I work as a postpartum doula. I am deeply honored to have worked with so many different women at their most vulnerable, but also often at their most resilient.
This morning when I got to my client’s house, she was as sleep- deprived, as it is possible to be and still be upright. (She has a new baby and a toddler). I took the baby so that she’d have a minute to focus on her toddler. From the other room I could hear her daughter leap onto her back and mom gallop around the room, making upbeat horse sounds. I could also hear her daughter’s delighted giggles. Where she got the energy to do this I have no idea. I stood there in tears holding her baby, thinking that I had just witnessed the essence of “ International Women’s Day”. She had done what we all do. Love takes us that step beyond what is possible. Not only could she NOT take the day off, she pushed well beyond her real physical limitations. She is indispensible to her family, she knows that, and embraces it.
Today I honor all the women I know who, after hours of exhausting labor, have managed to find the energy to push out their babies, the ones who have gotten up in the middle of the night over and over again to comfort the little or sick ones, or the ones who have gone above and beyond for a friend, or have sat for endless hours at the bed of a dying loved one. I honor the women who have created shelter and space with their own two hands, and cooked enough food to feed the multitudes. I also hold dear the women who have blazed ahead into hostile territory to clear a path for all of us, or have taken a stance when it was impossible to do that.
YOU are, (we are) the rock stars and we will find the strength to turn the current tide, because that IS what we do!
I wrote the poem below during a particularly dark period in my personal life. I woke this morning with the same image, only this time it felt like it had broader application. This one wasn’t personal.A good friend, who is a Sufi mystic, once said to me, “Disillusionment is a good thing. We must work to shatter our illusions on the rock of truth.” We have been shattered. Shattered by the extremes we have allowed to grow in our midst. Weather extremes, violence, harshness, floods of images and information, human extremes everywhere, extremes of money and excess right alongside extremes of poverty and exclusion. Mostly we have been shattered by the horrific discovery of who we, as a nation, really are sometimes. We have also been shattered by the realization that we were born this way.
The questions before us really are, what is left? Where is the bedrock? Is it strong and true? Really? Will it hold? Will it hold US?
Time will answer…these are questions we can not answer alone, they a bigger than us.
My hopeful thought this morning is: In my own life, when everything crumbled, when the illusions shattered, when there really was no “happily ever after”, what was left was the very best and strongest part. At the time, this was impossible to see. When I wrote the poem below, there was still a very real question about whether anything at all would be left.
What I learned from my personal experience is that when you have been shattered, you have two choices; you can stay broken, or if the base is strong and true, you can pick yourself up and build on the rock that remains….and…
If the bedrock IS strong enough to hold, THIS time, you’d damn well better do it “right”.
I pray that, together, we find the same ultimate answer here and now.
Worn down to that smooth impenetrable surface that is Timeless and unchangeable,
Glistening black under the turbulent flow
Hard and True.
Tears, sweat pouring out of my soul to create this wild river
Cut through all the layers.
Everything insubstantial carried away in the swift current.
The exposed layers a true map of time.
Layer upon layer of sand and crumble GONE
Layers of rock not strong enough to withstand the raging flow
Trees with shallow roots torn from the soil.
All swept away in the chaos
The question before me:
Will I desperately scramble up the sides
To try to rebuild my life on the sand?
Will I get in that boat and ride that current?
Trusting the bedrock to hold?
The title of this blog is auto-biographical. I have, from the beginning of my conscious life, had the feeling that I was different; that I somehow didn’t fit into any of the boxes presented as “normal.” Being dyslexic, among other things, will do that. A few years ago, I got together with my very best friend from High School. We did everything together back then and then, quite suddenly, our lives took us in very separate directions. Mine was a decidedly “out of the box” one. When we got together again, after many years apart, she asked me, “You always just wanted to be different, didn’t you?” I told her that I actually never saw it as a choice, I was just born that way.
As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that most people I know well have had this same feeling, at some time in their life. I have come to believe that none of us fit into the “normal” box. People, at their depth, are not built that way. Children do not easily fit into standardization and many pay dearly if we try to make them fit into that box. Being “out of the box” has come to mean finding my own voice and my unique perspective or becoming fully myself. Many of us spend a great deal of our lives on this process, I know have.
Once we are truly in touch with ourselves and our unique ways of interacting with the world, I believe we are called to step fully into the fire that is our current reality. This doesn’t seem like a choice any more than whether we are different or not, is. From the inside, it feels like a mandate to me.
I once heard the America Mystic, David Spangler, define integrity as those moments when your whole being, your spirit, soul, mind and body are doing the same thing at the same time. This is not as easy as it sounds, but it is required for honest integrity. Once we start to master this skill, we start to speak directly and without hesitation. Our current culture needs as many voices filled with honest integrity as we can muster. Each of our unique voices are needed.
As clearly as I can express it, this is the path I feel called to follow, and what I am called to write about in this blog. I hope that it will help others to find their own clear voice and the courage to use that voice for the progress and healing our world so desperately needs…at this precise moment.