First let’s start with this...
Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again
on an open sky.
has to be
so you can find
the one line
Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
in the ashes of your life.
You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.
This is my experience with grief and nature. It never had words before I read this poem but now it does. This describes my experience with grief and loss and healing and finding joy where pain used to reign supreme.
The natural world is the only place that I think I can really experience the full extent of my grief and loss and pain. It is why I invented cryking (crying + hiking for those of you who are just joining us). It was the natural result of me taking my grief on hikes every day. The tears just flowed. And in this very loving and lovely way. It was safe to feel them wet my cheeks when the only possible voyagers were the geese over head or the deer or perhaps a coyote that tracked me for a bit.
David Whyte gets this most profound and yet basic truth, healing, true healing comes from the natural world. And not other people. Sure they can assist but the life rearrangement comes for some us only when we spend time alone in nature. To notice the charred remains of a wild fire. To dare to write our dreams, the new ones that are barely surfacing, in the remnants of the old life that just burned to the fucking ground.
I have been in this place where there was so much leaving it was all I could see, and then one day on a path in a thick wood, I was reorganized. I saw that all that leaving was really an arrival. And I understood that I have been misunderstanding this concept for years. This is also evidenced by my great confusion at all airports. The whole arrivals and departures...I mean I am arriving to drop someone off who is departing, exactly where do I fucking go??? And I am arriving to depart...I still have to slow my mind down to show up where I am supposed to...
I am not sure exactly when a leaving becomes an arrival. I just know that it does. Sometimes, it takes years. Sometimes it doesn’t. I know that I have been walking on a well worn path in the woods near my house and I have been all about the loss and pain and suddenly, without my permission or consent, I realize that I am done. I am changed. I have moved on from the grief that was my constant and faithful companion. The grief that dogged my steps for months has quite suddenly given way to this new found hope and reason for living that was totally absent just moments before.
I find all the good stuff in the ashes of my life that just dumpster fired all over the place. It is apparently where I keep the good stuff.
Perhaps because I am sure no one will ever look there.
And I know absolutely that when I look at the unending sky, it is there hope is ignited for me. That is where I catch fire, it starts with a glance heavenward. And that somehow, for reasons I do not understand, burst open the bright flame of my existence that is so much more capable than I ever believed possible.
And when I read poems such as this, I am reminded, again, others feel this too. I am not alone, shut out of living and relating and touching others. I am part of this great whole that I, far too often, seek shelter and respite from. But when I read words like this I am grounded in the idea that I am just one of many. One woman who burns with intensity, with a fervor of self that is not really all that different from all I seek to differentiate myself from...
And I have become expert at recreating myself from the ashes of my previous fires. A phoenix that is fully created and reborn from all that previously existed, alighted and burned, now in ashes prepped and readied for rebirth once more.
This is the cycle of my life. Perhaps the cycle for all of life. We have within us this most basic and fundamental idea of Divinity. And it is enough to change everything in an instant. To metamorphosize grief into joy, pain into relief, loss into gain. Ending into beginning. Departure into arrival.