Together Alone in Nature – Lockdown

This has been a tough time for many, making adjustments endlessly, with the shifts and changes in the alternating lockdown world. Taking solace in the natural world provides time for new ways of thinking, and gives the certainty that the cycles of Nature are there for us, when everything else is uncertain. Keep strong and stay safe!

copyright imogencrest 2020

witness and witlessness

Writing openly about my life used to be like water off a duck’s back for me.  I was Say-Anything Steph once-upon-a.  So many battles, big and small, seems to have whittled me down from feeling large to little in a twitchy, embarrassed-for-no-reason kind of way.   It aint purty!  So I’ve been consciously pulling my s___ together for the sake of … pride?  Yeah, maybe pride.  Pride goeth, I know, but there’s something to be said for sparing the world from another simpering, twitching, ever-apologetic mess.  I got down; I can get up.  Me big girl now.  *smile*

The point of this post is to share an experience I had yesterday and take solace here in the temple.  Actually, the experience has been ongoing since April when I begin what was supposed to be a year long “crisis support” program at the local hospital.  I brought them the crisis, but I’m still wondering when they’ll get to the support part. 

At the end of 2006 when I had to leave the house I loved so much because I was being abused by one of my stepdaughters I began do slide into a depression that spiralled as the events following my departure went wildly out of control.  Simply surreal, not to be believed, this is not happening to us, no way Jose kinda stuff.  The depression absolutely buried me when we buried our beloved Seanna last August, and that’s why I turned to the community care centre at the hospital for help in April. 

Every month that I have met the therapist and doctor since I started six months ago I have been asked the same questions about what it is I think is bringing me so down and why it is that I have no interest in life or plans or hope for happiness in my near future.  They have focussed on the depression but offered no grief counselling whatsoever.  In fact, they offer no “depression counselling” either; they just keep asking me over and over why I think I feel the way I do.  The psychiatrist asked me each time for the last three months why I don’t return to my regular activities, my normal life,  and why I am not content once again now that I am out of the depression.  And every time…as I have for six months…I have to remind him that my home is gone, my gallery that was my beloved work is gone, my job as Dorian’s bookkeeper is gone because he is bankrupt, my one stepdaughter (abusive as she was) is gone, and my other child, the child of my heart, is DEAD! THERE IS NOTHING TO GO BACK TO!  IT’S ALL GONE!

Barely controlling my feeling of insult – well, anger, really – that these basic facts of my life cannot be remembered, or least not gleaned from reading a simple chart or file before meeting with me again, I requested a different therapist, a switch that also comes with a different doctor.  If I end up with no “crisis support” from the hospital at all and am not allowed to go back there, I surely won’t be able to discern a difference.  Other than, perhaps, being free from the monthly insult. 

I have been embarrassed to be enduring this nonsense in my quest for solace and really should have just come to the temple once a month instead…heck…you probably would even have let me weep here once a week!  *smile*  You all are so kind that way.  LOL  But for so many years I told myself the story that I was the one holding other people together, my family, my children.  Yeah.  Such fairytales I tell myself!  And believed them because I needed to as a child needs to believe in Cinderella’s prince for a while. 

Nonetheless, here I am, feeling much better though still without any great enthusiasm for living, but I am Alive enough to have regained my sense of the necessariness of bearing witness to the witlessness that We, many of us, have to bear at times in life.  I bear necessary witness here in case someone else in Soul Food has or is being so sad and enduring the ridiculous dismissal of their entirely acceptable and understandable sadness, despondency, or simple exhaustion.

I am grateful for this wonderful temple and the solace of this place.  A place where I know words and tears and fears and questions and weariness and wonder and wishes and women are welcome to wait for healing and love and better days to come.

steph

Diamonds

I wrote the following Grief-poem when I was thinking (and deeply feeling) about my friend, whose young-adult daughter had died in a car accident, and a client whose 2 children had died within one year.

I was also reflecting on the loss of my infant son years earlier. I began wondering what I had wanted or needed when I was grieving – and what I could offer to my friend and my client in their grief. This poem is a result of that reflecting.

Diamonds

I thought that my role was

to hold up a lantern

in the dark,

subterranean

labrynths.

Shine you the path

until your eyesight

adjusted

and you could take it

on your own.

