Valentine’s Day arrived as a bright and wintry one here at Lightspring Glen, my Heart home. This is a post long-pondered since the new year’s beginning, and the first to finally appear for 2019. Lots of Life has happened since New Year’s day, much of which proved challenging to translate into words for posting here. Sadly notable was the passing in early January of two people very dear to me…a younger friend and my teacher, Nancy Eve Fanara-Berrian, and the poet, Mary Oliver. So, big dents were made to my heart that are only part way along in their mending. And coming to this past week I have been mindful that this Valentine’s Day marks a full year since the shootings at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. For the survivors and their dear ones, for all of us, how to rise and continue? Indeed the same awful question repeated in too many subsequent tragedies in the months since. My own first attempt at an answer came in last February’s post, Persistent Hope.
So, in these times through which we are journeying together, my sister and brother Earth pilgrims, there just is no denying the Travel is too often rugged and daunting. A litany of worldly woes and disheartening news threatens to flatten us daily. We each do our best to cope, heaven knows. For myself, I take some comfort in Emily Dickinson’s steadfast vision that “Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops at all.” Ah, the question for me is often how to stay connected to my soul and also to my heart? And even though the alternative holds little appeal, how do I manage to keep my heart open?
Last August, through an unexpected travel opportunity (and gift of the Universe) I joined ten others for a marvelous three-day retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. It was led by a wonderful man and truly heart-wise teacher, L.R. Heartsong…River. We had available to us a stunningly beautiful, heart-shaped labyrinth. Sharing our meditative walks was simply amazing, nearly indescribable in how it wove us together body and soul. River prompted us to consider how each walk allowed us to spiral into and out of the Heart laid out in small stones and sandy red earth. The metaphor was one we embraced in our days together and shared retreat experiences in New Mexico’s extraordinarily beautiful high desert. Ever since then the Heart Labyrinth’s image and mantra have been a blessed and potent fuel for my onward journey.
The Wheel of the Year has brought us all forward to this seventh week of 2019 and to this yearly Occasion of heart-minded focus and thoughts. It was high time (and a good time) to return to my writer’s work once more and fashion an offering for this particular day.
Poets so often instigate and inspire my word-smithing efforts. Early this day I was twice such blessed. A new-to-me Mary Oliver poem came in a friend’s morning email. And on Facebook, Oriah Mountain Dreamer posted a most wonderful Valentine message and poem:
There are thousands of ways to fall in love.
At night I open my eyes in the welcoming darkness
And listen to the snow softening all sound.
And I fall in love with being here.
In the morning I smile, grateful for hot showers,
Sweet tea, and cinnamon baked apples.
There are thousands of ways to be in love,
To listen to the song of another’s heart
To hold them with tender attention,
To forgive ourselves for all the moments we’ve missed
In our hurry to get somewhere
Not realizing there is nowhere to go,
That love is already here.
On good mornings,
mornings when I am not distracted or forgetful,
I get up and ask:
How will I make love to my life today?
Oh my, how I love her question! And how I love offering it to all who come to this post. Oh my…How indeed will I make love to my life today? And then again tomorrow? And….? I know how much I will be enjoying contemplating the answers in this unfolding year, 2019. And in Mary Oliver’s poem there is an eloquent and provocative suggestion. I intend, as I nearly always do, to take her advice to heart.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
Don't hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that's often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
(Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, p. 61, Penguin Press 2017
~ Bright and heart-full Blessings to all from Lightspring Glen ~