Monday, August 4, 2008

Oh My Heart Is Aching ~ Opening The Creative Vein...

"We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise,
The morning lights
The streets that meet them,
And sirens call them on
With a song.

It's asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We're coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
Stand on a star
And blaze a trail of desire
Through the dark'ning dawn..."

~ From Carly Simon's Let The River Run ~

I have not updated this blog for some time. I kept coming to it and trying, but I have been stuck in a place of grief as my mother hangs on by a near translucent thread and the end is coming faster all the time. I think that one of the reasons I haven't written is because I don't like to keep writing the same kind of thing, especially filled with sadness and grief without finding redemption, joy, and feeling lifted aloft by all of the good things in my life, my deep and abiding faith, my children and my grandchild, my animal companions whom I am blessed to share my daily life with, my dear friends, and so much more. But now... now, the winds are shifting. Unable to do any creative work at all as things have worsened with my mother, a ray of light, slim and slanting sideways through the windows at first, entered the cottage. I picked up my crochet hooks, a pile of roving, some handspun yarn, and I have started working again, making a freeform project. Tonight I made a bracelet for myself out of tiny turquoise heishi beads, and I am getting ready to weave.

The spirit is a wise and wonderful guide and teacher, and my spirit guides come from several traditions. Raised Catholic, coming to Buddhism in my 20's and not long after Native American Spirituality, which for anyone who has studied those two traditions know that they go hand in hand. The Dalai Lama met with Native American Tribal leaders when he visited the United States. They are linked in a beautiful way. Even as I changed my name, legally, to the Buddhist teaching of maitri, of love and compassion, I wear a medicine bag filled with sacred stones, feathers from my birds, most especially 2 of Henry's, my African Grey parrot, my familiar; Blossom, the Greater Sulfur Crested cockatoo who came to me to be saved, and saved me at the same time; and a tiny green cheek conure named Emmy Lou. The feathers keep me aloft and rising into the blue skies of my deep and powerful spiritual beliefs, while the sacred stones, feathers, and soft leather of the medicine bag, quite beautiful, made by a Lakota woman to raise money for an elderly tribal woman, hangs around my neck.

I have rosaries from my Catholic youth, malas from my Buddhist path, and pendulums which some people fear but I use to connect with God and be guided by. All are tools of the spirit, of all that is good and holy, all are related to prayer, communion, and guidance, and all are my constant companions.

And so I have been in a very quiet place, meditating, communing with all that is Holy to me, I have been finding my way back to my hand-carved crochet hooks and my Navajo weaving tools, my hand-spindles and my roving to spin yarn to work with, and the light, today, seemed to stream into the cottage full on. It was time. I could return here and tell of the winding path, the tender emotions, the ebullient joy of finding the river of creativity running through my life again, and all of the above have made me whole.

My mother is not afraid to make her transition. She is a devout Catholic, and she has told me many times that she is not afraid to die. I will mourn her, I will grieve, but I will also feel, with her, the release of her spirit leaving the body that for 3 1/2 years has degenerated into blindness, weakness, surgeries, countless drugs, pain and more. When she dies she will be free.

I was thinking, today, having talked to both of my daughters, and feeling that tug a mother feels in her heart when she hears their now adult voices, finding their way into their lives, in their 20's and my eldest just 31 this past January, that they, who are very close to their grandmother, will have a harder time than I when she passes. You see, they were born to parents who were lapsed Catholics, a father who was an agnostic all through their growing years, and a mother seeking a spiritual path that fit. Mine is a blended path, and one that can only be found through time, study, and being led by life into areas that giving you "knowings" that are not easily explained but powerfully felt. None of my children follow any traditional spiritual path, and this worries my mother, who wishes if they weren't Catholic, at least maybe they'd be something! I am not in the least bit concerned, because I know that Spirit will find them as it found me, and it may not manifest in their lives the way it has in mine, but they will find their way.

So today, thinking of my children, I realized that while they are adults, they are still, while maturing more each day, each year, young, when it comes to the life path. I think you have to have experienced birth and witnessed death. For me being a wife, a mother, coming out a lesbian, living through many painful transitions, now a grandmother, a woman who loves with her whole heart, a heart wide open, non-judgmental, accepting those of all faiths and spiritual paths that are centered in loving kindness and compassion, all of these things will help me weather the death of my mother. I'm not suggesting that it will in the least be easy, my heart will be broken and I will grieve. But in my grief I can know, in my heart, the blessing that my mother will have experienced in leaving a very ill and tormented human form, to transcend all that is earthly to that place that, whatever our faith, is beyond our knowing.

I have been asked, by many people, why I adopt these precious little pugs, the ones that are elderly or infirm. Won't it be hard to have them such a short time, they ask? Isn't it terribly painful to live through their deaths? I don't think of their deaths. I think about giving them all the love that I can while they are here. I think about what a blessing and what powerful teachers they are. I am amazed at their psychic connection with me. As I have sunken deeper and deeper into depression and despair these last few days, not just about my mother, but having received some devastating news, my animals would not leave me. Henry flew to me and sat on my shoulder quietly, sometimes for hours, just to be with me. The dogs circled me, the other birds sang to me, or as I kissed them and stroked their feathers I felt their healing energy emanating from their small fragile bodies. Birds are amazing, truly amazing. I always think of Emily Dickinson writing...

