Feeling unseen? Trying seeing.
From the Journal | March 19, 2023
For those new to this e-community, I periodically offer my readers & clients snippets from my daily writing (tidied up a bit ;-).
March 9, 2023 | Thursday
Longing, Tabby-boy moans to go outside. His sister looks through the window, watching afternoon rain fall from sky, following one drop, then another, and another into pebbles or pond. From behind, it looks like she’s nodding.
Another pair of cats ago, I lived near the edge of the East Fork of the Lewis River in Southwest Washington. I’m there. It’s my father’s first birthday after his death, tepid rain and mountain snowmelt conspiring to send the river rising, fingers of water climbing the banks.
The night incredibly dark, it isn’t water I see, but a glimmering in the distance, approaching. How could something so lovely be so ominous?
My husband and I move car and truck, parking them on higher ground. By the time we’re walking back down our unpaved road, we’re wading in and out of thigh-deep water as the river ebbs, working its way through sword ferns and a forest of Doug firs and Vine maples.
We keep going. Our cats, our old home, are on the other side of surging water and worry. I feel it, a chill, a shiver.
Do you love the magic of the mind as much as I do? In one moment, I can be in two.
I’m here, inside, safe and dry, on a redwood ridge, in daylight, well above whatever water is swelling elsewhere. And I’m here, walking the wet-blackness and woods of a night when my heart fluttered in its cage and water became a cave of rushing, raging sound that I thought was 17 years away, and yet, it’s here, now.
Going to my bookshelf, I pull a copy of my first book, Mosslight, holding the poem I wrote after the Lewis River surrounded and came under our home.
Reading it, I see the beloved cats we’ve since buried, staring into a heating vent in the floor, listening to water lapping in the ducts turned tinny canals, the river stalling just inches from coming inside.
I thought: it’s only brown water, a hand, fluid, reaching to me.
No, it is bruised clouds, a hungry mountain, the dying away of snow.
I wade the shallows—limbs of trees float past and fur clotted with leaves, debris, all swept away.
Balmy night, wet to thighs. Then in deepening loss, a shoe full of mud, rain, tiny fish.
March 13, 2023 | Monday
Along the sidewalk, shallow puddles and tiny rivulets carrying the overflow of rain away into rocks—spikey shoots and low, leafy curlicues drinking it all in.
Green bursts out of mud-darkness. I’m worn, worn-down, down this morning. So I need this shimmering scene.
Hello, it says, what overwhelms doesn’t last, but trickles away, some new possibility always erupting at the edges.
March 15, 2023 | Wednesday
So much prayer is about asking. Eyes closed, or not. Hands together, touching one another, or open to the sky, releasing wants as if invisible birds.
Whatever the language, the meaning is help, please.
I think of this, kneeling in mud to pull a weed between storms. The earth is soggy, so it’s easy to tug away whatever is unwanted.
Amid the clumps of rogue grasses and flourish of leafy tendrils, one Hellebore, the pale-plum blossom looking down.
Where did you come from?
As I tip the whorl of petals up to see inside this unexpected flower, I think of a woman I met as a voice on the phone. She tells me she used to be afraid to hate God, but now, feeling lost, it seems possible.
“Is it really hate you feel?” I ask.
A pause. I can hear her lift a cup and drink, a little gulp, then a sigh.
“Not really,” she says. “I want to. I deserve to. It’s almost disappointing, but no, it isn’t hate.” I sense her head turning, imagining she’s looking out a window or at a picture of someone she loves and misses.
“It’s that feeling you have,” she continues, “when you are in a big buzzing room, like a party, and everyone seems to be having fun, and you’re just standing there feeling more alone than if you were really alone, and you think surely someone will sense this about you and come over to talk, but they don’t. Do you know what I mean? What it feels like to be unseen?”
Gloveless and no trowel, I plunge my fingers into the ground that will be hard in a few months. When I pull them up, there’s an earthworm, writhing, and filaments of white roots, the soil rich as used coffee grounds.
In this after-rain hour, looking around, it’s easy to think there is no one else here. In my palm, the worm squirms. Eye-less and lung-less, his wet skin is the way his whole, bald body breathes and sees light.
Do you see mine?
Most of what comes to us, we never asked for. The sometimes awful, the often awesome.
I release the pink, wiggly fellow into one of the tunnels my fingers made into the ground. “Godspeed, little one.”
March 17, 2023 | Friday (St. Patrick’s Day)
The forest is purring. Moonless and cloudy, this soft, distant trilling. Takes me a moment to remember who it is.
A Western screech owl. Hello, haven’t heard you in a long time. I listen for a reply from another owl, but he or she is solitary.
I come from a long line of women who talk to themselves. If you made the mistake of commenting to my mother on her solo conversations, you’d get the snippy reply, “Well, it’s the only way to get an intelligent answer around here.”
Turning toward the owlish tremolo, I take in the intelligence held in 6½ ounces of feathered being.
Sound is physical—a force, a vibration, an acoustical wave finding the delicate structure of an ear, rattling it. Such wonders—there’s an owl in my ear!
Wisdom is stored as much in body as in mind.
I try purring and trilling back to Owl, tucked in a faraway redwood. The answer? Surprise, a shuffling below me on a trail and to the side of me, near the deck’s steps.
Flipping on my flashlight, a Grey fox pauses his trotting to look up, eyes shiny as dimes, that fluff of tail a perky curve, which is the way his body says, what’s up?
Scanning right, ah, Ms. Raccoon, planning to visit the suet feeder. She’s standing up on hind feet, swaying on the first step to make sense of me. Good luck with that, my dear.
We all go still, but for the still-distant trilling. As if captured in a painting, I’m simply one part of a larger scene. A tiny part, but a part nevertheless.
Who looks at us? Who sees the immensity of this moment?
As if a spell broken, Fox scampers into ferns and salal. Ms. Raccoon wobble-runs under a wheel barrow full of rain. Owl has nothing more to say.
Day having come and nearly gone, I step out again onto my deck at 9:30 to say good night to the night and send my good intentions for others out into the universe.
Always, too, the hope for one more gift or glimpse or worldly embrace. You never know, says the still, small voice within, this could be the last.
Corned beef in my belly, and a bit earlier than usual, I’m drawn, literally a sudden urge, to be in the night and to pass through a door I don’t usually take for this ritual. Now, my body says, and so I go.
Immediately my eyes are pulled up. A dazzling streak of light is gliding over me. Over me! Thank you!
A long, streaming array of white and amber lines is brilliant against the night sky, a spray of orange bits like glowing fragments from a sparkler leading it east.
What is this? Not the usual quick flash of a falling star. Not high-up jets in formation. Not, probably, some Chinese or Russian spy-drone-y thing combusting. Not some bottle-rocket celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
I turn off my mind’s What? What? What? I just want, as Ram Dass would say, to: Be. Here. Now.
My eyes following the stunning streamers over a stand of redwoods, I run down the long expanse of my deck, watching it all slide over my neighbor’s house, the light claw-ish, rending sky, until it simply dissolves.
Awe, pure awe. Motionless, I’m listening. No something crashing down or sonic boom, only the tree frogs with their amorous chorus, pulsing all around me.
You, reading this, synchronicity is real.
Ask for what you need, and let go of expecting it in the way you imagine. Listen to your own within. Let it take you by heart, by eyes and ears, by foot feeling its way forward, curious and open to anything.