Updated: Jan 21
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