"My life led me into solitude, and solitude led me into my real life..."
I wrote the above phrase in my notebook and closed my eyes and tried to really see, in the stillness around me, the woman I have become and am becoming. In the last year my life has begun to coalesce, and, like a crazy quilt, all of the odd bits are being sewn together into a life few understand but that fits me perfectly. And I love my life, all the colors and textures, and I think it's beautiful, and I am moving past any worry or concern that others find my life odd or confusing. I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way.
Someone asked me the other night, "What do you do all day?" She did not mean it negatively, she was asking what others have asked and many have wondered -- How did a woman once married with three children, involved in the community, teaching writing for 30 years to hundreds of students, come to withdraw from the world, to a life of silence and solitude? -- and what do I do all day? I know what I do but it's hard to describe my life to others. I have been pondering about just this these last days.
And then I read the well known quote by Mother Teresa, "We do not great things, we do small things with great love." It was then that I came to a kind of clarity about my life that even I hadn't had before. I do small things with great love. That is the best explanation that I can give to anyone who asks, the basic truth underneath all of the facts.
And then, with a start, I sat up and said, "I am a dandelion!" There is nothing majestic about a dandelion, it is a small brilliant yellow flower that most people consider a weed and try to eradicate, but I have loved dandelions since I was little, and I've made bouquets of them to put in small vases as long as I can remember because I am in love with these little flowers. Radiant as the sun and sure to bring a smile to the face of a small child, and even a big one like me. Every year I have a love affair with dandelions...
And as I mused on these little flowers, and thought of their myriad uses, from the roots to the leaves these medicinal, edible plants give us so much, and yet often go unnoticed and crushed underfoot, but even that doesn't kill the humble dandelion, no, somehow it musters up the strength to stand up again, and then come the glory days. Who among us hasn't, with glee, held a dandelion gone to seed aloft to blow all of the tiny head of seedlings hither and yon on the wind to land in a thousand directions and sprout who knows where? And that one dandelion will create millions of others on into infinity as the cycles of seasons move forward long past our time on this earth, and isn't that the answer to everything I have been looking for?
One needn't be a field of dandelions to create great change and make a tremendous impact on the world. Each of us is like a single dandelion with infinite possibilities to plant our "seeds," our dreams, our ideas, our love, our work, our lives, and watch them grow into all that they will become. Even as one woman living on a small plot of land tucked into a forest leading down to a creek, surrounded by animals inside and out, and in the silence and solitude I have found, have drawn to me to create the cushion that I need to both create space between the world and my open soul, my tender heart, as well as allow, in meditation and prayer, the seedlings of my work to appear, even here I can be as the dandelion able to do my work and cast my seeds upon the wind. It isn't necessary for me to list the litany of things that fill my life and days, no, what has become more important to me has been to understand, to come to this metaphor, and in holding this idea that the dandelion who though only a small, humble flower, is more fecund than most other plants on the earth. I have felt a great peace come over me as I think about this . So too can we, as each individual human being, be in our own little corner of the world, however we choose to live and be, full and ripe and able to spread potent possibilities abundant.
All of a sudden I bask in the glow that a single dandelion casts and sunshine flows into my house and through the windows of my soul. My quiet little life is enough, and I am filled with joy, with gratitude, with a kind of bliss thinking of this life that I am creating, these small things that I tend with great love, the elderly dogs around me, the large parrot who needs me, the ravens I have begun to watch with great excitement as they join the multitudes of other birds that I feed outside, along with a host of Carolina blue birds this year that have delighted me no end. It hasn't been until this year that I have seen them and there are a lot of them.
Look for the dandelions around you. Hold them tenderly. Cherish them, for you, too, are a dandelion.