Living in the Sea of “What Is”

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photo by Gina Marie Mammano

Today followed a yesterday of tears. A difficult diagnosis for someone very close. So, the slow, but sacred morning dictated a hearty bowl of oatmeal laced with blueberries and then a daylong fast to seek out clarity. And focus. Breath. “I do not want to live the drama of panic, fear, anxiety and life projected out months into the future; I do not want to live in the melancholy of wistfulness, regret, and sentimentality of the past. What does it mean to live in the gentle sorrow of today, and today only?”

I chose to begin my journey by hiking down a forested path that opens up to a beach at the bottom. I lay down on a large, toppled tree, and let the sun bleach the sand out of me, bleach the pearls out of me, bleach me raw. It felt good. Simple. To be in the body, and the heart, with nature as soul companion, a wise choice. I lay there, noticing the free flowing streams of tears moving down my face, the integrity of this, as well as the commitment to myself to not project into the future the worries and fears that might loom there. I realized that this is living in the sea of “what is”. I don’t know tomorrow. All I know is that I am here. And I am o.k. Sad, yes. Concerned. Yes. Warmed by the sun. Yes. But o.k. for today.

I ended the day finding some sweet peas. Smelling their aroma and admiring their colors. Taking a breath. Each day is filled with so many things.

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The Soft Animal of Your Body Loves What It Loves

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photo by Ginny Schneider

The other night, deep in the darkness of my nylon tent, deep in the depths of a summer night, camping along the Hood Canal, I felt afraid. There were many things that night that felt like sudden spinning stars plunging into the cold depths of a frigid sky that I had no control over- you know the ones: the health issues of a loved one, financial stress, the slow dying of a friend, and, as I lay trembling in my interiors,I felt the dark night of the soul slowly eclipsing the dark night of the sky in a thick molasses. As these thoughts crawled up and over my body, I remembered a quote by Mary Oliver from her poem, “Wild Geese”: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

Those words sank in deeper and deeper.  I noticed that soon, very soon, I became soft and supple inside. I  know what that looks like- what that feels like. “The soft animal of my body”- the simple, tender rhythm of being alive, just alive. Not working out the solutions to all of the conundrums in my world. Not even pondering, problem-solving, or even praying in this case. But letting the tender, tethered parts of me that belong to this world, have their place here. To be coddled by the earth. Caressed by the cool-scented night wind. To find comfort in the simplicity of my own skin, my own being, “the soft animal of my body.” And to let it “love what it loves”. Which now is sleep. Simplicity. Gentle rest.

What does “the soft animal of your body” need today? How can you let it “love what it loves”?