November 6, 2010
Part one of a weeklong meditation, brought to you by the Pacific Ocean . . .
I returned last night from a two-day women’s writing retreat at Nehalem Bay State Park on the Oregon coast. We stayed in yurts, and my wondrous friend Sarah Kinsel led the experience. None of these words seem to do justice to the fullness and richness of our time there, diving deep into words and landscape.
I let the ocean speak to me and the fog and the stars speak to me. I let the trembling newborn stories of brave women speak to me. I let solitude and memory and fire speak to me. The words came tumbling out of me like a winning slot machine or a slit open five pound bag of coffee beans or Multnomah Falls, or like love. And I felt so glad to be alive, so lucky to be writing in a sacred circle, so connected to the heartbeat of things.
And yesterday morning, as the temperature dropped, slate gray clouds rolled in, and we dove into our last writings of the retreat, I decided that I wanted to share the experience with you.
I’ve been in the habit of posting one blog entry per month, but I decided to do something different for a week, starting today, for the sake of seizing the moment: to share one entry a day and that each entry would be a piece of writing that emerged during my retreat.
Now that I’m home in my living room, away from the magic of big waves, I’m nervous to do it. Did life just feel magical there? Is it more like a plastic wand and trick deck of cards here? Actually, truly, I don’t think that’s the case. So I’m going to trust where I was and trust what the small voice inside said, which was, “Share it.”
After all, last week, I listened to Emptiness and ended up with a whole lot of delicious pumpkin to eat, so I think it’s a good idea to take heed of the voices in my head that seek to nourish me and seek to share nourishment, which is what this is about.
For installment one, which emerged on the first night, with the prompt, “On the threshold,” I offer you the ten-minute free write I did, with minor edits. I didn’t change very much as I love how true voice just can just flow out without edits, and because I encourage you to take the same prompt (thank you, Sarah!) and use it to write yourself, if you’re game, keeping your pen moving, without concern for spelling or punctuation or what your mother would think or really what anyone’s mother would think. And if you happen to be someone’s mother, don’t worry about what you would think either.
Okay, here goes, without parental supervision:
On the threshold, threshing and meshing and washing and washing. Washing of the Water by Peter Gabriel—such a beautiful song. River, oh river, won’t you let me get some sleep, in the washing of the water . . . I don’t remember the rest of the lyrics, but I love the song, and I know it makes me want to go and dance on the sand and dive into the waves.
I also feel like I might just be able to sleep for two days straight here, let the tides guide me to rest and to wake and to go slow, so slow, just watching myself and the water and letting my tears come as they need to.
What to grieve for? So much lost, so much found. I Grieve—another Peter Gabriel song—he is here with me, but I brought no recorded music. I’d like to collaborate with Peter Gabriel on something someday.
And that feels like business planning, like maybe avoiding this time of nothingness, blessed emptiness, this pot full of space and absence and presence.
I feel my scarf around my neck, warm, and a striped blanket on my lap, and arms, I imagine arms around me. I’m not sure whose. Perhaps the ocean? Yemaya, Mama Ocean, Goddess Ocean. Time and Tide and Wind and Wave Goddess, Mother Ocean, Mother of Mercy, Mother of Water, Sacred Vessel. Floating, swimming, floating on my back.
Love is here in this place with me, arms of love around me. And what else on this threshold?
This threshold is imaginary, I think, because I’m already here. This must be the place. And now David Byrne has joined Peter Gabriel, and now I lie under a blanket of stars and now I let the wind lick my face like a puppy and I let the earth hold me like a lover and I breathe and grieve and leave myself.
I leave behind this self of the last year: this left woman, this abandoned woman, this discarded woman.
They are all robes and sweaters I can’t wear. They are threadbare, and they don’t fit, and putting them on at all feels like putting on cracked old spider webs that have lost all stickiness. They dissolve. They crumble like dust, and I am wearing nothing but myself:
now woman, beauty woman, power woman, writer woman, wonder woman, washing woman, dancing woman, me woman. Me.
Thank you so much for reading. You might notice that I don’t have a space for comments, but I’m certainly open to conversation about what’s written here. If you’re so inspired, feel free to start a conversation with me via the contact form on the homepage of this site.