I posted this on my blog 2 years ago. I offer it again today.

May your Good Friday be a day of awe and remembrance and Presence.

 

Being There

imagesIn the Christian household (to which I belong), it is Holy Week. As happens most years, I enter this week with the desire to experience, as fully as I can, the story of the last days of the life of Jesus. I seek worship opportunities that engage all of my senses–I want to get as close as I can to ‘being there’ . . . with Jesus. What were the sights, the sounds, the smells . . . what if I had been one of the women with him? What if I had talked with him? Walked with him? Been healed by him? What if . . .

I also make it a practice to listen to music that expresses the intensity of this week, this story: waiting, preparation, sadness, grief, loss, anticipation, expectation, joy. For me, music transcends words. There is a passion, an expression, a communication that connects believers not only across language and age barriers, but also across time barriers. Nothing I have ever heard has moved me as deeply as a setting, by Knut Nystedt, of the poem, “O Crux”, by Venantius Fortunatus, 6th century poet, priest and Bishop of Poitiers.

Here is the text:

O Crux                                                           Translation

O crux splendidior cunctis astris                    O Cross, more radiant than the stars,

Mundo celebris hominibus.                            Celebrated throughout the earth,

Multum amabilis sanctior universis.             Beloved of the people. Holier than all things,

Quae sola fuisti                                                   Which alone was found worthy

Digna portare talentum mundi;                      To bear the light of the world;

Dulce lignum,                                                      Blessed Tree,

Dulces clavos,                                                      Blessed Nails,

Dulcia ferens pondera;                                      Blest the weight you bore;

Salva praesentem catervam,                            Save the flock

In tuis hodie,                                                       which today

Laudibus congregatam.                                    Is gathered to praise you.

 

The piece opens with intense and stark dissonance that is both unsettling and inviting. What could this cross be about? Before the words give answer, there is a section of sudden crying out: “Ah!!!” that weaves between all voice parts, transmitting to one another this anticipation of utter desolation and understanding. The piece continues with a sense of ponderous procession until the music builds to a re-expression of the opening line that foretells the power of the Resurrection.

All of a sudden, beautiful harmony emerges; a change of mood and style, which lifts us to an appreciation of the role of this cross and the weight it bore. “Blessed tree, blessed nails, blest the weight you bore.”

Before we know it, however, the piece ends. And it ends with the women, as if an angelic choir, singing again the words “O Crux” three times. The men respond in deep and resonant harmony, answering with the words “splendidior.”

I have sung this before. I have listened to it countless times. And I am always speechless when it is over. In it, I find myself in the mystery beyond all mysteries . . . and can only be there . . . in awe.

 

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IMG_1169Bless You

I have been deep in the heart of Celtic spirituality during these first weeks of Lent. John O’Donohue’s potent little book, To Bless the Space Between Us, has been my morning prayer companion. I have turned to this book to seek blessings and solace so many times over the past few years. My book falls open (actually falls apart) at the Blessing for a New Beginning . . . the Blessing for a Leader . . . the Blessing for Work . . . the Blessing for One Who is Exhausted . . . His blessings are eloquent, poetic, poignant.

He begins each of his chapters with a reflection on the theme – Beginnings, Desires, Thresholds, Homecomings, States of Heart, Callings, Beyond Endings. They are beautiful and thoughtful and invite me to sink into the words that follow. But he ends the book with a longer essay he calls “To Retrieve the Lost Art of Blessing.”

In my world of spiritual companioning and leadership, people often speak of blessings. “Bless you”, someone says. “What a blessing”, another exclaims. I often end my emails with, “many blessings.” Like saying “hi” or “how are you?”, these words can often become so familiar that we/I forget what it is we are invoking; what power we are aligning with; what intention we are committing to; and what a difference this act of love can make in the world. So O’Donohue’s last words about retrieving the lost art of blessing brought me back to the center and ground from which blessings come. I share it here as a reminder . . . and an invitation. And it comes with these words from my heart to yours . . . Bless you.

