melt my heart

Dear Loves,

This morning I viewed a short film of the ice breaking up on a northern lake, crystals piling atop one another, pushed by the flow of the season, winds of change. A mere 73 seconds of video and I felt my heart breaking up in a way I hadn’t fully acknowledged was happening in the busy-ness of these last few weeks, my own acting ‘as if’ a way of distracting me, perhaps, from deeper feelings, keeping them submerged, if you will, beneath the ice.

“What are you afraid you would feel if you didn’t distract yourself with your busyness?” Of course, the other side of that sentiment is that sometimes acting ‘as if’, moving our bodies, moves what is stagnant and breaks open dammed up channels, allowing passion for life once again to flow.

It’s hard to justify allowing myself to feel this as a loss, when it seems so petty next to what some are experiencing, but I must acknowledge that this is a visceral part of me now, this northland that has burrowed itself into my heart so much so that it is I who feel uprooted. This morning’s video re-minded my heart of its home.

Yesterday, all the chores of dehydrating and seed planting packed away, I felt the emptiness of ‘what now?’ I spoke to the Red Cross volunteer recruiter on the phone a few days ago, trying to muster up the passion that had driven me to make contact a few weeks ago, though, if I am honest, that flare seems to have died down. Maybe if I blow on the embers a bit… alas, I fear(know?) that at this stage of my life, I am water, not fire.

My sister mentioned to me this week, as she experienced her own grief around a particular loss that has hit one of her children, that she now understood how my pain felt in her body. ( I, as you know, have also been filled with sorrow and fear around my own children’s lives.) Her words struck me and have stuck with me, the bodily way that we feel/know empathy, separate from our thinking. No matter how compassionate we are, it seems, we can keep ourselves distant by living too much in our heads— that heart/head split that I wrote about earlier this week.

I’ve also been re-minding myself this week that what I ‘know’ in my head is really so little. This is a reminder to remain humble, on one hand, to stay out of the hubris of ‘right and wrong’, either/or overthinking, needing to have all the answers, and to continue feeling on the other.

Perhaps knowledge is power, but I seriously wonder if it can also be Love. It usually doesn’t end up feeling that way to me, and when I begin to feel too much power, I wind up being brought back to my knees, where, as Etty might say, ‘someone suddenly kneels down in the corner of my being, and that someone , the one who kneels down, is myself’.

The act of kneeling in humility, in submission, in my own smallness, is suddenly a redeemed act for me. For so long in my life, it felt like being forced to my knees, humiliated. Now it feels like grace. Marrying that humility to tenderness, to sorrow, to profound love, to these feelings of being overcome with the sacredness of it all has felt redemptive. It is beyond human capability to fully take in the mystery of life while standing up. Perhaps this is also what kneeling in the canoe does for me.

And so, back to this feeling breaking through in me this morning, my heart breaking along with that ice. The longing in me for that place—and if I am honest, the feeling of utter sacredness that place evokes in my body. Is that a kind of empathy too? Is empathy with place a thing? Does that melting of the ice remind my body of all that comes alive in me when I am there? Is not one definition of spirituality, ‘that which brings you alive’?

As the moose thirsts for water…

The ice breaks, pushed by wind, currents of flow, thrust

Sheet over sheet, sharp shards

Piling up next to obstacles


The tinkling of crystals, like cubes in a glass quenching

As birdsong returns, and thawed frogs

chorus of love is erupting

Soon enough there will be flowers

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