"Hope is the thing with feathers -
that perches in the soul -
that sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all."

They know something that we don't know. They live in tune with Nature and die without regret. I stop, here, for a moment, and look around the darkened room at my sleeping birds. I lay my hand over my medicine bag filled with their feathers and I feel them with me, always, in my heart. And the Dragonfly, my totem, visits me in the garden. The wing-ed ones came to teach me about flight. The dogs, unconditional love. My tiny beta fish, Vincent, has taught me that the tiniest, silent creatures are vital and alive. I communicate with Vincent. He swims to the side of the bowl and stares into my eyes. As he slips away back through the stems of bamboo in his large bowl, my heart lifts. Even tiny Vincent is a healer.

All day long I have been singing Carly Simon's "Let The River Run." It's a song that rises often in my life, just at the appropriate time, and I can never sing or hear it without crying. They are tears of joy, of seeing the magical miracles abundant if only we have eyes to see -- walking on the water, coming through the fog -- and yes, it will be the dreamers that wake the Nation.

Come, a new Jerusalem.

Warm Regards and Deepest Blessings to All,



Jean9 said...

Good for you on finding your creativity, if only to lose yourself for a moment. I feel that you are calm, I feel calm reading your post. I send my prayers to your family.

Henson Ray said...

I think during times of grief, the creative side can still emerge in small ways...just to keep you going. Maybe by knitting and weaving, you are actually working out your grief in a better way than you could ever do by writing. I can't write when I'm unhappy or depressed or grief-stricken because my mind is not clear enough to allow thoughts to flow freely. However, I can garden or cook or something else that's physical, and that seems to help. Maybe because it's doing something "outside" yourself, rather than something that's more internalized (like writing). By getting out of your head and focusing on something that doesn't require alot of attention, you are channeling the grief down a different path. I am sorry you are going through this hard transition in your life, but it sounds like you are finding some different and creative ways to get yourself through it. My thoughts are with you.

Greg said...

Maitri, I'm sorry to hear about the pain and sadness in your life right now. While we're grateful for the peace it brings in lieu of suffering, it's always difficult to say farewell to those we love best.

I'm glad to hear that you are finding your creative outlets to bring you peace and give you strength. No doubt the words will help you later to find further peace and redemption.

Meanwhile, please know that you and your family are in my thoughts!

Lynne said...

I am so sorry to hear of your mom. I agree though, she will no longer be suffering and in pain, she will be free. Cherish your time and take strength from your children.

I always find it so refreshing to lose myself in my creativity. Put your heart into it and your mind and heart will come away feeling stronger, able to handle what life is throwing at you.

While you are surely missed here, life takes priority and we will all be here when you are able to return.

DJ said...

As always Maitri, your heart is still open and because of that you can see the road behind you and the many paths ahead. Your creativity is your guide and it will not lead you astray. Peace to you and yours.

Tammy Warren said...

What a beautiful blog. My first time to view your site.

I am sorry to hear of your pain.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Dear Maitri, You are in my mind and I am sending you strong healing thoughts for every minute, for every day. It is eleven months since Paul died and I have come a long way. The Buddhist books have helped the most and I have Sameet M. Kumar's Grieving Mindfully beside me right this minute. I am glad to hear that your journey is taking a turn toward more creativity and connection. Another turn.........God bless you and all whom you love.

woolies said...

Grief can be paralyzing. You live each day barely functioning, because the grief is palpable, you can feel it - always - just there. If you let yourself feel it fully, sometimes, it is just all encompassing. How to move through this?
I am glad to hear you have picked up your spindle.
I have lived through an inordinate amount of death in my life, and am sometimes amazed when I emerged on the other side.
My prayers and thoughts are with you..

Harmony said...

Thank you for allowing us to sense all that feels holy to you in your sacred place of allowing, releasing and transition into the matriarch.
I have had the honor of being the companion of the dying several times and I wish you strength and subtle observance. You are so close to the edge of life at a time like this...there are many secrets.

Craft Junkie said...

Maitri, I can feel your sadness about your mother but I also sense your peace about her impending passing. I know about dealing with the death of a parent, both the unexpected (my Dad of a stroke) and the expected (my Mom, who battled cancer) so I can empathize with what you're dealing with right now.

I am just glad to know that your Mother has her faith that gives her peace and that you, too, have your peace and your precious "babies" are there to help you through this rough time.

I love where you said "They live in tune with Nature and die without regret." That is something we can all hope to attain.

You, and your mother, remain in my thoughts.

With much love and peace,

Maitri Libellule said...

Thank you so much, all of you. I'm inching forward through the days as my mother inches closer to her death, and I read all the comments, am blessed by them, and appreciate them more than I can say, but as with e-mail right now, it's very hard for me to answer from this inner space that one needs to buffet them through the storm. I hope you can all understand this and know that I am not disregarding your lovely notes, they mean the world to me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Until this dark cloud passes I won't be able to answer much, but know that I read all the comments and they are shoring me up for what's ahead.

Blessings to one and all,


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