You can listen to the welcome note for this care package here.
I’ve come to the shore again. A particular stone, beside another particular stone, has become familiar to me, taking my weigh for a while, as I listen to the waves. Returning to the same spot offers a kind of ceremony: simple, perhaps, but pared back to its stone and basics, the spot becomes a window into the unknown. From here, I am learning to ask questions.
How can I get to know the movement of the tides better? Where do the goldfinches go in the winter? How do the limpets hold on so successfully? What is the name of that bird call? The place is alive with questions. I gather them, not for immediate answers, but as a way to remind myself: there is always so much to learn. Each question becomes a pathway to inquiry, and each inquiry a way to realise, that from this stone, the world is revealed. We don’t always have to move from our spot to understand our place in the world.
I think of this sitting as a kind of ordination too, a transit into a world of learning, but not the kind I thought had been ordained for me. As the weeks of this Covid lockdown have rolled into the next, I’ve found myself falling into a rhythm which, with a different pace and a different set of expectations, has given me permission to explore in a new way. The boundaries of what I have known are being pushed. ‘Stay’ has become a new perimeter of being.
I keep noticing goldfinches. I wonder if there are more than usual or am I just noticing more. I’ve watched the buds ripen, open, bloom. I’ve tracked the moon each night, a full cycle, through waxing and waning, in conversation with the tides. I’ve planted more seeds. The home I rent has become a kind of sanctuary; every corner, every book, every beam of light, a blessing. In a world full of flux, to have a place is an ordination of belonging, and is not something I take for granted. Here, has become a whole new world, and that new world full of ever revealing wonders which the restrictions have illuminated.
I came across a poem the other day from a poet whose name keeps appearing, like the moon, in phases, but at the moment with such regularity that I began to take more notice. I listed to a reading of ‘I do not want to be a Spice Store’ by Christian Wiman. I listened again, and again, finding that the poem is asking questions of what is essential; what gets pared back when we remove all the unnecessary choice. I love this line in particular;
‘I want to be the one store that’s open all night
and has nothing but necessities.
Something to get a fire going
and something to put one out’
Yes, this kind of essential: something to get a fire going, and something to put one out.
I return to the stones, this place of elemental unknowing. There is so much I don’t understand. There is so much I can not do. There are so many people I can not help. I’m not a doctor, nor an epidemiologist. I’m not a frontline worker nor a manufacturer of PPE. I’m not in a position to offer opinion on when this lockdown should end, or the particulars of the political and social strategies which will enable it to happen. It would be ungrounded speculation, and I am ignorant of so much. But it is into this space of my particular unknowing that I can call myself into being.
How can I live my values onwards?
How can I learn more from nature?
What is the sound of that bird? And the name of that cloud pattern?
How can I best use my gifts and resources right now?
And what can I offer of necessity: something to get a fire going, and something to put it out.
Here, among the stones and the moonbeams, I want to learn how to ask better questions so I can live into my quest. The learning may not be in the answers, but as Rilke so fundamentally asserts, in the questions themselves.
Included in this Care Package..
I hope you enjoy and find nourishment and delight in your own discoveries.
Sending love from my place, to yours.