It isn’t just that I have more commitments than usual. It’s that one of those commitments, publishing Seed Cracked Open, has been complicated, time-consuming and stressful. Uneasiness is a frequent, lingering visitor.
One morning I read Mary Oliver’s poem The Forest. It begins like this.
under the trees
the black snake
the stems of the bloodroot,
the yellow leaves,
little boulders of bark,
to take off
the old life.
I felt tears gather. I’ve been rubbing up against the bloodroot of self-doubt, little boulders of panic, and endless leaves of the tedious and necessary.
As I sit in my uneasiness now, I hear God’s gentle voice in my heart. “This is hard.”
I sit longer and remember the moment I was in church and knew that Jesus was calling me to publish this book. I recall the moment I was at Living from the Heart and understood that committing myself to this process wasn’t taking me away from the path; it was the path. While receiving spiritual direction, I heard, “I am so with you in this.” Those words echoed in my heart the morning I took a deep breath and pressed “Publish.”
The constricting, unrelenting unease is not telling me I’m doing anything wrong. This is what it feels like to shed an old skin.
Here’s how the poem ends.
At the back of the neck
the old skin splits.
The snake shivers
but does not hesitate.
He inches forward.
He begins to bleed through
Does the snake hear the old skin split? He must feel it. I do. The tingly release, the slipping out of old ways of thinking.
Do not run or fly away in order to become free.
Rather go deep into the narrow space given you.
There you will find God and all things.
∗ ∗ ∗
This Saturday a bunch of my friends in the Wednesday Lunch Club who have been sleeping rough will be moving inside. They will have a home that is warm and dry. They will have the luxury of locking the door, clicking off the light and sleeping soundly, without fear of rainstorms, bears or being attacked. Fifty-two new homes with supports have been completed at 3986 Norland Avenue for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Burnaby. It will be operated by folks I know at Progressive Housing Society who have big, kind hearts. I am so happy for my friends.