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Welcoming Life

January 2013

Sitting Still

For most of my life, I was encouraged to work hard and make every hour count. I've already shared how I made my own "gold star standard"--most  stars were earned for accomplishing something--finishing a project, getting a good grade, writing a book-you get the picture.
I never got or gave myself a gold star for
"sitting still." At least, not until now. It simply isn't a lesson that is taught. Practicing yoga and meditation come close, but they are still doing "something". They are things on the list to be done--yoga class-today--don't forget to squeeze in time to meditate. We don't tell ourselves, or at least I didn't to just sit still. Watch the world go by--forget the list of the "to do today."
We are rewarded for how well we can multitask. Productivity is the watch word by which we are praised-either at work or at home. When was the last time a boss or someone to whom we reported (including ourselves) said to us "good show, I just saw you sitting and thinking-awesome job"? Ah, never.
But I've incorporated "sitting still" on the things I want to get really good at this year. My first "gold star" given to me, by me, was for seeing this beautiful petal which dropped from my orchid plant.I stared at it for quite some time and took in its beauty.I saw how the color was dense at the bottom of the petal and sprayed out in beautiful dots from there.
Another sweet moment of sitting still was listening to my fifteen- year old grandson practice this beautiful poem-The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of  still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

I wish you all the peace of sitting still--perhaps letting the words of this poem float through your mind.


It's cold here in the Northeast.Just the way it should be in early January.This morning, I put on my treasured hat, the one pictured here.I almost lost it eleven years ago.Can a hat be a treasure?This one is.My husband bought it for me when we were visiting friends in Colorado, and we had packed too lightly.He placed great stock in hats being essential to protecting the body from becoming too cold.He once bought me a woolen hat in Camden, Maine on an incredibly hot day in July.He had a real boy scout "be prepared" instinct when it came to hats.This one though was extra special.I took it with me to Toronto where I fled the day of his funeral.I escaped to a favorite city of ours so that I could steep myself in memories and soak as much of him and our life together as I could so that I would never forget what we had.Some thought my desire to be alone away from loving family and friends was disturbing, but I knew instinctively that I needed to concentrate in isolation on what our life had been like and feel the pain of love lost and the exhilaration of love experienced.I knew it would not come my way again, and I had to make peace with it.Now what does a hat have to do with this story?Just this.I wore it constantly for the first few frigid February days when I walked the streets of Toronto, mulling over my life.Each night after coming home to the hotel, I put my hat on the desk in my room.The fourth day after breakfast I reached for my hat which I always put by my lap top.It was not there.I had kept my roiling emotions under control until then.I panicked, I was gripped with the unfathomable loss that I had held at bay.I came face to face with the horror of losing the love of my life and the loss of this hat brought it all home to my heart.Where had it gone?I spent the day searching for it.I revisited every place I'd been the day before.No hat.I begged the kind people at the small hotel where I was staying--they knew the story-to search everywhere for my hat.They did--but they didn't find it.Neither had I found it.Every nook and cranny of my room had been torn apart--multiple times.I had visited all the "lost and founds" of each restaurant and shop I had gone to the last three days.No hat.The next morning after a sleepless night, I ordered room service coffee, when I went to get the money for the tip I went to my desk--on it was the HAT.There was no logical way the hat could have been placed at my desk.My hat had been lost and now found impossibly.How? Why? I have learned since that there is an expression in the grieving glossary called "metaphor". It is the not-to-be explained incidences that leads the grieving individual to believe you are in contact with the loved one lost.My hat is my metaphor.I know there was no logical explanation about how my hat came to be on my desk.It didn't matter--I had my hat and I had the experience of perhaps the hand of my husband reaching to me from beyond.Magical? Yes.Comforting? Yes.More than that, though, it was a signal that I had to accept things beyond my comprehension.I had to have faith.I had to begin to see that life is in many ways beyond our control.My hat still keeps me warm as it did this morning.It is also a constant reminder to try and believe in those things that don't make sense.
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