Labyrinths are designed as an archetype of our spiritual journey; walking one can aid in taking us out of our ego, and into the self, or the center of our being, and then back out into the world. I walk them because I need to be attentive to grounding myself in place, and opening up my senses when I am in new surroundings or in a novel role.
“It is, in the end, the saving of lives that we writers are about.”
I won’t pretend to understand the pain that can break and immobilize a woman. I’ve read that for many battered women who finally leave, the nightmare often continues after they’ve left a spouse or boyfriend. Stepping out is just the start of a very steep climb. It can take weeks, months and years to truly escape, especially when kids are in the picture. Restraining orders are broken, men are released from jail. Sometimes they find their partners; sometimes they kill them.
I still get stuck when I’m typing, and when I do, I reach for my journal again. It’s a wonderful place to be messy and unsure about all kinds of story ideas. In the journal, I’m not self-editing or thinking about the right words, I’m just pondering my possibilities. If I can’t think of what comes next in my story, I write out possibilities until I find one I like. I list character names or locations I might use. I list hurdles to throw at my main character and her possible reactions to them. I draw bubble maps and family trees and murder weapons.
I love my quiet time, but also seek the company of others. Over the years, I’ve recognized that various people form different tribes in my life.
There were moments that took my breath away. Moments of looking in someone’s eyes and seeing the divine, of being arrested by the light in another’s countenance, and the awareness of the fragile skin of a neighbor’s hands, seemingly transparent and almost luminous, as she let go of her grip in this life. They are simple moments and they are available to most who will pay attention.
Truly listening means setting our agendas aside and hearing someone out – responding, not overreacting; observing not judging; offering advice if asked; avoiding lectures. Perhaps in my busy and distracted life, I’ve started to equate a witty, ‘profound’ response with good listening. I hope that patiently waiting for someone to finish so I can talk passes for hearing her.
This time around, as I hold, feed, and sleep with Isabel, I feel more mindful, less anxious. I’m aware of how fast the time goes, how precious these quiet bonding moments are. I know how quickly she’ll change from baby to toddler to kid. This time, opposed to when my last two kids were babies, I don’t feel like my identity has been subsumed completely by motherhood. I know myself better, and I’ve fully embraced my role.
As I grew older, I learned to navigate the pronunciation of my name and its meaning. The puzzled faces and questioning glances did not dissipate, but the “otherness” of my name became something I embraced.
The God I believe in permeates the universe as the ground of all being. God is beyond human conception, so all our images and metaphors for God are a reflection of our human glimpses of that which is unfathomable. Unfathomable, but not undetectable, and definitely not irrelevant. How do I know that there is a God? I don’t. I can’t know what is beyond my ability to conceive. It’s a matter of faith. I have faith that there is more to reality than can be measured in a laboratory.