“The Inestimable Power of Intention”

There is incredible power in the mind when it directs its light toward an object. I heard recently of an ongoing experiment in an American university. There is a sealed-off room; in that room there is a coin-flipping machine. All day and all night it flips coins. The results are usually fifty percent heads and fifty percent tails. Nearby there is another room into which people are invited. Each person is asked to make an intention. Which would they prefer? Heads or tails? Having made their choice, they then write it down on a page that is put in a sealed envelope and addressed to the team who conducts the research. The results are astounding. If a person wishes for heads, the machine ends up flipping up to a seventy-five percent majority of heads and vice versa. They found the distance that the power of the intention to affect the outcome held for up to a hundred-and-fifty-mile radius around the experimentation room. Now, if human intention can substantially affect the outcome of something as cold and neutral as the working of a coin-flipping machine, how much more must our human intentions achieve as they relate to one another?

I have also heard of an experiment in meditation. For a certain number of days, some years ago, a group of people made a circle around the city of Washington and meditated continually. Gathered unknown to itself within this circle of loving kindness, Washington changed. The statistics for that period in the city showed a remarkable and unprecedented decrease in violence and crime. The power of intention to bless is not some utopian fantasy; it can be shown factually to effect concrete and transformative action.

We have no idea the effect we actually have on one another. This is where blessing can achieve so much. Blessing as powerful and positive intention can transform situations and people. The force of blessing must be even more powerful when we consider how the intention of blessing corresponds with the deepest desire of reality (I call this reality God) for creativity, healing, and wholesomeness. Blessing has pure agency because it animates on the deepest threshold between being and becoming; it mines the territories of memory to awaken and draw forth possibilities we cannot even begin to imagine!

imagesLet the Body . . .

A couple of weeks ago, during one of this winter’s many snowstorms, I went out snowshoeing with my son and his girlfriend. They are both accomplished athletes, with bodies that are well-coordinated and very fit. While I work to maintain fitness, I have never been well-coordinated. I’m one of those people who can trip over a piece of string on the floor, and have bruises on my body from regularly bumping into things.

We entered the woods behind our house and soon found a trail. Every now and then, we would slow down to take in the incredible beauty of the snowy woods. When it was time to start snowshoeing again, I noticed that they would easily fall into coordinated step with their snowshoes and their poles. I would struggle to think . . . now which pole goes down with which foot, trying to will my body to do what it’s supposed to do.

And then I remembered. Let the body discover itself in the rhythm of snowshoeing. Stop thinking and let go. With ease, my body’s own sense of things would emerge and I’d fall into step.

Years ago, when I first took voice lessons, I was eager to incorporate all of the techniques and ideas I was learning from my wonderful teacher. Breathe this way; articulate that way. Stand like this; warm up like that. Soon my head was swirling with all of these instructions; and the sounds that came out were not pleasing me, or my teacher. In her wisdom, my teacher stopped the vocal part of the lesson, and began the wisdom part.

She told me about an amazing book, entitled Soprano On Her Head. The title comes from an experience the author had with a talented voice student. The student had a beautiful operatic voice; but she, too, got so wrapped up in trying to get her body to do what she wanted to improve her voice, that she felt more and more dissatisfied with the outcome. So the author asked her student to stand on her head, and then sing. What happened? Out came a voice and sound so beautiful they were both surprised. Why? Because by working hard to stand on her head, the student couldn’t think about all the things she thought she should do to sing more beautifully. She let her body, and her voice, discover itself.

Years later, I found a note I wrote to myself after this important conversation with my voice teacher. I had placed the note in my music folder. It says “let the body sing you.” It reminds me to trust that my body has its own wisdom, nurtured and developed through years of practice and experience. When I find that harsh sounds are coming out, or I run out of breath too soon, or I get distracted, I return to that mantra . . . ‘let the body sing you.’

I’ve discovered, through the years, that my body holds great wisdom. If I am fearful or nervous, my body reacts right away. If I am not paying attention to my needs and emotions, my body will generate strong signals to get my attention. If I ignore the signs, my body will respond more strongly – I have a sleepless night; my stomach gets queasy; I have muscle aches.

But if I stop and listen to my body wisdom, and allow my body – instead of my mind – take the lead, I am regularly surprised and delighted at what happens. I am restored to myself. I am able to live with a freedom and aliveness that comes from my very center.

Let the body be your teacher. One step, one song, one morsel, one breath at a time.

What do YOU do?

unnamedHave you had the experience of being in a social situation and being asked ‘what do you do?’ It seems to be one of the regular ways we begin to connect with a person; a culturally embedded query – like ‘how are you?’ or ‘how’s it going?’ What is it like to ask the question? What is it like to answer the question?

