue to what I offer in the Mothering Ourselves and other workshops.
What if I widened the portal and let in the music, the love of singing, the visualizations with soothing voice to calm and reconnect the soul to the heart to the body to the mind? This new thought entered my mind and allowed me to stop pushing myself to find a definite answer.
What if I didn’t rush rush rush like a mad hatter or the hare, and paced myself to the pace of my body, of my tortoise breath (really, I have been saying this for years, but only now that the body feels safe enough, am I beginning to take care of my Little Jenn).
There’s also the vision of a Sanctuary – a retreat center that we can share with other wellness practitioners occasionally. A drum circle, a fire pit, a center for a circle of wild women to howl at the full moon…the possibilities are endless. What do I love is part of the question, and what would I do if I removed all the limitations and false beliefs about myself? From the book Finding The Deep River Within, came these questions.
What would I love to do if it weren’t so selfish? Get a weekly massage. Take long drives in the country just to explore the landscape. Spend a whole afternoon chatting with a small group of women friends (oh for the days before Covid prevented us gathering in circles!). Read a book all day long and sip soothing chai. Dance to great 70s music and twirl around the room. Stay in bed and have coffee and toast brought to me!
What would I do if I didn’t care what people thought? Dye my hair with blue streaks, wear long skirts and lacey gypsy shawls. Create big colourful murals on the walls. Enclose myself in a small cabin with a roaring fire and talk out loud, record visualizations, make up myths and stories for women…Once upon a time there lived a woman…
“That which you seek is seeking you.” says Rumi.
How to relax and surrender into the longing of your heart?
That, my friends is where I begin. Stay tuned.