Tag Archives: remembering

The Spiral Pattern of Living

There is no finish line
No tick marks or check boxes
No blanks to fill in
No thing to cross out

Instead we walk the labyrinth of living
Inward and outward
Weaving ourselves into being
Learning our mystery moment by moment

This terrain of trouble and triumph
I have traveled many times before
Wondering what it was I did wrong
If I was growing, why had I returned

The contours of the path remain the same
Not so, the one who passes through
Every switchback, rewandered turn, has mattered
And in the crossing and recrossing, we unfold

I will come by here again, hold out my hand
To welcome every seed of joy
And the beauty of the broken roots
With stark scars of sadness, red as sunset

Each time, a different phase of moon
Cascades its own collage of color
Each time, reflected light casts its shadows
And I am left breathless once again with the remembering

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I Return As Dr. Éilis!

On Friday, I defended my dissertation, passed without the need for any revisions, and absolutely stunned out my committee! Each of them made a point to tell me how much they loved my presentation, and how well I did in answering their questions. I rocked it, above and beyond what I ever imagined. As Martha Beck says, Woohoo!!!

It’s been a long, long road, everyone. Weeks ago, I wondered whether, after I gained my freedom–err, I mean graduated– I’d be totally ecstatic and bouncing off walls, full of so much joy I wouldn’t know what to do with myself: maybe I’d have so much energy that I’d run until I’d get exhausted: which would only take a minute. I’m serious. Writing a dissertation takes up a lot of hours, and involves the “arduous” task of sitting still…with the exception of your hands of course, which are constantly typing. Moving becomes an unfamiliar pastime.

As it happens, I am immeasurably happy, and jubilant, and elated: and bone tired. Contentedly tired, but still very weary. They don’t tell you this when you get the acceptance letter, but graduate school is a long drawn out procedure with a recovery period. I recommend warning any graduate-school-enthusiast children you may have about this phenomenon, (but to be fair, no amount of warning ever dissuaded me from attending.)

For me, graduate school lasted ten enduring years. Years spent not knowing who I was, years where I faced a lot of discrimination, pain, ostracism and social invisibility, years in which I slowly but steadily moved through and eventually transformed my anger, grief, and feelings of worthlessness. Somewhere inside me was the girl who I’d forgotten in the fog, lost under harsh layers of living, but who was still breathing, silently dreaming.

I know she was there, because I have found her. I sang to her bones to rise, to walk into her own belonging. I traveled the road of shadows for her, called her name, gathered the shattered mirror pieces and pieced them whole once I heard and knew and felt throughout all I ever was that I was not broken. I learned to love those jagged pieces, a patchwork puzzle of the past. And despite all I had been through in the place to which I returned, last week when I returned, I remained wholeheartedly myself. I could have never achieved this on my own, of course, but I did have to decide to keep going, each step of the way. That is to me a testament to how far I have come.

Always the question arises, after arriving, no longer questing, for a threshold: as I look toward my whole life ahead of me, what amidst all that should be left behind is worth carrying forward? re-membering is important, relearning resilience, rebuilding a self by the soft light of a core spark that never dies, retrieving compassion from where it had retreated, backed into a corner of regret and shame and silence about much that had never been true. Freedom, walking out of the Anonymous Desert for the last time, and shutting a door of an era behind me was a right of passage in itself. But I know well that I could have never lept the crossing had I never learned to tear down walls, break through bars, and hold my own rather than hold on for dear life. (I have often done both kinds of holding, sometimes simultaneously.)

A week before my defense, I sat down and did some re-membering. I wrote from myself to myself, which I had never done before. I will share a bit of the growing with you, as I think I’ve learned things which we are all in the process of re-membering, and because I finally found the words for it.

***

Power is found within, springs forth from love and compassion for you, to hold your own sacred space within you, and claim your birthright of worth and belonging. You can stay centered in your own truth, your own power. You are the author of your life and the divine guardian of yourself.

Stop holding your breath against change. Be discerning and open. Let go. Let go of expectations. you belong to yourself and always have. This past does not define you. It will not ruin you. You will return. Keep your energy centered, your mind focused. Have great love and compassion for you. Know you are stronger than you know or believe. The grey will fall at your light. Be present, be alive and do not try to hide your eyes. Please return without any sense of small. Be the unbridled joyfulness of you. Your power, your truth, your strength, your trust, is all of and for yourself. I love you. You are already wild.

