Thursday, September 1, 2011

gentle teachers (or teacher, please be gentle ...)

Owl which hung in my room when i was a child

My mother has been in the hospital for the past week.

I write that and then pause. I want to add a big BUT ... to temper this reality with what? Something easy to hold? Easier for the heart to carry?

My mother is in the hospital and the outcome is uncertain. And without the illusion of certainty (is anything truly certain in life?) I find myself walking a tightrope over a deep canyon of fear.

Fear is tricky; fear masquerades as some kind of solid reality albeit a reality we don't want. The mind wants something to hang onto and fear slyly slips itself into the mind and says "Here, let me fill the empty space for you." But to push away from the experience of fear is to empower it through our resistance.

The truth is my mother is 86 years old, has enjoyed good health all of her life, is sharp as a tack, is still finding humor in the midst of dark uncertainty and is not ready to give up. But she is tired. And she is grappling with her beliefs about life and death, a conversation I try to interject my thoughts into but which ultimately is a hers alone to articulate and rest in.

While waiting (hospitals are nothing if not a place to practice waiting) I dipped into Anam Cara by John O'Donohue. " When your senses open out to the world, the first presence they encounter is the presence of your soul." Huddled in a freezing room, my body curled in for warmth but also to protect myself from the palpable presence of anxiety circulating through the captive patients and family members, I became aware how we shut ourselves off when presented with fear and uncertainty. Open, present, aware - I was none of these. I was oblivious to the power and presence of the soul; I caught in the trap of resistance which causes me to contract inwardly while support and guidance reside in opening myself up.

"It is a startling truth that how you see and what you see determine how and who you will be."

Today I saw the morning mist upon the window. I noticed small bird feathers in the grass. I saw a rainbow on my daughter's pillow. I took in the unexpected delight of my morning glory plant finally blooming. I saw beauty, I beheld hope and the gift of life evolving and unfolding in its own manner. I held my mother's bruised hand, I wiped away the blood that seeped from her fingertip, and I witnessed and shared her tears. I look upon her and I acknowledge the fragility and immense stamina that living requires of us.

Bhumi or Mother Earth - #33 for 49 by 49

Life is a series of teachers presenting themselves to me. The challenge is to stay open for the lessons and not contract or resist what comes before me. Because come, it will.

I've been thinking about the presence of Rabbit in my life. Often I see them huddled in the grass, temporarily frozen as they attune to what is lurking at the edges of their awareness. I used to think they illustrate the notion of being frozen by fear. I am beginning to think they are still and present, awaiting more information before responding. Rather than run around reacting to a perceived threat, they sit in that space of unknowing and wait. It is a difficult place to be and my habit is action but I am seeing the wisdom in abiding. My tendency is to give out, but I am learning to wait, listen, and receive. And to look with a softened gaze that takes in a fuller view.

In this period of acute waiting, I am drawing upon the practices and teachings that have guided me thus far for strength; I take comfort and gain insight from new practices I am learning in the SouLodge. I attempt to keep my gaze clear, my heart open, my mind calm.

I am being comforted by Bear - her appearance in my life coinciding with the realization that sources of mothering can be found around and within myself;

bear - #34 for 49 by 49

I am cleansed and fortified by Rosemary and other plants who remind me to tend to my emotion and physical needs;

my medicine staff reminds me to keep my balance and that on this journey there is much sustain and hold me;

I meditate with Selenite and receive the gift of acceptance and welcoming for all my teachers.

I feel the support of my sisters in the Lodge, my Painting Tribe, and my friends here who provide this circle of space that affords me the opportunity to be witnessed and understood.

This is all I can do. It is a tough task. I am finding that to bow to what life presents me, honoring the flux of emotions and reactions that well up and then wash out, I am able to stay on my tightrope and not fall under the spell of fear. Not that fear isn't my companion right now, but I am still leading the way, allowing the wisdom and healing power of my heart to speak to me.


  1. there is so much here. so so much. i cannot possibly reflect on even a pinch of it in a comment box. sigh. this is so good.

    much love to you ~ and your mom ~ as you open yourself through your senses....


  2. Fear is so closely related to worry. So much of what we worry about never actually happens and so the time and energy we spend worrying is wasted. You are doing an amazing job in waiting and loving. Blessings on you and your Mother as you face the unknown before you.

  3. oh, lis, these moments with your mother are so precious. and difficult. i am thinking of you both and wishing you much strength and love.

  4. Lis;
    I was where you are now just a short time ago and my mommy was 86. Our mothers are so precious and need us so much. I sensed your presence wasn't online, now I know why. The unknown can be a draining place.

    Sending you peace and love. Fear is real, illness is real, take care of yourself as well, you need to "take your oxygen first", in order to help those around you. Blessings to you and your family.

  5. I am appreciating the comment above about taking care of yourself in order to take care of those around us. Your mom is lucky to have you and you to have her. I find that life gets so busy and then something like this happens and we slow down a bit to reflect on what really matters. I'm sure your mom has a lot of that figured out. . . what truly matters. She is one more teacher to us all.

  6. Thinking of you on your journey right now. It takes a lot of courage to stay present in the face of the sometimes scary unknown. Stay strong joy warrior :)

  7. Fear and uncertainty are so difficult. And it's so difficult to hold on to your certainty and strength in the midst of all that. Taking care of yourself is essential, now, with all you have to uphold.

    Sending prayers and healing your way -

  8. Lis,

    You are at a crossroad it seems once more. Enjoy those times with your mom as the gift they are. Your photos really speak to me, such beauty to behold.

    Much love,


  9. So much love & healing insight in this post, Wise Woman.Beautiful photos and descriptions of your SouLodge process.
    Many blessings-