from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Monday, 23 January 2012

this shifting land that is our life

It's Sunday morning and I'm trudging up the track after a night of no sleep, caught in huge fear for my daughter's safety after an incident last evening. Ahead of me in the light drizzle are the remains of two sheep (not connected with the incident), and my body doesn't want to proceed. My heart doesn't want, either, to contaminate the place I call the Sacred Grove, to which I'm heading, with my panic. I turn. I trudge back down again, watching the loose boulders as I'm so off-balance – fear does that, doesn't it?

Worst, as a mother, is knowing there is nothing I can do to help protect my daughter other than accompany her as best I can, and preferably without letting her know how fearful I am. 

TM came to the rescue, driving me the hour and a quarter (as I'd had two glasses of wine) late the night before, and has done a good job of being the dad a girl needs sometimes, the dad he isn't, the dad she hasn't had since her actual father left when she was small, and sorted what needed sorting.

Now, Monday, I am so glad that I listened to what I needed – dance – this morning, instead of what I should be doing (work). I think of my therapist friend R reminding me of how we need to discharge adrenalin, not let it build up in the physical and subtle bodies.

The music takes my body and I stop thinking. Sun streams in through the window and I choose a ray to dance in. As the music pitches towards chaos I let it shake my body and I'm laughing; and then as the music subsides I find myself lying on the floor near the tulips' yellow shout weeping, and allow the tears to trickle through my hair onto the floor, into the earth.

We carry so much pain, all of us. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. And it's OK. This is simply how it is.

My mother, a deeply religious woman, used to say we're never given more than we can cope with. Sometimes it certainly feels as if we are. I have felt lately as if I am a bird caught up in the stack of planes circling Heathrow, waiting for the obliterating crash. And then we reach, once again, the stillpoint, and remember how good life is, with its pain, its fear, its uncertainty; and we laugh and cry simultaneously. Of course we'll falter away from the stillpoint, and then we'll find our way back again. That's the dance.


This morning, in sun, the woodpeckers come as always; male and female. The landscape is starred in places with celandines, snowdrops, primroses. A little plume of blue smoke from the next valley rolls against the fallow fields. S is already busy with his chainsaw, early, thinning out dead blackthorn. Next door to him M and B and their friends have planted over the weekend a wonderful surging curve of native trees, 600 of them, in their field, below the orchard. 

In our garden the broads beans are a few cms high, and the onions more again. Little reminders that spring always comes.


I led my annual Thresholds retreat on Saturday. Here are two qs from it:

What would you do, or change, if you knew you only had a year to live?
What's stopping you doing that now?


Drawing the Blank Card

I hear myself saying
the true ground is water
its mirror, its moon-pull

but what freedom, I'd say
in knowing that the truest
home is everywhere and nowhere

and so at last you
let go

in this shifting land
that is our life
its seascape saltcloud drift

what is there to hold on to
but nothing?


B emails me. Tells me of a mug she was given for Christmas: 'Friends are like stars – you can’t always see them; still, they are there.'

In deep gratitude for my friends, human and otherwise. 

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