When i was a child, when we went to church, the altar was stripped bare and nothing was left. There was something resplendent about this emptiness. Last night, as i lay in bed, i thought about Lent and how one can be resplendent in suffering. How instead of putting 'a brave face on it', one could really be brave and enter into the suffering fully. To feel it burn inside and cleanse your soul, for there is something very purifying about suffering. It is like a crucible, a reduction by fire, where you are left with nothing and you walk through everything - left with only yourself. Perhaps that is when you discover what you are truly made of.
I, of course, have the children. I am not left with nothing. But i was thinking, i have done one half of my life, i am now doing the other half. It is a good chance now to sift the wheat from the chaff, to say what it is that is truly important. To put down things which are no longer of use to me, which i had still been carrying, and then to carry on, lighter.
Suffering can be resplendent.
I have the boys. I need to look after them. I am going to be the best damned mother that ever existed.
I have an incredible job and a great opportunity to do what i have always wanted to do, so I am going to be the best damned Steiner teacher that ever was.
I am going to look after myself - nourish my soul and my heart - to stay true to the things and the people that i love, to never devalue whatever was real. That is truly courageous - where people turn bitter and angry, i will stay pliant and open. Graciousness, beauty, truth, light - these are the hallmarks of bravey.
Most of all, I am going to continue to live through love.
Happiness is a strange thing. One thing that happened to me over the last year was this bizarre notion of happiness. Happiness is not dependent on anyone or anything. Neither is love. It is hard to describe really. I encountered people who puzzled me. People who were trying very hard. For awhile i believed this version of happiness and love - but really what i should have done, instead of going along with it, was ask, why are you trying so hard? Why is happiness a continuous peak experience? Is it not really the quiet moments in between? Is it not every moment? When a candles is lit? Or when the breeze blows? Or when the crap is cut? Is that not when happiness really comes into its own?
It was silly of me to go along with this idea of happiness...but i did so...
I have this image. It is an image i have long held of myself. Alone, in a small wooden hut, by the side of a lake. It is twilight of a summer's evening and i am writing, or sewing or listening to the radio. Or even no radio, the sound of the crickets. There is very little in the house, save a bed, a table, a simple chair. A stove, some basic cooking implements, simple food. A candle burns in the window as the evening closes in on me. I am so happy. In my stillness and solitude. I am being and i am also waiting. I am also no waiting. I am completely fulfilled and content - knowing that even if it all ended today, i would have lived a full and miraculous life. My heart is open, as it has always been - it lies on its back, the moonlight shines fully upon it. I cannot but be this way, any other way would be an untruth.
So i gaze at those who run around, who carry their strange parcels, their burdens in a belief that THINGS are required to make us happy. Or content. Search the whole wide world, i say, sail those seven seas, walk all the mountains and bogs and fields, visit all the libraries - but you know, i'll be in that tiny wooden cabin by the lake in the woods, my candle burning, the light never going out. And i will be - simply be. Discovering and drinking in the moment after moment of love.
On the other side of suffering is... light.