There are moments when I feel the veil lifted–the veil that separates my regular rushing around, busy, workaday life and the magical spirit filled life I should be living, could be living, AM living if only I would pause and notice it. There are these moments when as though I have woken from a dream, where I feel so completely connected to the Divine–made real and present here in my ordinary life. They are the moments when I sit up and pay attention and feel the sun on my skin or the rain drip down my nose and I see the miraculous unfolding right before my eyes.
I am not talking about the moments where I see a perfect sunset, or the moments when my child looks deep into my eyes and tells me he loves me–those moments are magical indeed but I am talking about something deeper, stranger. I am talking about those spooky, beautiful deja vu moments where I realize that something tremendously powerful has just happened. They are the moments when coincidences seem so uncanny that there is no way to explain what has happened other than pure magic, divine intervention, a call from the universe. When these things happen I often dare not speak about them, for fear that even putting words to the experience changes, becomes rational, logical and somehow–less powerful.
One of the things I loved about Mexico, about the lives my in-laws lived was how they lived in such complete faith, that the spirit world seemed so completely integrated into their day to day world. They did not question or even think twice about clairvoyant dreams, uncanny coincidences or unspoken connections between people, odd meeting of long lost friends, strange happenings that place two strangers in exactly the same space where they can only look at each other and whisper, “me too”. They don’t question. It was God, it was faith, it was magic and it was ordinary, part of life and real…as real as grinding corn or picking mangos or chopping jalepenos.
Odette lives in this realm and I find myself often in awe of her. Her complete faith allows her to tap into some unknown wisdom, a wisdom which allows her to jump feet first into the river of life and ride the rapids with a smile plastered all over her face. One day, when it became clear that her girls might possibly come to live with her, I asked in half a panic–how will we afford to bring them here? She laughed. “Oh Jeff will play music for me and people will pay money to hear his angel voice.” We giggled with glee over out little fantasy thinking about how our friend would throw a benefit concert for her–like FarmAid but better. Imagine my shock when later that week, Jeff sat me down and spelled out his plan to do just that. “Jeff…” I murmured over and over again “…we were just talking about that…How did you know?” “I didn’t” he said looking at me quizzically “I just thought of it…”
Earlier this week I sat on a bench outside the school and listened as a friend told me stories so magical I wanted to weep. Stories of deep real knowing–a knowledge that seems to only be tapped from a place of complete stillness and sense of faith, so real, so tangible…and still so unknowable to me. I could not shake the stories all day and have been wondering how do I pierce the veil and live in the place where it doesn’t exist? How do I embrace that place of deep knowing too? How can I experience that magic and welcome it into my life?
I live in a place where the veil is not lifted but it is very thin. Everyday I see the shadows of a magical world playing out. I know that magic is possible, and the tremendous bounty of the universe could open up and I can almost touch it but mostly I am separate still, most of the time gazing through gauzy clouds, wondering…Wondering how to lift the veil and jump into the river of life and be swept away by the universe feet first to the magical place my heart is meant to be.
Yesterday morning I threw runes. I like the feel of the stones in my hands and use them not for predictive purposes but as a tool to help me tap into what is going on in my heart. Its been awhile since I played with them, used them in my meditation and my journaling. The stones scolded me. I am not paying attention to my intuition they said. And as I reflected, I know that it is true. And it hit me.
The veil I long to part, that I long to lift, it is created from whispy fibers of self-doubt, cobwebs of fear. Apparently, unmovable faith starts with faith in oneself and a willingness to see–really see–not what I want to see but what is.
I used to the think of the veil as something that separates an unreal, magical fantastical world with my regular boring real old life. Now I am coming to believe that maybe, just maybe I am living on the unreal side of the veil. On this side I yearn to be brave, strong, wise–I am seeking love, trying to find my way. On this side I dismiss unkind, hateful and cruel people as other. On this side I see the fufillment of my desires as the ultimate good. And in all these ways I am living a lie.