In some sense, asking the question is a way of saying ‘who are you?’ But we’ve asked it in such a way as to invite – and maybe expect – an answer that describes a role, a position, a job. I’m clergy. I’m VP of sales. I’m a salesman. I’m a teacher. I’m a landscaper. I’m a nurse.

When we ask this question, what happens? As for me, I begin to think about my own experience with someone else I know who holds a similar job. This might prompt additional questions about where someone works. I might even ask something about the specifics of what they do.

But what I really want to know is, Who are you? What is important to you? How do you express yourself in the world? What are your treasured experiences? What values do you hold dear? And I know that asking about someone’s job – what do you do? – does not always answer these questions for me.

I have been re-reading “Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges”, by Pat Enkyo O-Hara. I had become aware that I was feeling disconnected with the reality and truth of my own experience, and this book had – in the past – helped me to return to the practices that free me to re-connect.

This morning, I re-read the chapter on Work, and found myself feeling energized and grateful. She says, “Work can mean our career or simply how we make money; it can be our calling (our life’s work) or simply our function in the world: making the beds, doing the dishes.” O’Hara goes on to say, “I like to think of work as what we do; it is the activity of the life we live. Work is any activity we’re engaged in that requires our energy and focus, whether or not we’re paid for it.”

  1. Does this change the way I want to ask the question of others? What is your work? Or, what keeps you busy day to day? Or, tell me what demands your energy and focus in life? What captures your attention in the world? What fuels your life? How do your work and your values intersect?

Are these questions you want to ask? Are they questions you want to answer? They are for me. So I look forward to gathering with other people who want to think about, talk about, reflect on, these and other questions about what we do and how we do it. Would you like to join us?

What do YOU do?

Soul of Leadership ‘Mini’: Decision Making and Discernment

Beginning Monday, February 16.

A 10-week program drawing people together from a variety of work and vocational backgrounds to learn to apply leadership approaches which are best for their own style, situation, and values; and to experience community support and affirmation as they incorporate and develop new leadership skills.

http://executivesoul.com/the-soul-of-leadership-mini-decision-making-and-discernment

Keep Awake

images-1I begin each day with a pot of tea, settling into my prayer room for a time of quiet and reflection. Many days, while I’m waiting for the tea to brew, I check Facebook; and as you might imagine, I get drawn into all kinds of posts that evoke a wide range of emotions – laughter, delight, sadness, frustration, outrage.

In the last week, I have seen and read and watched posts and videos responding to the grand jury decisions in both Ferguson and NYC. Even before I saw these responses on Facebook, I was stunned when I heard the decisions on the news. What? How is this possible? Who are we as a nation? As a society? What did I miss? What were they/are they thinking? Who am I in the midst of it?

While on many days I wish I hadn’t opened Facebook before my prayer time, I am glad for the ways in which friends and colleagues have challenged me to think and pray deeply about this horrific turn of events. I am inspired by the unique and particular ways each of them has expressed their thoughts and experience. And I am left wondering . . . and praying . . . and pleading with God. What is it you want me to do? I am struggling mightily with God and with myself on this.

I want to rage at the world. I want to hide in fear. I want to shake people. I want to cry. I want to retreat. I want to stand on the street corner and shout.

The questions that arise for me, again and again, are:

What do I need to do for myself? To look deeply in my own soul and see where racism resides in dark corners, and expose those places to the intense and challenging and transforming and loving light of God.

And what can I do for my community? What gift do I have, role can I play, conversation can I have, action can I take, to help move us through and beyond our blindness, our fear, our desire for quick fixes, and develop transforming and life-giving ways to grow into the beloved community where all are known as God’s own?

I’m waiting for a clear answer; but know that the answer may be in the daily living of the Good News of Jesus as I understand it – challenging power, exposing hatred, radically including, seeing God in each soul I meet.

I’m not up to the task alone. I need the community of challenge and insight I often find on Facebook. I need the worshiping community that grounds me in prayer and love. I need my daily time of prayer and reflection to listen for God’s voice.

On the first Sunday in Advent, we heard the lesson from Mark’s Gospel (NRSV):

“Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

I think that’s what I need to do. Keep awake . . . so I am ready to see and hear God’s invitation and direction . . . whenever and however it comes.

