Spring is coming.

Nevermind that this morning is the coldest morning we have had all winter. 

I can feel it.  I feel the light returning.  I want to open my arms to it and stretch and wrap my arms around the sunrise that came so early today, cradle it, swim in it. 

There is a light, the color of red gold, that is spilling through my window this morning.  It is perfect and it holds me spellbound.  It is an Alleluia.

There are moments in my life when the light similarly captured me–They are etched in my mind, vivid pictures.  I can’t forget them and indeed sometimes the images jump out of my mind, unbeckoned, and surprise me leaving me struck with wonder.

There was the time I was 3.  I stretched out in the summer sunshine on our lawn and everything seemed to shimmer from the bright light, the grass greener than anything I had ever seen.

Or the day my junior year of college that I was walking home to the dorm.  I stopped and couldn’t move for some 10 minutes so in awe I was at the light of the setting sun play off the architecture.

Or the afternoon, just last October, when I was sitting on a pebble beach beside the Potomac in the Monongahela National Forest and the setting sun turned everything gold and the water seemed to be sprinkled with pixie dust.

Or the glow, warm and embracing, inside the Spanish resturant where I recently gathered with friends, drinking sweet sangria and eating tapas, laughing and telling stories.

These moments are all perfect.  Utterly and completely perfect.

And in them I am awash in great great love. 

May light and love fill your day. 

Max was sitting on the couch this evening playing with my guitar.

“Mom,” he said, “Do you know why I danced so much when I was in your tummy?”  He really did dance.  Everytime that child heard music he got down and boogied.  It was a crazy 9 months being pregnant with that child.

“No babe,” I said trying to pick up the chaotic living room.  “I don’t know–Why did you dance so much?”

“I was in a rock band…you know…before I was born.  I played guitar.”  The guitar was in his lap and he was strummin’ along casually now as though to make his point.  He is one with the guitar.

“Oh…” I said completely charmed with the direction this conversation was taking.  “Were you in a rock band while you were in my tummy or before…”

“No mom, BEFORE…When I was an angel.”

“Oh, I see” I say “In heaven”

“Yeah mom…God set me up.  You know…in the band.  We broke up when we all got sent here to earth.  I am trying to find ’em now so we can rock down here.”

Indeed Max…Indeed.

It was an unusually warm April day.  We were standing in the park.  It was a Saturday but we were working–the way people in Washington, DC do.  But because it was Saturday we could give ourselves a break from the relentless pace and walk around the block.  We stopped in the park and stood about three inches away from each other and talked, the way we had been talking for months, about life and family and justice and my married lover and movies. Suddenly the skies opened up and it started to pour.  I barely heard him over the thunder.  “You know I love you, right?” he said.  “Yes” I said, slipping my hand into his.  The next moment before we kiss stretches infinitely out before us.  Spacious.  Open.  At that moment everything in my life changes.

********

He slipped the key into the lock and it turned.  We couldn’t believe it was ours, this house.  It felt like a palace.  After the studio apartment where he spent almost every night and then the one bedroom basement in Mount Pleasant that we shared, the openess seemed like a metaphor.  Our whole lives lay out before us–full of possibility and hope.  He rolled around the floor and I took pictures.  We dragged in paint cans and ladders along with a suitcase full of dreams and made love on the drop cloths.

********

I was rolled up in a ball–scared, terrified.  I was eight months pregnant and I realized that when I had this baby he might just love it more than me.  I had never been loved so deeply before in my life and for the first time ever I had felt rooted and at home.  I was scared, so scared that it would all start to shift away from me once there was this little person around–this child I so desperately wanted.  I would become second in his eyes.  I would fail as a mother and he would love me less.  The tears started to drip off my chin.  He wrapped his arms around me and promised me it would never come true.  He would always love me.  Always.   And I knew he was right. 

********

The day they placed Max in my arms.  I knew I had it all wrong.   He would never stop loving me.

********

There are endless stretches of no sleep.  There are short words.  There is postpartum depression.  There are chores that don’t get done.  There is frustration.  There is unhappiness that creeps into every corner of the house.  There is a child that consumes both of us and leaves so very little left.  We have nothing to give each other. 

