Sunday, January 31, 2010

Place entry #2 - week of 1/25-1/31

Anne Putnam Mallinson Pond, 1961; dedicated on Oct. 25, 2008, reads the plaque attached to a small boulder near an oblong shaped pond behind Mellon Building on Chatham campus. Due to fluctuating outdoor temperatures, the pond appears to have three different regions at the surface. A small artificial fountain where water flows in three thin prongs keeps the water liquified  at the southern edge. In the middle, a thin layer of ice persists, and transparent enough to reveal oat-colored leaves blanketing the bottom. At the north end, a few feet away, a thin layer of snow remains, concealing thicker ice and the bottom.

The sound of flowing, bubbling, cascading water always calls me home. If I listen carefully enough, it sings and laughs. A closer look into the water and a careful listen will reveal its story and my own.

Snow and ice silenced and immobilized me in my 20s. Frozen. Paralyzed. Blind. I was unable to see through people in order to assess their character and unable to see myself. Medicated on prozac, I was thrashing within a deep dark abyss, desperately trying to break through to the surface if not just for one gasp of air before feeling shoved back down again.  My hopes and dreams were frozen.  I was in hibernation. I was functioning, but not living. An invisible evil had seized my brain, partially distorting reality, and who I should trust. The person to whom I gave everything was destroying me one cell at a time.

Around the bend toward my 30s, the sun rose and miraculously shined into my soul, slowly melting away the darkness. An unhealthy relationship gradually came into focus. People could see through me. Some knew how to respond, others didn't. I wasn't yet ready to acknowledge and release the pain.

I'm now swimming closer and closer toward the water of life. At times I may appear to simply tread water, and when I move, my strokes are far from perfect, but I am definitely flowing and bubbling above water. I'm learning to breathe. I'm learning to float and find rest. I'm allowing the healing to wash over me. When the tears come, I freely release them.

Life lessons are learned in phases and sometimes resemble the different phases of water. We have all endured challenges during the ice phase and a melting of some sort. We are at our healthiest and most productive when we feel free to be who we are and allow the healing waters to wash over us.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Place entry 1: week of Jan. 18-24


I study the clouds as they roll and tumble across the sky and shiver in the blustery wind. I gaze at their dim reflections in the small pond. Birds soar up above and complain in the small cluster of trees west of the pond. I'd like to sqawk myself, or at least shift to their perspective. I'd like to scramble higher to catch a glimpse of the big picture as well. If I had wings, I could climb as high as the clouds.

These are the same clouds my ancestors studied to predict  weather conditions as they cultivated their land and tended their animals. Did they find their answers in these clouds? Did they find purpose and meaning in these dancing patterns? Did the clouds pour when it was needed and reveal the sky when sun was needed? Not always. Clouds were as unpredictable as life. My ancestors didn't often find answers they wanted when looking up, but they learned to accept whatever rained down.

Today the skies are their usual dull, slate gray, reflecting some grayness of my soul. Answers I seek  from up above are not raining, or ever dripping. Instead, circumstances that I don't want pelt down, stinging my eyes and bluring my vision. Like Noah, I am safe and protected in my boat, but I need to wait for the waters to recede before emerging onto dry land. Like Noah, I long for the sun to break through and truth to shine.

Rain quenches dry land and sustains life. Without it, I would not be mindful to cherish the sun. Let the rain drip, pitter patter and splash. Let the thunder roar. Someone, somewhere is grateful. Someone is receiving answers. We are not ignored.

The same Hand of Providence who sustained my ancestors a century ago continues in me. They knew knew that when the sun smiled through their teardrops, a rainbow would appear.  Just as they learned to immerse themselves in the goodness of those promises, I too, must learn to get a little wet.