Maybe all I need to lift the veil, touch the Divine, live magically is to recognize the truth. I am already strong, couragous and wise. I don’t need to find love I am surrounded by it, swim in it–it is all around me. I know the way deep in my heart–I have known it since I was born. Those people who I dismiss as other, well they are hurting just like me, just like all of us. And my desires are not good (or for that matter bad) but they are not real.
Ironically, I think, the thing that keeps me from living a magical, spirit filled, wonderous life is refusal to see reality–exactly as it is. Wrapping my head around that one is making me a bit drunk and wobbly but I know in my heart that it is true.
The key to welcome more spirit into my life is just to open my eyes to what is happening. Now. To see life exactly as it is, not as I hope it, not as I want it to be, not as I tell myself it is. A few months ago Karen Maezen Miller whispered this comment on my blog “reality is magic already”. This morning, the power of her words hit me like a truck.
I am standing at the place where the veil between the worlds is so very thin. I reach deep into my heart, take a deep breath and open my eyes. That is all it takes. I have been here all along.
Tomorrow marks the start of the new school year. All across our county, yellow school busses will fill the streets and children will fill the halls and the summer will officially end.
Last year, on this night before the new year launched, I sat out on my steps full of regret. I didn’t want to let the summer go. Summer had treated me so kindly and it had felt so glorious to be in that sunny place. The new school year meant a return to routine that was burdensome and hectic, shortened days, busy schedules. The longer nights and cooler days spoke to me of time inside, isolation, quiet and I was not ready for any of it–not the routine, not the hard work, not the journey into myself.
But today I feel differently. I am excited and ready for the turn of the seasons.
This evening at 6pm I had a choice to make. Stay at the office and finish my phone calls to the west coast and make a dent in the ever lengthening to-do list or go to yoga. Torn, I asked myself the question I ask myself when guilt won’t let me roll out my mat and leave my desk behind. I asked myself the question, “Which will bring you into balance?” Tonight, though, honestly, the answer surprised me.
Hungover from a glorious vacation, chlorinated hazy days at the pool and long stretches of spontaneous parties and dinners with friends I have been feeling disconnected from work. I have begun to feel a bit undone by the leisure of summer. A power hour at work in the quiet with no interruptions felt almost decadent. And so tonight my yoga was practiced in an office –choosing to hunker down with my to-do lists and phone calls not out of guilt, but out of the joy of feeling as though I too, was back to school. And with hard work I slipped into a feeling of rightness.
As the summer season ends and the school season starts I find myself welcoming the routines and schedules and “buckle down” mentality that I always relished as a school girl, the seriousness and sense of purpose that comes from reembracing the ordinary stuff of life: stuff like making lunches and checking homework, signing permission slips and balancing the inevitably conflicting commitments. I am ready for the return to rituals and regularity. Everything has its time and I am ready to embrace this period.
I am not afraid of the internal journey that autumn seems to announce. Last year I feared the longer quiet school nights that spoke of family time. I was fearful that it would highlight what I didn’t have. I was afraid of how I would feel without the busy buzzy distraction of summertime fun. But for all my fear, for all I did to hold onto the summertime, autumn came nevertheless, bringing with it both predictable feelings and surprising revelations. Autumn and winter were everything I feared and at the same time everything I didn’t think they would be. They brought great joy, interesting lessons and wonderful connections as well as opportunities for me to sit with my ugly fears and thoughts and move past and through them.
At the beginning of this summer season visions of perfect sunkissed days floating through my head. I imagined it as paradise and held all sorts of high expectations for the three months of endless sunshine. My summer was idyllic and it was also unspeakably difficult. I faced huge fears I never anticipated having to face even in the deepest darkest days of winter. But more importantly I came out on the other side in a place of contentment and strength I also never could have dreamed I would know.
My summer’s lesson, indeed the lesson of the past year was that nothing is simply one thing. Nothing is really good or bad but always something marvelously mixed up. It all is at its best and worst, complex, difficult, miraculous and beautiful.
So I stand here–at the doorway to a new season newly clothed with an understanding that I move through it all anway–just as summer gives way to fall and the icy days of winter inevitably turn into the warm, long days of June, the challenging gives way to the joyful which gives way to the peaceful which gives was to the crisis. Transition, change, a new moment is just a breath away. It is indeed the only thing we can count on.
