Monthly Archives: March 2017

Kinship

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Gratitude fills me on this quiet morning here at Elkenwolf as I look outside at the familiar yet ever-changing scenery. I feel deeply held by the community of trees surrounding our cottage, like sacred guardians standing silent and strong. A pair of eagles sitting high on their perch across our little cove are bearing witness to the delicate unfolding of this moment.

The sun is breaking through the dense greyness that seems to be holding everything, even this day, in suspense not knowing which way it’s going to go. The unexpected light illuminating for a moment both the outer and inner landscape I find myself in as I give my attention to what is showing itself to me.

Just last week I heard myself talking to a few different friends about my difficulty in returning to an unfinished blog. Yet as I heard myself speak these words, I wondered if this is actually true or if it is a belief that stops me from entering the essence of the unfinished piece. Perhaps some of them are not meant to be finished and were just fleeting ideas. Yet as I look at these unfinished beginnings I know some of them need to be written and this is one of them.

Last June I began with the idea of a blog about a woman I had heard about but never met. Her  name was Gilean Douglas. The title and pictures came easily, but I didn’t get very far with my writing. Now nine months later this post is ready to be born, urging it’s way through the birth canal.

Last night after listening to the wind and chimes creating beautiful music together, I went to bed wondering why writing sometimes is so easy and effortless and at other times almost painful like being in labour. I fell asleep with the question in my head what my highest excitement is in regards to writing.

This morning I turned on the computer with the intention to begin the day with writing. While closing tabs on my computer I stumbled across the announcement of a radio program about Gilean Douglas, I had exactly one minute before showtime. Immediately I was spell bound hearing about Gilean’s life from people that knew her. The same deep feeling of kinship arose in me that I had felt last May when I first heard about her…

A few days before leaving on a vacation a friend of mine had asked me out of the blue if I had heard of Gilean Douglas. I had not. My friend began telling me about this fascinating free spirited woman, nature writer, poet, feminist and journalist who had lived here on Cortes Island for forty years until her death at age ninety-three. We walked over to the bookstore where my friend showed me one of Gilean’s books “The Protected Place“. I opened up a page and immediately was drawn into the world of Gilean Douglas, which felt strangely familiar.

Two days later I found myself with four books in my suitcase on my way to Hawaii:  Silence is My Homeland (a book Gilean wrote about her life in the mountains of British Columbia), The Protected Place (a book written by Gilean about her life on Cortes Island), Seascape With Figures (a collection of Gilean’s poems) and Writing Nature Finding Home (a biography and collection of her works by Andrea Lebowitz and Gillian Milton). On the beaches in Hawaii I got to know more about Gilean and her life and I loved what we had in common besides the love for writing.

Gilean first found this sense of home in Nature while living in her mountain cabin in the interior of BC and then again on Cortes Island after losing her beloved cabin in the mountains to a fire. I also had experienced that immense feeling of being truly home for the first time while living in a cabin on a mountain top for nearly thirteen years in southern BC. In 2005 I left our mountain home with my two sons following a deep inner calling to live by the ocean and go to counselling school. It was one of the hardest thing I ever had to do. Just like Gilean I grieved the loss of my home on the mountain very intensely for many years. It was like losing a best friend. Finally ten years later Cortes Island called me.. . and here I am, finally home in Nature again!

Within a few days of my return from Hawaii I met by chance (if there is such a thing) one of the authors of the Writing Nature Finding Home. Once again I found myself being connected to Gilean, learning more about her from Jill Milton who had been a friend of hers for many years. Within a month of my return my friend who first introduced me to Gilean Douglas took me to the Protected Place, Channel Rock, where Gilean had lived till her death in 1993. We spend a beautiful afternoon there, picnicking on the rocks in front of Gilean’s oceanfront cabin, walking the immense grounds and her beloved garden. It was easy to imagine Gilean sitting on these rocks writing, immersed in the beauty and wildness of this place.