***

The journey that has gotten me here far surpasses the feat of freeing myself from a situation I never should have stayed in. If that lived experience was the only way to get me to where I am now, I am grateful for every moment of it, and that’s the truth. And truthfully, I am also overjoyed to finally be moving on, to embrace what is next in this wonderfully wild world. Let’s do this thing!

Solstice: Before the Turning Tide

Of the snow that falls,
I will tell you,
And of crumbling walls,
I will tell you,

And when solid ground gives way,
And you’re grasping at what cannot stay,
I will tell you

About your feathers and your wings,
I will show you things
You never even knew
About the sky,

And why there is no need
To know where you are going:
You simply are,
And you are growing.

When the rains wash flowers in their crying,
I am here,
And when the wind takes up its sighing,
I am here,

And through all the pain and loneliness
And longing you’re denying,
I am here,
Holding, keeping you near.

In the soft-spun light
Of each day’s dying,
I am reminding you of why
Every season passes by,

And oh how I hope
That now you really hear
That you can safely give up fear.

Of the sun’s journey to return,
I will tell you,
And of the years it took for us to learn,
I will tell you,

And when all the underbrush of overrushed time
And hurried dreams are burned away,
I will tell you how beautifully you shine,

Wrapped like a child
In the fine threaded fabric
Of this new incipient day.

And together
We will watch this weary world
Again begin to stir,
Having slept through the clay-cracked cold of winter.

Life stretches and uncoils from itself,
Reaches up
Passed what’s certain and what’s sure.

Laughing, blinking,
Once more breaking open
Letting go of all you thought you were,

Once again you have awoken
To the song that carries you,
Remembering the words, from deep within
The truth you always knew.

As the soul of the world calls,
I will be there,
And as trees bridge the two worlds,
I will be there,

And soon it will be time,
And with the sun’s rebirth we rise,
Until everything on earth
Glows vibrant and alive.

Until the light of all that is
Is reflected in each other’s eyes,
We will weave the path that lies ahead,
Its symphony in every thread.

Spilling Over

She eats cereals like there is no tomorrow,
My Grandmother, depressions
Dripping like droplets of milk down her mouth,
Mouthing “more,” when she is not speaking,

Because she never got enough
When still a child, spilled by the fountain of youth onto the sprawling clay,
Needy and not kneaded at the bottom of the Bread Basket,
During the Depression.

She married my grandfather, tall, dark, and disciplined by Want,
Who used his knock-kneed frame as a jungle gym
Especially when the children ran rampant with hunger,
Crying shyly as they were tagged “it.”

My mother warns me to respect grandpa’s habits,
As if God herself deemed his behavior redeemable,
In a last attempt to tempt him with wanting grace.

“Eat your cereal, young lady,” grandma chides. My eyes
Bulge, suspecting yesterday’s meal of frosted minny-wheats
Will be mysteriously displaced into my metal spoon,
Milk draining off the cupped bowl of a concave collection of grain.

The children were always hungry, always crying.
My mother watches me fiercely with a hesitant sympathy plaguing
The whites of her corneas.
I see it sift through her eye like sand and flinch,

She, my mother, the survivor, silently
Witnessing the way I will pay
Tribute to my ancestors.

Quickly, I qualify my breakfast, a hurried gulp
Of saturated solution and swallow,
Exhaling elatedly after the enormous effort.

Two years ago, Grandfather wouldn’t insist on such a crude
Relapse into recalling such remembrances of long-ago,
But senescence seems to detain his decency behind bars,
And as the meal ends with many brothey bowls untouched,

He lifts them up sacredly from his table and gently pours
The contents of each eager-lipped, glossy dish
Into a fountain overflowing, that drips back into the carton of milk;
The same ritual he performed yesterday.

Tomorrow, I’ll leave the furrowed house
Where the roof thatches sink concavely toward the floor,
Where water, after accumulating in the troughs made
By the derivative of the roof’s normal triangular shape,
Eventually cascades into a freak rainstorm off the eves.

