So here we are. Who knows? Life is here – what is more?
On her last days, my mother could barely speak. She asked for very little: a cup of coffee, a lullaby of crashing waves. She wanted to be close to the sea, to feel again all the things it evokes in one’s body; the warmth of sunlight, the taste of salt. Comfort, freedom, childhood.
Of course – what else could an animal body want from Life? Comfort, freedom, love. I learned a lot from my mother, in life and in death. I learned about the important things, and the unimportant things. It hasn’t been a straightforward process. I forget a lot. And it takes time for the lessons to drop from the head to the heart, and from the heart outwards though my hands into the world beyond. It takes time. It’s okay. I know I am enveloped by the loving arms of possibility at all times, for all time. Life is miraculous, possibility is generative, creation is inexhaustible. I am learning these lessons, too.
I can’t help my human flaws- they are deep and dark like the ocean. The soul is wild, and dangerous too. It is steep rocky cliffs and violent undertows. It is cobras and pit vipers. It is electric thunderstorms that roll in out of nowhere, forces too big for me to reckon with. I am often exhausted by the soul’s reckoning, by its reckless demands.
But you see, to Spirit we don’t exist. Our stories are mere fodder for this great abyss; dreams, hopes, desires all devoured. People pretend like this is easy to accept, but it is not – how would you feel to have your head crushed by a boulder? Eleven billion years of loneliness is what it feels like.
I don’t have to succumb to this mere despair. Sisyphus rolled that boulder back up the hill day in day out, and it never did behead him. With time he became an existentialist, finding a way to even enjoy his predicament. But lifting stones for a living is for men who are strong and determined; I should know, I’m married to one.
I am a woman, and I want to bear children and grow flowers, feed chickens, tell stories and love my neighbours. Call me essentialist if you want, I don’t care – you don’t know my spirit, you don’t live with my body, you could never see the world from where I stand.
And so instead of emptiness I call it womb. Instead of death I call it renewal. Instead of nothing I call it possibility.
Instead of crushed I am ambling towards my destiny, instead of grief I experience growing pains, instead of loneliness I choose compassion. In place of transcendence I speak of embodiment, and God is Life, that many-headed beast of fish, wolf, oak and cicada.
I don’t pray to Life, I write love letters, and sometimes sing and pay my dues to the Audubon Society and the local farmer’s market. I tell the truth as well as I can see it. I honour anger, cradle sadness and bathe in bliss.
And what my mother so wanted I freely enjoy, and I’m grateful for it, and I remember that I am here, now, alive – cobras, vipers, flowers, chickens and all.