Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Down Into The Earth and Up Into The Light And Air ...

"The theme of integrating the opposites develops in my work from book to book, the seed having been sewn in Centering. Another archetypal development comes in the geometric form of the lemniscate (moebus strip), which is the ground of my second book, The Crossing Point. The crossing point is the name given to the layer of cells out of which the root and the shoot of a plant begin to sprout. The plant grows in opposite directions simultaneously, down into the earth and up into the light and air. The forms of the plant change accordingly. Think of the carrot, for example. All orange and dense and pointed, it digs deep into the soil. And all filigree lace of green foliage above ground, it opens to the sun."

~ M.C Richards, Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person ~

I am at the crossing point. The center of the lemniscate. My roots are going deep into the earth like Persephone down into the underworld, while my feathery, lacy green leaves smile up at the sun and there is a balance, if difficult, to it all.

I have written here before that my mother is dying, has been on the path to the final end for a very long time now. 3 1/2 years ago she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, given very little time to live, and told to go home and put her affairs in order. 3 1/2 years later she has been on every kind of medicine known to modern man as well as many experimental treatments until the last year she went blind and the deterioration has continued on and on and on. It has been excruciating. No one wants to lose their mother, but to see a long slow process like this takes the energy out of one until they feel like a deflated balloon, and you are always waiting for the proverbial "other shoe to drop." It looks like the shoe is falling. She has now been in the hospital more than a week, most days too weak to even speak on the phone for even a moment so I can tell her I love her, and she is in pain and heavily medicated. It is heartbreaking. And the thing is she could still go up and down this last little bit, but many things are shutting down and other problems arising, and my heart is so heavy with sadness and fear that I can barely breathe.

However, while part of me has had to go underground, to the dark place, to deal with death, there are the green leaves, the budding flowers, their faces to the sun, that exist at the same time. It is the yin and the yang, the balance of the universe.

If my heart is breaking because my mother is dying, I wake up every morning to this house full of animals -- the parrots talking, singing and chattering; big dog Moe charming, dignified, gentle and loving, the leader of the pack, always by my side in a guarding position, which touches me deeply; and then there are the three little hooligans, that is to say, the pugs, who daily bring me so much delight, laughter and love, well, when my mother started her most serious decline, nearly one year ago, the first of the pugs came, another the next month and another 2 months later. It's as though all the sacred and holy spirits, God, the Goddesses, my spirit guides and animal guides all got together for a council meeting and agreed: "What she needs is pugs, lots of pugs, they aren't really dogs you know, they are little alien beings whose purpose on earth is to bring joy and make their owners laugh, to stay by their side and give them unending, never ceasing love. Send her three, at least for starters!"

For starters, yes. When I move into a bigger place I will be adopting more. I was given the gift of pug fever, and it keeps you in such a joyful state it truly counterbalances much of what life has to throw at you. When I am most down, crying, feeling as though the world is crashing in on me when more bad news comes about my mother, you should see this place, the dogs are glued to me, Henry flies over and is on my shoulder, Blossom the cockatoo wants to stay with me and very, very gently preens me and rubs softly against me. I wonder how people make it through life without animal companions? I dream of someday living on a little farm where I can grow my food organically, have goats for milk who can frolic and have a lively happy life the rest of the time, free ranging chickens in a large safe enclosure for fresh eggs (and to be cuddled and loved), and I would like to provide a rest home for those in need of one. I'd love to have retired horses who won't be ridden but can live out their lives with love, safety and all that they need to live out their final years. Dragonfly Cottage will one day grow into a farm and the creatures, great and small, and I, can grow old together. That is my dream.

And pugs, I will always take the elderly and infirm pugs, the ones that few people want, but who are my deepest loves. Tiny Babs is getting cataracts and going blind. She will be 13 soon and came deaf as a door, and is the tiniest of them all, but the sassiest, and she communicates with me so well I swear we have a psychic connection. She has been here nearly a year and knows her way around, from her bed, to me, to the kitchen for food and water, and she is the first and loudest to bark when she needs to go out and all the others follow suit. Coco, almost twelve, came partly deaf and is nearly all the way there, but she, too, knows the lay of the land so well that she does just fine. And Sampson, well, he's just glued to one of my body parts at all times, and that's just the way it is. My animals sustain me, are the "fertilizer" that helps me continue to grow upwards toward the sun. Rich and luscious in their love, I am blossoming at the same time that part of me is underground mourning.

