Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Long Low Wail

I don’t cry easily. Sometimes I wish I did.

Conditioned as a child to be stoic (which can come in handy when things are not going well, and I just need to keep walking and do what needs to be done) my inner resistance to tears means they tend to come all at once or not at all.

I’d like to be someone who cries quietly, someone who could let my eyes brim and spill over without my face getting blotchy and my nose becoming all red and snotty. I’d like to be able to keep breathing gently and deeply as tears slip silently down my cheeks instead of desperately gulping air between sobs.

I’d like to be able to cry without howling.

More often my eyes stay mysteriously dry until the sound of grief rises from my gut without warning.

I am in the shower, casually lathering my hair with shampoo when suddenly a long low wail starts in my belly and rips up through my chest, setting my throat on fire as it is explodes into the small tiled room. It’s the sound of a wounded animal. My knees buckle. I crouch in the tub, my arms wrapped around my body, a deluge of tears coming as fast as the water from the shower head above me. Sometime later it ends as abruptly as it began.

Sometimes the grief is personal- today, as I feel the loss of my father, or when my marriage exploded five years ago. Other times, it is prompted by the heart-breaking violence of our shared world- young women kidnapped and raped by Boko Haram; poisonous chemicals forced into the earth by fracking. . . .

Even as I write this I question my stated desire to cry more quietly. Why? Another part of me wants us to be able to cry out and rend our clothing when grief takes us. Perhaps we need to howl more often and more loudly alone in our bathrooms and together in circles sitting on the earth, or gathered on the steps of our local legislature.

Perhaps sorrow unleashed would clear confusions of the mind and help us act on the wisdom of the soul.

And perhaps as tears of sorrow flow, tears of joy will find us more easily and more often, opening our hearts to the challenge and the gift of being human. 

~Oriah House (c) 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

When I'm Really Not "Fine"

It's good to have people in our lives who are not fooled by our habitual defenses.

Two weeks ago today my father died. It was anticipated and, in many ways welcome- he had suffered with Alzheimer's for a decade. I called my sons to let them know. They asked, "Do you want us to come over?"

I replied, "Oh no. I'm fine. I've got some calls to make, and I know you both have work."

Two hours later they were both here in my apartment, talking and just hanging out.

Later, Brendan, my eldest son said, "Yeah, we got off the phone, looked at each other and said simultaneously, 'We need to go over.' You're not exactly trustworthy in the 'I'm fine' category."

He's right of course. I almost always say I'm fine. It's my default setting. Not being "fine," needing something, was dangerous in my early years. Saying "I'm fine," was one way I was taught to look after others. Sometimes I truly think I'm fine when I'm not. And my ability to sound fine no matter what is going on is legendary.

It's good to have people in our lives who see us clearly, without judgement, but with lots of love. On a good day, when I am fully present with myself I can ask for what I need. But I am deeply grateful that my sons and some close friends can hear the truth of my heart on a not-so-good day.

~Oriah

Monday, May 4, 2015

What Is Given

There is nothing you or I could do to earn or become unworthy of the Infinite Love that gives itself away in creating all that is in every moment. Oh, there are more than a few things we can do (self-criticism, self-loathing, resentment, etc.) that can make it difficult for us to receive the direct experience of the Beloved's constant presence within and around us, but that Love remains- forever patient as we do our best to be here. Because here is where that Love finds us. ~Oriah (Another spectacular good morning photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming.)


Thursday, April 30, 2015

All Is Well

Attended my father's funeral on Tuesday the 28th, and I am saturated with gratitude. My heart is full. There is such truth in the beauty that unfolds daily amidst the unpredictable challenges of life and chaos of the world. May we be present with what is within and around us. May how we are with ourselves and each other be a love letter that whispers encouragingly, "Live!" ~Oriah (Photo by Kristy Thompson)


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Flying Lessons

My father is dying,
his grip still strong on my arm
begging me to help him leave.

Each day after work his coming home was
exuberance entering by the back screen door,
a loud metal lunch pail sliding across the kitchen floor.
me: running on short dimpled leghs, shouting,
“Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!”
launching myself into the air from the top step
small arms wide, fearless,
knowing he’d catch me.
He was the scent of warm sun, clean sweat,
and creosote from the hydro poles he climbed.
He was strength and
green eyes that lit up when he saw me.
I was a small bird in his arms.

My father is dying,
his grip still strong on my heart
as I look for a way to help him fly.

- Oriah House (c) 2015 (Photo by Karen Dais from https://www.facebook.com/OpenDoorDreaming?fref=ts )


Friday, April 10, 2015

When The World Overwhelms

I print out poems on hot pink pages
handing them out in the business district,
moving through the dark cool canyons 
between towers of glass and steel.

Sometimes a poem is all you can do.
Like breathing,
or walking with your head tipped back
so you can see the sky.

~Oriah House (c) 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Blessing

One day you wake up
able to name the weight 
you’ve been carrying.
Realizing it’s not part of your body or your being,
not essential in any way to journeying or joy,
you set it down gently, without fanfare
in the long soft grass at the side of the road
and walk on
surprised to find yourself
smiling in the warm sun
for no particular reason.
~Oriah Houser © 2015