In the evening, brother and sister would play in puddles;
You could see the whites of their eyes reflect off the water
As they buried cold toes in dusty sand.

And if you were filled with the sustenance of sparse fortune,
You might offer them milk, and watch their mouths gape open
Like dry caves, accepting the first spray of waterfall.
Then they would save some for the family jar
To relive that white dream whenever they needed.

It was raining when the younger finally slipped out of sight,
Over him mounded grains of earth, and the grey-sky tears falling.
And at dawn, mother crept their barefoot, hardly believing,
There, dew dripped in silence, and there was one who longed no more.

*This poem is based on a story told to me by a family friend.

I See You _ A Tribute to Every Person Who Is Not Recognized For Who They Are

I see you,
Children no longer here,
Your faces in my dreams
Chiseled on the landscape of my soul.

Last night, I listened to you tell your story,
With a voice that in life you could not share.
You spoke of many wonders, despite your pain,
Most never noticed you were there.

I see you
Young women now and years ago,
Hands reached to steal you from yourself,
Attempt to turn you into stone.

They tried to make you, objects kept in secret towers.
Your fearful eyes haunt my waking hours.
How many still live with scars?
How many died to protect what is ours?

I see you,
As if I were there,
Each moment, a person I’ve never met,
I will keep your memory near.

How could anyone try snuffing out a sacred star?
How could anyone destroy such beauty until it’s gone?
How could anyone fail to see the brilliant light
Within each of us alike, though different for each one?

How can we stare and judge and yet not see
We’re holding up a mirror?
I live the truth it shatters me,
Stark and raw and clear.

My tears they fiercely stand behind my eyes,
So determined not to fall.
If I put words to your thousand nameless cries,
Could it do any good at all?

Break open and unfold

The seed sewn at the center
Waits to grow
Is always yours to hold.

As if dissolved in a cocoon,
I prepare to emerge changed
Into what I have always been.

My mind doesn’t know it yet,
And yet, I dream
Of unchecked skies and new found wings, I dream.

The metal box overflowing with my fears
Is too heavy to keep
Carrying on this journey,

So I’ll leave it on the bottom shelf
Behind the self help
Books promising “a better you.”

I am enough,
I scream at their winking gold titles.
Because even though I am

Cracked and chipped and damaged,
Dropped by accident too many times,
In turmoil with the mending of old wounds,

Still I take off again into the blue,
No longer meant to hide, or forced to crawl.
I tell the one who fights transforming at all:

Wordless love waits for whomever can
Commend themselves into the hands
Large enough to contain each

Of our sharp and jagged pieces.
Still enough,
To hold each imperfect moment, without comment.

None will hand me back such trying
Marked up red for correcting
Along with, “it would be better had you been done differently.”

So tomorrow, letting go, I’ll break down
The sealed doors to secret rooms
Behind which occupants bide their time, unwelcome.

Even if, to evict them I dissolve shaking
Into a dark shelter beyond
Which nothing is certain.

Hidden there are the keys for the freedom
To reign in my own home,
A butterfly monarch sustained by wildflowers.

Hidden there, myself unchanged.
And because there is nothing to do or be differently,
I’ll be wholly different from before.

I’ll remember what wings are, never forgetting who carries me,
The wind across this expansive, unsung sky,
And above the clouds, I’ll soar.

Threading Over And Through: The Endless Journey

Far beyond that one, ephemeral day,
Vitality ever flies, clear and shimmering.

Within the lone wolf’s mournful howl
They heard their own cries, calling out, calling in return.

These are ones who lived beyond their sorrow,
For all in their sunrise to see.

the sunset Of their one flutter of light
Has scattered their existence.

Perhaps we will glimpse an old reflection of ourselves,
In the still and silent water,

Or perhaps, when the lightning strikes,
We will once again raise leafy hands to the sky,

Aware of the intertwining roots,
Anchoring us firmly to the heart of earth,

And the way we take light into ourselves,
A feast of the many colors.

The great charged arcs from the dark clouds above,
Illuminate the core of us from inside out.

I am here, now,
In this starlit night,

And I become the lonesome wolf cry,
You, the moon I call to.

You, shining through the mist beyond the horizon,
I find we have once again traded places.

I will shelter you from the storm,
Though its anger strikes out, I stay your tears.

