And in a blink of an eye, the world is turning and the seasons are changing… More health problems over recent months meant I saw most of the summer from either a hospital bed or whilst recovering on the couch at home, and, as such, I withdrew from as many of my commitments as possible as I delved deeper into body awareness and self-care.
In all honesty, it was probably the former which led me to being admitted to hospital for an emergency operation before things got too serious; and it was the latter which meant I took more time for me when I came out again, instead of trying to rush around, getting things done. Hence why I’ve not been here of late — some things had to wait, simple as that. I needed time to heal, time to breathe, time to be. I am lucky in that there’s people around me who understood this, and supported me through it. You know who you are. Thank you.
Now, as I look out of my window at the dark night and see the vague shape of my rowan tree in the garden, its branches becoming less and less bedecked by leaves by the day, I open my soul to the wonders of autumn. For weeks I have caught that tingling scent of leaf-mulch between the dancing gusts of wind; felt that tap-dance of crisp coldness that signals winter’s slow and inevitable approach. The trees have felt it, too. This is my favourite time of year — autumn and winter, when we descend into darkness and all that entails: solitude, silence, solace. Hibernation, decay, death… Rebirth.
My friend Joanna Powell Colbert put together a lovely video in which she goes in search of autumn. I love the juxtaposition of imagery and sound, written word and emotion:
I am taking lots of time to connect with Momma Nature as part of my healing process at present — more than I would ordinarily do. A few weeks ago I drove into the Yorkshire hills for lunch at a coffee shop with a friend; the air was crisp and full of autumn’s promise, and, when I travelled home, I stopped the car several times on hillsides and in country lanes. I stood barefoot in grass, on soil, in leaves, and let my senses just bask in the glory of the clear sunshine, amazing blue skies, and deep reds and rich golds of the hedgerows and trees and ground. On another day I found myself knee-deep in heather, silent save for the slight wind through the valley and the whispered activity of insects.
On a day when I was doubting myself, I was visited by a late-in-season butterfly — a message I’d like to believe was from my heart-sister in the land of spirit.
And yes, the land of spirit — that time is almost upon us. The veil is thinning; Samhain, our “feast of souls” or festival to honour our Beloved Dead, approaches. Others know it as Hallowe’en, and will celebrate the ghosts and the ghouls and the witches. I will be setting my altar for my Beloved Dead soon, and lighting candles in the windows to call them home to me, to share some time together when the veil is at its most diffuse. I will walk more autumn trails through woodland and glen, valley and riverbank, and commune with the spirits of the land.
This is the time for going within, touching that stillness deep inside. Finding that solitude, that solace… Letting all things unwanted and unneeded fall from my soul as leaves fall from trees, surrendering it all up to the Dark Goddess and Dark God, to the inevitable death and decay. There’s not that much difference between us and trees, after all.
My favourite comedian is Tim Minchin, who tends to say some rather funny and clever — yet meaningful — things about religion, politics, parenting, cheese, chemicals and other stuff… This is one of his more poignant songs, which I think just sums up how I feel about a lot of things.
Plus, it makes me cry.
The thing to remember is, not everything is perfect — life, love, body, experiences, ups, downs. But they are our own, all our own. And that makes them more precious than anything, in my opinion anyway.
I’ve missed some of the Wishcasting Wednesday prompts of late, but no matter — these things are not set in stone, and I do not need to beat myself up if I miss any. :) Anyway, this week’s Wishcasting Wednesday prompt is “What do you wish to delight in?”
Well, what with all my health problems of late, there’s a big part of me that says I would like to delight in being alive. Simply that, completely that, in all its highs and lows and complexities, all its joys and sorrows. I want to delight in being alive — in the laughter and the tears, in the struggles and the successes, in the night and in the day. So much is taken for granted that we often forget to just be thankful and delight in this wonderful life, this amazing world, of which we’re all a part.
For me, this means embracing everything — the good stuff, and the not-so-good stuff. The stuff that scares me as well as the stuff that excites me. I want to lean more fully into the discomfort of things when I need to, and connect with the deeper meaning of what it means to be alive. That’s what I want to delight in.
One of the things I am finding to be incredibly healing of late is my harp practice. I’ve recently started blogging about my harp studies over here, despite having started on my harp journey in late 2010. There’s a lot to be said about connecting with a musical instrument, feeling the music inside you, and expressing it — regardless of if you’re in tune or not! The sensation of the strings under my fingertips, the resonance of the notes as I play, the hum of the melody through the body of the harp where she leans against my chest and shoulder… It’s a soothing balm, like I’m able to express what my emotions cannot. There’s deep healing here as well as the sheer delight of making music.
Perhaps if you play an instrument, you may be inspired to just go and connect with your own inner music for a while… And if you don’t, why not stick some of your favourite tunes on the stereo, and connect with your joy that way? Or perhaps go and do your favourite hobby for a while. Whatever it is that brings you fully into feeling alive, let it lift you up, and remind you what an honour it is to be a living, breathing creature on this Earth… What a delight.
