Peeking into the Nest

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As spring crawls slowly up the Northwest coast, and a crocus, like a purple hand, pushes soft fingers through the ground, as well as the cherry trees wink pink blossoms at passersby, I make my way in a couple of days to check in on one of the birds that have flown from my own nest. I go to visit my son. He has flown with fairly agile wings south to live in San Francisco, find work, live with roommates, and look for his life. I’ve heard good reports chirped my way so far.

Though my nest is now empty, I look forward to taking to the air to sit in my son’s nest for awhile, not to hover, or look too closely at the fibers and feathers he’s used to create his own domicile. I hope to quell my eagle eyes, and choose a softer view. Look gently, and realize that fledglings are in the process of wing-spreading, not yet in perfect form. I’m also looking forward to stretching my own wings out a bit. Perhaps not arriving as mother bird, but loving mentor, proud coach, guest. This will be a challenge. We invest so much in our offspring, those we look after so carefully for so long. But the song that keeps singing in my ear this season of my life is a phrase by Ram Dass, so simple: “Be here now”.

Maybe that’s the key to every life situation, every change, every sameness, “Be here now”. And so perhaps learn with this, as spring approaches, how to make this newness, this change, this nest-visiting moment a “be here” moment, in all its messy beautiful feather-filled ways.

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My own rite of passage: cloud break

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Of course, the other side of the cloud mystery, is the cloud break, beautiful, light-filled, but also in its own way, a time of passing. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (from the band, Supersonic).Those lovely, white or grey sky-bodies that created those patches of the unknown, also float away into their own directions, and with that we get to experience both “newness” and “change”.

One of my own children today, sends off his girlfriend on an airplane back to northern California; we watch her cloud float away, his remains here. My daughter will leave the state in a couple of weeks to start her sophomore year of college- her cloud will also float.

I can only watch the sky with wonder. So beautiful those particular clouds. So wide the sky. All we can really do is send them on their way with light and blessing and wait for the next northern wind to bring them back, holding new crystals and colors in their formations to share with the rest of us.

My son will eventually float on as well. Our job, as parents, is simply to be a part of their adoring sky.

Second Rite of Passage Reflection: Ginny, the most memorable moment?

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“When I try to pull moments and events from my 18th rite of passage in order to categorize one or another as the most impactful or the most important, I can’t really. You see, they’re all woven into one experience and to separate them would be to unravel the thread and see something different altogether. So I was stumped, I couldn’t think of what would be the superlative moment; I didn’t know what to pick without picking all of it. But as I started to let the question settle in me the answer reverberated back in patches of color and sounds and gestures that conformed into many shapes, women shapes, Karmyn and Nancy shapes, Mom and Sharon and Jessie, Maril and Tricia shapes. Yeah, they were the best part. I guess I realized that I loved them not only because they were a part of my heritage, my mom’s support that was passed down to me, but that they represented a wonderful, colorful, real diversity of women.

Lately I get paralyzed with the idea of becoming an adult. Suddenly the freedom of choices and opportunity to trail blaze that so enthralled me when I was younger now stare me down and dare me to make the first move; and I feel like I’m shrinking. Like I’m going to implode. Sometimes the pressure around my head and heart is so tight I feel like I’m fighting my way through a birth canal that’s too small, and it is pushing me out regardless, as each approaching season brings another contraction, another inch closer to entering a new country- I don’t know where. I feel trapped by the bifurcation of where I will “inevitably” exist and live in for the next forty years. I know that this is hyperbolic, dichotomized, falsely, I hope, but it still feels that way a lot of the time.

But more than the events and projects, spontaneous dancing and art making, it’s the handful of women around me that gives me courage and better yet, a passion for my adulthood to come. They’re all so different, so dynamic and wholly themselves, creating life around them and for themselves that in their adulthood reflects their own unique passions, pursuits, and persons. Of course they, like everyone else, carry their younger selves in them still, but they didn’t get stuck at 18 or 20, they took her with them and stepped forward through one day at a time, and then they arrived-or rather are still arriving-at this other country called adulthood. It’s their specific and unique lifestyles and personalities that show me that my own life can and will be fashioned into something courageous, beautiful, and my own.”

