It’s early Sunday night and I’m sitting in my usual space for writing. Hot cup of tea to the side. My radio station playing low in the background. The space heater blowing warm, taking off the foreboding chill. Last week I read that here in Edmonton we were having the longest run of October +20 C degree days since 1944, and today tied the record for the latest first frost. But this weekend, winter made its arrival in other parts of the province and I know it’s simply a matter of time. The wheel turns…
It’s been nearly three months since my last post, one wherein I’d announced the need for a pause…to settle into my breath, body and bones after my month long Camino, to prepare for traveling to Italy with my husband, to re-centre to purpose. Since returning from Spain in early June, I’ve had the felt sense of standing yet again on a cusp. It was an atypical summer, late in coming, the hottest August on record giving us warm, sultry, bug free evenings, and one of illness: my lengthy recovery from Covid; then my husband developing a viral infection – non Covid but with a similar symptom pattern leaving him fatigued and coughing for weeks; and I succumbing to the same a few weeks later. Our Annie dog sustained sprains and pulled muscles. My elderly father’s ever robust and vital presence began to dim.
“I’ve lost my edge,” is how my husband put it, and for the first time I saw glimpses of a wavering frailty that comes with aging. While we’ve both recovered, and are feeling well having enjoyed our unstructured time sauntering in Rome, and then touring the exquisite landscapes of Puglia (albeit in overcast skies and rain), there’s the indelible realization we have entered a new life stage. Grief with facing the endings of ways of living and being, we are staring – starkly, undeniably -at our mortality and that of those we love and cherish.
In readying myself to write tonight and to return to it as my vocation, I spent a couple of hours today catching up on the myriad of e-newsletters in my inbox, a cursory glance telling me they held a pearl or several. Below are some of the more salient bits holding my attention:
“I have this belief that an internal monoculture of peace and clarity and smooth sailing is what normal people experience, so it’s what I should experience. And if I don’t feel peaceful and clear and focused, then there’s something that needs fixing inside me…Barb Morris, “a messy mind is a healthy mind,” e-letter, September 29, 2022
I want to reframe messiness as holy. I want to slide down and immerse myself in the murky waters of my messy heart.”
“I’m curious to know if you have a line you repeat to yourself when you’re trying to sink into that necessary solitude that is at the heart of every human relationship: the relationship of yourself to yourself.”Padraig O’Tuama, “the solitude at the heart of human relationship,” Poetry Unbound Newsletter, October 2, 2022
“We reach for hope as the antidote to despair,Margaret Wheatley, “We Have to Talk About Hope,” October 19, 2022
but actually hope is the cause of despair.
The problem with hope is that it’s bipolar. Every time we rely on hope, we always bring in fear. Buddhist wisdom teaches that hope and fear are two sides of the same dynamic.”
“The rhythms of the seasons play a significant role in my own discernment. Honoring the flowering of spring and the fruitfulness of summer, alongside the release of autumn and the stillness of winter, cultivates a way of being in the world that feels deeply reverential of my body and soul’s own natural cycles. We live in a culture that glorifies spring and summer energies, but autumn and winter are just as essential for rhythms of release, rest, and incubation. When we allow the soul’s slow ripening, we honor that we need to come into the fullness of our own sweetness before we pluck the fruit. This takes time and patience.”Christine Valters Paintner, Love Notes, Abbey of the Arts newsletter, October 22, 2022
My synthesis, in poem…
the necessary solitude
that is my messy heart and mind
that I sink into as an antidote
to the bipolarity of hope and fear
a discernment where now autumn’s release
and soon winter’s stillness allow
my soul’s ripening
I took time and patience
the needed pause
to recover and reveal
life’s holy starkly beautiful truths
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends. It’s good to be back.
10 thoughts on “Starkly Beautiful Truths”
So good to have your voice back in my inbox, at my writing desk, in my heart. Yes. We are in this time of life/death together and your words have deep resonance in me. Thank goodness you have made it through these trials to a sense of restoration/restorying that I may relish your companionship of word awhile more. Thank you for diving down. Much love. Christina
Hmmm, this is so lovely, Christina. Thank you and love back.
What a beautiful integration of such wise insights. Glad to see you’re back Katherine!
Thanks so much, Kathie.
Welcome back Katherine! I look forward to reading your reflections, insights, quotes, and poetry once again! Your words hold special meaning as I prepare to sign off for a few months – running on empty and, as you write, transitioning into a new space that needs some reflection. Helen
Thanks, Helen. Yes, pressing the pause button on occasion is a high form of self care, IMHO. May yours bring what you need. Kindest regards.
Thank you for your beautiful post, reminding not to slow down
From my friend, Ann:
It is so good to have your voice back on the page and back in my heart. Oh my, this was a profound entry. “Grief with facing the endings of ways of living and being, we are staring – starkly, undeniably -at our mortality and that of those we love and cherish.” I appreciate your honesty about the summer and your various illnesses. As we age, I believe it is very helpful to be honest in our sharing. It is more empowering to others.