Full Circle

Life’s course carries us unabashedly forward into aging.  As Rumi reminds me we’ve been through a million cycles of birth and rebirth, a million circles of beginning and return – even in one lifetime.  I feel my place in life’s great circle this weekend as I witness my son next to my grandmother:  Rowan, who is just shy of two, next to LaRue, just five years from being alive for a full century.  Lao Tzu comes to mind as he says “Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”

My mother and I dance in the middle, she caring for my grandmother and I for my son.  We live a similar existence as full-time caregivers – helping with toilet, bath, food and sleep.  Both of us up several times a night, we are firekeepers in the middle – bearing witness to the great signposts of life:  Beginning and End – and the realization that we often go on from this world much the same way we came in.

My mother tells me it’s easier to stay grounded in the present moment now that she is caregiving so intensely.  I sigh in agreement.  We muse about the calling to be intensely focused, on point, on guard – preventing a fall and ensuring comfort… “Yes, its easier to be present so long as you are in the flow of tasks and not resisting what’s arising,” we say.  Stay in the flow, stay present.  Loose the flow and crash.

Lao Tzu comes to mind again.  Stay in the flow of life, breathing deeply, not resisting, moving in the world like a graceful dancer carrying water with the task of not spilling;  Ever present, diving into the day’s tasks with contentment rather than begrudgingly – receiving what arises like a gift of Nature.  “Embracing Tao, you become embraced,” he says.  Embrace what is given and you are embraced by life.  Resist what is given and your life becomes like the dream I had the other night:  riding uphill on a bicycle in snow and ice on a busy highway full of cars (yes, this was really my dream).  Instead:

Supple, breathing gently, you become reborn.
Clearing your vision, you become clear.
Nurturing your beloved, you become impartial.
Opening your heart, you become accepted.
Accepting the World, you embrace Tao.
Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
Controlling without authority,
This is love.

-Lao Tzu

Dip Into Realm of Calling

The strange thing today:  all of the sudden the first year of Rowan’s life has passed – and slowly he moves away from me in that absolutely normal process of growing up.  I remember the days when I couldn’t even take a shower because I couldn’t put him down. And now, suddenly: space again – even if just a little – to connect and reconnect, to dip into realm of calling, to wonder at what’s next and to take stock in what is.

I make it a practice to find space in the week to ask myself:  “What wants to emerge?” What images arise in the short spaces between daily tasks?  It is almost always in glimpses that callings and a deeper sense of inner direction surface in my awareness.  For me this week what arises are images of pilgrimage, Ireland, the Earth-based sacred sites of my ancestors, the need to write down my experience, visions of creative projects, a pull to get crafty, draw to home-schooling (!?), desire to create seasonal festivals for family, homemade clothes and tablecloths, wool festivals, Irish dance, yoga asana practice and a soaking in of Summer and paying attention to the slow shift towards Fall.

Something about this phase of motherhood harkens me back to the crafts and wanderings of my ancestors.  I feel more acutely my place in the lineage of humanity’s long line and my responsibility to pass on a heritage, culture, tradition, careful daily routines that have meaning and history.  Much of this I have to re-create, and some days this daunts me, while others I step into this as if certainly stepping into a Calling – a calling from those who’ve been before me to bring forth a next generation with care and attention to detail:  not randomness and the havoc of clogged airwaves and media waves and endless hobbies and comings and goings that mark the dominant way of being of my American culture.

No, instead we can follow the thread of quiet mothering rooted in millions of years of simple but profound gestures.  Really, there is little that is more important.  Embedded in this vision is invitation to slow down and use my hands, learn something of the old arts of cooking and crafting… I write this with a wry smile, feeling how the hormones of motherhood have shifted my attention to encompass the age old vestiges of ‘tradition’ – a pulling longing for place in a line of great Women who know the collective power of small acts of creativity and intention enacted in the canvas of Home.

Do not misunderstand:  This too is calling, inspiration, creative expression channeled into raising another human being.  It is not that other expressions of my calling or creativity or work in the world are less important or less present;  It is just the unfolding understanding that there are few better ways to lend my realization and passion than manifested in the service of daily acts of caregiving.   This is also yoga:  that fine art of applying one’s will to the placement of the body as a gesture of love, openness, service, beauty.  In the same way that I carefully place my hands and feet with loving attention to detail – I can also carefully create Home and Family.  This too is sacred ground – the bleeding of spiritual practice and creative energies into manifesting the sanest, most grounded manifestation of what it means to be human – while also bringing another into the profound light of this experience.