What follows is not a final thought, an answer, or even a declaration. My edges are ragged, as are most of us. I am shuffling along, remaining upright, grasping at the unknowing, and feeling as blank and hollow as many of us are.
This is not a plea or cry for help. This is a statement of place and circumstance. This is my sharing of a process, of the beginning of a healing, of a falling into The Unknowing, and of a gentle unfolding, of a seeking, of a stillness, and a silence.
This is the beginning of a process in which I journey into the parched wastelands of my being with nothing more than a divining rod and a heightened sense of hearing. I cannot promise I will tell you how the journey ends. I cannot even promise a point of reference after this post. I only know that I must share this piece, this beginning of a healing. The heartbeat of prayer. A supplication. The Sacrifice that Love has Demanded.
I do not have answers. Truly, I can only find my own.
And the question is only this, “What does Love Demand I Sacrifice?”
I cannot ask that you join me, only maybe, if you are willing to seek, that you ask deeply within yourself, “what does Love demand I sacrifice?”
Two weeks ago, I solemnly prepared to leave my job of 9 years. A job to and from which I’d been commuting more than 150 miles every day for the last 8 months.
When I left, I did not know how I would fill my days.
Five days later, on the first work-day after a long weekend, I still didn’t know. I had no job, and while I’d sent out resumes, nothing had come of them, and I couldn’t bring myself to begin looking yet.
Completely weary, I just wanted to curl into a little pile of me and try to untangle the last nine years of my life.
Tuesday, July 5th was just another day – except that now I had no formal employment, other than the dance class I would teach that night. Also, because I wasn’t at a job, I never turned on a computer that day. I briefly scanned over FaceBook, read my email, wrote furiously in journals, and posted to Instagram. At some point during the course of the day I noticed superficially that a man had been shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge. It wasn’t until the next day that I would realize the full scope of what had happened to Alton Sterling.
Whether in some subconscious response or a sense of needing something to fill my time while I figured out what I would do next, I removed almost all of my paintings from the dance studio where I taught Tuesday night. The plan was to re-work, or paint-over them while I mulled over what I would do about employment, what I wanted to do with the “rest of my Life.”
When I awoke Wednesday morning I couldn’t avoid the news of Alton Sterling’s death, and in seeing it, I was alerted to the additional death of Philando Castile.
In response, I hid.
In response, I sought out my daily writing prompt and submitted myself to journaling.
In response, I sought guidance and drew oracle cards.
In response, I used a purple marker and wrote in large script the words that kept reverberating in my mind, “Love Demands a Sacrifice.”
Love Demands a Sacrifice …
Naturally my brain conjured visions of a giant Valentine Heart cut-out, with arms and legs, wearing a loin-cloth, and carrying a spear. Pinky-swear.
But humor is my brain’s natural-defense against the scariest of prospects. Especially since, after I began to breathe again, and upon my asking, “what do You Demand?” as I continued to write – doodle, really – these words appeared in the wake of the marker, “your Life as You Know it.” Strangely, not the first time I’ve received this message. Also – I had apparently already sacrificed! Because Life was nothing as I had known it. Well, not in the last 14 years at any rate.
Despite my internal humor, I instinctively knew that Life was calling me out – Love was demanding a True sacrifice, not one I was in the midst of making anyway.
Love Demands a Sacrifice. I wrote a bit more. I leafed through a book asking questions about my direction, and received words from Cordelia, a British nature goddess associate with Summer, Spring, Flowers and Faeries. She spoke to me of Summer, of Spring, and all that had already been planted. How now was the time for action – for reaping all that had been sown. I then committed myself to painting.
The rest was Cordelia.
This message – I listened. I honored. She spoke to me of re-purposing. She spoke to me of re-awakening, of growth, and even of patience during the harvest. She gave me hope in tall, golden bundles that if I closed my eyes looked like sheaves of wheat sitting gathered, dotted throughout a broad field, golden in the setting sun – the sensation of masses of sweat-soaked beings permeated the atmosphere – everyone working together – Toiling. The word is not work – it is ‘toil.’ We toiled – we must toil – we NEED to toil in order to bring in the harvest. And we must be patient during the ripening, for everything ripens at its own rate.
The original name of the work I painted-over was: “They told her she could be anything, but this was unexpected.” In retrospect, it is still the name of this offering.
Though now there is even more meaning beyond simple transformation and sometimes having to fly in the expectations of those who love us most in order to fulfill our Life’s Purpose.
This work has been a prayer and a healing all in one. Sometimes healing can take more time than we would like, or appreciate, as is the case in this gift.
While the piece retains its original name, She is now also called, “Cordelia.” I cannot say for certain that She is the British Nature Goddess -though a voice keeps saying to me, “I have been re-purposed” – only that She has also those attributes of ripening, sewing, calling us to action, asking us to Toil – to harvest and says to me repeatedly, “Action, not words.”
So I hope you will forgive me, I do not know what action to take in the greater scheme of the world at this time, only that I must take action and that there will be sacrifice involved.
Until I have listened deeply enough to determine the shape of the Sacrifice:
I continue to paint.
I write in my journal and continue to answer the question, “What Sacrifice does Love Demand?”
I continue to listen.
I continue to untangle and soften.
I continue to grieve for lives lost.
I continue to dance, and pray, and release, and allow space for the Hope that naturally lies within my Soul.
*I've been listening to "Frida" for the last three days, virtually non-stop if you're interested. Here's a lovely bit I found on YouTube for you listening pleasure. **If you've made it this far, you deserve to know that the Alternate, Alternate-Title for this piece is "WTF Y'all?" ♥ Because somehow Life wants us to remember the humor.