Turns out that my role is

to sit with you

naked,

in the cold,

pitch

dark

on the rim of a yawning chasm.

And, at times, to move with you

our foreheads glistening with fear,

clammy hands clasped together –

backs to the wall

groping our way,

occasionally stubbing our toes on diamonds.

bittersweet

It is time for you to understand and admit that you do not need to eat chocolate just because it’s Christmas.

Excuse me for talking to myself out loud there for a moment but the situation was getting completely out of hand.  There are three of us co-habitating for the holidays and the other two crazy people keep leaving their hordes of chocolate lying about…alone, lonely, unguarded…vulnerable to attack.  *smile*

 It’s a relief  to be able to joke again without having to choke it out.  The funny fate of the chocolate is bittersweet, though.  So much sweetness has gone out of my life with the deat of my Seanna that I find myself indulging – overindulging, really – in the rich and sweet ingestible delights in an unconscious effort to reclaim the delight that died with my beloved.

 What a year.  I’m not ready for another one yet.  (Too bad, so sad, sorry for your luck, Chuck!)  Seanna loved to say that.  She couldn’t speak in complete sentences unless they rhymed or she sang them.  Yes, she was interesting.  And yes, life is infinitely dull without her.  Regardless, I know it’s time to get busy living or get busy dying. 

 On January 19th it will be one year since I bought my new home in Hamilton, and it’s still a half-finished renovation disaster area.  It’s going to stay that way for a long while, too, because my renovator’s truck was stolen a few days before Christmas.  So here I am.  I can write endlessly about what was, and muse happily about what will be, but there is no “is”.  At least there doesn’t feel as though there is an “is”.  I’m just sort of…here.  I can find plenty of things to do, but they would just be busy-making activities.  My present is purposeless.  No one waits.  No one needs.

 Oh wow.  I keep forgetting to add myself to the category of “people in my life”.  I wait.  I need.  For?  I wait for the energy of enthusiasm to reappear.  I have a need for a spiritual fire to relight itself and lead me somewhere, anywhere.  I have sat at this computer day and night for weeks now, reading everyone else’s comments and communications, but only rarely have I been able to move myself to make a noise or a contribution.  All that is in me now seems so unnecessary to the world around me that I am not inspired to remark or recount.

This is just perception of course.  A misperception, surely.  Nonetheless, while others celebrate the miracle of the birth of the baby Jesus, I’ve been tampering with a miracle of my own: struggling to give birth to myself.  Wish me luck.

Steph

Art Is Not Tame – Henry David Thoreau

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“Art is not tame, and Nature is not wild, in the ordinary sense. A perfect work of man’s art would also be wild or natural in a good sense.”

Henry David Thoreau

Attribution: Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 337, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(Image: magenta bougainvillea summer –  copyright Imogen Crest 2007.)

Whispers in the wind

Whispers in the Wind

I hear your voice whispering in the wind.

Words sweet and low, barely heard,

But there,

Calling out to me,

And thee and thee and thee.

I hear you voice whispering in the wind,

Words that speak of pain

And bring tears to my eyes,

Hurt to my heart.

You are, my friend, solid and dependable,

An artist, a loving human being,

Asking for little,

But now in need—

I am listening—We are listening

For your whispering in the wind,

For your laughter once again,

And your words.

Your call, my friend, has been heeded.

I am here, we are here,

Sending healing thoughts across the miles,

Over land and sea,

And in the wind.

Vi

September 29, 2007

Prayer from Singapore – Anonymous

This poem is from a book about the seasons of life, and seeing it’s nearly Spring, this fits for now, coming out of Winter.

“God – stir the soil,
Run the ploughshare deep,
Cut the furrows round and round,
Overturn the hard, dry ground,
Spare no strength nor toil,
Even though I weep.
In the loose, fresh mangled earth
Sow new seed.
Free of withered vine and weed
bring fresh flowers to birth.”

Angel Falls

angel falls

There was a great flapping of wings,
enough to cause the water to spill over the banks,
or so it was said,
this was the reason to call it Angel Falls.

I saw no angels
sitting on the bank of the river
heard no wings
flapping above my head.

Clearly the water still rushed, over the side
into a small seemingly bottomless pool
for some reason it bade me
and inexplicably I jumped.

There was a great flapping of wings
and I found myself wet and tired
on the bank of the river
beside Angel Falls.

