Making Home

Spring has arrived. I can feel it in the air, a breath of sweetness in the breeze, and evenings stretching out for what feels like forever, but is really about 7:45. I love the turning times of the year, I love the newness and the freshness, the shift and the change. The way the whole world feels different, and all of life is aware of it. The birds are up and singing songs that sound somehow brighter and more excited, than their winter chirping. The rabbits are back, though not quite as many this year, I doubt that has anything to do with this particular spring and more to do with my mother’s new dog, scenting the yard with her canine smell.

 We humans are different as well, around here in northwest Oregon, it certainly isn’t warm enough to be showing any skin yet, and with our faces covered with masks, flirtation is a challenging undertaking. And yet, spring always brings more wayward glances from the opposite sex, lingering eye holds in the grocery store, and all the subtle ways of communicating that we humans have, to say “its spring…wanna get busy?” we can’t help it, let’s just blame our biology.

I have shared in my last two posts, a little bit about heartbreak, and healing, and the sense of surfacing into life again that is now surging through my veins. And spring is quickening this tempo in me. I have been at the garden again, and there’s something about that soil and filtered sunlight, the birdsong and the river going by that make me feel so terribly alive. In some ways it feels strange to have a fluttering of joy in my breast again, and a little bit of dance in my feet.

I’ve been living here at Bunny Hill Farm, for almost a year now. It seems hard to imagine that it’s been a whole year, and in some ways, it is only now truly starting to become my home. Not a stopping place, not a pause, but my home, my true home. I have been walking this land, praying under my prayer tree, singing to the moon and stepping into relationality with my beautiful home place, and I feel received. I feel stabilized, rooted, at rest.

Come late June, or early July my beautiful new little home will be going up. I’ve ordered a yurt cabin kit in a fetching wine-red color, with open interior beams, an opening five-foot dome center skylight, and five large glass windows. I am extremely excited to craft my home with my own hands, and of course with many other hands helping me as well. Also, I do realize I am stepping into a project that is far outside of my scope, and yet, there is something about this undertaking that feels entirely right. I trust completely in my process, in my ability to learn, in my desire for beauty and creation. Nesting is in fact one of my greatest joys, and as I build this home, I will be constructing an actual nest! I will be living in the round, a longtime dream of mine. No other animals live in square boxes…think about that for a moment, what are the implications of this? A worthy inquiry indeed, but I will save this for another day.

There is incredible grace in my life. My parents having received me back into their daily lives, after my being on my own for more than 20 years. Their extending of hearth and home and land to me is a gift beyond measure. Not only in that I get to build home here, right beside them. It’s so much more than that, we are, in our own small way creating community. Learning to live together, to communicate, to support each other, and to share our lives in a more interconnected and collaborative way then many families are blessed to do.

Life is so interesting, how it can deliver to us exactly what we wanted and longed for and dreamed of, and yet the circumstances wearing an entirely different face then the one of our imaginings. For so many years my dreams of living in the country, of being in community, and of engaging in shared purposeful work with people who I love centered around an imagined Oasis, owned entirely by me, and had a definite flavor of independence. Which I realize is somewhat in conflict with the concept of community, but fantasies don’t always make logical sense. The truth is that the concept of the rugged individual has crept into my psyche, even though I was raised in a community, and with strong community ethics in my blood from the get-go. So, life smiles at me, with her trickster energy, and says “here you go, community and connection and family, all you have to give up is everything you thought you knew.”

Did I think that at the end of my 39th year, I would be sharing space with my parents once again? Did I think that I would be divorced, and have sold my house, and uprooted, and then re-rooted once again? Most certainly not. But life had other plans for me. And if there is one thing I am learning, as I round the sun for the 39th time, it is that I don’t always know what is best. And I am certainly not the one in control. I am becoming a surfer, a life surfer, riding the waves and again and again climbing back onto the board in an attempt to catch a breath and a view.

I find myself sitting frequently and quietly, and simply thinking “what comes next?” I do not mean the new house, or the garden, it is a fuller, purer, wondering. It’s a wondering that fills my whole being, that tingles my toes and makes my heartbeat a little bit faster. I have a deep knowing that I cannot rush this question, it has to linger in my heart and my belly, it has to rest and grow and become a bigger and bigger question, until life decides to descend an answer. The near constant refrain that I hear inside is the most beautiful line, penned by our dear Mary Oliver “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

For now, I will show up. I will keep showing up. For myself, for my family, for the aching beauty of this land I occupy. For the wide wonder of this beauty soaked and trouble-filled world, and these times that I was born so perfectly for, even though sometimes I wonder why. For now, I will drink my tea, and write in my Journal, and study all manner of things that light up my mind and my heart. I will attend to the beauty of my days and my learnings, and I will keep the doors of my heart open, so that when the grace of knowing arrives, I will be ready to receive her.

The Little Drummer Boy

I was born a Christian. My parents, deep believers in a life of service to the divine, we called this God when I was young. But it was the heart of love of the divine that was the bedrock of my childhood. I longed to be a nun, as my stop over on the way to sainthood. I loved the stories of the female saints, rebellious and generous, willing to risk it all to love God, casting off the role’s society assigned to them to heed a higher call. I gathered flowers from the park and left them in front of Mother Mary’s icon in the church, gazing at her so long that I would well with tears. I am devotional by nature, and by nurture.

