Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Posts tagged ‘Elders’

A breath of fresh air!

What a beautiful day today! It feels like the beginning of a different life. Over this very busy weekend I’ve entered a new phase:

My mother came home from the nursing home this weekend. Now we are adjusting and seeing how she does at home. After spending so much time in an institutional setting with her, it is a huge relief to me that she can be at home again with her beloved cat.

Photo of Mini by Sharon Lips.

And work continues on the barn. It is finally coming together! Now that my mother is home I hope the unpacking will move faster.

The garden is bursting with green on this beautiful, breezy day. Here is Lady’s Mantle from my herb garden.

Lady's Mantle, May 2010

And wood is drying for the Sanctuary Without Walls fire circle.

Next gathering is on June 20th. Save the date!

Firewood

Navigating New Territory

For the past two weeks I’ve been experiencing a crash course in navigating the hospital and a nursing home, as my mother, 93 this month, underwent some medical difficulties. Today my sister is visiting, offering sibling support, which is fabulous. And tomorrow I plan to be in the pulpit, sharing a Psalm and a passage from John.

In the past few days I have found  a couple of hours of respite in my garden, preparing space for new herbs and flowers, smelling the rich earth: humus, humility, humanity – literally grounding myself as I kneel in the dirt, sensing the budding life force all around me. May my mother feel this greening, growing, healing power, too, as she grows stronger day by day: the miracle of simply being alive.

A poem that says it all

Born innocent, one

– that’s I –

strives hard to become

an adult, no longer childish,

worldly-wise

in one’s art, one’s love, one’s life . . .

Then discovers:

that no one ever

becomes an adult,

becomes either

delightfully childlike

or pitifully juvenile . . .

Discovers:

one’s art to be outside the art game

one’s faith outside the religious game

one’s love outside the sex game

Discovers:

one’s own little song

and dares to sing it

in all variations,

unsuited as it may be

for mass communication . . .

For perhaps

here and there

someone will hear it

and listen

and know

and say

Ah!
YES!

From Art as a Way: A Return to the Spiritual Roots, Frederick Franck, New York: Crossroad, 1981

Life is Tough

As we move along in the barn renovation project, the electrician is ready to do the trenching for burying the power lines. A couple of days ago, I spoke with him about this part of the process. So where does that trench have to go? Directly through my herb garden. Ouch!

This is a garden I’ve slowly been developing – starting plants from seeds, rejoicing when after two years flowers appear, adding a few new varieties each year, looking forward to working there again in the spring. I  was surprised at how bereft I felt at the thought of the trencher going through that garden. I asked the electrician if I could tie ribbons on plants to be avoided, which at this time of year are nothing but bare twigs sticking out of the snow. And naturally, most of the plants are not visible at all in January. He said, “of course!” Then I began wondering if I could dig up some of the plants with no obvious growth showing, but all the life is currently in their roots. Would they survive the digging process?

Before I could make any decisions, some other events distracted me. My mother who lives with me, age 92, wasn’t feeling well. For her to even mention such a thing is a big deal; she’s always afraid she’s going to be a bother to me. Mothers! I’m just relieved she’s right here so that I can take care of her as needs arise, instead of driving hundreds of miles, as some of my friends must, to take care of their aging parents! So I made a doctor appointment for her, but just before we were to leave for that appointment today, she fell down the stairs. Oh, my.

As it turned out, she was justified in not feeling well; she has an infection. And because she had her puffy winter coat in her arms when she fell on the stairs, the tumble just resulted in bruises – we hope! We are waiting for the phone call with x-ray results.

After getting her settled back at home with her prescriptions, I took a little stroll out back. There was the snowy herb garden, waiting for me to tie ribbons on the bare sticks. Somehow it didn’t seem so urgent. I found myself thinking, “Well, with that plant gone, I could move this plant over here, and put a new one there….” I also remembered that plants are tough; their life force can be very strong. I’m not as concerned about my garden now (but I may yet use a couple of strategically placed ribbons).

My mother has a wonderful attitude. She’s a tough old lady, who always makes them laugh at the doctor’s office. I hope that when I’m 92 I will bear my ills with as much grace as she does! She teaches me about resilience, about keeping a sense of humor, about taking in stride all that comes with old age (which isn’t for sissies). She especially teaches me about life’s strength and tenaciousness. Life is tough. And I love it.

Depths

A number of years ago I attended  a gathering with Jean Houston. She talked about the special social responsibility of people over fifty years of age, because elders have a life-time of experience and have “access to the depths.”

What depths are these? I think of the Underworld, understood in many ways by different cultures. In myth, the Underworld, or Otherworld, is sometimes a place one travels not just after death, but during life. It is very dangerous, and sometimes beautiful. Time has a different quality there; many years can pass in the outside world while one is entranced and / or challenged in the Otherworld. If one is able to return to this life again, it is with a gift or gifts, which are to be shared with others.

As people who have experienced the depths of life, those over fifty who approach life consciously can see the larger picture. We have visited the Underworlds of life, and returned after those experiences of profound loss and grief, the “innering” work of depression, or deep pain; we have explored the Otherworlds of enchantment, beauty, grace and joy.  As pilgrims returning from the depths, we can bring forward new ways of being in our world, new possibilities.

Many systems are in transition now: planetary, political, personal. Think of the “transition” phase of giving birth: the time when you want to call the whole thing off because it is all too difficult and overwhelming. That phase arrives just before the final stage of birthing, the breakthrough, when we push new life into the world. This can be the birth of ideas, creativity, and action. The elder years present a time for a different kind of birthing.

Accessing the depths requires inner space, a cultivation of imagination, and a small community in which to share, nurture, and celebrate the process of integrating our Underworldly and Otherworldly life experiences. You may already belong to a circle of friends which serves this growing-edge purpose.  Elder-wisdom. It’s a powerful time to be coming of age, drawing strength and knowledge from our depths, moving into the wisdom stage of our lives, and sharing those gifts.