Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sanctuary (& The Women Who Watch Over the World)

The orchard at my husband's childhood home
I am writing to share something from the profound Linda Hogan:

"Humans want truth the way water desires to be sea level and moves across the continent for the greater ocean." (from The Woman Who Watches Over the World)

And to say: It snowed last night. Thank God!  It has been cold and icy here since our last snow, but without the quiet gratification of a blanketed world. There has been enough ice clear of the sidewalks to go running, but none of the light temperatures to invite much activity. I have been addicted to the indoors, with none of the excuses for it. So be it. But now it snowed. I have a legitimate reason to rise early and drink steaming drinks and listen to the quiet outside, to find it inside. And actually, isn't stillness enough of a reason to pursue its riches anyway?

Sometimes it's nice to have a little help.

I bit it two days ago on a patch of ice.  Now I have a ripe raspberry on my knee cap, just above a gash I obtained with the help of a file drawer at the end of the summer (which has blossomed into a terrifically vivid scar). Both marks tell me: Slow down! Watch your step. So I am beginning to listen.

I have been thinking lately about how to live a life: about what to say yes to, and what to pass by.  My father recently emailed me about the ways he makes decisions, especially work ones.  He said, "Sometimes work enjoyment is like stopping for a stop sign on a country road late at night. You are probably the only one that will ever know but still have to do what is right."

I love the core message of integrity in this metaphor, but also (of course) latch on to what it would feel like to pause on a country road in the middle of the night. Such stillness! And plant-breathing richness around, and animals snorting in their barns. It reminded me of something my dad and I had seen once together on an early-morning drive to the airport, when I was living in New York. I had spent the weekend with my parents at their house, and was reticent to leave the green world of North Carolina.  As my dad sped down the country road, we saw two brown masses bobbing up ahead. My mind had no answer for the questions my eyes were feeding it. As we got closer, my brain put it together that two horses had gotten loose and were galloping down the road. My father joked that they were coming back from a night of partying and trying to get home before their owners woke.

I could not shake those horses from my heart on the plane ride home. Their bodies were so powerful, and the sight of them galloping down the road summed up everything I felt about North Carolina: that it was full of comforting routine and familiar smells, and pulsing with magic, richness, and surprise.

I know that the metaphor of the stop sign offers endless contemplation for doing the "right" thing.  I also see that, more times than I can count, I have been shepherded by my parents into learning the right way to behave in certain scenarios. Even when I didn't want to believe them, they were usually right in their social, financial, and spiritual advice. But I am also awakening to the fact that my life is truly my own, and even though I have friends and elders I can consult about decisions, ultimately I must consult my own inner wisdom - and the way a decision feels in my body, my own life - to find the way for myself.

It occurred to me this week that I have a lot of control over my schedule at this point in my life. I have no children to tend to, a laid-back husband who is content to eat cookies for dinner, an old dog that lets me get away with one walk a day, and a job that I must show up for during certain hours, but outside of which, the world is my oyster. However, despite this, in my after-hours, I have been booking myself full. Why? Because I thought I should. And, in fairness, maybe I wanted to try on what it might be like to be that mythical Superwoman. You know what it feels like, though? Like I'm missing huge, important chunks of my life. 

So, like a restaurant the day after Valentine's, I can see now that the fridge is a little naked, and the cooks have singed all the hair off their arms.  It's time to take some time off - from extra-curriculars, from stretching myself thin. I am longing to literally or metaphorically sink into winter's pile of books. My experience with this sort of feeling knows that it is more than worth it to listen.

My friend recently wrote about the deep restoration she experienced while making time for a bath. She credited the idea for taking time off to my suggestion, but I realized as I read her post, that I have to credit my mother for this idea. For while she is a woman with lots of responsibilities and twelve arms waving around her community activities, whenever I visit my parents, I can usually locate her at the end of the day resting on her queenly bed, reading the funny papers or working a cross-word puzzle. She may be in a nightgown or a fuzzy pair of soft socks, and she is taking time for herself. She is paying attention: to what she needs, to what she loves, and what restores her, so that she returns to the world with that undeniable glow that feeds the world around her.

With this, I leave you to read more delicious words that my friend above has written, whose friendship restores me like rich, creamy soup. For the sake of the world, and yourselves, I hope you are making time for all that feeds you this week. And with prayers that your path is illuminated by holiday lights, and adorned with the profusion of treats and festivities, and drawn ahead by a proud horse or two, reminding you of the mystery we all come from, and the truth we long to return to.

With love,
Kara

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for the story of the two horses running. I'll keep that as a treasure. I will look at it from time to time, admiring the way it enfolded to you and how you put it together with all its beauty until I know why I decided to keep it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Tiech!

    You are so welcome. Thanks for saying hi!

    Blessings,
    Kara

    ReplyDelete
  3. love this post, Kara! also love how much you love North Carolina. I don't know if I have a place like that in my life... one that I love so muc. Perhaps I will have to move a few more times to find out? xo

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Amelia!

    It could also be that I have an extra Craving Gene in my gene pool. After watching Wonder Boys at Christmas, I was feeling deep love for your Pittsburgh, even though I've never been there before :)

    Moving every 3 years can help a person find what they love, but so can meditation! One of these things is a much cheaper habit...can you guess which?
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Norms! My favorite line: your prayers that our paths be "illuminated by holiday lights." Who among us who have the slightest twinge of romance don't appreciate THAT prayer? I wish the same for you. I also love the vision of the at-first-unidentifiable bobbing masses up ahead on the Darien road on the way to the airport -- that is a beautiful part of the world -- and that they were horses. So much magical imagery in this piece: thanks for the lovely visions and warm thoughts! -- Nathan Harvey

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Nate!

    Yes, I have more than a twinge of romance when it comes to white lights. :) What can I say? They make everything magical!

    Thanks for visiting!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This post was very helpful to me since it's getting close to quitting time here at work and I'm the only one here. Must...hold...on...until...6...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hahahaha! You are awesome. I love you!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's beautiful, Kara!
    Here's to you and yours this New Year. It's great to see your work again.

    With affection,
    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks Kate! Thanks so much for reading, and saying hello.

    Wishing you the best,
    Kara

    ReplyDelete