While I was listening to the radio show Gilean’s writing was described as “singing songs of praise” for Nature and as soon as I heard this, I knew that it was the answer to my question from the night before. This love I have for Nature, for Spirit, for Home so wants to be expressed and writing is one way for me to do this. I am grateful for the sense of kinship, not just with Gilean, but the women who introduced her to me and all who love nature. For it is this kinship with Nature that gives me my greatest sense of belonging. I want to end this post with a beautiful heart-opening blessing written by John O’Donohue from his book Anam Cara, that I send out to all of you:

A Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam ċara. 

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Drinking life’s nectar – taken in the garden at Channel Rock

 

 

 

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Go Deep In This Fire

 

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My gaze is drawn to the compass lying on my desk. It’s needle pointing unwaveringly due north. It is lying in the midst of other objects thrown carelessly on the wooden surface.

It stops me in the tracks of my mind, just like a young eagle did the other day while driving home from work. I saw him sitting there on a rather unusual perch: a utility pole right on the side of the road. I kept driving, till I finally answered the inner call to turn around. I knew he would still be there.

I got out of the car after fumbling with my phone hoping for a picture only to find that the battery was dead. The young eagle watched me carefully.  His gaze was as unwavering as the needle in the compass. I held his gaze, wondering…

Then I suddenly remembered that for some strange reason I actually had put my camera in my backpack that morning, which I never usually do. The eagle watched me patiently return to the car and get my camera out. I snapped a few pictures, but something didn’t feel right.
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A bunch of cars drove by and I was sure the eagle would fly off with all this commotion. He turned his head looking this way and that way, but mostly his eyes were on me. I finally lowered the camera sensing the importance to be fully present. The camera had in some way shielded me from experiencing the power of the gaze of this eagle. As I allowed myself to be fully seen, I felt strangely naked standing there before him as if he could see every part of me, even the parts still hidden even from myself.

Suddenly he lifted off gliding gracefully over the quiet lake. I stood there long after he was gone, feeling a different kind of fullness and aliveness and wonder.

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I had several different encounters with young eagles since then and none of them surprised me, yet each of them made me pay attention, listen, be fully present, learning to let go of what I want, and instead opening to what life is offering me.

Then yesterday morning, as I was reading and writing in bed, something else stopped me in my tracks. This time it was a poem. I was looking at my 2017 We’Moon calendar curious about the next full moon, when I came across the poem called “Cracked” by Nell Aurelia. It spoke to me in such a deep way, putting into words what I experience night after night. Most nights I feel like I am in a cauldron over a hot fire, resisting, surrendering, resisting, surrendering…What I am slowly learning as the fire is burning away my resistance and what this poem made so beautifully clear to me that this journey is about me fully committing to life and this human experience, even in this very intense time both in my own little world and the greater world.

I knew immediately that I wanted to share this poem with you here on my blog and contacted Nell. She has graciously allowed me to share her poem with you.

Cracked 

by Nell Aurelia

I’m cracked. Completely.

I fell into the furnace long enough

To decide to find my own fire and light,

And when I went all to pieces

Some surrendered to the heat

And those that were left were me

But purer: there is something of a diamond

Rushing through my core,

A full madness of restructuring.

There is no ruin here.

Unless that is your fearful name for transformation,

Which I can understand,

But when you fall flying into your own,

You’ll understand:

Falling apart is full of its own reward,

However much it feels like dying, like failure

Full of the unbearable sensitivity

Of committing to this human experience.

Go deep in this fire.

There’s a point where all explodes and converges,

And you find you are yourself,

Only stronger, clearer, finer.

The messiest refinement of all: Choosing to live well.

Well? Fully.

Alive to pain, to suffering, to inequality,

To joy, to birth, to creation, to love – To all,

Because when you get right down in it

Acknowledging pain only opens you more to joy.

The brilliant imperfections of love, of loving,

Can only make the world shine brighter;

It’s fear that will give you half a life and convince you

You never wanted the other half anyway.

 

I highly recommend checking out Nell’s blog for more of her powerful poetic offerings:

https://thesingingdark.wordpress.com

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Image by Dancing Wolf