Now that I Know…
These are the words of my spiritual director, a radical priest who holds space in a small loft in Portland. I’m not a Catholic, but I trust this guy.
I’ve just weathered the traumatic accidental drowning of a friend and an addiction crisis with a family member. Both were situations requiring me to find the ground under my feet ASAP while at the same time surrendering to all the things I couldn’t control even if I wanted to. Other people’s needs seemed to dictate my days.
Now that I know, he said quietly.
What? I asked, leaning in.
What did you learn? What do you know now that you didn’t know before? He asked.
For a moment the overwhelm and fog lifted. Clarity. A felt sense of calm, a perspective. A way to move on.
This question is one I find myself still when I’ve just been through Something.
What do I know NOW? After the anxiety and confusion and losses of the last couple of years, it’s a critical question. What lessons has this time in history offered up for me, at a deeply personal level? The old growth forest and my summer home, two things that anchored me to the deep healing of nature are gone.
I’ve lost friends to Covid and to QAnon. With or without my mask, people who once smiled or waved seem somehow distant. Elders in my community seem more frail. And my 14-year-old dog struggles more every day on our one-mile stroll/sniff.
Life. Now that I know its losses more personally, how do I renew my vows, now that I know how very fragile the things I always took for granted are, what do I know?
I look around me this summer morning. The ground is still there. My heart is still beating. My feet are still walking. The sky that served up a Heat Bubble last week is offering clouds and the sweet distant ocean moisture.
Now that I know the JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out) on the complications of community and over-commitment, there’s a steadier connection with my own clarity of purpose, with my own heart. With solitude and sovereignty of my very own life.
Now that I know this joy, how willing am I to throw it away trying to create the world from Before Times? Sounds a lot like a new episode of my ongoing life challenge setting boundaries.
I’m not willing to give up too much of myself to others. But will I? Sometimes. And that’s okay.
Because when I remember this simplicity, this moment, I have the necessary grounding to discern what’s worth keeping. And then I venture with a deeper understanding of what I need in the Now Time.
A game changer. You may have missed the memo since this ground-breaking book was released on the exact day of the first lockdown in the spring of 2020. This well-researched book has given me a deeper understanding of my own nature and the ways of many of my clients. It’s also helpful in explaining to friends and family the neurological differences those of us who are highly sensitive or introverted often struggle to find the words to communicate for ourselves.
Dreaming DaughtersThe women in my family dream their daughters,And so I dreamed you up, a strong Baby Woman.Just as my mother dreamed herself a sister instead of a babyAnd her mother dreamed a prodigy, Shirley Temple of Saline County.And her mother before her dreamed up a milliner.But the mother before that, a new immigrant turned into a widow by Yellow Fever,That mother just dreamed of getting her daughters’ bellies fedAnd so she let them go by boat to an orphanage,signs hanging from necks in the only language she knew,saying keep them safe and I will come.And when she didn’t, couldn’t, an orphan train took themTo new farm families with mothers who at least spoke the old tongue,who adopted them and who fed themand put them to work cooking for farm hands untilthey began to have dreams in this strange, new languageand when their German mother traveled hundreds of miles to find them happy,she built a little house the size of her new dreamdown the road from their full-bellied lives.But she just kept on dreaming and watching in that new placebecause that’s what mothers do sometimes.
Hope is the thing with feathersThat perches in the soulAnd sings the tune without the words,And never stops at all.And sweetest in the gale is heardAnd sore must be the stormThat could abash the little birdThat kept so many warm.I’ve heard it in the chilliest landAnd on the strangest seaYet never, in extremity,It asked a crumb of me.~Emily Dickinson