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Storage: when i moved from one house to another
there were many things i had no room
for. what does one do? i rented a storage
space. and filled it. years passed.
occasionally i went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.
as i grew older the things i cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. so one day i undid the lock
and called the trash man. he took
i felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. things!
burn them, burn them! make a beautiful
fire! more room in your heart for love,
for the trees! for the birds who own
nothing — the reason they can fly.
– mary oliver

This winter, I’ve been clearing away clutter, externally and internally as these practices will do. That mass of rubble bearing down upon my spirit and burying my joy? Cleared away. Those boulders blocking access to this well of wisdom, where the awareness that All is Well lies calm and deep? Hauled off, one by heavy one.

Last week, I noticed something had shifted, that my daily diligence had perhaps furrowed a new pathway in my heart, for there I was, standing in the midst of a storm, yet somehow didn’t feel either caught in the middle nor swept into the cyclone – tossed this way and then that. Instead, I felt calm in that eye, the one that can see it all with Love. A strange sense of calm, for sure, in that familiar drama.

It felt subtle, at first, that shift from being caught in the middle to being centered in the midst, like a delicate sort of balance had been achieved. My sister imagined it to be like being balanced on a beam, perhaps above a roiling pit, in which, if I leaned to either side, I would be consumed. Oh, I’ve stood precariously there many times, afraid to move one way or the other. But, no, this balance felt much more grounded than that, more like yoga’s tree pose.

As I sat with that image, I realized she was a mighty tree at that (not at all some tender sapling), rooted and secure, her heartwood soft, protected by a strength secured through seasons of buffeting winds. A strong gale or a blast of ice might knock a branch loose, but would not uproot her from the soil of her belovedness.

Makes me wonder how that tiny seed grew so quickly, the one I’d found buried beneath the snow on the Solstice.

So, today I tackled the book of rooms. As I started writing in this entry, I’ve been decluttering my ‘house’ (in many ways). We typically do this kind of massive overhaul when we move from one house to another, and I do expect there is a great shift taking place in my life, a tectonic shift, strong enough to crack the plates covering over my soul. (or was it the strength of that seed of Love pushing upward through that rock?). At other times, we are forced to do this kind of major clearing out when someone dies. Again, the metaphor is not lost on me. Some old way of being is letting go its hold upon my life.

So, there were the books, most of them moved into this house with me, then left upon the shelf. Books, mostly, from that last phenomenal transition of my life (could it possibly be 18 years ago?), when my world shattered and then opened into something so much more wonder-ous and beloved. In those texts were voices, who midwifed me through that oft treacherous and unknown passage; now, a cloud of witnesses.

Letting go is often painful. Sometimes it feels as if one’s very self is being rent in two, this saying ‘no’ to the old in order to make space for something new. Sometimes the old is terribly beloved. Old selves. Old roles. Old ways. Old relationships. Old places of belonging. Old identities. Old truths.

When they were packed, there were more than five hundred, to be passed along to someone who, as I once was, is hungry for the particular kind of nourishment they offer. I sneezed my way through the unshelving, my body’s defenses rebelling against what was stirred up, as my heart has often done in response to my attempts at letting go, when those old fears and feelings would get stirred awake.

This evening, in their place, as when anything has died, there remains just a layer of dust, a faint reminder, a mere outline of what was.

Ashes to Ashes

Dust to dust.

And I wonder…. what will this phenomenal place we call earth – and this myterious journey we know as a human life – make of these wondrous remains.

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