The map is lost,
Though that’s not stopped any of us from making the journey,

And always I will hold you safe,
Far from bitter winds, even when it seems no one understands.

Dream-Bitten 1998

Shallow the water from which I came,
Still earth, waits, to receive my trial-errored body

Dropped like a star falling
I concentrate dizzily on balance.

Like mistletoe around the oak,
You leave me dream-bitten.

I belong to time’s entropy,
And to spirit-kin, wild, wild, wild.

You say to wait… passion pooling within the hopeful ones, …
Plunged back into black holes. I wait to be whole.

Into infinitudes of time,
Cornered by curiosity,

I discover, I almost remember,
The deer run, bear skin, wolf-wild world rewandered.

Happiness halts along a dilapidated road,
And a lighthouse lurks,

Star-crimson among
Fog’s shining shadows.

Silence pierces perfectly cold loss,
Dare I soar to drift through evanescent light,

Scampering effortlessly,
A lonely light beam traveling.

So much left behind among the waves,
To a desolate world, vailed in endless tears,

Wrapped within the spiraled coils,
You fix me with beady eyes,

And with the dawn, unknown longing,
You leave me dream-bitten.

Song of the Butterfly

Butterfly you’re trapped,
Inside a hollow stone,
All alone.

Longing to get back
To the rocks and streams,
The forest of your own.

Among the trees and shaded shadows you have grown.
Beyond these hills to sacred hollows return home.
You were meant to sail the wind,
Remember all that you have known,

And fly away, oh fly away,
Find your way,
It’s time to change.

Not knowing who you are,
You take the path to these
Nine hazel trees

And long to stay what wanders far,
To gather all you ever loved
In endless song.

But if ever love is to be near,
You’ll have to set it free.
I let you go not knowing,

Whether you’d come back to me.
And life can only take its shape
Once you let it be.

So fly away, oh fly away,
Find your way,
It’s time to change.

This chrysalis has crystallized around you.
You’re afraid to climb outside,
Find what surrounds you.

Come break free,
No need to hide,
Just spread your wings

And try
This open door.
I promise you will soar.

Fly away, oh fly away,
Find your way,
It’s time to change.

Butterfly you’ve flown,
Dancing across the sky,
No telling where you’ll land.

A shattered crystal stone
Lies still and empty,
In my palm, my open hand.

And just before I turn to leave,
I reflect on what I’ve found.
The rustling trees and running stream
Remain the only sounds.

They whisper in the twilight,
“none have returned here until now.
Don’t you understand?”
Transformed, I’m here again,

And fly away, I fly away,
Find my way,
It’s time to change.

Song for Brighid

I wanted to share the lyrics of a song I wrote last September while preparing for a surgery that would help heal me from a chronic illness. I finished the last verse recently, and hopefully I’ll have a recording at some point to share as well.

Brighid

Learn the language of all that is remembered,
Share the voice inside you that you hid away,
To Those who eat, but hunger still for meaning,
Say the things that love would have you say.

Come bring all you are and stand beside us,
You who know the spirit of this place,
Seek the echoes lingering, to find us,
Keep strong through all the silences you face.

Chorus:
Shine in me,
Give light to me,
May light shine through me though darkness surrounds me.
Shine in me,
Be light to me,
May I find wholeness resides in me.

One too many people gone before you,
Barely can remember what it is to live out loud
But you will learn to do this from your shadow,
How to drink the water in a cloud.

Keeper of the healing fire, the song of life,
Maiden by the well appearing very old
Waiting through each season for a passerby,
To recognize the woman they behold.

Chorus

When in desperation I first found her,
Running place to place to look for where I left myself
I saw within her radiant flame the spark that was my own
The light I almost lost to someone else.

Rekindle what is yours, reshape your world anew,
Between your hands exists the pulse of life,
Forge a new beginning for the one who lives in you,
She told me before vanishing from sight.

Chorus

For many years I wandered as a stranger,
Unable to accept everything I had become,
Giving into fear and doubt and anger
Convinced there’d be no rising of the sun

Then she bid me walk into the water,
And I let go of all that I’d been through,
When I awoke I met the world with laughter,
Returned to the belonging that I knew.

Chorus