– Ginny

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Second Rite of Passage: a word, a bird, and a hand massage

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As I mentioned, the bulk of the weekend were experiential “gifts” from all of the women invited to Ginny’s second rite of passage. This was the best kind of present as it left an indelible mark of the giver’s presence in my daughter’s life. Here’s a taste of the first offerings as reflected in my juicy juicy journal:

“After a while, a migration was made into the den, the place of last night’s nest. Karmyn quietly encouraged us to open up our chests and hearts to the new day. A stretch towards the sky. Then a train of massages, back, then back, then back. Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders. Gentle music of peace and old time hymnody. Partners scattered in twins across the room. Almond oil. Aromatic lotions. A time to massage the hands of one another. Sharon’s hand slips like a fish in and out of mine. Rub. Squeeze. It’s amazing- the topography of hands: muscles, bones, freckles, gradations in skin tone. The rich smell of thick almond lotion pasted on hands. A joyful swish of Karmyn’s long hair and a blessing, and the movement moves on. . . .

Scattered on the ground are: “Birds of North America”, Tricia’s birding journal posted with stamps and stories, poetry and quotations, and blank white stickers.

“When I was in Belize for three years,” she says, “there was not a lot to do.”

She took up birding. It helped her make the jungle her home. Neo-tropic birds. Memorable moments. Calls that called to her, “I think you’re pretty! I think you’re pretty!” she thought she heard one bird say.

She reminds us that the books tell us that every bird has a color, has a call, has a place and asks us to find three things in us to share that make a place a home.

“A potted plant to care for. Photographs of the old life and the new. A local textile for the bed.  Mapping out the geography of place. Sinking deep into the history of where you are. These are a few. And then, find three things we want to look for in a relationship, just like the characteristics of neo-tropic birds. The plumage is not the most important. Look for compassion in the eyes. Have the same migration path. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Laugh. Laugh together. Laugh with and at each other. Laugh. Then think of three things we must do, our life lists, like a birding life list, three things. Kayak at night. Full immersion in the local custom. Hike every trail in the Sierras. Plant a garden. Those are a few. There are so many more.”

These were the things we were to chew on at local restaurant. So much to share with one another in the world of journeying women. What might be your contribution? What journey would you take the rest of us on in that bright hour?

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A welcome and a warm hello

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My girl was turning 14. I looked up “rite of passage for women” online and got various stories of female circumcision and menstruation rites. With my nose crinkled, and the bottom falling out of my parental heart cavity, I knew I wanted something different than these options- something beautiful, something meaningful, something indelible. Shouldn’t every child have the chance to go through puberty with a bridge intact and shining adults holding hands on either side of it singing them into adulthood? Yes, my heart pumped, every child should.

Shining adults. I knew so many. My mom was one, kneeling at the side of my bed since childhood, ushering me into the world of spirit, praying in the darkness, while my eyes swirled in my head searching for connection to the otherworld. My good friend, Tricia was another. A pillar in my daughter’s life since birth. The one woman who took a stand to fight for dignity and freedom in my life when dignity and freedom were not a part of our family structure. My friend, Sharon would be another. Solid soul of commitment and questions. A beauty forging through the dusty paths of difficulty with at times, murky direction.  Nancy could be a third. Artist extraordinaire.  A sculptor from scraps. Her craft boasting both a method and a life lesson.

The list was filling out. But so many could have fit the bill: Karmyn, Maril, Valerie . . . . Each possible person could have filled it with a contribution, a purpose, a message, a gift they bring to this life. If it weren’t sculpting or praying or rescuing, it would be letter-writing or storytelling, or quilt-making. Each person has a part to play on the shining bridge . . .

which is why I’m choosing to write this blog.

I hope to::

  • explore the rich possibilities of rites of passage for girls
  • share life affirming examples from close at home and far way
  • provide a meeting place for ideas and encouragement in creating your own original celebrations

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I’m glad you’re here! I treasure every comment and look forward to responding to each one. See you on the shining bridge!