I mean, look at the trees, stripped to the bone. That essential being-ness of trunk and branch is like a song traced against the sky, a quiet refrain repeated from tree to tree. Each a living being, and also a branching map of its own life. Like a human, specific to itself in its particulars; and again like a human, akin to others of its kind. Unique...yet not alone.
Along with the job seeking, one of the things I've been doing rather than writing blog posts is gathering photos of crones. Over and over, I am struck by how so many of their faces shine with joy and radiate such love and acceptance. I feel wrapped in an embrace just by looking upon their beautiful faces. How diminished we would be without the grandmothers and their wisdom--a cauldron of power that has distilled over the course of many-years-lived into its bare-branches-against-the-sky essence.
By looking at photo after photo of women who are wholly who they are, I hope to honor that essence in others and nurture it in myself. It's a kind of choosing. A kind of reminding, envisioning, invoking: This is the kind of woman I want to be, how I want to grow old. Like a grand, twisting tree, like a wrinkled and happy and lovely old woman, enough in myself.
I've been thinking what a gift to the world that kindness is. How powerfully it affects us when we are touched by another's kindness, and how we long to be accepted and to belong. That longing must always be there, underlying surface-dwelling things, like a tender nourishing stream beneath the tangle of tree roots.
It is never so clear that the longing exists as when a stranger unexpectedly smiles at you, or a small child you do not know reaches out her arms toward you and laughs, just at the sight of you. Suddenly, you feel yourself light up from within, a welling of joy and gratitude for being seen for who you are: Nothing more and nothing less than a human person walking in this world, over this ground, under these stars and these clouds, following a path and singing a sometimes-brave, sometimes-wavering tune as you go.
Mary Oliver wrote, "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." And "When will you have a little pity for every soft thing that walks through the world, yourself included?"
It takes such a small act of kindness to ourselves or others to swell that small, unseen, tree-rooted stream, and to feel its nourishment. Then compassion arises feeding healing tears, as we accept ourselves and are accepted by others, at the root. That is how our hearts expand, sending out tendrils and branches toward others, like a beautiful tree during the crone-time of winter, still swelling buds and green with life within.