Christ in Human Form

UnknownTwo weekends ago, I had the joy and privilege of leading a weekend retreat for the women of First Church in Sterling. It was a beautiful weekend of connection, prayer, rest and reflection. We used the film, ‘Chocolat,’ as our guide throughout the retreat. This wonderful film is an allegory, of sorts. In the course of the quirky story, which pits the mysterious owner of the local Chocolaterie against the all-powerful mayor of the village, many questions are raised, including: What is God’s desire for us? Is it pleasure or penance? Is it rules or relationships? Is it joy or hard labor?

At the end of the film, the priest of the village offers his Easter homily. It goes like this:

I’m not sure what the theme of my homily today ought to be.

Do I want to speak of the miracle of our Lord’s divine transformation?

Not really, no.

I don’t want to talk about his Divinity.

I’d rather talk about his humanity.

I mean – you know – how he lived his life here on Earth. His kindness. His tolerance.

Listen – here’s what I think. I think we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do; by what we deny ourselves; what we resist; and who we exclude.

I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace; what we create; and who we include.

. . . what we embrace, what we create, who we include . . . In these days of dualistic and divisive public rhetoric; in these times of church decline and the rise of the ‘nones’*; in this world of continuing violence in so many places . . . where is the model, the vision, the inspiration for living a life of kindness and tolerance and love?

As a Christian, my primary model is the life of Jesus. Who did Jesus embrace? All those who came to him with open hearts. What did Jesus create? A following of people who risked their lives to live as he lived – where love, not law, was the guiding force. Who did Jesus include? The lost, the marginalized, the children, the sick, the women, the despised, the least of these.

Through all the violence, and division, and loss, and confusion in the story of ‘Chocolat’, a new life emerges at Easter. Relationships are restored, harmony is created, new life arises out of the ashes of despair. Simplistic? Perhaps. But the power of an allegory is to illuminate what is in our story, in our lives; to teach us what is real and true for us.

St Teresa of Avila, 16th C mystic, puts it in the most direct terms.

“Christ has no body, now, on Earth but yours. Yours are the hands with which he does his work. Yours are the feet with which he goes about the world. Yours are the eyes through which his compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world. Christ has no body, now, on Earth but . . . ours.”—Teresa of Avila

I say ‘yes.’

 

*religiously unaffiliated Americans, per the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life Project

View from the Balcony

imagesIn the leadership development work I do with Margaret Benefiel and Executive Soul, we often talk about stepping back from challenging situations and imagining what things would look like from the balcony (thanks to the work of Ron Heifetz, et al). It is amazing how that change of view . . . that change of perspective . . . that stepping away . . . can offer new ideas, new insights, new energy and creativity.

While Heifetz talks about this practice in the context of organizational settings, I believe it is a useful and powerful tool as a spiritual practice. What happens if I step back from a challenging situation in a personal relationship? What can I see, and know, and understand, if I move away from the particularities of my own experience – hurt, anger, frustration, sadness – and see things through a wider lens – the experience of others in the situation, the dynamics of the situation and its meaning for each of the players?

In order to do this – to remember to do it, to take the time to do it, to be open to the possibility of surprise – I believe it is something I must practice. In the heat of a difficult situation, it is much more difficult to remember to stop and stand back if I haven’t been practicing it all along, and reaping the benefits. If I practice this in smaller situations, it is easier and more possible to have the courage and trust to practice it in larger, more potent situations.

Thinking about this has drawn me to ponder – how does God see things? What is God aware of as God’s vision is from the widest, most inclusive perspective? If this becomes part of my regular prayer, will this help me to develop the practice of standing on the balcony?

I find I am reminded of some words from St Francis of Assisi, that – for me – offer a vision of God’s perspective. He wrote:

I think God might be a little prejudiced.

For once He asked me to join Him on a walk

through this world,

 

and we gazed into every heart on this earth,

and I noticed He lingered a bit longer

before any face that was

weeping,

 

and before any eyes that were

laughing.

 

And sometimes when we passed

a soul in worship

 

God too would kneel

down.

 

I have come to learn: God

adores His

creation.

