Reflections. . . Almost Home

1 Aug

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To write is to reconcile the outer world with the inner reality. Shaping intends a design which not only pleases but informs, both the past and future self. I haven’t written since Ocracoke nearly eight weeks ago and a vision of something in the distance neither bright nor dark signals that this particular writing path might close. This body of words, this part of my life’s journey. A feeling of both trepidation and relief is rising…I’m nearing home.

The significance of my experiences this summer did not come into clarity until 5:30 this morning August 1. But I saw the whole platter of them and their purpose at once in that waking moment. Beloved spoke to me for the first time in over a year. She said,

A mirror… It has all been a reflection of you, who you are and who you have been. Each event each person. Look at yourself.

The events of this summer were reflections of past and of present; their purpose was to sharply focus my recognition of how far I’ve come and perhaps the space of how far I really need to go to reach home.

The overwhelming feeling of not having done much, but yet being drug through one conflict or difficulty to the next is the perfect description of Summer 2014. My wings felt clipped in one struggle after the other, one difficult knot to untie at a time. Every morning and at every email and phone call, I winced.

What next? I would think.

I didn’t want to know.

Missed chances and wrong turns and all too brief moments of happiness scrambled into the pressing thought that on August 11, my life will change in a big way. Back in April at the end of my pilgrimage, I was told that my teaching assignment in the fall would be entirely different. Most of my classes will now be high school freshmen. After teaching seniors and college freshmen for 20 years, this type of change is difficult, and the struggle to understand why it happened, what it is supposed to show me, and how to muster strength to frame it in a positive light is ever present. But now, I think understanding has arrived. And it’s about having come full circle. Surely, I need time to mourn the passing of my first life of teaching, but then courage needs to come for the next.

Without cataloging the travel and experiences of Summer 2014, I will say that generally, the mirror has been held up in every connection. Because that is what this summer provided me. . . connections to a lot of people. And they set me on the rough road of learning more about who I really am in all my own imperfection.

And I’ve learned both wonderful and not so wonderful things about Cyndi.

I learned I am loved … greatly …by others, especially my previous students. People admire my strength, confidence, talents and honor my greatest gift: educating. Bringing forth knowing within others in relation to their inner selves is a gift I have but don’t own. As a storyteller, I help people grow in knowing themselves by example.

I learned that my dog, Clarence, who went through surgery to remove a scary cancerous tumor in his face three weeks ago, is the key to my highest self. He mirrors the real me. He mirrors the gift of evoking unconditional love… a gift I have put aside for far too long. The thought of losing him pushed me to the very edge. And my friends helped me to hold on. How many dogs  have over 100 people praying for them and hoping for their wellness?

Because in all the traveling I did this summer, to Ocracoke, to South Carolina, to Norfolk, to Grandfather Mountain, to Hollins University, where I took my first studio art class in Children’s Illustration, to workout, to plays and into a whole gamut of house repair situations . . .all of it showed me that summoning sufficient courage to face and navigate unexpected events is the only skill with which I really need more practice. And just saying that scares me, sends me into denial because I don’t want to be brave anymore. I don’t want to stick my head down and plow through another challenge. I need and want peace. And I’m not going to find it in the outer world… I will only find it within.

So this morning at Common Grounds Coffee House, a mission attached to Lynchburg Church of the Covenant, I sit with my pancakes and coffee. Ms. Swannie, whom I met in June, takes loving care of me. She fell in love with Clarence the first time we came for “pat and chat”. But honestly,  she saw something in me that needed her kindness and love. And I’m willing to admit it; I do.

Her calm presence and smile, balances the voice of Hamlet in my thoughts,

The readiness is all…

In clinging to life as is, to people, to the world as I prefer it in the hopes that it will remain the same, I exhibit qualities others have shown in their interactions with me this summer. I saw myself too clearly many times. Control, anger, neediness, emotional reaction, ego, anxiety, defensiveness, self abandonment, avoidance, narcissism, distancing, and lack of compassion. But also I saw patience, love, hope, deep spiritual understanding,  sense of humor, vision, emotional maturity, vulnerability, courage and strength. In a way,  in the turning toward home, I am learning the balance of both worlds. The teacher and the artist. The human woman and the spiritual mystic. After all, the hero must return to the ordinary world and share the treasures of the journey. Even if I don’t want to…I must come home.

The blessing of always finding something to learn, to explore has been my bliss.And then sharing it with others and encouraging them to undertake the same process in their own lives is the thing I just can’t “not” do. It makes me a Teacher. And the challenge is to grow in wisdom and in peacefulness, for the greatest teachers were teachers of being and loving. I don’t have aspirations to be the type of teacher who leads a movement, nor counsels the sick and downtrodden on a grand scale. I don’t want to be a saint or a statue someday in a garden or a cemetery. I want to inspire people, in the truest sense of the term. A memory upon which someone places loving energy, and that energy will remain positive in the Universe. And if enough people do that, then the memory of me will be expansive and affirming. It will love people beyond my short journey here.

I need luck and strength this fall. But I am positive it will come. Both tears and laughter will happen and ten months from now, I have no idea what my life will be. But Clarence will be there to remind me that bringing forth love in balance is the goal, no matter what I do.  Teaching is a path… Not a subject or a profession.

It’s time I stepped evenly into Being . . . the hero of two worlds.

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