The amazing Green Diva Meg at GreenDivas.com, has created a quick sketch video (one minute!) of me making one of my watercolor/calligraphy cards, so exciting for me! It gave me a whole new and fun perspective on my work :) I hope you’ll watch it!
Also check out a be-you-tiful online course for Mothers and Daughters at the bottom of this post. There’s a generous discount code for all Nothing Short of Joy subscribers :)
Now for our regularly scheduled program… ;) my blog post:
One of our trees, a Weeping Grandma Cherry, is losing limbs, losing life. I’m embarrassed by the flood of emotion… and I find myself hiding the tears. As I catch my breath, though, there is so much more to the story. There always is.
My hubby, Bill, has been warning me about her demise for years now, but I refused to believe him. He’d first declared it without much compassion, as if her death was a bother. It would cost money. It might fall on the garage. It might hit one of the kids.
Year after year, I’ve sat and recharged in her quiet shade, gathering my heart, breathing out the overwhelm, breathing in the peace. I’ve smiled into her gnarly face wondering how to practice her stillness. Under her calming pink parasol, I’ve written out my hopes and dreams. I’ve wept out my fears, anger, and despair.
Today, I wept for her. For the mysteries. For the violence. For the journey. For my Dad.
So many sad goodbyes in life – to those who move where I cannot go. These deep rules of heaven and earth, hidden in the rough bark of life. They leave their love, clues, and gifts in our own backyard.
One morning last year, as I was letting our dog, Merlin, outside, I was crushed by the sight – our restless neighbor had chopped down the colossal lilac between our yards. I reeled back in disbelief. In sobs. Every spring I’d reveled in this lilac’s scented curls. I’d gleefully waited like a kid, for her bountiful blossoms. I’d placed gushing vases in the kitchen and the bedroom just so I could bury my grin into her glorious purple perfume. The blissful smell of God-ness.
I couldn’t look at my neighbor for days.
And now our treasured Cherry is getting ready to fly away. Poison Ivy is creeping up her trunk, as if she has already been reclaimed by a greater night. Her amber blood oozes out from craggily warrior skin. As I run my hand across her Braille bark, some part of my soul understands the big Book of hers. Her silence craves a home in me.
For seventeen years we’ve been held safe in this home, this yard. My boys used to touch the cherry’s soft sap, in wide-eyed amazement. And after it hardened in the sun, they’d run their fingers over it’s glossy smile. They’d tug on her leggy branches to make it snow petals on their heads.
One Spring, back when my sixteen-year-old was four, the wind was kicking up a perfect petal blizzard. My boy took one look and scampered toward the back door. As he burst outside, the sun simultaneously came out from behind the clouds. I called to him, “the sun came out just as you did!” He yelled back, “yeah, that’s because it didn’t see me before!” Then he ran through Grandma’s pink waterfall, with arms and heart open wide.
He believed, quite naturally, that the Sun cared. For him. That the Sun saw. Who he was. That God placed the sun and the stars and old cherry trees, for us. And these things, pulsing with life, somehow love us, because Life loves us. My boy didn’t question the synchronicity that day. Why do I question my grief when I’m feeling adrift? When the world isn’t what I want it to be?
I realize I’m trying to hold on to what was never mine to keep.
When I hold on tight, it hurts more. That includes feelings. When I ignore ‘em, they’ll spew forth at the most inappropriate people and places. They’ll create dis-ease. They’ll separate me from me, and me from you.
Rejected emotions, like abandoned
inner kids, need to be accepted,
heard and honored. No matter how
old or annoying. Tears calm the
inner tantrum and clear the mind.
They set the pain free so we can let go. So we can trust the circle of life, again.
Until the next season.
Our culture teaches us, and especially burdens our menfolk, with the notion that vulnerability makes us weak. I realize that this is hogwash… but… I still find myself ashamed of my deepest feelings, even though I feel stronger after I’ve acknowledged them. Even though they make me the most real. They deepen my compassion. Our common humanity. They open us up and pull us together, where we belong. As one.
I’m such a sapling.
Fortunately, I’ve had a loving Mom who knew the truth about feelings. But even with her gentle encouragement over the years to “have a good cry,” I still resist. And then a few days ago, Grandma Cherry dropped a limb right near my youngest son and his friend. And the dam broke.
“It’s time,” Grandma seemed to say, “to let go. Of the sadness you’ve been stuffing. Let it be.”
I walk toward our three towering Mama Maples, who solemnly bear witness with me, bowing to Grandma. We watch her from afar, as if we might catch a glimpse of some holy spirit leaving us. As if the quiet would give up her secrets.
I remember the mourning dove pair that perches together on her high curves, and the crow clan that loves to gab and laugh up there. I return to these natural joys, often, when the world seems off it’s nut.
I wipe away the last of my tears. I hope my neighbors aren’t watching :)
Then I picture, said neighbors, joining me, without judgment or shame, to circle around Grandma, around the confounding mysteries, around the people and the things we love so fiercely. Around the life that can no longer be. Around the Greater Love that will always be.
I imagine the earth’s light coming up through our feet. Lifting us. The world. Higher – above the pain and the losses, to the joy beyond them all.
I thank the lilacs that once loved us, trees that breathe us alive, kids that teach us, a world that needs us, and Dad’s and weeping Cherry’s that leave us… better than we were before.
WHEN I AM AMONG TREES
by Mary Oliver
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches. And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”
A wonderful colleague, Meg Tobin, is offering a beautiful online course for Mothers and Daughters! Plus Meg is giving a discount to Nothing Short of Joy subscribers – use code JOY16 for $125 off! Unlike the early bird discount she is offering, this one does not expire.
Maiden Sisterhood: Join your daughter on a journey to discover a new story. Your story. Together.
“This fully online course brings together mommas and daughters ages 8 to 12 to explore the changing landscape of girls’ bodies and emotions as they enter puberty and the implications of those changes on the mother/daughter relationship. Come together with your girl for information, healing and joyous connection! The course begins on Monday September 19th. Mommas will meet online for 6 Mondays from 8-9 pm EST, with a focus on using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping) to heal past wounds that impact our ability to gracefully usher our girls to their place in the circle of womanhood. Mommas and girls will meet online for 6 Saturdays from 8-9 am EST with a focus on facts, self-care, boundaries and intimacy building.”
Meg Tobin is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified EFT Practitioner based in Upstate NY. Read more about her here.