Time to Go 

Marcy FieldLabor Day has come and gone; and I am back in Massachusetts. I have spent the last 7 weeks (with a few brief stints on the road) in the high peaks of the Adirondacks, my heart’s home. I have enjoyed visits from my family and friends, and have deepened into the quiet beauty through days of solitude and reflection. It is a time of melancholy – I know it is time to let go and re-engage in life ‘back home’, but I will deeply miss the friends, the community, the pace, the silence, the joy I so cherish.

One of the things I enjoy the most in the summer is worshiping at Keene Valley UCC church. The congregation is creative, warm, vibrant. I know I am worshiping in the midst of both ‘summer people’ and year-round folk. The transition that happens on Labor Day weekend impacts us all. So to honor this time of letting go – for all of us – we heard these words on Sunday, penned by the Keene Valley UCC minister, Rev. Milton Dudley. They capture the experience for me.

The Summer Cycle

Two weeks, four weeks, eight weeks, twelve. Black letters sitting flat on the page; no meaning – just words.

Your name, my name, old friend’s names, new names, forgotten names, names not coming this year, or ever again. Oh the melancholy of these names. 

Arriving with great expectations, for sure, but first opening, and discovering treasures and trash left behind in the rush to leave last year. Not too bad, it’s seen much worse.

Opening smells and waves from afar. Not yet ready for a conversation or visit. It will come. I will come.

First night sleep; dark, quiet, not silent, but the sounds are of the earth and its creatures in the wilderness; no airplanes, sirens, nor droning trains from the abyss.

First cocktail hour: pick a little, talk a little, who, what, when, but why? say that again, pick, pick, pick, talk-a-lot, talk-a-lot

Artsy, artsy, shows, galleries, theatre, performances, something every evening, no two things, no three . . . the summer war of choices rages in our lives.

Farmers, farmer’s markets, farm store, eat local, eat healthy, support the zealot young farmers and the old ones who have planted, harvested and fed us for years. Boycott Kettle Korn.

Friday traffic. Sunday traffic. Ha, ha, ha, I’m already here and I don’t have to go home . . . ah . . .

Children running free and squealing with freedom. Dogs on long walks, swimming in the river, deer at dusk. BE AWARE, bears, and foxes and turkeys, oh my!

Sunday morning worship, guest artists, wonderful choir, where’s Betsy?, oh, I didn’t know. As a faith community we share the highs and lows. We revel and mourn. There is truly something to the corporate nature of a worshiping community that cannot be found on the trail.

Warm summer nights. Humid summer days. The energy drains out of me and I head to the sleeping porch for a nap.

The wispy clouds dance in, out and over the mountain’s contour. A symphony without music, a prayer without words, an epiphany of the continuing act of Creation.

The children run screaming when I taunt them with, ‘Back to School Sales.’ They remind me of all the packing I must do. I run screaming with them.

THE date looms and the pace quickens. Must be mindful of the moment or it will be missed. Must face the yearly reality of things not done, attended, experienced.

One more hike, one swim, one concert, one dinner, one porch nap, all those ones add up to ‘too much.’

That day arrives. Depression and tears arrive too. A great summer full of the cycle of life . . . but over. As we start the car and head east to the freeway we sing . . .

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.

Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?

Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you, ‘till we meet again.

 

Sniff, sniff . . . See you next summer.

Tribes and Tribalism

imagesThe real violence starts in the way we speak about people, make assumptions about them, and decide that they are not like us . . . As long as people keep buying into these words, it will not take much more for them to buy into the action that has to follow.—Henri Nouwen

I have been writing this blog entry, in my mind, for months. In April, I went with a group of spiritual directors to an ancient Native American site in New Mexico – called Puye Cliffs. There, 3 members of the Pueblo tribe, whose ancestors had lived in the cliff dwellings, greeted us. They graciously, generously shared stories of their people-how long they lived there, how they conducted their community life – what they ate, how and where they worshipped, when and why they left.

After the visit, as time went by, I kept thinking about what I experienced of their reverence for the created world, the way they prioritize community life, their family ties. I kept thinking about the history of the violence and destruction that European settlers in America brought to the Native people. Why? Why? Why? My heart struggles to understand.

Oh, I know. Fear and power are primal human experiences. And without reflection, these emotions can and do produce the world’s greatest tragedies.