But we try.  We rally and laugh and delight in this child we created together.  We hold hands and share our stories of him.  We find our way back to each others bodies at night.  We tell ourselves that love will get us through, that we are a team.  We make plans and we dream.  We convince ourselves it is going to be OK. 

******** 

But work is hard.  Life is hard.  There is so much falling apart around us we don’t know how to start holding it all up.  When we go out for dinner we are so tired we can do nothing more than stare at each other. 

We love each other madly even though it is beginning to feel that love may not be enough.

********

The day he tells me he is leaving me, everything inside my body goes cold.  I can’t breathe.  Everything stops working and then starts working in reverse.  And then stops again.  The walls that just five years before had seemed so widely spaced are closing in on me.  Our two year old was sound asleep in his room. How did it come to this?

We could figure this out.  We always could figure it out.  I beg him.  Lets figure it out.

********

Nine months later, the air is so heavy in our house I cannot breathe.  “I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how to stay.  I can’t do the hard work.  I can’t figure it out,” he says.  “I can’t believe this is us, falling apart this way.” 

We are sitting three inches apart from one another.  “You know I love you, right?” he says to me as he pulls his hand from mine and gets ready to walk out the door.  “Yes,” I say but I am not sure he hears me.  He kisses me too quickly and in an instant my life has changed again.

******

I have everything I wanted out of this divorce settlement.  There was no fight.  It is sketched out on a napkin at a Lebanese restaurant.  We promise we would be our best for each other, for him–the only one each of us truly knew how to love at this moment.  After years of disappointing each other so deeply I wonder if this was yet another empty promise.  I try to so hard to forgive–to forgive him, to forgive myself, to forgive love for not  being enough.

********

I need to bring my marriage certificate to court on Friday.  I finally bring myself to dig it out of my files.  Sometime last year I had moved it from M for marriage to D for divorce.  I pull out the file.  There is only one certified copy left.  I need a certified copy for the court.  I make a mental note to write the County and request another for my file.  And then it dawns on me that this is the last time I will never need a certified copy of this document ever again.  I don’t need to write the County.  I put my head in my hands and the reality of the last 4 years hits me like a truck.

********

I move in and out of my day.  I am so blessed.  My life is a good one.  I have beautiful friends, I have not been without love for one day in this whole journey–not one.  I laugh every day now–genuine hearty spontaneous belly laughs.  I wrap my arms around my dearest girlfriends–soul sisters who understand my heart and giggle with me until 3am.  My life is messy but I am bowled over by the stark beauty of it.  I am better for this journey I have taken.  I am wiser and slower and kinder and gentler.  I know that I would not have this–this community, this love of life, this appreciation for slowness, this knowledge of the depths of my heart had he stayed and pretended, but I can’t help but say to anyone who will listen, “I don’t recommend divorce.  I say stay.  Stay. Stay.”

******** 

I sit and play my guitar but my fingers don’t want to work on this right now.  They want to twine themselves in the hands of someone I once thought I would never live without.  I stop and don’t even notice that I have.  “You’ve stopped” my friend says.  “Sorry” I say and I mumble something about how I was frustrated with myself.  “I want to start again”.  The metaphor hits me like a ton of bricks.  I want to start again.  Yes–I want to go back to the moment in April when the air hung hot and the thunder clap almost drowned him out.  Before I knew how it would all turn out.  I want to rewind the movie and play the beginning over and over again.

Despite the thousands of ways he has found to disappoint me, I still love him.  

******** 

I can’t live with him anymore.  I don’t want to. 

I remember this fact and look at my friend.  I look at the guitar in my lap.  I think about the richness of my life, about the gorgeous details in this tapestry that is my life.   It all turned out exactly as it should have.  I have everything I need. 

So I pick the guitar back up.   I apologize for my bad mood and rotten attitude.  For the somewhat wasted lesson.

My friend launches into a spiel about how its the middle of the second period and there is another period and a half to go and you might be getting your ass kicked but you still have to put your head down and tough it out and play and hope you learn something for the next game.  I want to kick him out so I can have a good cry but I know that he, with his icehockey metaphors, is right.  Wait for the final buzzer I tell myself.  I put my head down and I play so soft thunder would drown it out.

