It’s Christmas morning. The hustle and bustle of Christmas mornings in the past feel like an ancient memory, an entirely different life than the one I now live. All those years of rising early to make a special breakfast, celebrate my husband’s birthday, open stockings and gifts with my daughter, and then rushing about visiting are over.
My daughter is now a young woman living on her own, and I am divorced and living in my little cabin in the woods, it seems that almost everything in my life it’s entirely different than it was three years ago. And there is freedom in this truth, and also a healthy amount of sorrow and longing, and wishing that endings could have been different than they were. Though not wishing that the endings hadn’t happened.
The heart is such strange territory to travel in. I wonder if while I am alive in this human form I will ever understand my own heart’s ways. How it can long so deeply for the past, while simultaneously knowing that in that past, my heart longed even more deeply for something to change. For some new beginning to happen. For a new life to be born. And now it has, and my tricky old heart cooks up a stewpot full of nostalgia. Maybe she’s just fucking with me.
So Christmas morning I wake alone, well, not entirely. My cat is remarkably good company, and a generous cuddler on winter nights. I climb down from the loft and heat some water on the stove. Some things never change, coffee being one of these solid fixtures of my days.
I take my coffee to my altar, sit on my cushion and light my candles. My life now has a generous space woven into it. I have time each morning undisturbed to set and say thank you for my life, to appeal to the forces of nature, and the deities I work with, to know them, to be of service to this life, that my family be held and well protected, that a new world be woven again out of the wreckage and ashes all around us.
As I sit on my cushion, something within me settles deeply. I feel the weight of my own form become somehow more solid and surrendered. I feel my breath become fuller and my eyes fill with tears. How grateful I am for my life, daily I am astounded by the depth of this feeling. Honestly, I can hardly believe the beauty. I can hardly believe that I get to be alive in a human body today. That I get to breathe air, a gift from the green bloods. I get to look up at my tallest friends, the Douglas firs that surround my home, I know there are ways now. I know how they look in the summer in the winter. I know how they look and the dawn and at 2:00 AM in the morning. I know their scent and they know mine.
Years ago a friend of mine who had been through a divorce told me that it was like a death. I listened, but I didn’t understand. I spent so many years in a marriage that felt like a prison, the anger and resentment in my heart growing high around, like a wall of briars that I couldn’t see through. I couldn’t understand that even through that impenetrable wall of thorns, that the ending of a marriage, my marriage, is a death. I couldn’t possibly understand then how painful it would be.
I sit at my altar and I allow myself to drop into the empty space between my ribs, around my heart, down towards my belly. It’s heavy and dark, it pulses with the soft ache of lost dreams. The tender hunger of a little girl that believed in forever. The desperate which gyrations of a young woman trying everything in her power to make something work that never could have. It was rotten at the center. My marriage had a grail king wound. and neither my husband or I knew to ask the sacred question. So it was never asked. And only festered. Until it grew large enough to swallow all of the attempts at beauty we had made.
Sometimes the space in my life feels like a joy, and sometimes and endless chasm. Over the last three years as I have learned to be a woman on my own in this world, I have had two, no, I have chosen to sit down and learn to face myself. The constant noise And endless doing that we find ourselves Addicted to and this time, are an incredibly convincing distraction. More space and time is what we all say that we want, but once we have that what will we do with it? And how does it actually feel to have the time to sit and know yourself.
I can only speak for myself. It is Absolutely gorgeous and totally terrifying. Without so much of the constant doing and hubbub of living in a small home with other people I find myself frequently deep in thought. Rolling ideas around in my mind, feeling my emotions and reactions more deeply, creating a rhythm of my days that holds me more gently.
Spending so much more time alone has dramatically changed the way that I move through the world. The sentience of the world has shifted, and life has come alive in a way far greater than I imagined was possible. You’re never alone when you feel connected to and held by the more than human world. The Douglas fir trees, my tall friends, know me and love me as much as I know and love them. And this is not an abstraction, this is not a thought, this is a deep knowing in my bones. We belong to each other. I to this land and this land and all her inhabitants to me.
It’s interesting to reflect on how aloneness has really taught me relationality. In the acute stage of rending, as my world tumbled apart, I felt that I would forever feel abandoned and alone. But gratefully that is not so. Gratefully I have not only a human community that loves me deeply, but I have found my way into the wide lap of this great and generous earth. And we have claimed each other. My life path utterly changed by this truth.
As I sit here now at the end of my second cup of coffee, I feel peace in the quiet around me. This day when we celebrate the birth of light, the birth of the holy, the possibility of the sacred walking the earth, I welcome the newness in my days. Even when there is a taste of sorrow, or a breeze of fear blows by me. I am eager to continue walking this path of my life, to see what is being born anew inside of me. And how it will root down and rise up in this world. As always I have more questions than answers, but I no longer think of that as a fault. I think of it as a gift. My life is a gift. One I am so grateful to receive.
From my quiet little home and heart to yours wherever you may be. I wish you comfort and joy, I wish you the sense of being held and tendered well, and I wish all of us peace on earth and goodwill towards all of life. Let us all birth the holy on our breath and with our hands, and do the good work of weaving a new world together.