Tomorrow marks a transition, a change in seasons, a movement from one place to another. But it does not, cannot predict whether the next few months will be good, bad or ugly. They will just be, as I am. And I will stand ready to embrace them with the gifts and challenges that they offer.
I stand at the doorway welcoming schedules, routine and regularity and all the chaos and surprises that the new season will bring. Welcoming a new phase and letting the old one pass.
When I was just 6 or 7, we would spend long frozen days during winter school breaks on
Now I am here again with my dear cousins and as dusk becomes inky night we are dancing with flashlights as mics, belting out the words to other 70s tunes. We are rising before the sun to all of us float our kayaks out to the middle of the lake to watch the sun rise. We are eating each other’s food and scolding each other’s children and sitting silently in the sun, our eyes on a book, relishing being simply there together.
From the minute the sun rises they are off, catching frogs and minnows, playing imaginary games, and board games, and hide and seek, fishing and sneaking treats when they think we aren’t looking.
Each night, Max whispers the same thing to me as he drifts off to sleep. I wish we lived here Mama he says. I know what he is craving—the long lazy days filled with people who love you…no matter.
51 weeks will go by between this week and the next. We will leave with the best of intentions—to keep in touch, to trade emails, to visit. We will have plans of weekend trips we will take together—of meeting halfway between. But the hustle and bustle of our lives will overtake us all. We won’t hear from each other at all but then before we know it I will be on the road to
“Meg…Its Kevin. We are at on the highway, crossing over into
And my heart will relax into a way of being that is only possibly in the presence of one’s cousins. And I will say, under my breath…I am there Kev…I am always there. My heart is just a beat away from this.
For Kevin, Christine, Maureen, Eileen, Shawn and Rich…and Lisa too. I love you, I love you, I love you
It feels so normal to be here—as though every piece of this place is knit into my very fabric. The squish of the mud under my toes, the gnarled roots on the path. I walk this path as though I have walked it every day of my life. The view out my cabin window seems ancient to me, as though I have looked out this window and seen these cedars, these pines for hundreds of years, the row boats rocking at the dock, the kayaks pulled up on the lawn.
Here the miraculous seems normal and the normal seems miraculous. Here.
I had finished packing the car. I went over my list one more time, just to be sure. I was certain I had left a box somewhere in the house. But as I went down the list it was all there. The car looked empty compared to years past. I couldn’t figure it out. How is it that I had downsized my life to this point, to this place where Max and I would be away for two full weeks and we needed so very little.
The boys were running around on the soccer field and Marcy and I were wrapped in a blanket, trying to stave off the
At the top of the mountain, a lake had sprung—rainwater filling a hole created by a glacier or perhaps from years and years of falling water. While the children, skipped rocks on the shores of their own private pool, Marcy and I were on a mission of our own, finding a quiet place for our ritual to mark the day. We found a tiny crevice—somewhat protected from the breeze that was blowing the clouds around. And we gathered all the children around.
I pulled our precious cargo out of my backpack. The wishes we had made. Each of us had written or drawn our most precious wishes (no telling!) and folded them up tight. We placed each of them into the tiny space between the rocks and all leaned in tight. Marcy and I instructed the kids to think about their wishes with all of their might. And then she and I pulled out a book of matches.
Since that night I have dreamt of nothing but magic. Wild, Technicolor dreams of flying and knitting needles turned into magic wands. I have dreamed of great love of my child and of bright yellow gingerbread homes and the dear friends who live in them. I have dreamt of healers, and teachers and loved ones all doing amazing things in my little dream world. I have woken to find myself sure, as I have ever been, that Max and I are living a magical life—a life full of wonder and joy and surprises. Whether or not our wishes come true I am sure that I have been blessed by the magical day of 8.
Originally posted Sept 27, 2007
Tonight it rained. I sat in wonder and listened to the sound of the rain against my windows. I stood out on the front steps and let me feet get damp. It has been such a dry summer. The rain smelled miraculous and hopeful, the harbinger of good things. Life giving and cleansing. Just what we needed.