******

He plays Tom Waits.  And then he plays another song–a song I believe I have known since before I was born.  He knows I love it and he wants to cheer me up and he does– a little.  I hug him–it is time for him to go.  I tell him as he packs up that Friday is the day.  “I know” he says.  “Its hard”.  There is nothing more to say than that–and I silently thank him for not trying to say more.

********

I sit in the dark and wrap my arms around myself.    I breathe in and out the truth–the honest truth.  I love my life, with its ups and its downs.  I love the strength I have discovered in myself.  I love my friends, my urban family and the rhythm of this community we have created with shared meals and Eric’s homemade key lime pie and Jackie on my cell phone and Stephen in my office making fun of me.  I love Barbara with her laughter and Jen with her schemes and Jeff with his music and Cathy with her  cup of coffee and the kids begging me to stay for dinner or take them to icecream.  I love my housemate with her fancy salads.  I love my job, even when I have to fight with my colleagues.   I love raising Max more than I have loved anything else in the world.   The truth is I am giving birth to a life that I love more than anything I have ever loved and I couldn’t do it without losing my marriage.

******** 

And I know, honestly, that I would walk this path over and over just again to sit here in this moment right now.  The moon is full and I am incredibly happy even as I am sad.

********

“You know I love you, right?” I whisper to noone in particular–to the moon, to my sleeping son–to myself.  I feel the words vibrate around the room before they finally settles on the couch next to me and slip between my fingers.  The moment both stands still and passes quickly.  And I tumble on, head over heels in love with whatever will come next.

Last night I went to sleep very late and dreamt of nothing but red paint, every color red–deep maroons, shameless scarlets and luscious shades of pinks in oils and acrylics and watercolors.  I woke knowing my dream was about love.  And creating.

I have been in a deep inner place.  I have been hibernating and hiding and resting.  I have been sitting on the sidelines alot, watching with joy and interest but a bit reluctant to just jump on in. 

But when I woke today the sun was shining and the air felt as though a Caribbean breeze had just blown through.  AWAKEN! it seemed to shout at me in a voice both compassionate and bossy.

It seemed like the only thing to do was to create. 

My housemate and I plotted.  We wanted to do something kind– guerilla style.  What would it take, we wondered to make mandazi–Rwandan style donuts–for the entire neighborhood?  What would happen if we walked through this day, just dropping off dozens of hot, steaming fried sweet breads at house after house?  How would it change the week for these people?  Would people be different in their jobs, their families and their lives for having been brought little sweets tied up in bows?  For some of them it would be nothing but a nice community touch but for others–perhaps it would be the reminder that they needed that they weren’t just somebody who had bills to pay or somebody who had problems to solve but they were somebody loved. 

For nothing says you are loved like flour and sugar and vanilla and butter.

We made a list of the people who we thought had touched our hearts in one way or another.  We broke out the fanciest vanilla, used the finest of our sugars and mixed and cut and fried and wrapped the donuts by the dozen in craft paper.  We made homemade tags for each family with a note just for them and piled the packages high in baskets and we set out.

Delivery was swift but gratifying–many families were not home.  We left their packages like little babies in baskets on the front doorstep, a note from us explaining the package.  We giggled the whole way around wondering what they would think when they saw the package of sweet fried breads and carried it into their home.  The families that were home were touched, surprised, grateful…and yes a few were quite perplexed.   

I feel I have retreated so far inside myself that I am starting to turn back outward–that I have flipped myself inside out.  I feel I am a bit more comfortable in my skin for having loaded up my basket and then emptied it out.  I found myself with more patience for myself.  I found myself able to dive deep into the day instead of hanging on the margins feeling wounded and a bit scared.

I feel I have spent my day painting my world with the brush of deep red love.  And I have discovered that I too, am somebody loved.

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Once upon a time, there was nothing but love.

I start here and am not able to go beyond it…those words.  That vision.  That time when love flowed in between all the stones, and when love held the leaves on the trees.

