in the Grove

grove 2

A grove of trees consoles me from the opposite side of the park outside my patio. Five trees as one. So, even though I feel completely solitary on this day of golden light, I remember. It’s been said that we’re never really alone. Especially not in a world of more than a billion people. Neighbors reside so closely above and beside me that  draw my blinds in early evening. Reminds me of the convent where I struggled with feeling alone while living in a five-storied building with two hundred other women. My excuse then was that we weren’t allowed to talk to one another, except during brief periods of recreation. Otherwise, we observed Silence.

I yearned to talk.

To be seen and heard.

We stood alongside one another in rigid line, bumping elbows. We obediently did our best to ignore one another and stay focused upon an invisible god.

Though I no longer have to, I keep Silence again and live alone with my two cats.

Except for the grove of five, who keep watch over me from across the lawn.

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Oh Lord, I am not worthy

Mountain Love

Somehow, I presumed the sending off of my memoirs would flush me of some of those pesky habits I carried from the convent so long ago. But it hasn’t. My sense of unworthiness prevails.

Not feeling okay.

Or good enough.

Like a sudden gathering of clouds, a darkening overshadows me when I least expect it.

I blame the convent, where I developed the habit of gazing inward each day, and examined my sinful self for every possible imperfection. It wasn’t enough to skim through the Ten Commandments in search of sins—impure thoughts or feelings of jealousy. I was also taught to look for slight infraction against the rules. Talking too much, running in the hallway, and gawking around during prayer were inadmissible faults, and needed to be publicly admitted on a daily basis. Like a monkey, diligently hunting for and picking at its body for fleas, I daily searched for—found—and developed a long list of—my daily failings. Had I not discovered at least a few faults, I would have been guilty of the more serious sin of pride.

Years later, my spirit has learned to expand and soften, but I still I work at accepting my imperfect and fault-ridden self.

It had not come easy. . .

this letting go,

this allowing.

Even today, I hesitate at being proud of,

or thinking myself good enough.

It has taken a lifetime.

Emptied

Recie August 2014

Since I sent off my manuscript, I feel emptied–perhaps peaceful. Even aimless. For four years, I hammered away at my memories. A difficult task—certainly no labor of love. I had lunch with four other writers on Saturday, and was envious of their enthusiasm—their lust for writing. Each was years younger than I and working on futuristic novels. I wondered that something might be wrong with me as I struggle with every word. Every sentence. Every thought, my critic working overtime. Even as I write this, she smirks and points a finger at my computer from over my shoulder.

You scramble for words and can’t get out of your own way. What makes you think you are a writer, when you stumble over every thought that enters your head? You think anyone is going to read this? You should have taken at least another year to mold your manuscript into something more interesting—more uplifting—more worthy of being shared. 

I feel humbled. Beat up. Taken to task. As if I should kneel at the feet of my confessor and ask for a penance. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I dared reveal things about the convent that most former nuns would never dare.”

As I await my penance from behind the other side of the confessional screen, I hear a kinder voice from within, rather than my imagined pious response from a priest. It is the less familiar voice of my Inner Wisdom, and it silences even my Inner Critic.

Hey, dear one. You have shared YOUR truth. Your version of nineteen years in the convent. Whether anyone else cares or understands, doesn’t matter. You began writing years ago to relieve yourself of memories that burdened you for too long. Applaud yourself and move on. A whole new chapter awaits you.  

Changes, Changes.

One of my favorite people in the whole world was the Mother Superior whose “reign” spanned my last years in the convent.  In total contrast to the bossy nun who preceded her, this woman of authority treated each individual with great dignity.  Vatican II took hold while she served office, and she used her position to gently guide the community away from an atmosphere of authoritarianism and into democracy. It caused quite a ruckus, but I was among the many who were thrilled at the reforms. Others, however, staunchly objected to every single change. It puzzled me why anyone would prefer to remain in Dark Ages.

Stay tuned for the completion of my book.

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Footprints in the Snow

It feels like I’m walking barefoot in the snowdrift outside my door, and leaving deep imprints on the frozen landscape. Beginning a new blog feels the same…like mincing cold-footedly through the how to’s and what for’s of a new dashboard.

Slippery and cold terrain for me.

Getting used to the convent was worse, because I was only fifteen years old and four hundred miles from  home.

So, for the past few years, I’v been up to my eyeballs putting words on paper, and trying to slog my way through the writing terrain. I aim to finish and finally published a book by the end of 2014.

Wish me luck.