Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My next step

Dear Family and Friends,

Those of you who were at the reception at the end heard me speak spontaneously, qualifying our friend's comment that Francis and I were "always together." That's certainly true in its deepest sense, and even true in its widest sense: We did in fact do almost everything together, peacework, yoga, dances of universal peace (DUP,) permaculture, -- yes, all of it together. But, not totally.

Francis regularly protested the building of nuclear warships at Bath Ironworks whereas I went once. And although he regularly accompanied and joined me in leading the DUP when invited to do so out of town or at Conferences, he did not come to my monthly circle of DUP but only joined me in Portland on special occasions, like New Year's Eve, or at guest retreats.

Francis was very much his own person. One thing he loved to do in which I did not participate, was to go to Starbucks five days a week, drink a cup of coffee and read The Boston Globe. He loved to observe people.

At the funeral reception, toward the end, I rambled on like this with mike in hand.

But what I want to add now is what I shared before handing over the mike: I feel drawn to do what Francis told me his sitting practice was all about: "Be still and see that I am God." (Psalm 46:2) I added that I liked the play on words someone came up with: "Be still and see that I am God." "Be still and see." "Be still." "Be." That's what I need and want -- to restore my physical stamina through more rest, and to just slow down. A lot. So I can just be.

As I told a friend yesterday, "Yes, I could genuinely use your help in a few practical areas, but "Once those things are done I very much look forward to time alone, time to just do nothing. I need and want to have nothing to do, nothing scheduled." I want to enjoy doing daily chores in the silence I find very rich right now, especially since the loss of Francis' physical presence is making my heart flip more often. I need to let penetrate what happened, even while I'm going through the mail, and through our closets to give away Francis' clothing. And, taking care of the chickens too.

More than one of you asked me to "Keep writing." Perhaps I will, but right now I'm not sure how my "Be"ing will develop. As I told those who were still in the church hall, I've developed a keen awareness how easily ego slips in for self-aggrandizement's sake. It can be even more subtly insinuated when publicly doing "spiritual" things. So I'm quite wary of parading myself as a model of how to deal with grief. If I did continue writing it would have to emerge from the same kind of compelling call to do so that writing Francis' story did. It's always been that way for me. I cannot write letters to the editor at will. I have to be moved to write.
But there's something else too: I'm sensing that if I were to write about my journey of adjusting to life without Francis' physical presence, it would feel like an externalizing of something too deep for words. In fact I've experienced how the very act of trying to put experience into words can objectify and therefore diminish the depth of that experience by making it a thing separate from myself.

In other words, I sense that words, even honest words that come authentically from the heart trying to capture and remember an experience, can also somehow remove the writer from the very experience she is trying to communicate.

As I said, it was different writing Francis' story because the words as well as the details surrounding what he/we said and did were simply relating the observable facts. I intuited that later on, in pondering those cherished words of his, the memory itself could be prayer, memory itself could even become new, fresh experience in the moment of connecting with Francis. In that case the words and details would be sort of sacramental, vehicles of new exerience. I don't know if this makes any sense, but it's close to what I'm trying to say.

I want time to reread The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying which I read after my mother died, and I want to read poetry. After memorizing Shakespeare's Sonnet # 116 "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments" for Francis' 75th birthday, I found great pleasure and strength in memorizing other special sonnets of Shakespeare, -- like Sonnet # 29 "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes..." and the most poignant one of all, which has been at the backdrop of my heart ever since, is Shakespeare's Sonnet #86" "That time of year thou mayest in me behold..." These are only three of several others that nourished me. But the most nourishing one of all is Psalm 139, in French. I'm attaching it in case you're interested.
I'm not going to isolate myself from people, however, realizing that could be unhealthy. I'll begin babysitting Rowan again on Thursday of this week, something I feel ready to do. And I'm likely to see the generous people still spoiling me with a daily meal. I also plan to call on some people as needed to help me with a lot of things that must still be done, e.g. right now I'm waiting to get through to a live person at the Social Security office!
But since my body is tired and needs a lot of rest, just on the physical level I don't feel ready to teach my Wednesday morning yoga class this month. Maybe next month.

My point is, I'll know as time unfolds what to do next. Years ago Alan Eccleston a Quaker friend from western MA shared with Francis and me a wise saying from a Quaker saint...Was it John Woolman? -- that we have only enough light to see the next step.

How good that I see what my next step is: A very large space in which to just be! Then, from there, I'll have the light to see what that other next step is.

I thank you ahead of time from deep in my heart for your prayers and good energy sent my way. I really depend on those!
Maybe I will miss writing this blogspot and return sooner rather than later. But I have to go into that very large space first. Or deep down.


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