I have found myself wondering what happened to that time, that place.  As I cry with the mothers in Illinois, as I pray for children who carry guns, who go hungry, who feel they were wronged some how, as I grieve for those young and old,  who hurt in their hearts and don’t know how to live with that hurt except to wound another, as I light a candle this evening and rage against ethnic violence, hate crimes, hurt crimes and just plain crime, I yearn to say these words.

Once upon a time there was love.  And it was enough.  It was enough for all time. 

1.  Wake up without an alarm.  Sleep until you are ready to wake up.  Be really amazed that you are not horribly late.

2.  Have a long long hot shower.  Take all your vitamins.

3.  Kiss 6 year old boy a whole lot and run around and have a tickle fight.  Eat a Rice Krispie treat along with the healthy breakfast. 

4.  Get the 6 year old out the door without once saying “Hurry up we are late” (even though you are).  When he asks if we are late say, “maybe…doesn’t matter today.”  Smile.

5.   Drive to work with this song on repeat.  Sing it at the top of lungs and dance at every damn stop light.  Forget you have a meeting and so therefor don’t stress about the traffic.

6.  Get a parking space in the garage (even though it is full) because the parking guys are true friends.

7.  Walk into the fancy schmancy Washington job and hug all your co-workers because its Monday and you REALLY are glad to see them and feel blessed to have them as your comrades.

8.  Learn about meeting and be happy because you are not even late.  Sit on the couch before the meeting starts with girlfriends and bask in the morning sun.  Make a cup of chai tea to take to meeting.

9.  Have very silly email exchange with soul sister halfway across the world.

10.  Go to yoga and actually stay focused on your breathing.

11.  Drive home blasting same song over and over again.  Dance at all the stoplights again.

12.  Come home and put Ipod on speaker and invite stunningly beautiful son and slightly baffled (almost) ex-husband to dance to same said song.  Over and over again.  Until everyone is dizzy and falls down laughing .

13.  Skip the TV.

14. Make plans with a new friend to go see music this week.

15.  Cuddle in bed with boy and cat and three down comforters and knitting and a good book.

16.  Post on blog and get to bed before midnight.

17.  Wake up and plan to repeat for as many days as necessary.

Don’t push so hard against the world
You can’t do it all alone
and if you could
would you really want to?
Even though you’re a big strong girl
come on, come on
lay it down
the best made plans
come on, come on
lay it down
are your open hands…
-Deb Talan, “Big Strong Girl”

Last week, my trusty blue Mazda spent a few days at Murray’s AutoClinic, recovering from 3 years of neglect.  Juan had always been the one to take care of my car–to change the oil, take her in for those regular maintenance check-ups.  When he left it was so much just to manage the parenting, the bills, the house all by myself.  I just never had a moment to think about the car.  I was coming home late one night last week and she finally said NO MORE.  She stopped in the middle of a busy road, oil leaking at a rapid rate.  It was Juan who came out to meet me that night, armed with oil.  He got her started again,  and the next day she was in the loving arms of Steve and the rest of my angels at Murray’s.  It took them days to get her right again.  Not only did the oil leak need to be fixed but there was so much else to repair, so many hidden hurts.

I picked her up on Friday and immediately checked myself into what my dear friend Jen Lemen calls at the Soul Repair garage.  See I too am suffering from neglect.  And while I am proud to say I hadn’t broken down completely I was pretty darn close.    I guess I am not so good at self maintenance either.

I promised myself this weekend we would take it easy.  That Max and I would giggle freely and watch movies.  That I would take my beloved boots to have the heels fixed (boy am I hard on my shoes), that I would sit quietly and not talk if I didn’t want to.  That I would sleep as long as I wanted, and clean as much as I felt I could, and that if the laundry didn’t get done it would be OK.  I made a mix of music for my brave friend Jenni B — all songs recommended by those dear readers at Jen Lemen’s blog and each song lifted me up a bit, reminded me of the tremendous love in the world. 

This afternoon, I packed up my paints and went to Jackie’s house.  While the kids played and Jackie and Eric went about their weekend chores I sat at their kitchen table and worked on postcards for a Love-themed  postcard exchange.  I didn’t talk much but just sat and moved paint around and drank coffee and yawned.   The yawns reminded me to breathe more and so I did.

