Today on our little homestead we lost a baby chick. Always hard for all of us. The event reminded me of a piece of free writing I did three years ago. As I wrote it, I was imagining my daughter as the writer of the passage... in the future, grown. Let me know what you think-
My mother buried so many animals up in our tangled woods, on the bank by our pond, out in the grassy area past the sheds... After she herself died, I would see the shadow of her sometimes heading up the fern-lined bank with that old shovel in her hand. She wasn't smiling, but there was a peacefulness about her. This was her place.
In life, she never understood why so many animals came to her to share those moments of Death. It broke her heart. Nonetheless, she bore witness. She was a steward to them, cradling them, talking to them, offering Love.
I didn't understand either. Not until now. Not until she too had passed on...
Each one -each mouse, raccoon, opossum, hummingbird, pigeon, chicken, rabbit, grouse, squirrel, fox, duck, chicken, dog or cat - had been the closing of a chapter, nothing other. A sacred transition. To our human heart, jarring. But perhaps not so in other realms.
Today, I am a little sobered to think that it continues to be some part of my mother's work to carry a shovel, and lay to rest those quiet souls who have ventured on. But I'm guessing it is a sacred purpose, and some part of her spirit will ever companion others at such important moments, now and forever eternal.
Others who I've known do not come by their sacred purpose easily. Some do not even recognize the need within themselves to identify it. In this realization, I find comfort about the work of my mother. In this realization, I too find a new peacefulness.
Her friend, Mason, I heard once tried to explain it to her, after a terrible moment in time when three baby bunnies died in her keep: "A thought comes to me," he told her, "may I share it? ...That care you give, to the animals, it may sound harsh but it doesn't matter whether they reach maturity or not while in your keep. It doesn't matter whether or not they pass on. What matters is that you are building bridges, between humans and animals... bridges that have for a long time been forgotten or broken down, or overlooked. You are rebuilding them. The love you offer those animals, in the times that you share with them, that is truly all that matters. That is the essence that transcends, lives on, creates the building blocks of those bridges that are taking us, as humans, to a new place of connection with all of them, the animals. It's like you are returning us to who we are. And it is the love that is the bridge, nothing more, nothing less. It is simply the love. You are a healer and a messenger, and God blesses what you do."
Love. During those altering, sometimes fearful, moments, it may be all we can offer. And my mother knew that. Perhaps so many animals died while with her, because it was then their place to take that Love to the next realm; to carry it forward and send the message on.
Toting her shovel, on those difficult days, my mother may not have ever smiled. But I can do so now, on her behalf. Peace to you too, Mom. Peace to you, too.
As you may have gleaned from reading through my website, I find it nourishing, rewarding and exciting to participate in the artistic process in many different ways. In my mid-twenties, a friend suggested I model for an art class. So glad I did! Yes, in college I had sketched nudes... As a writer, I rather pride myself on trimming down the essence of my characters until they're virtually naked before you, the reader, so that you can completely understand their motivations and experiences.
But being on the other side of the creative process was, in many ways, a new thing for me. And I was nervous of course, primarily because I wasn't sure I would come up with enough interesting poses that would offer the artists enough inspiration. But I guess it worked out okay; the group invited me back and their finished works left me breathless. It was incredible to see myself -or reflections of myself- set there on paper, on canvas, in ink, in charcoal, in paint, in clay... Through others' eyes, and others' hands, I was captured and set forth in a brand new way unto the world.
Artistic skills can be mechanical, or repetitive, or academic. They can be polished, exercised, made more or less unique. There are endless adjectives and verbs to describe the dynamics of "Art" as we attempt to understand it. But for me, in a brief sentence: The circle of creativity is a sacred process. And to engage in all aspects of that process -by finding myself at times the artist, at times the subject, at times the muse- it is somehow a completion of that awe inspiring cycle.
After the first time I modeled, I asked one of the artists if I might buy her work. She agreed, despite my nervousness in putting forth so bold a request. I'm so glad - this portrait is a piece I've treasured ever since.
Can you guess who wrote this one? I absolutely love it; it rings true in so many ways, on so many levels...
"The years of anxious searching in the dark, with their intense longing, their intense alternations of confidence and exhaustion and the final emergence into the light—only those who have experienced it can understand it."
-I will reveal the author in another blog post soon to come... Enjoy savoring the many meanings!