So I have been thinking about tribes and tribalism a lot since my visit to Puye Cliffs. I have only to turn on the news, read the paper, even look around my neighborhood, to see the negative effects of tribalism (tribal consciousness and loyalty; especially :  exaltation of the tribe above other groups – Merriam Webster). The ancient land tribalism in Gaza that pits Israelis against Palestinians; the ancient religious tribalism that is destroying thousands of people and their cities in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and surrounding countries; the ancient racial tribalism that allowed generations in South Africa to justify horrific human suffering. And close to home, tribalism rears its ugly head through ongoing racial violence, gender inequality, political stalemate, religious exclusivism. My heart struggles to understand.

And then I become aware of the tribes I belong to: family, ethnic origin, religious, geographic, economic, gender, sexual orientation, professional, political. The list goes on. I become aware of the ways I have, through my life, created and experienced boundaries, judgments, limitations, and misunderstandings; exalting my own tribe about other tribes; because of fear, holding ‘the other’ at a distance. And I become aware that the inclination to erect boundaries around my tribes makes my life so small. I have missed so much.

I keep coming back to the 3 Pueblo guides at Puye Cliffs. I don’t know their personal life stories, or anything about the ways that tribalism has limited their lives. But I do know that I came away wanting to know more about them. I came away thinking that my own life was expanded and improved simply by spending a morning with them.

And as I look at my own life and my own experiences through the lens of tribalism, I find that fear is at the heart of the boundaries I create. Fear of misunderstanding; fear of loss; fear of isolation – primal fears. But I also know that if I can muster the courage to be with my fear rather than protect and distance myself from it, I stand a very good chance of growing, expanding, learning, and more deeply appreciating the great magnitude of God’s created world. I stand a chance of loving and being loved more. And I find this is what I want.

There is nothing new or brilliant that I have written here. And what I have written is limited and simplistic, I know. But it is an opportunity for me to make a commitment to see and to live differently – to graciously and generously share my experiences of the tribes I belong to, and develop the openness and freedom to listen to those from other tribes in the same way. I don’t want to live small; to miss so much; to be fearful. I want to love and be loved more.

Letting Go

white cottageIt’s time. The shades are pulled. The door is locked. I went in a little while ago. The air was stale and the porch furniture was piled up in the living room. The little summer cottage my grandparents built in 1940 is closed for good.

We have been keeping it going, patching it together, for a long time. It has been a summer destination for me for my whole life. I stayed there with my sister and my grandparents when I was little. I brought my children there as they were growing up, and spent July’s there with my two younger children for several summers. My sisters and their families, and my parents, have continued to come – summer after summer – for decades. It is nestled among several other cottages, occupied during the summer by various cousins, aunts and uncles.

On the front porch, which overlooks the Adirondack Mountains all around us, we have hosted countless happy hours and had many dinners at the picnic table. We have had lots of laughs and many tears. We have listened to music and crafted quilts. We have confronted hard situations, told important stories, and taken naps on the futon.

This little cottage, which we heated with a fire in the fireplace, and which smelled like a combination of smoke and mothballs, is no longer able to provide a summer home for us. The electrical service is vintage 1940’s, and the basement – if you can call it that – has had water ‘issues’ since it was built. Over the years, we have seen the basement full to the bulkhead with water, and watched water rush in during floods. We have hired someone to clean out the drain so the water would empty more readily, and hired another person to put insulation in the basement ceiling after one of our kids put her foot through the rotted floor above. (He fixed the floor, too)

We have been making plans to build a new house on this site – a house that would provide more bathrooms for our family, which can number over 17 when we’re all here; a house that would be available to us year-round; a house that would be water-tight and have enough bedrooms for most everyone to have a bit of privacy. It has been fun to think about and plan for this new place until . . . well, until we arrived this summer to find that the water pressure tank in the little cottage had broken off from the pipes completely (another flood), and the basement ceiling is so black with mold that no one thinks it’s safe to sleep in the bedroom above.

All of a sudden, our freedom to make the decision as to when we would take down the cottage, and when we would build a new house in its place, is not ours to make. It has been made for us. And with that loss of freedom comes a flood of sadness and loss and a jumble of precious memories of all the times we’ve had there.

So the goodbye-ing has begun. One last happy hour on the porch. The beginnings of conversations about what to save and what to throw away. And plans underway to figure out how to honor all the life that has happened there. It is a hard letting go right now. And while a new house – whenever it comes – will be fun to plan and inhabit someday, right now I am unfolding the grip in my hands and my heart . . . to let go.