Sunday Morning ~ Moving Gently
Kwa eni uyenda umaweteka. ~ At somebody else’s place you walk gently and humbly.
~ Chewa proverb
December 8, 2019
Walking gently. That’s what we do here in the winter. And someone else’s place is where I am heading. Away for the holidays and starting a new chapter. Humility requires a tender step.
The Thanksgiving linens are washed, starched, ironed, and put away. The Christmas cards are made and sent. There isn’t too much else to do besides tidy up for the guests staying here in my absence and most of that is already done. I’m heading to Europe for a bit. This was not my original plan for December but when George canceled the trip to Myanmar, suddenly and without preamble or warning, I shook my head and rerouted. We’d planned the trip for two years and I’d framed this year around a December and January traveling with him. Five days before the phone call that ended it all, he said he couldn’t wait for me to get there; his friends were looking forward to meeting me, and he was setting up a talk at the nursing school for me. Then poof! No trip, and no George.
For a Valentine’s Day gift one year, I took all our original correspondence and put it together into a book for him. It was a much bigger project than I anticipated, sorting through zillions of threads of emails. It’s a sweet love story, really, and there is some really good writing in there. It starts with our first email to each other two days after we met and ends two months later on the morning we’ll be seeing each other again. Mind you, this piece of work is over three hundred pages. We had a lot to say. When we had been corresponding only a week, he wrote that our “relationship” had a certain whoosh to it, like a story of his brother and friends taking off on a toboggan over a ski jump. The sentence ended: Fun. Soft landing. No one was hurt. It’s easy to paint ourselves in prose, controlling the light, especially when the person reading it is wearing rose colored glasses with hearts plastered all over the frames. It feels good to be in love. We had a crazy, impulsive, wonderful adventure that took off like the space shuttle, orbited for four years, then slowly came back to earth, landing softly, with plenty of tales to tell. That rocket isn’t taking off again, at least not with us in it, but I’m grateful to have had the adventure. No one was hurt.
Walk gently. This week I learned I did not get the job I’d been hoping for, and I realize just how much I’d been hanging my hopes on it for five months while waiting to hear. So. The image I had for my immediate future has a few holes in it and I’m both disappointed and excited. I have the luxury of taking my time to figure out the next chapter without pressure to incorporate someone else’s needs. Instead, I can focus on what I have to offer at this stage of my life while preserving my back and sanity. I feel lighter.
I’ve always been goal oriented. I always knew I wanted to be a nurse, then when I decided I wanted to be a midwife, walked straight toward that goal, never hesitating or questioning whether it was the right thing. I just knew it. So there is this element of discomfort to be sitting with the prospect of: no plans. Well, except for rambling around Europe for a month. That’s a bit of a plan, but even that is more unstructured than usual for me. But why waste the time I had allocated for travel? I’m just shifting the latitude and temperature a few degrees. There is part of me that is expecting some religious image to come into focus, something back lit with a clear message only I can see. I listened for it last night when the community sang Oh Come All Ye Faithful together and the soprano to my right harmonized like an angel. There were trumpets. The voices all around me were beautiful and as we sang I got choked up by all the the energy surrounding me. Was it just me? Or was everyone feeling like this is the most vibrant community imaginable? That someone living down the street can hit those notes and execute them in perfect time… I know for sure this is where I want to live. It’s nice to be clear about that.
Maybe I’ll see some message in the mosaics in Sicily. Is this a sign of mental illness? Sometimes I wonder. After mass last evening I was talking to a friend and telling him how my mind was wandering during the service and making me wonder if this is a normal part of aging or if I’m getting dementia? He said, “I think if you’re questioning it, that’s probably a good thing.”
I feel a little like a college grad wandering around looking for an interesting career but with a place to live and resources to fall back on. It’s exciting. I have no trouble blocking out the onslaught of consumerism December flings at us and can focus on aspects of the season I love. Last night I lit the second candle on the advent wreath representing peace. I love that word. I love all the curves and the softness of the shapes the letters make. I love the image of perfect peace, still knowing the world has a long way to go. I write it inside every card and each time I play with the script I feel it more. I thought about all the kids who had to write something a hundred times on a blackboard as punishment and thought, how wasteful. They could have been making cards, writing something like “peace”, or “love”, or “wishing you well” in perfect penmanship, then selling the cards as a fundraiser for the school. When did creativity stop being a sign of mental illness? I’ll have to look that up.
Next week I’ll be conscious of writing gently and humbly from someone else’s house.
Love to all,