A voice in the darkness

I have been thinking for some time “I must write my blog, I must write my blog, I WANT to write my blog!”  And so, last Thursday, at long, long last, I sat down to do just that.

And you know what?  NOT.  A. THING.  N O T H I N G.

I started writing a few different pieces, dragging the words out of myself and then deleting them all.  My mind was blank.  I literally had nothing to say.  I am not the greatest of thinkers or orators at the best of times – this I know – and yet, and YET..!  The emptiness and loneliness I felt in that moment was really painful.

Since we returned from Canada at the start of December last year, my mind has been in varying states of turmoil.  In many ways, I’d say (and have done, numerous times) that almost every aspect of our lives is in question.  Where are we going to live?  How are we going to earn money?  How are we going to continue educating our children?  How do we fit into the world?  Where is our place?

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a fine line between non-attachment, in the Buddhist sense – essentially practicing release from desire and therefore suffering – and disconnection.  Because that is what I have been feeling since our return – disconnected.  From everything, and (almost) everyone, myself included.  What I have come to realise is this: people like to have answers for things!  Where ARE you going to live?  How ARE you going to earn money? Etc..  And when I can’t answer these questions, not only can it make the person I’m talking to feel really uncomfortable (does it make them call into question their own life choices?), it can also throw me into a state of uncertainty and anxiety.  I can go from experiencing the openness in our lives as liberating, full of potential, exciting even, to being full of worries and concerns about all those limitless unknowns.  And so I feel myself detaching and going into myself more.  As if I were curling in and around my invisible core, to keep it protected somehow.

At times like these, I know I need to remember my Medicine Card for this year – Black Panther – and the words of wisdom that accompany its medicine of “Embracing the Unknown”.  And I take to heart, too, these words by Rilke, shared by Pip Bondy at a Way of Council workshop I attended this past weekend:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

These words came to me like a soothing balm, at a time when I was feeling particularly small, particularly vulnerable and particularly voiceless.  I was surprising even myself with the level of aloneness that I could experience, surrounded as I was by strong, safe, solid, open, loving and generous hearts.

These words allowed me, too, to open my own aching heart.  To pour forth what I have been keeping from view for so long.  To ride the waves of shame and fear that threatened to swallow me up, to raise my head and speak directly from my heart into the hearts of others there, waiting patiently and with compassion to witness me and my story.

This is profound work.  And it is painful.  And, I know I will go back time and again into these sacred circles to open myself up – not only because I know of the deep healing that resides in this space, but also because I know this is where I remember how to connect. With myself, yes of course; also, crucially, with others, and with Spirit too.  Way of Council is often described as a place where people find ‘home’.  I know what that means, without really being able to explain it.  It is like a resting place, where soul can settle, and spirit can breathe out.  A place to come back to in those moments of darkness that always return,  knocking us off our feet and taking away our breath.

In our circle, I heard myself speak and I witnessed myself being heard.  And I was welcome.  It brought home to me that when we really, truly, deeply, honestly, openly speak from our hearts, and we really, truly, deeply, honestly, openly hear from our hearts, profound things happen.  We are all capable of this.  All we need to do is listen.  Our voice is always there, and we always have something to say.

Medicine_wheel

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Home is where the heart is


Crochet_heart

My friend made this crochet heart for me as a farewell gift when we set off on our travels earlier this year.  Little could she possibly know how much it has played an intrinsic part in my journey across oceans, through forests, round and around and back, always, to myself.  (Or maybe she did.  She’s quite clever.)

Home is where the heart is.

This, I know.  I really do.

And yet…

…as I start my long and winding journey back to my motherland after a not insignificant period of time away, I find myself asking where ‘home’ is for me now.

I’ve come to recognise many things about both myself and the nature of existence these past few months. Some bright days, much of this can feel quite positive! Other mornings, I can wake up and struggle to find much good about myself and I long for sleep to return me to the land of dreams where my living, breathing ego holds no power. Sadly, sleep evades me far more often than I’d like, and so, on these days, I remind myself that nothing is permanent; that this feeling, too, will pass.  And it does, always. Eventually.

One thing I have realised is this: having lived in someone else’s house for the majority of our time away, and then stayed in numerous other homes since we left Cape Breton, I realise how important living in a space that not only speaks to me, but speaks of me, is to my general sense of wellbeing.  I see that so much of my heart takes comfort in the living space around it – being surrounded by colours, shapes and materials that I can connect with becomes quite crucial to my state of mental health.

I love making home. I love creating beautiful space. And, me being me, I also often question whether this is a good use of my time – should I put so much effort into what things look like?  I remember school reports that said “100% for presentation, content could be better.”  Both a compliment and critique, then.  And, most likely, knowing how uninspiring I found the majority of my educational years, fair enough. I recognise that perhaps I do try to put a lot of effort into how things look – I guess a question I’ve recently found myself asking is: “Do I do this at the expense of developing a depth of understanding behind the presentation?” Am I thinking too much about the ‘home’ and not enough about the ‘heart’?  Perhaps.

I have friends who make truly heart-warmingly, soul-nourishingly beautiful homes. Homes that make me feel immediately welcome, loved, happy and inspired.  What I now realise, no, what I now know, is that wherever I may go from here, whatever land or place I may seek to call ‘home’ next, I, too, want to create a space where other people enter and feel welcome, loved, happy and inspired.  Of course I know that all this has more to do with the heart behind it than the home itself, and believe me, I’m working on that.

What I would MOST love to do in the world is to make our own home from scratch. To create something with our very own hands that is truly unique to us, that speaks of us and who we are in every board that is laid, every beam that is raised.  In many ways, it feels an essential part of being human to me – to raise our own dwelling. To find our own place on the land and build our home. On our journey these past months we have met so many people who have done or are doing this very thing, and there is something about it that feels just so right. To mould ourselves into the very place in which we reside, to create somewhere that allows parts of ourselves that are not always easy to find words for to come into being.  Surely, this is what we, as human beings, have always done?  Just because we have now created a world around us where it is both easier and cheaper not to do so, does not nor should not diminish that instinctual desire.

I know my heart sings when I am in spaces that inspire me.  And, I know how affected I am by being in environments that do not speak to me. Yes, yes, there’s that voice inside me that says “It shouldn’t matter where you are, your heart is always the same”, but actually, I disagree.  And I know I am not alone in this. We each seek out people and places that call to our souls, whether we are aware of it or not.  Some of us can not silence the condemning, critical, negative voices in our heads unless we stand, sit, sleep in places of (wild) beauty.  Our own very small island gets more full by the day, it seems. And yet, still I believe we can carve out our own tiny pieces of beauty and serenity in the places where we choose to call home.

So, my main realisation is this: a home is nothing without a heart.  And a happy, loving, inspired and open heart can created a happy, loving, inspired and open home.

This, I know.