BE STILL AND KNOW

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It’s quiet round here. The road is stretching out in front of me for miles, a silky black ribbon weaving its way through Coolcross and Binnon. In their purple navy attire they roll down towards me as I surmise their stature across the lakes on the mountain road.

I turn towards a quiet country lane and head up the hill. The trees, naked and spindly, are waiting patiently for their new Spring coats. It won’t be long. Before I left I noticed a few new shoots  in my battered back garden. Heedless of the recent storms, they must have slipped up some time last week through the  darkness unnoticed…until today. Sunday. Even the birds are quiet this morning.  Are they contemplating too?

Over short heather and grass I ramp on as the ground rises steeply towards the top of Coolcross. It is well worth it. The view is breath-taking. I find them all standing tall and resting in their Sunday morning splendour, Malin head and Glashedy island to the north, Slieve snacht to the south, Slievekeeragh, Raghtin More and Mamore Head to the south-west, Culdaff and Scotland to the north-east. 

Sunday.  It’s a good day for a hike to feed the soul.

The fruit of silence is prayer,
The fruit of prayer is faith,
The fruit of faith is love, and
The fruit of love is silence.

—Mother Teresa

Thread lightly as I weave my dreams

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Every dream is as precious as a child's drawing in the sand. Mindfully, it is created with great deliberation and care, taking shape in an area of our minds where we don't want anyone to thread or trample on our plan or our drawing. We want it to become part of out reality. We want it to come alive and stay alive as long as we can protect it, as long as nature allows. Sometimes the dream does come true. Sometimes it fades. Sometimes the turning tide erodes our best efforts, wiping the slate clean but it always invites us to start again, to dream a new dream no matter how many times the tide turns. That's were nature differs from a human footprint. A footprint leaves a mark, a smudge, an imprint that can crush a carefully woven dream. Dreams are delicate. Ring fence your dreams and in your mind's eye put up a sign No Trespassing. I shall conclude this post with the thought-provoking words of Cloths of Heaven by William Butler Yeats that defines how delicate and precious our dreams are to each and every one of us and as illusive as the sands of time.

Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats.

My soul is as steadfast as an old stone ditch

I held my feet in my hands this morning and told them I loved them. Yes. My feet. They need a lot of loving care right now because a) they are part of me and b) I have neglected them.

It is so wonderful to be aware of my own needs. It’s a long story but I have neglected myself for years. This April will be my first ‘Simply Conscious’ anniversary. Before you go googling for information on where to attend the conference, let me explain. That’s what I call this change inside me. On April 26th 2012 I will celebrate my first year of consciously taking care of myself. I still haven’t figured out how I am going to celebrate it but it’s a dead cert, I will be celebrating me.

That day last year, my soul comforted me as I lay crying. Broken. Spent. It softly whispered, “You know what; you gotta take care of yourself. It’s your turn now.” It was as simple as that. No fancy words, just love. I surrendered. No ranting and raving, no arguments, no guilt, just an acceptance, a letting go. My soul sparked a dying ember that provided me with enough light to see in the dark. The heat of the flicker provided me with enough energy to warm my weary bones. My soul held up a memory of me—the way I used to be when I lived to love and loved to live. It nudged me in the general direction.  Now here I am nearing my first ‘Conscious’ anniversary knowing I have dipped, dived and dragged myself from the wreckage but also knowing I am getting better and better. I know I love myself. I know I am enough. I know life loves me and I love life and yet I still sleep with my boots on…

You see, I can run but I cannot hide. I can ignore the signs, cut lose, break in, break out, go my own way, become distracted, stray, escape, keep busy, work, avoid, abuse, deny, hide, complain, get frustrated, argue, weep. I can go on vacation, dance at the party, go to a fortune-teller, buy self-help books, fail to learn lessons, collect crutches, cures and excuses in the form of family, friends, food, drugs, sex ‘n rock n’ roll, pain, injury, unresolved grief…the  list goes on. I can do whatever I want to do but the soul will know. It will not be ignored. It will not allow me to betray myself. It will not stop me, but I will know. I never get away with it. My weary old soul will hang in their like a master’s dog wagging its tail waiting for me to be the best friend I can be to myself.

When that day comes—when I do a tinsy winsy weensy thing like smile at myself in the mirror or allow my tired body to have a snooze without guilt or fill my home with Beethoven I know then I have come home. I have come home many times over this past year and will continue to do so until I love myself enough to know, no matter what, the loving whispers of my soul is home.

It is a work in progress. All my life I have been spontaneous and terribly sensitive. I soak up other people’s energy and carry their burdens as though they are my own. When I put other people’s needs first I suffer a serious lack of self care. As a full-time carer to my autistic son I am learning slowly but surely how to care for myself.