After hours spent in near silence at Jackie’s, Max and I left ready for adventure.  We went to the grocery store where Max ran ahead, using his new found reading skills to fill our basket himself.  There was nothing more lovely than seeing him bounding up the aisle dragging that big ol’ bag of catfood by himself. And then, he took my camera out of my purse and took photos of the store, decorated for Valentines Day, looking magical and beautiful in his eyes.

I am still feeling rough around the edges.  I am grieving over the latest news about my dear friend’s health.  With my divorce hearing looming I am grieving again over the loss of my marriage. 

There is much to be joyful about too.  Max has sent me love notes all weekend.  We have giggled and laughed and cuddled more these last few days than we have in weeks.  I want to just grab myself by the shoulders and shake myself and tell myself to “Get it together girl”.  But somehow the sadness is just wearing me out.  Holding it together all the time, proving to everyone how strong I am, is exhausting, even when there is so much good around to bolster me. 

Sometimes I wish I could just have a small breakdown so I could slip away, really and truly to the Soul Repair Garage.  So I could retreat into silence and paint and watch silly movies and eat popcorn and take pictures of blown up hearts at the Giant for days on end–not just for a weekend.  So I could give myself permission to stop being a big strong girl and just be.

But as my little Mazda will attest, we shouldn’t wait for the breakdown to check ourselves in.  I am glad I found the place to rest this weekend.  But I am staying here in the soul repair garage a bit longer.  I will make myself tea and be quieter than usual.  I may just allow myself some tears in the most unlikely of places.  I will breathe and breathe in and out and then I will emerge again.

This song, this sweet little video of it, captures the need to all give ourselves this resting place every once in awhile and to not feel bad about it.  To check ourselves into the soul repair garage long before we find ourselves broken down on a busy road with oily tears leaking like mad.

Hold out for the moon
Don’t expect connection anytime soon
Feel the light caress your fingertips,
You have just begun
The word has only left your lips
Maybe in time you will find your arms are wrapped around the sun

-Deb Talan, “Big Strong Girl”

When the winter blues get me down, there is nothing like live music to get me moving again.  Some music is just joyful.  Other music is fun.  Some is masterly.  And some is downright transcendental.

Thursday night I dragged my rear end out of the house for a night with some girlfriends to go hear Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys at Chick Hall’s Surf Club.  Chick’s is one of those authentic and wonderful places:  A real live roadhouse set next to a tire shop on a road to nowhere.  The crowd at Chick’s is not the shiny, new and sparkly crowd.  They are wrinkled and dented and a bit rough around the edges.  They dance like there is no tomorrow.  Feeling a bit beat up myself lately, it was exactly where I needed to be.  These are my people.

If you EVER get the chance to see this band live, you must.  The energy coming off the stage is raw and beautiful and gritty and real.  Rosie’s voice so luscious,  I wanted to dive into it.  Her sound is part blues, part zydeco, part funk but all completely and utterly sensual. 

I searched for a video that would capture the experience but not one could.  Its a live thing, y’all you just got to trust me on it.  But here is a little taste.

I have a dear friend named Jenni.  She is just like me in many ways.  We both drive slightly beat up ’97 metallic blue Mazdas.  We both have sweet 6 year old sons that were born within just 48 hours of each other.  We are also both single moms.  We both love art and writing, and on many subjects of the heart we can finish each others sentences.  Our souls vibrate on the same frequency.  

In other ways we are different.  She lives on the other side of the world in Australia.  She is blond and I am not.  She is into scrapping, me… I’m more of a knitter. 

Oh…and she has stage 4 colon cancer.

Even though we have never met face to face, she has fast become a dear friend.  We talk almost every day via email.  Chatty gossipy emails, deep philosophical emails.  We talk about being single moms.  We talk about hope.  We talk about men, music and books.  Over time she has come to learn the secrets of my heart.  She is able to see right through my denials and tell me exactly what is going on even when I don’t want to admit it.  She is able to tell me how it is and she is always spot on.  She is able to raise the hard questions–the ones that get to the heart of the matter.  She gets me.  She is the real deal, this one.