I have thought alot about my trip to Rio –the one I took two Octobers ago. We took this photo our first night there. Eddie’s friend, an ex-pat who had settled in this magical city, had taken us for a walking tour and showed us his favorite spot, a park across a lake from the hustle and bustle of this city. A rainstorm rolled in suddenly, unexpectedly, catching us on the wrong side of the park. It fell in sheets soaking us all as we ran for cover under some trees, laughing. I laughed harder than I had in months. At that moment, laughter bubbled up unexpectedly, as unstoppable as the rain. It was so absurd and silly and joyful. We were dressed to the nines for a night out on the town, with water running down our noses, with my chic outfit dripping and misshapen, my “oh-so-Rio” sandals squishing and making ridiculous noises. It was the funniest thing ever to be in Rio in the warm rain. I jumped in a puddle and lost my shoe. Pretty soon we were all laughing because I couldn’t stop laughing
I had felt so heavy and stressed when I got to Brazil. I was at the height of my financial panic and I had just started to wrap my heart around the idea that Juan was not coming back. I arrived at the airport after flying all night with only $20 American and a three day training to run in Spanish. I went to the cash machine at the airport to take out money for taxi fare and found my account was overdrawn. My cell phone was out of batteries. I had forgotten my credit card at home. I had no idea what I would do next. I went up to the money exchange counter and cashed in my $20. I hoped it would be enough to get me to the hotel where I could regroup and figure out my next move. I thought I had hit rock bottom. I felt so alone, like such a failure. To keep myself from breaking down in this strange city, I repeated a mantra “It is going to work out all right” and then I added a fervent “please” and threw in a prayer for good measure.
The taxi fare was exactly what I had in my wallet.
I got to the hotel and they told me my room was already paid for. I slept a heavy deep dreamless sleep. I woke up to find lunch. A a friend of a friend living in Sao Paolo who had come to meet me. A fully charged cell phone and a Dad on the other end able to wire some cash to get me through the week. And best of all when Eddie arrived that evening he had two airplane tickets to Rio.
Four days later I was standing in the rain in Rio, laughing as the water poured over my toes and ran down my fingers. I remember thinking that the rain washed some of my grief away that night, just let it slip right away and run into this lake, leaving me feeling a tiny bit lighter and ready to start healing.
Originally posted August 16, 2007
At last, on Thursday, I rise before the sun. Lisa stumbles down with coffee in hand and drags me out of bed. Together we pull the kayaks into the water, though first we inspect them thoroughly with flashlights, making sure there are no sleeping spiders to tickle our feet. And then with few words we push off onto an ocean of glass and mist.
The lake is still. Only one lone bird is awake and singing. Fog hangs down silent and heavy over the pines—the distant shore but a watercolor—an idea of a forest—a memory of one long ago.
As I move silently I half expect the Arthurian lady of the lake to appear and whisper something wise, perhaps ancient mother secrets of creation. My paddle dips into the water. But the ripples disappear almost instantly as we glide glide glide along the lake, paddling to the middle. The eastern sky is becoming blue now and then from behind the Monet pines fingers of orange reach up, like a hand offering hope. Then the great globe rises brilliant and true—a drop of primary color oil paint on a watercolor masterpiece: brilliant, garish, warm.
We sigh, Lisa and I. We break our silence to talk of metaphors of God and sun. I point out that every ancient culture worships the sun in one way or another because of moments just like these when a dark night instantly becomes day. More birds are in the sky and trees now waking their children and their neighbors with hymns to this hope—this promise that we have one more chance to live. The mist is fading fast, giving way to a brilliant day of blue skies.
I breathe in the smell of pine and cedar and whisper thank you. It is late before we beach the boats. Activity has broken out now on shore. I enter the cabin to see my child raise his head and smile—“Good morning, mama!” I pick him up and wrap him in his blankets, snuggling him in my lap. “Yes,” I breathe into his little ear. “it is”
originally posted August 2007
Its rained a little everyday now. Not all day, just a bit. Enough to drive us all indoors for awhile to pop popcorn, or eat lunch inside before the sun comes out from behind the clouds again. And I have too admit, I have been a bit draggy and gray myself. Not all day. But I’ve been a bit more tired and grouchy than last year. A bit more foggy and tired.
