I'm sure I have mentally composed about 50 gajillion blog posts, ranging in topics from my little muse of a son to unexpected losses - some violent and sudden, some expected and peaceful - all heartwrenching - to moving into a new home a few blocks away from the old piece of heaven, and transforming this new space into something similar - to teaching and being taught in my career. And so much in between. I was asked by one of my very new but very favorite people on the planet why I wasn't writing - a question my husband has repeatedly asked me, because he knows it brings me something I have been missing. I didn't really ask myself the same question with the seriousness that I should have until about an hour ago, when I was dressing my son for bed and then reading him a story as he lay with his head in my lap, one little hand on my knee, another holding the edge of the book.
Maybe - to use the ostrich metaphor - we just retreat from the things we know are so good for us when the going gets rough. For some reason, sticking one's head in the sand is somehow easier than taking the time to do what makes us happy. Go figure. Or maybe the fatigue of juggling work and home and parenting and health just prompted an unintended pause button. That then got stuck....
Leave it to my friend Shannon to stir me to action with a directive: "Write about love for me," she politely asked. Well, okay then. I think about love a whole gosh darn heck of a lot, so this should be easy. And parts of it were easy like Sunday morning. Parts of it felt a little like doing 50 sit-ups after a 2 year hiatus. Oh, there is a muscle there? Huh.
But this is the thing about a "retreat" from something: if it doesn't force you to question pieces of your life, you need to try harder. Or something. At least work until the muscle hurts a wee bit.
Yesterday I returned from an ACTUAL PHYSICAL retreat with my new batch of ninth graders. It was pretty profound on a number of levels, not the least of which was my own realization that in getting to know some of my advisees and their truly wonderful hearts, I was forgetting about the needs of my own heart. Writing about love for Shannon was an initial heads-up that "Oh hey, Paige - you like doing this! Here's a grand idea - do more of it!" And then sometimes, people come into your life and open up your heart ever wider. This happened.
Thank the stars and the crickets for those people. And thank the moons and the heavens that such people keep coming. There is no shortage of personal thresholds (a theme I'm embracing this year) if you can at least learn to recognize them. And so too, there is no shortage of blessings in the form of kindred spirits to mark those thresholds and give them their meaning.
So yesterday's retreat was a threshold in that I remembered something so painfully simple. I woke up early in the morning, took a quick shower to loosen my joints, and then sat outside to watch the sun rise. Surrounded by soybean fields and endless skies, I watched and listened to one of my very favorite things: Canadian Geese. Why anyone would want to shoot these beautiful bits of poetry out of the sky is beyond me. I mean, they mate for life! I watched them glide slowly down to land gently in a corn field, and I found myself thanking them for sharing in this morning with me. And I realized: salvation comes in all forms, but most principally, it can be found in the notion that in giving of oneself, one is receiving something in return. Holy revelations. And also: it's about time I remembered that.
Because I have a pretty constant soundtrack happening in my head, THIS was yesterday's morning anthem. It helped that the sunrise was a singularly spectacular orange. It helped that my students - those I am charged to shepherd through their first year of high school - offer a type of love and understanding to those around them that it really does feel like a salvation of sorts. Everyone is saving someone. It is how retreating and then returning to a newly established center works. It is how the heart beats in its best of moments. And to the one inspiring soul who innocently asked me why I stopped writing, thank you.