Category Archives: Love

Thin Places

FullSizeRenderWe’ve all had the experience of hearing a song we haven’t heard in a long time and then it reminds us of who we were and the people we hung out with at a time when we listened to it a lot. And I had this experience yesterday.

When I was in high school, I had a friend who was killed in an accident. I still think of her often, but the thoughts don’t stick around for long and they don’t trigger a lot of emotion like they once did. But one day this week, Dave played a song on the guitar and it happened to be a song that Lori danced to in a talent show when we were in school together. As he played, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of Lori. This fullness of memory, images, feelings, colors, emotions, things I hadn’t experienced in years came to me in an instant – I closed my eyes hoping I could better watch what was happening —how she danced, the line of her perfectly even front teeth, the way she held her head a little sideways so her side-bangs wouldn’t hang in her eye, the weight of the bones of her shoulders. I could feel how she smiled and how funny she was. She was so bright and so nice to me. With tears streaming down my face, I could feel the wonderful 15-year-old love I had for my friend and I realized how much I love her still. This was such a gift.

Later in the day, with Lori still on my mind, I reflected on this experience and about thin places, an expression I came across in a reading about Celtic spirituality. These are places where the veil between the physical and spiritual realms is barely there; where sky meets water or where people worship, where we may sense the ephemeral and more easily move in and out of time. I love this and it resonates with me after having this experience, though I have to admit that I was sitting on my brown couch amongst a motley crew of hand me down furniture in my living room when I had my experience. This is a setting that wouldn’t strike anyone as particularly ‘thin’.

Yoga is mysterious. It starts out feeling like it’s about stretching, or breathing or taming the mind or maybe even finding peace, but then it so much more. It’s such a deeply personal practice. There’s a way that yoga practice helps me to feel more open to these moments. The separation between myself as a spiritual being doesn’t feel so separate from the rest of me because of yoga. Yoga has a way of letting my system be a thin place. Quiet attention to breath and movement and the intention of coordinating all of that in one direction might have started as a way to feel better, but along the way, this same simple work is so much more.  The other day, I stopped what I was doing and watched as time folded in on itself and something amazing came. I was so close to my teenage experience and to my friend and to love.

A story for the new year.

 

Bundled sage for energy clearing

One evening this week, my friend Katherine was visiting and she found this bundle of dried sage on my kitchen counter. This dried sage is for energy clearing. You set the thing on fire then blow it out and the bundle smolders making all of this wonderful smoke. You can then poke the smoky bundle into open doors, drawers and cupboards and wave it around doorways and windows clearing out any stagnant energy. This kind of thing is right up my alley. And I’m here to tell you, it makes a huge difference in how my house feels.

Katherine already knew all of this because I had given her her own sage when she moved into her new house. She hasn’t yet used it so I told her about the most recent sage-ing ceremony I had, thinking it might inspire her.

One afternoon, Dave and I were home alone together and I decided it was time. We opened all the doors, windows and drawers and then lit the sage. I held the bundle as we went through the girls’ rooms, but then I got a little obsessed with wiping down the dirty door frames so Dave willingly took over and continued down the hall and into the back of the house, whisps of smoke trailing behind him. When I came out of my cleaning trance, I walked into the living room to find Dave dancing around lifting his knees and elbows like a kokopelli. He was wielding sage in one hand and playing a renaissance festival bamboo flute with his other. It was awesome and hilarious. He was really into this sage-ing business, I could tell.

kokopelli

Katherine and I laughed about the story then went on to have a really fun night together.

I got a call from Katherine the next day and she said she was really touched by the story of the sage ceremony. She had shared it with a couple of people during the day and she wanted to tell me why.  She said that it was an example of so many things going really right in my relationship. I didn’t have too many expectations that the sage-thing go a particular way and Dave was open to this kooky plan and he was willing to participate in it with me. In the end we had this really fun and sweet time together. A time that might not have been possible if we weren’t both willing to turn towards each other and stay open to the variety of experience that each of us brought.

I was so touched that she had given this so much thought and that she took the time to share this with me. I felt appreciated and seen and loved by Katherine, and there’s not much better than receiving that gift from a dear friend. Her story also gave me an opportunity to reflect on and to appreciate where Dave and I are in our relationship. Katherine has known us for years. She’s seen us through the early days, our traumatic break up and subsequent separation. She’s been a part of our lives as we cautiously dated, repaired what seemed too broken, and eventually got back together. Dave and I have always had funny, happy moments, but there was a time when they weren’t so easy and pure. An adversarial undercurrent was always there.  Now, I’m freed of that feeling and these happy, funny moments happen all of the time– Easy. Loving. Pure.

On the phone with Katherine, listening to her retell my story, I had an opportunity and the time to swim around in this realization of how things have changed in my relationship and to appreciate it. She acknowledged it with me in a way that showed me that she was seeing me and that by seeing me she was able to see something in herself. And it all feels so wonderfully human and connecting –to know someone really well and to still love them, a friend, a partner, your friend’s partner. It’s something really special to appreciate all that we are and all that we’ve been through, to witness each other changing and to believe in it. It’s so hopeful. My friend helped bring all of this to the surface in a way it usually isn’t there for me. And it tasted so sweet.

 

Here’s to more of this sweetness in each of our lives in the upcoming year. Welcome 2016.