Last year, my first year at the lake it didn’t rain at all. It was a picture perfect week—for both of us “the lake” and me.
Last year, the lake and I, we were like new lovers putting on our very best for each other. Every day I woke full of energy to witness her brilliant sunrise, the glassy stillness of the water at daybreak. Every day she sparkled, all blue skies and sunshine while I dwelled fully present in the marvel of every hour—“Look how lovely the trees look in the 2 pm light—how different from the way they looked this morning.” “Oh! The air smells so beautiful right now? Does it always smell so clean here on a Tuesday?” And every night we stayed up late together the lake and I, a chorus of thousands of grasshoppers playing along with the soundtrack of the restless waves rocking the boat knocking it against the dock, as I lay on my back on the green green grass and counted stars with my son.
But this year we are sure of our love for each other and so we are no longer pulling out the stops. I am too tired this year for sunrises. I wake well past dawn when the lake is already busy with swimming and kayaks. The nights are not always clear and bright. The grasshoppers are not always singing. And sometimes this lake she is even gray and choppy. And sometimes we both rain a bit.
Now don’t get me wrong…The lake is no less lovely to me. She is every bit as beautiful and peaceful as I remember. I am seeing a new side of her and finding new beauty in the rain rolling of the pines or the reflection of the dark clouds on the water. Furthermore, I am enjoying my time with my cousins twice as much as last year. There is a rhythm and a comfort this year—a routine that feels like it has always been this way—us here on the lake. We feed each others children and pick up our conversations exactly where we left off last year. There is not so much to catch up on. We can just look at each other and smile—holding hands while we watch our children play at the waters edge, helping gather each others books and towels when the storm clouds come.
And this comfort I think is translating to my relationship with these magic surroundings. The beautiful spot I call the lake–she knows I will come back each year a faithful pilgrim. And I too know that she will be here for me next year, a resting spot for my tired bones. This lake and I, we no longer need to impress one another. We are in that phase of a new relationship when you can relax and let a little of your imperfections show. I am really not that much of a morning person. She is not always sunny and bright. But we will love each other nevertheless. In sunshine and in rain. And that love is in the end better than a vacation full of sunshine.
Max and I are on vacation. We are up for our yearly jaunt to Maine. I am writing this early, scheduling it to post. We have no wifi up there….no internet access for miles around. There is no cell phone coverage…and actually no old fashioned land line phones. All there is to disturb a nap is the slam of the screen porch door, the distant sounds of children in the water. If you want to find me you are going to have to be close enough to yell.
This is our third year making this trip. We spend seven days with a group of my cousins and their children, all of us lined up in little homes so close to the water you could trip coming out your door and get wet. Its the perfect balance of solitude and community and each of the last two years I come home feeling as though I have been away for a year. My batteries are recharged and I am ready to tackle whatever life has in store.
Two years ago, I needed the trip to rest. I was so weary from single parenting, I was so beaten down emotionally from the trip Juan and I had been down. I spent long hours reading…in the early morning on my screened in porch, in the afternoon in the sunshine in an Adirondack chair by the lake, in the nighttime in my bed. I was a battery that just got plugged in the the earth, to the quiet and go filled up.
Last year I was in a different turning place. I went and spent time sleeping, rejuvenating, painting. I was cranky when I needed to be and hid in my cottage some. I ran with the kids, kayaked on the lake and slept some more. I drank in the space to emerge, new social and ready to take on a new life…ready to build community…ready to blossom.
This time, I am yet again in a new space. So much has been happening in my right brain. I have felt infantlike–taking it all in but not at all able to articulate in language what I am experiencing. I don’t know what Maine will offer me as a way to process this all but I am sure that it will deliver what I need.
I am going to re-run some of my favorite traveling posts this week–just for fun. Rest assured I will be writing and when I come home I will have new material and hopefully will be back to my writing self. I know things have been mighty slow on this blog front–perhaps the quiet will give me what I need to get moving.