Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finding the Rhythm, Learning the Words

It has been exactly three months since I left my North Carolina garden and its bloom of friends, meaningful work, and familiar places and routines. It was just after the summer solstice; and now we have celebrated the autumnal equinox and the northern hemisphere is halfway through its long exhale. I am exhaling, too; and trying to feel the beat of this new song.

The summer was chaos. I should have been sweating through the North Carolina heat, watering the garden (or not), harvesting tomatoes and summer squash, watching the banana tree shoot its broad leaves skyward, having wine on a friend's deck, taking pictures of baby birds learning to eat from my feeder, doing Julie-yoga, writing on the porch at Cafe Carolina with the Fresh Market blueberry scone (until they stopped making them), throwing my windows open to hear the thunder and the pounding rain then slamming them down before the humidity slithered in, visiting my grandsons, and pitching my tent beside a murmuring mountain stream in the gentle Appalachian mountains.

But I wasn't doing any of those things. I stepped off the edge of my familiar life into this chaos where I don't know the words. I drove across the country with only my cat for company and moved into a house with another human being for the first time in more than eight years. There has been no thunder, nor much rain of any sort-certainly not pounding. I have not been able to lure the shy birds to the feeder; and my writing place is a few steps from my living room, having given up on coffee shops. My yoga class is, well, different from my familiar and beloved. My new grandson will be nearly a year old before I see him a second time. Dear Vee took a picture of the bigger than ever banana tree and its first ever flower and fruit, that I missed; it is no longer mine.

We think we know all about the song of our lives, then over time the tune doesn't quite fit anymore, and we tumble into chaos or despair. But there are many songs in the universe and I am finding the rhythm to this one and the words are beginning to come; I make up some and adapt others. I am slowly letting go of what was and letting in the wonder of what is. I guess we are all always doing that.

 "Wonder and despair [order and chaos] are two sides of a spinning coin. When you open yourself to one, you open yourself to the other. You discover a capacity for joy that wasn’t in you before…. As far as you are willing to venture into shadow, so far may you venture into light” (Christina Baldwin; Life's Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest).

I have had wine in my sister's courtyard with her friends and camped at the foot of a mountain in lush greenness with my daughters. My windows are always open and the cool night air wafts in around the bedclothes; I wake to morning fog in the valley. Cows bawl in the valley and coyotes howl in the hills beyond my window. I have harvested my tomatoes finally, this week. Cooking for someone else is becoming a little less onerous. I am discovering new friends and reconnecting with old ones. I bought Washington-grown Honey-crisp apples at the farmers' market-in Washington! My writing was published in the local newspaper this week. I have explored from the mountains to the sea and all over the enormous county that is my home now. I am rediscovering life in a small town; it has its challenges and its beauty.

Perhaps it is because it's autumn that I am settling into a rhythm finally. On the Native American medicine wheel, the season of autumn lies to the west. Since I can remember, autumn has been my favorite season. The west is where my soul was born, and where it has always resided-in spite of long seasons away.

Autumn is a time of introspection and manifestation. In autumn, I travel inward to the center of the spiral, my favorite symbol, after hanging out on the edge all summer. From that place, seeds of renewal and new life germinate. Through our chaos we receive the world’s calm. I will learn the words and rhythm of my new song in time, as I step from the chaos of summer into the calm of the earth's center. 

1 comment:

Donna Knox said...

So many thoughts inspired by your lovely thoughts. Why have you given up on coffee shops? If they inspired you in the east, they can do so in the west. Maybe move your focus from the wonder of what is to the wonder of what might be. You are discovering new aspects of life. What could be more exciting than that? Stagnation breeds complacency. You are on an adventure. Enjoy without judging it. May the rest of us envy your spirit.