I knew better than to look into the abyss;
how strange,
that temptation and salvation,
exist but a heartbeat apart.

In Communicado

Woe to the status quo,
the rigid stone,
the hard bone,
the bough break,
the stand still.

Woe.

Venus is in
communicado with
Saturn,
and the heavens
alight,
with sparks of
stars.

Go.

For the love of
Venus,
Saturn melts in
the light, –
transforming –
in communicado.

Slow.

The rivers flow,
nature aglow,
light at night,
sparkling stars
adrift, the
crescent moon,
sighs.

Heavens above,
scrupulous love.

Grow.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2007.)

Dreaming as Art

 

 

Growing up, we were not encouraged to dream, neither day- nor night. Night dreaming might be mentioned if it was scary or taught a lesson. Anything else–the mysterious, flying, living a wonderful life–was dismissed as a waste of time. And day-dreaming was no better. You could have been learning, cleaning, studying, or making yourself a better person. As the only American-born member of my family, this did not seem strange. My parents had not ony gone through the hard-time 1930s, but they went through World War II in one of the countries that lost.

To read the rest, as well as see a link on how to daydream, visit my art studio. There’s chai on the table.

Faith: A Buddhist Perspective

heartquote

“The Buddha said, “Faith is the beginning of all good things.” No matter what we encounter in life, it is faith that enables us to try again, to trust again, to love again. Even in times of immense suffering, it is faith that enables us to relate to the present moment in such a way that we can go on, we can move forward, instead of becoming lost in resignation or dispair.” ~ Sharon Salzberg

“Faith is the ability to offer our heart to the truth of what is happening, to see our experience as the embodiment of life’s mystery, the present expression of possibility, the conduit connecting us to a bigger reality.” ~ Sharon Salzberg

“Faith is the animation of the heart that says, `I choose life,’ ” Sharon writes. “This spark of faith is ignited the moment we think, `I’m going to go for it. I’m going to try.’ ”

True faith, according to Sharon, is the action of the heart opening to admit life in all its unknown potential. It does not need to constrict around a particular belief or view, because it flows from an inner sense of reality, “a homing instinct for freedom.”

“The tendency to equate faith with doctrine, and then argue terminology and concepts, distracts us from what faith is actually about. Faith is not a commodity we either have or don’t have-it is an inner quality that unfolds was we learn to trust our own deepest experience.” ~ Sharon Salzberg

Distinctions between Belief and Faith
“Faith does not require a belief system, and is not necessarily connected to a deity or God, though it doesn’t deny one. This faith is not a commodity we either have or don’t have—it is an inner quality that unfolds as we learn to trust our deepest experience.” ~ Sharon Salzberg

“When we hold a belief too tightly, it is often because we are afraid. We become rigid, and chastise others for believing the wrong things without really listening to what they are saying. We become defensive and resist opening our minds to new ideas or perspectives. This doesn’t mean that all beliefs are accurate reflections of the truth, but it does mean that we have to look at what’s motivating our defensiveness… ” ~ Sharon Salzberg

“With their assumptions of correctness, beliefs try to make a known out of the unknown. They make presumptions about what is yet to come, how it will be, what it will mean, and how it will affect us. Faith, on the other hand, doesn’t carve out reality according to our preconceptions and desires. It doesn’t decide how we are going to perceive something but rather is the ability to move forward even without knowing. Faith, in contrast to belief, is not a definition of reality, not a received answer, but an active, open state that makes us willing to explore. While beliefs come to us from outside — from another person or tradition or heritage — faith comes from within, from our active participation in the process of discovery. Writer Alan Watts summed up the difference simply and pointedly as, ‘Belief clings, faith lets go.’ ‘”~ Sharon Salzberg

Developing Faith
“To develop a verified faith we need to open to the messiness, the discordance, the ambivalence, and, above all, the vital life-force of questioning. If we don’t, our faith can wither. If we don’t, our faith will always remain in the hands of someone else, as something we borrow or abjure, but not as something we claim fully as our own.” ~ Sharon Salzberg

heartquote

Find The Light

Even when you wander in the darkest caverns       

Fall into despair and are blind to life   

Never give up;

Take the hands of those who walk with you

In the spirit of friendship and love;

Invite peace into your heart, 

Look out for the light                  

Dip your soul in its glory.                             

 

Jan