I’ve not been around for a while, and here’s why: I broke my foot. It was a mis-timed dash across the home office one day, wherein I forgot the precise location of the metal filing cabinet and, thus, collided with it. Cue hospital visits, x-rays, and plaster. While I was resting up, dosed to the gills on strong pain meds which left me with little options other than sleep, I did lots of self-care: warm cups of tea, comfort blankets, Reiki, flower essences. I snuggled with my kitties, with my hubbie. And from friends and family were messages of love and support and get well soon, and bunches of flowers and things to make me smile. I even had a red cast on my foot, because it matched my hair (well, almost).
My broken foot, March 2012
In amongst it all, I got to thinking about how your emotions and your mental state can affect your body, and vice versa. And so I thought about feet, how symbolically they are about rootedness, movement, pathways. Whilst in plaster I ached to be barefoot, to feel grass between my toes again, or to let natural springs cascade water around my ankles. I missed it, but recognised the support and relief the plaster cast brought me. I did a lot of body awareness meditations, trying to feel out the lessons here. The big one was obvious: slow down, you’re doing too much.
Underlying that, though, was a sense of Where am I going? In which direction does my path lie? Where am I rooted?, which is always freaky, no matter how secure you may feel in your spirituality. And also, What do I understand? Where do I go from here?, which was equally as unnerving. There’s been a lot going on — lots of lessons, lots of emotions, lots of steep learning curves and unexpected curve balls. This broken foot was the latest in a line of issues which were forcing me to slow down and listen. But did I?
Truth be told, I didn’t. Oh, I rested as requested by the doctors, but once I was given the all-clear I was back on my feet and trying to catch up again with everything I had missed. And so, my body took another turn: my foot started to hurt again. A lot. And then I was back at the fracture clinic, being fussed over and x-rayed, and then being told that a bone scan was necessary in order to see exactly what was going on.
I came home, sat in meditation. Asked my body, Hey, what’s up?, and got silence in return.
Then the tiredness came: long and deep and unmoving, I started sleeping for as many as twenty hours a day. I’ve had phases like that before, but not as frequent or often as this. Suddenly my precious little energy reserves were even smaller, even less strong. Again I sank into a body awareness meditation, seeking answers — and finding none. Eventually, the doctors gave me another: hypothyroidism, a lazy thyroid gland. Here’s some meds, and you’ll need to be monitored until we get the dose right… Yea, yea. Okay. Just give me the meds. I’m too tired to care.
In the end, I stopped fighting, stopped beating myself up about all the should-do’s and must-do’s and could-have-done’s. I slid under my duvet, closed my eyes and surrendered to sleep, to rest. And how sweet that was — to allow myself that time, that healing sleep, to connect with the depths of myself and glean what wisdom I could. And in that surrendering came answers, quiet and calm but also strong and certain. Go slow. Care for yourself as you do others. Listen more. Connect more. Feel the rhythm.
As soon as I could, I got myself outside, bare feet wobbling on the ground, fingers curled amongst flowers, wind in my hair. Deep breath, deep bow to the Earth Mother, Sky Father. Lying down in the grass, feeling my body thrum with the energy of the planet, of the universe. Connect, connect, connect…
In the thrumming there was a stillness: Yes. Now. A knowing: Being connected is being whole. A peace: You. Me. Us. This.
I breathed. Momma Gaia wove into me with every inhale, every exhale. I felt something spark inside of me, something I’d forgotten for a while. How long? It felt like forever, but in reality it didn’t matter. It is here now, and so am I. And I know where my roots are, and where my path beckons.
Heh. I am amused by this week’s Wishcasting prompt — it ties in so heavily with what I wished for last week. In a lot of ways, what I wished for last week is exactly what I’d wish for this week: joy, compassion, love and peace for all. And yet, now I am sitting here writing this I am drawn to wish for something else, something that we all need for time to time. Comfort.
See, the way I look at it is, all the praying and hoping and loving that is surfacing in the world isn’t going to change the world overnight. Yes, we need all love — it has the power to change the world, after all — but I’d wager we also need some comfort, too. Because, as I say, things are not going to change overnight. There’s still going to be pain, heartbreak, sorrow. There’s still going to be people being killed, raped, tortured, abused, the world over. Some of these terrible things will be done out of hatred, or fear; some may be done in the name of the Divine; some may even be done because others don’t know any better. These facts are not going to go away easily.
And then there will be pain and anguish born from acts of love — such as the grief at the death of a loved one, or the need to make difficult healthcare choices for ourselves or for others, or the agony of a failed love affair. There is illness, and with illness comes pain and fear and doubt. There’s all these circumstances, and much more besides. All of these things mean that we are in a place of discontent, dis-ease — a place where, even if we only admit it deep inside to ourselves, we yearn for someone to come along and wrap us up in a hug, and tell us everything will be all right.
On some level, we all yearn for this comfort. And because of that, regardless of our country or our creed or our gender or our lifestyle choices, we are all the same. And so this week I wish for comfort for the world, whether that’s for the person digging for water in less wealthy countries; or the person sitting in a cubicle at work, trying to cope; or the person holding the hand of a hospitalised loved one… Or the person who’s waking up this morning to find their world forever changed. For you all, and everyone else, I wish comfort.
Whether this comfort comes from the actions of another, or from the smile of a stranger, or the touch of the Divine, I do not know. But all I know is, I wish that it embraces you. I wish that it reaches out and holds you, and gives you that moment of peace and sanctuary and love, even if that moment is fleeting.