The other day I got an email from her.  It was entitled “What would you do?”  She is so brave, my friend.  She is trying to make sense of some bad news after three delicious months of being cancer free.  She is reassessing concepts like time.

When Jenni asks me a question, no matter how hard it might be I answer it.  This time her question was terrible and beautiful and deep.  To paraphrase it…

What would you do if you knew you only had 12 months left?   

So, because I love her dearly,  after I put Max to sleep, I sat at the computer with a heavy heart and began to write.  Some 45 minutes later, with tears streaming down my face I hit the send button. 

Much to my surprise however, the tears, were not only tears of grief for her struggle.  They were also tears of joy and of relief.  Because in answering Jen’s email, I realized I had written the roadmap for getting out of my own petulant and silly winter funk.  

The last few years have been punctuated by too many sudden deaths.  A colleague’s husband had a massive heart attack and died unexpectedly at a very young age.  A guy I knew in high school took his daughter to the bus stop, got stung by a bee and never made it home for his EpiPen.  A college classmate was in the World Trade Center when the plane’s hit.   Another friend walked out into a street and was struck by a car and died instantly.

Each time I heard this news I stood shocked–baffled.  They were so young, so healthy, so vibrant!  Death cannot be so cruel–can it?  Each time the news rattled me to the bone.  And each time I breathed in a lesson that I promptly forgot because it was convenient to do so. 

We don’t get to decide when we die.  Just because I am (relatively) young, just because I am currently healthy, just because life may seem footloose and fancy free, does not mean that I can count on tomorrow or the next day or the next year. 

Time is not something any of us can count on. 

Not Jenni and those who are struggling with incurable cancer, but not me either.  In this way, maybe my friend and I are not so different afterall.

How often these last few months, have I caught myself feeling stuck and grumpy.  Banging around with a bad attitude waiting for something better to come along. 

Telling myself that it can all wait until the next day, tomorrow, when I feel better, when I am more on top of it.  Tomorrow I will forgive myself.  Tomorrow I will be more patient with Max.  Tomorrow I will laugh.  I will do it differently next time, but this time I will just stay stuck in my bad habit.  Next time I will tell them kindly how I feel but this time I will just eat it.  Next time I will listen more closely or pay attention or stay focused.  No wonder I have been feeling a bit…empty.  Too many days, hours or minutes I have been putting off my lovely life until a better time.   

Jenni and I made a solemn promise that night.  We declared that we would make our lists for what we would do if we knew we had only one good year and that we would live that way, every day for as many years as we had left.  That together we would each of us live fully and completely in the hope that it would heal pieces of our hearts and bodies that were broken.  At very least it would ensure that whether we had 6 breaths, 6 months or 6o years left we would leave this earth with no regrets.  That our lives, however long or short, would be full.

Jen recently posted on her blog that she wants to know how we would live if we knew–knew we had only one good year.  I want to whisper part of mine here too-to declare it openly.  If you have a moment, go over to her blog and leave her some of your ideas too.  And then join us in our quest to live them…

I would make time each week to write love letters to my son.  I would keep a journal for him of my favorite memories and I would tell him how I felt about him, even when he got in trouble or pushed my buttons, even when I seemed furious and disappointed.  I would write down our family stories for him to read later.  I would tell him about how I loved his dad the minute I met him and that I never stopped loving him, even though we divorced.  I would tell him about my crazy youth so that one day he could find humor and solace when his life took him by surprise.

I would make a list of all the crazy things I have always wanted to do and then find time to do them.  When appropriate, I would make Max my conspirator.  I would tell him that it has always been my dream to do this and we aren’t going to wait to make dreams come true.

I would spend as much time with Max as I could without taking away from the relationships he needs to build with other people -the relationships that will help him live without me.  I would facilitate more time with his dad, and help him build strong loving relationships with other adults and children who are kind to him.  I would help him feel loved and confident not only with me but in the world at large.  I would teach him to build community and I would teach him to be alone.

I would rest and take time for myself.  I would be with myself more. I would be quiet and still.