Today I go to babysit my tiny 4 year old grandson Lucas. He is the most magical child, tiny, towhead blond curls and huge eyes, and so affectionate. He, too, is a bright shining star in the firmament of my life, as are my three adult children and their loving partners or spouse. Friends that are dear are supporting me through this hard time, and my precious silence and solitude feed my soul. Lately, I've fallen asleep many nights, finally, so exhausted I couldn't hold my eyes open, in my big easy chair with the huge ottoman, an old, worn, vintage quilt over me, the t.v. on softly, the rest of the room dark, and Sampson asleep snuggled in my lap. All the friendly beasts are sound asleep, but if I so much as move Sam is up and staring me in the face. If I cry he licks my tears away. This little dog, terribly abused and abandoned many times over before he came to me, is more than a beloved companion, he is a soulmate. His valiant little spirit has grown so strong in his year here, and he has bonded with me so deeply, he knows my every move, my every thought. What would I do without him? Without all of them?

I pause for a moment and look around the room in a kind of awe. These last ten days as my mother has been in the hospital, weaker by the day, my collection of African violets, now large, are all bursting into bloom, flowers everywhere seem to be blooming all at once. The sun is shining, we've had much needed rain, my writing is going well, it is a very fertile time.

The lemniscate. So much is happening above the ground it is feeding the bottom of that figure eight that grows under the ground. The roots are being deeply nourished by the rich material being sent down from above. When the time comes and my mother is gone, it will be a deep time of sadness and grieving, but a relief, and a peace-filled time, knowing that she is free from her earthly shackles and no longer in pain.

Birth and death, the yin and the yang, the two sides of a coin, the lemniscate. These are the story of life and we cannot have one without the other. I will keep reminding myself of that in the days ahead.

Warm Regards and Deepest Blessings to All,



Mama Kelly said...

Oh Maitri

I am so sorry to read about your mother's decline. I am glad to know that your dear pugs are there to help love you through this chapter in your life.

Be blessed

{{{{ }}}}

Theresa Komor said...

You write to share, and I share your pain and your struggle to remain balanced. Oftentimes, when 'things' get to the point where I have to fight hard for a long time, I meditate and ask to understand. I always get an answer.

My thoughts are with you, Maitri.


Henson Ray said...

Maitri, I am so sorry you are going through this. I know from experience, that it is a very painful and stressful time...and I wish you all the comfort and support in the world. As you say, your house filled with the uncomplicated life of your animals can only be a great source of peace for you. My thoughts are with you on this Fourth of July weekend. Stay strong and take care!

Mariah & Byron Edgington said...

Our warmest wishes, and best regards near the end of your mother's time here. In the fullness of time, in universal balance, we become their parent.



BK said...

I am sorry to hear about your mother. Just want to say I understand how you feel. Reading your post brought me back to 2005-2006 when my father was seriously ill and diagnosed with last stage of cancer. It made my heart aches to see him getting worse in health and going through all the tests and scans in the hospital. But like your mother, he fought bravely. Wishing goodness to you and your mother and everyone in Dragonfly cottage.

A. said...

How I feel for you. It's only two months since my mother died, also of cancer, so I have a clear idea of what you are going through. My thoughts are with you.

Daisy said...

Maitri, there are blessings in everything, as you know... my mom was sick and then, zoom-de-zoom, she was gone. 3 months, max. It was SO FAST, I felt somewhat cheated, the opposite of how you feel.

But I see now that it was a blessing, too, and I am so sorry for my friends who have parents that are lingering on and on, and to what end?

I have a grandchild thousands of miles away, that I miss like the dickens, so you are blessed in that way, too.

Kiss your delightful doggies for me, my friend! :)

Leanne Lonergan said...

My thoughts are with you Maitri.xx

Nodin's Nest said...

May your mother find peace and you comfort in knowing that she has.
Don't forget to hug your pugs!

Waterrose said...

You are in my heart and I send you hugs. The closest bonds are the hardest and easiest. My husband died in 2003 and while I never wanted to lose him, I didn't want to see him suffer. We said our goodbyes for two years and the surreal feeling was that everything else in the world was moving forward while our lives were waiting for a finality. Take care and so glad that the pugs found you!

wandering visitor said...

stumbled upon your site today and was drawn in by your writing and photos; am very sorry to read about your mother - keep your heart grounded and be well.

La Srta Pil said...

i'm sorry, your words are full of love,
so sorry, ying and yang, the balance of say, warms regards, love and Blossom.

norfok cottages said...

I am sorry to know about your mother.

Do you need help planning your finances said...

maitri . Its so sad to hear about your mother's decline . Its so hard to cope up with this.

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