A whole month passed without a post, though I’d thought about it. I’ve been immersed in some personal work and stepping out into new areas that feel exciting. The depression has abated. I feel a need to write but am doing so with interruptions by my little girl and husband every so many minutes, so this post will be less polished.
We’ve been camping twice and will go again soon for the last summer trip. In June we went to Pfeiffer Big Sur, and in July we camped at Prairie Creek Redwoods. Our next trip is to Calaveras Big Trees. We like big trees and rivers a lot, and we like the ocean some. Camping is uncomfortable and requires more work, but it’s also relaxing and restful. My body aches in the morning from the less-than-ideal sleeping arrangement, but the peace I feel compensates. I am bathed in Being, in nature, in the Mystery; living outdoors brings complete contact with the world that creates itself.
After exploring the Quaker Society of Friends, I talked with Hub about where I’m at and what Claire wants. She wants to go to church. Hub was raised Unitarian Universalist and I attended as one years ago. It’s the best fit as far as spiritual community goes. Claire loved it the first time we visited two years ago. The Quaker group only had children’s program once a month, and unfortunately the one time I brought her no one else with children came, and there was no program. I realized, too, that I need and enjoy the ritual of a service. The Quaker service was traditional silent meeting with socializing after. The UU service includes the usual ingredients of a service: hymns, readings, sharing of joys and concerns, a sermon. Hub isn’t a seeker and doesn’t have the same community needs, but we came to the conclusion that the UU church is good for me and Claire. I attended the UU Fellowship in Los Gatos the past two weeks; both Claire and I enjoyed it, and the members are very welcoming.
I had a pilot zazen session on the first Saturday in July. I got cold feet and cancelled on the one person who’d signed up; then another friend last minute showed up. As I set up the small altar on my coffee table, it felt right, like putting on a perfectly fitting outfit. I also reached agreement with Hub that I will go to Hazy Moon Zen Center a couple times a year to attend sesshin and meet with my teacher.
I’ve continued attending salons called Intimacy With Truth, led by a dear friend. They occur in a format similar to Honesty Salons but move into deeper exploration within and between ourselves. I’m learning to listen to, trust, and speak from my intuition and truth. I’m also sitting with the idea of becoming trained to facilitate Honesty Salons or becoming a Getting Real Coach with Dr. Campbell.
I’m re-reading and incorporating the practice that Eckhart Tolle’s books explore. One thing I appreciate about his work is that he echoes my favorite quote, a koan I have cherished for years:
The secret is within your self. – Hui-Neng
Tolle claims that he’s not teaching anything that we don’t already have within us. His work is guidance to excavating it.
In conjunction, I’ve started to explore the process of healing offered by Al-Anon meetings.
After years of thinking about it, I attended a mixed-media collage Meetup at Lori Krein Studios. I immersed myself in the process and enjoyed it, as well as enjoyed the other people who attended. I’ll be going back.
This encounter with collage at the studio prompted me to rearrange my art supplies so they are stored in the same room as my work desk. Proximity will probably inspire more play!
I gathered my many small pieces of art into a binder, and I was astonished at the variety and amount. Seeing them all together gave me a surge of excitement to make more. A friend has suggested I have my own art show at home; I’m not ready to do that yet, but I’m ready to show and share from the binder.
I enrolled in a November training to learn a process called SoulCollage and to facilitate in groups. SoulCollage is a creative, meditative process of exploring one’s inner wisdom in all the ways it manifests. It’s rooted in Jungian psychology.
I’ve emphasized boundaries in certain relationships by limiting what I can listen to and discuss. The immersion in repeated stories about the problems of people I love when I cannot do anything to help was contributing to the depression.
Lastly, I’m contemplating becoming a volunteer at a hospice. For many years (since the mid-1990s) I’ve felt a pull toward it, and in 2004 I took steps in a parallel direction by training to provide grief support to survivors. It was the Centre for Living With Dying. However, my father-in-law was dying of cancer at the time, and I just didn’t have the energy to serve. Since that time the Centre was bought by another social service provider, and it seems they don’t use volunteers any more. But hospice does.
The call to hospice coincides with the sad news that a friend — Jen Bulik-Lang — who is only 35 is dying of stage-IV lung cancer. She began feeling ill in October 2012, and it took awhile for professionals to come to the correct diagnosis at the end of January 2013. She’d been shopping in December for engagement rings with her boyfriend, Jeffrey Lang. She got aggressive treatment, and there was hope they eradicated it, but in mid-June she received news it had metastasized to her spinal fluid. My insides quicken with grief and love as I watch her live with this news. She chose to celebrate life, and she and Jeff got married in a marvelous wedding. I admire Jen for embracing what is and fully experiencing it as a transformation with the faith, as she says, “that [it] will benefit the highest good for all those concerned.”
So in all, the shift in my life is toward community and participating in healing myself, others, and the world. As I wrote that last sentence my self-talk was, “Boy, that sounds lofty and new-Agey, and grandiose.” And yet… The world is broken and insane and aches for love.
Harvest / 9″ x 12″ mixed media collage on canvas