My sister (who was born on my grandmother's birthday and is currently pregnant with my second nephew!) turned 39 on Friday, May 15th. A lot has happened since my (one and only) sister's birthday: I've transitioned out of grief, marked the healthy loss of 19 pounds, been zapped by the lightning strike of finding my next, right career, joined a women's running group that benefits local trails and a village in Tanzania, put one writing project to its final rest, and launched a brand new writing project into the stratosphere. In the midst of all of that I have celebrated my daughter - the Ninja Princessa's 14th birthday, celebrated my mother's birthday, and had numerous, numerous validations that I'm on the right path for my life.
The grief has (obviously) been a long time in passing and I am not pretending like there are not going to be after pangs. However, I've been working persistently and kindly through it and feel confident about leaning forward once again. Though processing grief is not the ONLY thing I've been doing lo, these many months of not blogging. For all of 2009 (thus far), I have been doing things like training for my triathlon, staying connected with my kiddos both near and far, focusing on nutrition (and becoming a vegetarian - eeek!), writing in lots of other venues, and discerning what my next steps are going to be. All that slow, steady plodding came together in a conflagration of energy, resources, and forward progress last week. It all clicked. I am miles into my next ventures and my spirit is joyful again.
I feel myself impatient to get to my projects this morning - which is very different from not blogging because I am worried I'll just dump stress, anger, frustration, and ick onto the page. I will say before I dash off to my studio that I met Meinrad Craighead last night at the premiere of the documentary about her. It was a phenomenal, affirming and challenging experience. My fiber art and my prayer life will never be the same again. She is an artist who has been exploring and expressing the Divine Feminine for half a century. She was a cloistered Benedictine nun for 14 years and even 30 years after leaving the abbey, lives a contemplative, solitary life. She is fearless and gritty - many of her images disturbing, entrancingly dark, and rending. She is also peaceful and present and genuinely humble. She offers you the feral wisdom of her connection to the Great Mother - in a way that gives you an access of your very own. In closing the presentation Meinrad told a story of the Pueblo people. (Sidenote - she lives in Albuquerque, NM and to travel to NC for this was a BIG deal for her.) She told the story of the Salt Mother - who nourished and protected her people (maybe with the Corn Father??) As peoples are wont to do with their dieties, the Salt Mother's children began to fall away from her, forgetting to honor her, turning away from her. As a result, She fell away from them and turned away too. And the people sickened and no longer thrived as a people. The people realized their error and began pleading, asking the Salt Mother what they had to do to return to her. She told them to start every morning by placing a small amount of salt in their mouths, taking it in to honor her and to align themselves with her restorative, healing, preservative power. She told them to absorb some of her very godstuff intentionally, each and every day in order to live as they should - in harmony and peace with the Mother. Meinrad ... I want to say charged, instructed, or commanded us to do the same - but she used no coercive or authoritative language. She merely offered the story with such powerfully resonant invitation that it strikes me as beyond foolish not to accept. Accepting, however, was not without its internal backtalk. My new nutrition plan is very, very low salt as it's all fruits and vegetables (mostly raw) and almost no processed food. My first thought was "Salt? On purpose?! I can't do that!" I shushed the sass in my head by reminding myself I do make small exceptions for training food (e.g. Gu on long runs and electrolyte replacement drinks). I decided to make another "exception" and incorporate the Salt Mother into my daily, intentional living practice.
One final Meinrad note. I was standing in the group surrounding Meinrad as the evening was winding to a close. (The friend I went with wanted a chance to speak with her as they've known each other in the past.) We were in a cluster and the woman in front of me was telling Meinrad how much she needed Meinrad's example and inspiration. The woman said several somethings about how she wanted to be as brave and courageous as Meinrad in her own artwork. Meinrad tried to deflect some of this saying she'd only done what she was called to, she affirmed the fearful artist's own ability to do the same, and finally when the woman wasn't hearing her, Meinrad said forcefully, "No. It is for you. Take this! I give you permission to [and here she bared her teeth and growled] be FIERCE in your pursuit. Go." Her energy and her growl encompassed us all. She took the woman's hands in hers and while pulling them together, pushed her gently away. Then Meinrad looked directly at me. It's possible she swept the whole circle with that gaze but I wouldn't know because I was RINGING with the force of those words and her attention. Words said to another, but meant for me too, all the same. She and the Divine Mother gave me permission - a directive - to be FIERCE in my pursuit. Fierce has always meant scary to me - but fear can't get a hold of this inside me. It's too big, too right, too deep for fear. Meinrad Craighead's example gives me an incredible reassurance that my fierceness in this world will be entirely reflective of my own, personal and unique connection with godstuff. I am so grateful to have had the chance to meet Wisdom in this way.
And now, my studio beckons! Peace.