Also, I am no longer a Christian, neither are my parents. Yet I can say with most confidence that we all still carry a deep love of Christ, and the Christ story that we know. And we carry, each one of us, wounds from the false ideals, condemnation and shame woven deeply into most Christian traditions. I call it my “religious shrapnel” I keep pulling pieces out that I didn’t even know were there.

It is a strange thing to navigate no longer identifying as a Christian, while still carrying a tenderness and love for the traditions and beliefs that I was surrounded by in my childhood. I am moved deeply by hymns and prayers, I speak aloud words of blessing to God the Father, I hang images of the Divine Mother, in the form of Mary on my walls and light candles to her, sing her songs and kiss her well-loved face. I know that I can claim her as my own and not have to attach to a set of thoughts and structures that are not congruent to what I hold Holy.

I am in love with God, wildly and madly, and in all forms. But I am not in love with religions laws, the path of carnage wrought on the world in the name of God, the terrible tyranny that plagued our ancestors and continues now across the world in the name of religious colonialism, this now tends to wear the face of “missionary work.” Before anyone gets up in arms, I am not saying that all mission work is based in ulterior motives of conversion or control, but it seems to me that an awful lot of it is. If food, medicine or education is given at the cost of giving up ancestral beliefs and practices, that is a terrible tyranny indeed. How many cultures have been lost this way? “Christianized” away from the voices of their old ones, severed from the threads that held them together, the ancient ways of praising life. Is this what is called “being saved?”

Even with all that in my consciousness, when this time of year comes around and the air is filled with songs of Christmas. As soon as I hear the strums of a well-loved carol, my heart fills past brimming, and my eyes frequently do as well. Some of that emotion is linked to the oldness of the thing, the knowing of how many humans have sung these same words across time, we, all linked in timeless union through these words. And then there is the longing present…the hunger to call the sacred to the earth, to wed it, to have it live in us.

I can see my Mother in my minds eye, face lit by the light of the advent candles, eyes closed and uplifted as we sang together , Oh come Oh come Emmanuel, and Silent Night, and so many of the oldest carols, the ones still tasting of the hunt, and the rising of the sun. Her devotion, the pure love of praise in her face and her voice, this image alone could feed me for 100 days in the dark and keep despair at bay. I will be, all my life grateful for this ritual of advent my parents gave to me. I am in awe that after long days with children and work and the immensities of family life, that they carved out those precious moments every night( or nearly every night) of advent to bring us all together and offer prayers and songs to welcome the Christ child and bless his mother. What an act of love.

One of my favorite songs as a wee one was The little Drummer Boy. I loved the pa rum pum pum pum, how we would roll it off our tongues, the somewhat staccato rhythm. My body has always loved a beat.

The images of the song were strong for me. I was a young one too, I was a poor one too, not boy but girl, and not drummer, but I did have a recorder and that was something I could play. I longed to play for that baby, that child to be born in the manger, with all my heart.

Last week I was leading a song circle for the elders at the retirement community where I work. We sang The Little Drummer Boy, and as I looked around that circle, seeing the love in each one’s face, the tenderness, the same I carry, a new layer of meaning began to unfold.

The deep ache to have something to offer to life “ I am a poor boy too, I have no gift to bring, that’s fit to give a King” We long, I long, to give something precious of myself to life, to the king in this story. Of course we are poor, we are so hungry for a taste of something real, something true that we can sink our teeth into, plant our hearts into, breathe life into. In some ways, we all feel inadequate and unworthy, as if we have so little to offer of value. In fact, I will go ahead and say that I have never met a human that has not felt this way at times and for many of us this belief is absolutely running the show.

The place in the song where the tears always come for me, if they have not begun already is when the little drummer boy see’s that he can play, that his gift, his only gift, is the right one, the perfect chosen one. “And I played for him pa rump pump um, on my drum”

The exquisite beauty of being received. Would that we all find this great mercy.
Then the image of the wee babe, new to life and breathing it all in. I don’t think of him much in a manger, although the image is idyllic. I prefer to see him at the breast, suckling and sleeping, baby milk smiles on his face. Mary in the exhausted and exalted place of new motherhood, holding life in her very arms. You do not have to give birth to Jesus to know this wonder. And you do not have to born as Jesus to be born holy. This is the gift of incarnation, we are born, whole and holy. Trouble is that we seem to forget along the way, amnesia clouding our vision of who we were born to be and from who we have come.

I think it is us we are singing to. I think I am that baby at the breast, new to the world and filled with light. And you are that baby too.

Could we welcome again into our hearts our own divine place in the order of things? Could we learn to offer freely the gifts we have been given, in love and service to the holy? Could we see the sacred, that we could call Christ, alive in each one of us, and midwife that to grow and thrive through all our days? I offer up a prayer for this becoming. I offer up a prayer for us all, knowing that this prayer, and these words are the gift I am meant to be giving.
And I played for him pa rum pump pum..on my drum…

Much Love to you all, may you find space and quite in this fertile darkness.
Marianna