I caught myself crying at the news recently—an experience I have had from a very early age. Since last year I quit television and only watch the news when my energy is at a high vibration (which truly isn’t very often—that’s a work in progress too!) but one day last week I was caught off guard. I wept sore for a man torn in grief—a man I never knew or never met. This wasted energy is useless to everyone including me—I am not here to save the world but in loving myself enough I can take care of myself and others that touch my life. In my self-care I am becoming aware of who I am and I am trying to understand the reasons why I react to certain things without taking on pain and grief that is not mine. Raising my awareness of me has helped me distinguish between my own pain and that of another, who and what I am responsible for and how I can keep my overwhelming sense of empathy in check. Lovingly, I am learning to care, protect and love me with all my sensitivities and quirkiness.

Only when I love myself unconditionally, will I create and draw loving energy toward myself. Only when I remember that I am Divine Energy, will I love myself unconditionally. When I connect with my soul only then have I something that no one can take away from me—the divine light of my own truth. That’s when I become my own Anam Cara—a friend to my soul that is as steadfast as an old stone ditch. That’s when I can sit up on my bed and caress my feet knowing I am loved unconditionally.

 

Courage at Christmas time

The following was first published in my weekly column The Bright Side for The Inishowen Independent.  www.theinishowennews.com All previous columns are archived on my blog page The Bright Side but I thought I would post a copy of this week’s column here to share a simple message to all this Christmas. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Christmas full of blessings and peace. Until next time, Aox

Once upon a time I ordered a large county pine table with two carvers and six chairs to be delivered just in time for Christmas. The year was 2001. My Christmas calendar was filling up fast with family and friends booked in for all over the Christmas period. The day before Christmas Eve the furniture still hadn’t arrived. I was just thinking about calling the company when the phone rang. It was the furniture man. They had just received the delivery from England but there was a problem with the chairs. Only four arrived in transit. To alleviate the problem he could offer me a different table and chairs or he could lend me some chairs to do me over Christmas. All of a sudden I wanted to alleviate his head of his shoulders. I went into a rant about how inconvenient, untimely and incompetent the situation was until I realised no one was fighting back. There was nothing but silence. “Are you still there?” I barked. “I am,” the man answered, in a quiet, strong and unwavering voice. “I know it will not be perfect but the people sitting on the chairs will be much more important than the actually chairs.” His words silenced me. I wasn’t happy but something in his voice made me opt for borrowed chairs.

On Christmas Eve the furniture arrived.  When I answered the door the man had a great big grin on his face. He did not make any reference to my anger but set about bringing in the furniture. I noticed he was limping and although I was still disappointed and annoyed, I tried to act normal so I offered to help. Something about his demeanour left me curious. When he was finished the man advised me that he would be in touch again, as soon as the rest of my order arrived. Feeling a tad guilty, I offered him a cup of tea as a peace offering. He laughed and said coffee would be great.

On the borrowed chairs, with a hot mug of coffee warming his hands, he told me about the fire. His heart break. How he attempted to save them. All of them. His wife. His three beautiful daughters. He saved one, the one that now needs numerous operations, skin grafts and twenty-four hour care, the one that sits in pain with him beside a set of empty chairs at Christmas time. He told me about his accident, how he lost half of his leg, how he was going to lose the other half. Looking up to heaven he laughed and said, ‘He can come and take the rest of me if he so wishes…we are only here on borrowed time anyway.” My eyes filled up with tears. He gave me an nudge and said, “Don’t know what you’re blubbering about, at least you’re gona get your chairs!” He made me laugh and cry and laugh all over again. His sense of humour, his wit and his courage filled the room.

Every Christmas Eve I light a candle for the furniture man, for making me listen, for making me sit up straight on a borrowed chair and take notice of what really matters. This year I will light my tenth Christmas candle for him and for all who have lost loved ones, who have lost hope, who have lost their way during the year. Let’s hope we have the courage and insight of the furniture man this Christmas time. 

© Aileen McGee

 

Love

When you give away your heart, do not expect to get it back in the same condition. Love leaves an imprint. Love can make it burst open with joy or leave it cracked and heavy. There is nothing that can relieve the weight of a heavy heart except, perhaps, more love. Go gentle with your heart. Be it cracked, bruised or dented, or pitted with holes, it is still your heart. When we are broken it is difficult to imagine that only more love will help us heal again. Keep your heart open to love, no matter how it aches, no matter how difficult. If you find it difficult to find love again at least allow love to find you. It will come in all shapes and forms, especially in simple things. Let it flow through the cracks, to heal the bruises, to fill up the emptiness of your sore heart. It may not be the same love but a different love, the love you find in a stranger’s smile, in a gentle touch from a friend, in a kind word, in a child’s wonder, in nature’s beauty, in the acceptance of your brokenness, in your own tear-stained attempt to love yourself. Love your heart. Love it better so it may give and receive love again. Aox