Thursday, March 24, 2005

parenting, nature and the virtures of rawness

An image and a quote have been dwelling in my mind since last night. The image is a bit of (I think) Catholic iconography that when I encountered it as a young woman I never could understand. I'm sure you've seen it...an image of the Christ with his chest opened up and a bleeding heart visible. It always both intrigued and repelled me. I could not figure it out. Until many years later when I was reading a book by Chogyam Trungpa (I apologize here, I have looked, but I can't find the book in the current disarray of our library.) He was talking about what happens when we open up to compassion and become truly present. He was dispelling the myth that peace is comfortable and he referenced the very image of the Christ with the bleeding heart. When we achieve undefendedness it feels as if our heart is raw and bleeding--open and vulnerable to any and all.

This sentiment was echoed in a quote (again, I can't find it) that I read about ten years ago...before I became a parent. To paraphrase: 'Being a parent is a courageous act. For being a parent is to forever have your heart dwell outside of your own body.'
I believed those words when I read them...I live them now. It is the rawness and vulnerability of unconditional love that lends it such power to transform us and lift us beyond what we could ever have expected of ourselves. It is painful--and the more we can learn to lean into that pain, the more beauty and expansiveness the universe unveils for us.

Rawness. It's how we know we are making progress. It is why peace and mutuality can be so hard to find sometimes. To open up our hearts--to offer them to the world without knowing who, or if anyone, will respond--is a raw and discomforting act. But, I will assert, an essential act for those of us who want to create change in our lives and in the world. Our bodies give us the signals we need to know when we are in the place we need to be. If we are feeling vulnerable, rootless, raw, and uncertain, we are on the path--we are doing our work.

A poem, posted by a new friend, Chris Corrigan, caught this sentiment and connected it with the topic of work. I will retype it here, as I want to make sure I don't lose it.

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

-- Wendell Berry


A last word...for all the parents out there and for anyone else who loves a child and who loves nature...check out the writing and work of Joseph Cornell. It's beautiful and strong and fun.

3 comments:

Keira said...

I keep thinking about these themes in relation to creativity. I read on Chris' blog of the notion of chaordic confidence": of the willingness to be open, vulnerable, uncomfortable in a process and to let that process unfold without forcing it.

Perhaps it is the day (Good Friday) but I keep thinking of the biblical stories of wandering lost in the wilderness as a metaphor for this. And I think of my uncle Doug, a ancient United Church theologian who when he speaks of God means Creator, creative spirit. Is creativity (be it parenting a child, writing a blog post, cooking an Easter dinner) essentially opening ourselves up and wearing our heart on the outside?

Chris said...

Yeah...and every Easter I think of Pilate turning to Jesus and asking "What is truth?" and then truning to the crowd and saying "I find no guilt in him."

I've always felt sorry for Pilate, being so open and vulnerable yet lacking chaordic confidence. Steamrolled by the mob. And Jesus, just sitting there in stark contrast, cool as a cucumber, trusting that "whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened."

wendy farmer-o'neil said...

Yep...and I was reading my guys the story of Kore/Persephone and her trip to the underworld...following her curiousity about the beginnings of thing...and ending up losing everything until she eats of the food of the dead and her vision is transformed and she sees that the underworld is the seed place, the place where rebirth happens.

Even more powerfully in the story of the descent of Inanna...where she must shed everything...even her body...until all that is left is her will to go on...alone, utterly bereft in the darkness--and then discovering new life, new vision, rebirth through sacrifice.

Seems like all these old stories point the way...we must be willing to sacrifice (I know, Keira, there's that word again)...to be willing to lose all bearings, all signposts..to travel to the land of the dead (Jesus's death and resurrection, too)...if we truly want to connect to the source of life, inspiration, creativity, wisdom...