Mope. We think we should not mope. Go down, be down, downer, don’t go there… but sometimes we have to let ourselves feel, and feel deeply, even if it’s not the popular feelings.
I was grumpy four days ago driving with my daughter for a skiing vacation. She gently told me not to grump at her. By the next morning it was clear why I was grumpy: an awful cold had come to visit and I was not going to ski. And I probably got it from her, but maybe not, and it doesn’t matter. I moped a little, but was mostly proud that I rested for two days and did not try to push through it, power through it, feel the burn…. I’ve done that too many times and then gotten really sick. I rested for two days and slept for twelve hours daily and moped a little. And yesterday I did ski for part of a day. Then we drove home, my daughter driving most of it, and I hurt all over by the time we got home….
If every feeling is a gift, a visitor, sent from the Beloved, as Rumi writes… welcome them all. This body is a guesthouse, says Rumi. Welcome moping and treat it gently and with kindness and understanding, as we all long to be treated….
I am at the lake. There are younger people with me. We go to the graveyard. The earth is soft and loose. There are no markers or stones. We do not need them.
“I can feel the people in the earth.” says one of the younger people.
“Me too!” says another.
“Of course.” I say. I name the people under the earth and introduce them. The young people are amazed. I am surprised that they have never felt the dead. I think the cities and concrete and phones and television and computers: all of these must block the signals. But we never allowed electricity here. The phones don’t work. Candles, aladdin lamps, propane stoves and heat with wood in old cabins. Thin shacks where we hear the wind and water, and tents, lying in the embrace of the earth.
We leave but when we come back, the young start to reach down into the soft earth, arms length. “Did they die young?” one asks. “We want to know more.”
“You must be patient.” I say. “Don’t push the dead.”
Later I return a third time to sit quietly alone with the dead. Dark falls, moonless, overcast, no stars. I stand to return to the cabins and my flashlight dies. I know the paths well, but not the path to the graveyard. I tie up my long skirt and kneel. I feel the ground gently. Yes, I can feel the path. I start to crawl slowly, stopping to feel the packed worn earth. I think of wolves and cougars but none have been here for years. It is not cold enough for exposure. It is just dark and slow. The dead are with me and approve.
On Christmas day, my daughter and I went for a beach walk. Another family was out, swimming initially, but they climbed up on the dock. Otterly sleek and busy and quick, hard to photograph! I used my big camera with the serious zoom… one is already back in the water.
I have been changing the art in my clinic with the seasons. This is by my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway, and is currently up in the clinic. This is her largest watercolor, of the Olympic Mountains, painted in the last few years of her life.
My daughter made sticky buns, left in the refrigerator, Christmas Eve. Christmas morning I took them out, let them warm and finish rising, and baked them. I woke her up when they were browned and ready to come out! Festive, indeed!
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