What Came to Me

I am still away on retreat so I offer another re-post of a past reflection on the healing journey I have taken with my father.  If this speaks to your heart at all, consider joining us for our upcoming online retreat Honoring Saints & Ancestors: Peering through the Veil (October 30-November 19, 2011)  Register before October 10th and receive a free gift!

What Came to Me

I took the last
dusty piece of china
out of the barrel.
It was your
gravy boat,
with a hard, brown
drop of gravy still
on the porcelain
lip.
I grieved for you then
as I never had before.

-Jane Kenyon

The photo is of me as a young girl sitting with my father on a bench in the Austrian Alps, taking a break from one of the many hikes we took together.  I have shared some of my journey with him here before – his layers of addiction, his inability to offer unconditional love, his narrowness of vision.  This is a part of my inheritance that I continue to name and own.  His grief and despair flow through me, rising and falling like the tide, and I make space for them within me.

Joy and wonder are there too.  I hold the objects that belonged to him like a talisman pressed into my palm, pointing me in the direction of a wide landscape of unlived possibility. I follow this compass for him and for all of my ancestors who were bound by fear and a rejection of their deepest longings.  I live into my own delight for his healing and for my own.

My father died 15 years ago.  Two summers ago I journeyed to Latvia, the land of his birth, a place he had to flee at age twelve, not knowing he would never return again.  There I encountered the vulnerable little boy he once was. A boy who walked barefoot along the edges of the Baltic Sea, whose heart must once have been as wide as the ocean and raced with excitement in his chest in wonder at the beauty of it all.  And I discovered he is still very much alive, running across hot summer sand, relishing the cool breeze through his damp hair, arms spread wide, eyes closed, turning slowly.  In quiet moments I turn with him, revolving around a stillpoint within, and I hear him whispering that he is free, that I am free.

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