Opening the window

20160402_114934.jpgI awaken early to the sounds of raindrops pattering on the porch roof outside my open window, trickling to join the others in the gutter, then running with them in a gurgle to the spout. Above and beyond, the chorus of bird song, melodious and sweet, not yet with the quality of exuberance that will be in weeks to come, settles into sleepy focus. The forty degree air, which convinced my shoulders to burrow into the down a few hours ago, chills my exposed nose, and I note with interest the crisp breathing in of that coolness through the opening of my nostrils,  the way in which that same air is warm on the way back out, heated by my body, how entering my being has changed it even as it has changed me.

My mind recalls the knowledge that the chemical makeup of the air is also entirely different than when it entered me. I find this thought wonderful, and I wonder in these quiet moments near dawn, if it might be possible to stay, attend more closely to the here and now,  like this miracle passing through this open window next to my bed. How opening to take in this life might change both it and me.

The windows in my home open inward, a simple latch, a hinge, then that which lies beyond is welcomed in. I like that. Not a pushing myself out, not an exertion upward in an elevation of myself, but an opening inward to let the other in, like the way a closed heart might let in something outside of itself and in that exchange fill the body with a flood of oxygen rich blood. Clear the mind. If you hold your breath too long, after all, your head begins to spin and you become disoriented quickly. Is the earth here solid? Can I walk in this place at all?

I make my way onto the porch. Though it is early, chilly, I can wrap my hands around this steaming mug as my grandmother’s afghans wrap themselves around me. And of course I have my own internal heat, the one that changed the air I breathed within that dawning moment.

Perhaps this is a habit I could don then, in this very place, this rising early to the open window, this wrapping of my self in my mother’s mother’s warmth. Though I know not much of her, I trust the way the work of her hands can warm me by taking me in, as my own hot-blooded body warms the air I breathe.

A friend of mine on the next street has a treasure trove of diaries and letters from her foremothers. I long for such a lineage, for the women in my own are voiceless faces in an album in the attic, their stories silent, their wisdom and their sorrows unbequeathed. I have these afghans, whose significance I imbue with meaning as I wrap them round my human form, but I have had to find my own way to unearth the silences within them and within me. I know that this is why I write, to hear a voice otherwise unattended, unknown, unrevealed, to receive her wisdom and her strength, to receive her sorrow and her deeper joy, to give voice at last to the unspoken.

To make visible that which is hidden, some say, is what it means to be a human. We come bearing gifts. I know this sacred act upon which I labor is a gift to me. Each time I begin again, donning this habit of writing, I feel as if I’m coming home. This morning, I am leaning into the trust that this work of my hand may also be a gift of healing to another, this bringing forth, if only to the voiceless and invisible ones that came before me, perhaps to those who will come after.

And so, I breathe in deeply this wide world with which I dwell, taking in her gifts .. a raindrop or a gnarled tree, a friend’s deep sorrow or a gentle touch, this mud-covered snapper or that great wedge of sky… it meets me in some place within where those sacred stories lie, waiting for this human body that I am to give them form and expression. Here on the page they emerge, somehow changed, a piece of me exchanged with of piece of them, a hidden past whispered to a promised future, in this transformative conversation.

Yes, perhaps this might just be a sacred habit I am donning, after all.


(PS. I have been pondering this idea of a the sacredness of habits for several days now. A rough draft has been lingering in my files, added to and subtracted from, rambling and incohesive. I finally finished it after writing this, and post=dated it to indicate the place that it held for these days in my heart/mind. You can read it here )


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