“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.”
Nothing so hardens the heart of man as a barren familiarity with sacred things.
J. C. Ryle
When objects become too familiar they lose their sacredness on us. They do not lose their inheritance of beauty and story, we simply miss seeing it. To perceive sacredness, we must see, as Black Elk says, in a sacred manner. When we see in this manner, we also experience that which connects everything to everything else. There is a wholeness to our observations and experiences.
I finished my death cleanse. Hundreds of books along with other objects of affection went on to new lives elsewhere. Most gifted, some recycled, a few tossed out. One antique typewriter sold to someone who collects them. I like the spaciousness. I don't miss anything. I have kept some objects sitting out as friends, companions on my journey. There’s my many bear fetishes from trips with my daughter that act like a bookmark to these memories. These fetishes hold a sacredness, a beauty that I more easily enjoy now because they stand out.
What do your objects say about you? What is the story of a cherished object? Explore that, write about that.
How did this object come to be? Write about that.
What do you remember truly seeing today? Write about what happened and what you saw.
"It is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man’s hand and the wisdom in a tree’s root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name." –Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea, taken from (a most wonderful book) Tao te Ching: Power for the Peaceful – by Lao Tzu (Author), Marc Mullinax
When we are habitual in our seeing of something we don't actually notice it. To explore something, to be curious about that thing you encounter, is to connect with it. To connect with one object in a true way is to connect with the story of that object. And all the stories connected to that story.
Everything has a story.
Our words too as objects may become too familiar, habitual. Conscious writing, whether it be for our personal explorations or for others to read, means we give purposeful attention to what we are writing about. If I am writing about hope, for example, what images, words and objects will bring hope alive within me and my readers? What details of emotions or symbols describe hope?
What is an object of hope, that expresses or reveals hope for you? Write about that.
Recall finding hope during a difficult time. Does an object of significance stand out? Remember that; Write about that.
Objects certainly hold metaphorical symbology in our writing, they may also have personality and deliver a message.
Christine DeSmet , a writing coach and author of several fiction mentions how objects play a central role in scenes and story. “Often, an object in any story becomes a spotlight for both the character and reader. The object draws our attention and we know it's important somehow. Objects lead the reader to a surprise or understanding that is deeper than life without the object. Effective writers choose objects carefully because they carry meanings such as hope, love, despair, loss, or happiness, to name a few examples. When a writer has trouble creating a character or finding depth, one question to ask is this: What does the character collect? Collections of objects say a lot about humans. The collection might be what's in your junk drawer in the kitchen, or what you have inside a valuable case in a prized spot in a family room or den. We all collect objects at some time or other in our lives because the objects signify something important about time, place, purpose, people, and our emotions connected to any of those aspects.” –Christine DeSmet, author and writing coach, was the director of the popular Write-by-the-Lake Writer's Workshop & Retreat, offered through University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies. She can be reached HERE.
What do you collect? Write a story about that. Or, do these objects seem to find and collect you?) Write about that.
For quite awhile now I described myself as being on a bridge from what my life was to what lies ahead. A few weeks ago I shared in a clearness committee session that I see a full and active life behind me. Then, when I looked ahead I saw only a long clear path through a vast blue emptiness. I decided to be at the center of this overpass with consciousness, curiosity and kindness.
Then Roe VS Wade was overturned.
Being undecided now felt inconvenient and ill-timed. To remain mindfully on the bridge, waiting to see what might appear was no longer the best use of my life energy. This news of Roe versus Wade being overturned, although anticipated, ignited an urgency in me to take action. Specific action that would be of service at this difficult juncture in our shared story. A difficult juncture that has no clear or present end.
This call to action to be of service in a specific way was, as it turns out, what I have always been here to do.
Just like you I hold gifts, interests and ideas that are inherent. Being kind to a stranger, being generous when you have little or a lot to share, finishing that collection of poems, speaking an endangered language, writing letters, restoring prairies, rescuing stray cats, reaching out, finishing that space in your home to create art -- all are ways to do the work in the world we are meant to do. When we open our hearts and listen (sometimes with a help of others), we find that what we love has always loved us and is ready to be expressed through us. Sometimes this something is a surprising stranger, sometimes this something is an old welcomed friend. There is nothing to figure out, or force, or to chase down. And waiting on the bridge watching the world pass below me, is not the needed response at this time either.
Adding to the sanity of the world, healing from what harms us, bringing forth the beauty for others to enjoy, has always been about opening up from within. Then once we open to that idea or quality or project and it is revealed to us, we must keep a strong connection to our inner resource so we can continue to do our beauty-work in the world (and not be destroyed or stopped).
It's that simple. Listen to that inner teacher; act on what she reveals.
To make the simple easy we need just a few things to get from here, to there.
Learn to listen. Spend time in the natural world. Read poetry. Meditate and contemplate. Have a regular practice of contemplation. Journal. Take the inner journey through the labyrinth. Have ways to explore your inner landscape with a keen and compassionate ear. Write a letter to your self from your Inner Teacher, have the letter start: Dear (your name), This is what I want you to know. Repeat that line instead of stopping to think. Keep moving the pen until you fill up one page (or more). Something will come and it's okay (and quite poetic) if it is between many lines of this is what I want you to know.
Work with what you have and who you already are. Play with the choices you have already made. Explore them more deeply. Practice painting or writing. What keeps returning to you? Write about that. Dogs that need rescuing? Stray children who need respite care? Smooth broken glass that wants to be part of a mosaic? Your grandchildren? A lyric for a song? A desire to help save sea turtles? Making jam to sell at a local market?
Your life up to now holds everything you need to discover what's next. Be who you already are.
Gather together. Gather to do the inner work and to play, to explore, to discover and to celebrate. When we gather together in safe, dynamic circles we discover how to best express and manifest in the world. My upcoming Yearlong circle: World into Word & Action applies wisdom from my pervious books and work, from clearness committee explorations to decades of working with people in transformative circles. This yearlong adventure is a way for you to open up to your inner teacher and to discover what you need to know now to move forward.
This was what struck me from within when hearing the news about Roe vs Wade. I was called to offer another yearlong circle to help others cross their bridge, to move through fear, to get out of your own way. My call to action is to help you listen for and respond to your inner knowings and callings.
Be more deeply engaged in the world with me and 12 other journeyers. Open up more to your inherent wisdom with a circle of friends. It's time to share your gift, finish that project, discover further your personal creative intentions and to fulfill them. To further become who you already and truly are. Anyone who knows that this is the place for you but lacks financial resources will not be turned away. People in transition, people healing from trauma, those of you who are on the front lines, those who cannot pay in full or lack funds, there is a place for you here. Contact me for your free 20-minute zoom consultation: HERE.
The journey together starts October, 2022. Click HERE for more information.
Where do you want to be in a year from now? Write about that.
Today, I face forward on the bridge where people of various genders and shapes, familiar and unknown trees, creatures of all kinds are ready to greet me and to start up a new dance. A dance of engagement and lasting beauty.
A final helpful note. There is no way for this to lead me astray. I can't be disappointed or felt I made a mistake if no one shows up for this great plan of mine. What I know, with utter certainty, is that to listen and act on this choice will lead me to exactly where I need to be; where I can best serve others and dance.
I get a weekly email from my bread guy. During COVID lock down Cress Springs Bakery delivered to homes in Mount Horeb and Madison. Every Tuesday he would send out a link to order goods. Along with updates on breads and delivery, he would share a poem. More often than not I didn't know the poet. Always the poem resonated with me. During this winter her started up delivery again and in came the poems to my inbox. The one he sent out this week was Small Kindnesses.