Monday, January 31, 2005

Our Highest Truths

Our highest truths are but half-truths.
Think not to settle down forever in any truth.
Make use of it as a tent in which to pass a summer's night,
But build no house of it, or it will be your tomb.
When you first have an inkling of its insufficiency
And begin to descry a dim counter-truth looming up beyond,
Then weep not, but give thanks,
It is the Lord's voice whispering: "Take up thy bed and walk"
J. J. Balfour
Joyce sent me this quote after my 1990 divorce. It sat in front of me on my cubicle wall at work till I changed jobs in 2003. Now it sits in front of me here at home. From time to time, it kick-starts my stalled engine, just when I need it.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Gathering Wisdom

Gathering Wisdom, a bronze by Mark Hopkins, is the closest thing in our house that reminds me of La Loba, the wild Wolf Woman. Gathering wisdom, I guess, is the same thing as collecting the bones and singing over them, a la Women Who Run With the Wolves from my last post.

My Soul longs for this gathering and collecting. If you wish psychoanalytic advice, Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, "Go gather bones."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Singing Over the Bones

In her best-selling book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about La Loba, the old, wild Wolf Woman, whose sole work is to collect the bones in the desert of our Soul. Once piecing the bones together, she then must find the song to sing that will bring them back to life. She is also known as the old La Que Sabe, The One Who Knows, and is within us.

In archetypal symbology, bones represent the indestructible force, the indestuctible soul-spirit. "You can dent the soul and bend it. You can hurt it and scar it. You can leave the marks of illness upon it, and the scorch marks of fear. But it does not die, for it is protected by La Loba in the underworld. She is both the finder and the incubator of the bones."

"Within us is the potential to be fleshed out again as the creature we once were. Within us are the bones to change ourselves and our world. Within us is the breath and our truths and our longings--together they are the song, the creation hymn we have been yearning to sing...."

"....We must sit at the fire and think about which song we will use to sing over the bones, which creation hymn, which re-creation hymn. And the truths we tell will make the song."

Friday, January 28, 2005

10 Questions for Every Answer

This past weekend a friend of my family died of cancer at age 41, leaving behind a loving husband and 3 young children. In chatting with her uncle who is 68, with a 25-year history of progressive heart disease, the obvious question is why her and not him?

That reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Yentl, starring Barbra Streisand. She was inspired by her father's teaching to become a Talmudic scholar in spite of religious restriction against doing so as a girl. So she disguised herself as a boy in order to achieve her dream. In choosing what yeshiva school to attend, the boys tried to convince her that theirs was the best because their Rabbi had 10 answers for every question. To which Yentl responded that her Rabbi (who was her father!) always had 10 questions for every answer.

Seemingly premature death, like so many other things, is like that: 10 questions for every answer!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Canis Lupus and the Full Moon

Wolves don't really howl at the full moon, they say; it's just brighter and, therefore, they see better to be out and about, when presumably they howl. In fact, the full moon has the light equivalent of a 15w lightbulb on the ceiling, by which many things can be done (who hasn't turned off the car lights at least once while driving under a full moon?!). As a teenager, I would climb the ladder to our flat-roofed, stand-alone garage at four-ten Harrison Street to write love letters by the full moon. And I WAS howling at the moon.

In Native American culture, a child chooses (or is chosen by) an animal whose Spirit guides and mentors him/her throughout life. After my 1990 divorce, the Gray Wolf and I chose each other. I had been separated from the pack and had to learn how to howl my way back home.
Now segue to last Friday night, the eve of this blog's inception just 4 days before the full moon. A resident's family member came to EdenBrook, the assisted-living facility where I work, with a wolf-like seven-week-old husky pup. Within seconds, that little "pretend wolf" was in my arms, clutching its paws around my neck (I have a scratch to prove it). All time stood still as I embraced her frightened rhythms, whispering Honeyed Words of the Ages into her ear until she was calm and our breath was one.
In that moment I saw my Soul; and I howled at the moon.

Monday, January 24, 2005

An Insole for the Soul

You know how it is when it's not till later that you catch the pun--not the one you didn't get but the one you unintentionally made!

So here's how it comes together: an INSOLE, noun, is the inside of a shoe, sometimes an extra, removable part put in for comfort. To INSOUL something...a variation of the verb to place, receive, or cherish in the soul or to endow with a soul.

In other words, to be IN SOUL might be a way of endowing one's self with an "insole" for the soul.

Or as Dr. Scholl would say, "Are you gellin?"

Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer

While in Paris (October 2004), Ruth took us to the Louvre, Orsay and Rodin museums. Of everything we saw, the one piece of art that still haunts my Soul is this life-sized bronze from Edgar Degas at the Orsay, entitled Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer. I have always loved bronzes and was stunned by the added cotton, gauze-like skirt and satin hair ribbon. But it was the attitude, the look on her face, her stance: "a fascinating three-dimensional look at the creative spirit, as we watch the young performer envision her entire dance within her mind."

I remember when I was fourteen, starting high school. I certainly don't remember feeling this self-assured! I wish I could have met her. I would have asked her to teach me to dance.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

G'ma is IN SOUL!

This is what I mean about being IN SOUL. Amy wanted Nicholas to experience Campus By the Sea on Catalina Island while Uncle Mark was there on staff, so Donica and I joined them in September 2004. To simply sit on the deck of our cabin, high on the bluff over the ocean, was PURE SOUL. The stillness of a highly impressionable 4-year-old in my arms made the moment eternalized. All time stood still. Talk about SOUL!


In naming my blog IN SOUL, I am naming a desire for the sunset of my life: to be SOULFUL. I want to live in the moment and be emptied of anything/everything that inhibits SOULNESS.

In Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul, he paraphrases Marsilio Ficino from the 15th century: "The mind, he said, tends to go off on its own so that it seems to have no relevance to the physical world. At the same time, the materialistic life can be so absorbing that we get caught in it and forget about spirituality. What we need, he said, is soul, in the middle, holding together mind and body, ideas and life, spirituality and the world."

What will get in my way more than anything is my mind. I think ahead (and get out of the moment); I think behind (and get out of the moment). It is hard for me to stay in the moment to milk it for all its worth. I need SOUL IN THE MIDDLE of the moment.

This is my goal in my 60th year: to be IN SOUL.

"There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul." Victor Hugo, Les Miserables