I would tell everyone I love that I love them, even if it scares me, even if they don’t love me too.  And I would find a way to show them that these words are not just words.  I would listen to them–really listen and think before I spoke. 

I would walk and dance and move my body every chance I got.

I would forgive myself over and over again for not living up to my own expectations.

I would eat healthy foods, and drink lots of water and do yoga and take long hot baths in candle light.    I would do this even though it takes time.  I would tell myself I am worth it.

I would forgive myself when I go to bed in a space of grouchiness or sadness.  I would allow all feelings to wash over me, gratitude, anger, joy, fear–all of them without judgement.  I wouldn’t beat myself up for not feeling grateful every damn second of the day.

I would buy myself a punching bag or a stock of cheap plates so that I could go at it when angry instead of stuffing it down like a good girl.  And then, when I was done punching or throwing I would laugh and laugh and laugh, maybe cry and then laugh again until my sides ached.

I would play my guitar loudly and sing at the top of my lungs even though I play in a way that can only be described as “flawed but authentic”.  And I would play in front of people and not apologize.

I would write and write and write for the joy of it, for myself, for the love of words and stories.  I would stop worrying about whether anyone read it or liked it or cared.

I would make these things, not the rest of the “stuff” my measuring stick.  I would give up worrying about position or role or whatever. 

I would breathe and pay attention and catch myself living over and over again.

This evening, after settling Max in with a pizza, a movie, I headed out to my friend Joseph’s new condo in the city. 

Tucked into an “up-and-coming” neighborhood in-transition it is the apartment I always dreamed I would have back in my childhood when I imagined my life as an adult.  High ceilings, huge windows with views of the urban landscape, beautiful art on the wall.  There was no clutter, no toys to trip over, no pile of shoes at the door.   A fireplace in the kitchen, and perfectly placed candles set the mood of peace and calm.  It was, by far, the most chic home I have entered in years–maybe ever.

A small grouping of us were gathered in Joseph’s new home to bless it–bless it in the tradition of his family.  His father, an Eastern Orthodox priest, had flown up from Little Rock where he runs social justice programs for the church, to perform the ritual.

The atmopshere was heavy with incense and chanting in ancient languages that felt both strange and familiar.  As we stood together around the room, the apartment shifted from chic to sanctified, rarified, sacred space.

Afterward, as we gathered in the kitchen, Joseph and I talked about the ritual and about faith.  A house blessing, we agreed, was not only about welcoming the Divine into the home, but about inviting the Divine to take residence within ourselves, that our real home–the place we are called back to over and over again is in our heart.  All faiths, if we get can drill down to the core of them, are about finding our  way back home to our hearts, are about seeking the God within us.

Lately I have had so many dreams about my home. 

The other night, I dreamt that my yard was falling away.  Big holes had been dug in my yard by someone attempting to do something good but now they were huge, gaping and ugly.  And worse still the holes were expanding, growing bigger.  Then, a horrible rain began to fall.  The rain filled up the holes and my house was floating and adrift.  And I was undone by it. 

Yes, that was me, feeling the earth fall away, feeling isolated and cranky in my winter blues.  An island.  In my dream a dear friend came and encouraged me to build a bridge, to build a boat.  To not worry about the rain or the holes but instead to focus on connecting, on crossing the water, on building my own solid ground beneath my feet.  My heart knew what I needed to do to take refuge from the January storms. 

Home, the physical one where our bodies dwell–and the fleshy one where our spirits dwell, is the most sacred of spaces.  It is the place where all the trappings fall away and we are nothing but ourselves–complete, enough, simple.  Home is the sacred space where (as Joseph Campbell would say), “We find ourselves again and again”.

After a glass of wine and chatting the ear off of Joseph’s lovely father, I drove home and happily opened the door to my very unchic cluttered house.  I tripped over shoes and toys and found my boy sleeping on the couch like and angel.  I breathed in the sweet musky sent of him and held him in my arms.  I said an Alleluia as I found myself in the sacred act of carrying him to bed, of kicking off my shoes and brushing my teeth.  Amen–I said.  I am home.