|Self Portrait Clare's Well, February 2012
Two weeks ago today, I was on the second day of my visit to Clare's Well. I had very good intentions of writing about my trip as soon as I returned, but to be honest, it's been more difficult than I had anticipated. Have you ever had an experience so moving that you hesitate to even open your mouth about it? The mere thought of trying to grasp all that it encompasses is completely overwhelming, and the only honorable thing to do seems to be silence. I flipped back and forth between writing a summation of my time in Annnandale and simply posting all three hundred of my pictures with the hope that you would just "get it". But neither seemed right. Most importantly...I wanted what came from all of this to be honest. It seemed like that was gift given over the course of the four days. This accounting should be authentic.
I'll warn you - this is going to be long. It is also going to be very real. I apologize right now, if in my attempt to let you into one of the most personal parts of me, I in any way offend - I am truly sorry. This is just me, in all of my humanness, sifting through and plucking away at the pieces of what makes up just one simple women in a very big and beautiful world.
I've decided to type word for word, the journal entries I made while on this trip. No changes, no omissions. I can guarantee you, that if I would have any idea that my journaling would ultimately end up on this blog...well, I probably would not have journalled at all! It just seems, that after reading over things, it's the most honest thing to do. My hope? My hope is that in my struggle, you find your struggle. In my pain, you find your pain. In my joy, you find your joy. In my beauty, you find your beauty. And in the end, you come to realize your own grace, your own purity, your own sacredness...
The Holiness within.
A few pictures to begin...
|Painting and sketching supplies.
|The new porch recently added on to the hermitage - heated floor and all!
This is also where the compost toilet is located, through the closed door to the right.
|The House of Clare. The smallest of the three hermitages, this holds a special place in my heart.
I was happy to be here again.
|Many hours spent sitting in this space.
|A small kitchen for snacks. Meals are served up at the farm house.
Wonderfully cooked, homemade and organic - there is nothing like the food at Clare's Well.
|Jeana, my dearest friend and only the second person that I have ever shared this space with.
She came for lunch the first day. A perfect way to begin my stay.
|The view from my hermitage.
|Walking into the woods.
|The footbridge leading into the woods.
|The curve and beauty of age.
|The House of Clare to the left of the barn.
|Walking back to the House of Clare...home.
Back from supper. Fire's out. COLD. Took about 20 minutes to get it going again. I love the smell of wood burning. I miss that smell in the house. Supper: chicken and dumplings, potatoes, carrots, celery. Yum. Beets, broccoli salad (with sunflower seeds) homemade bread and applebutter, brownies and ice cream. Met Ellen – neighbor of 60 years. Sad. Farmers wife. Husband is in memory care. She’s moving to an apartment to be closer to him. Nice lady – typical old farmers wife. Very active in her church. Jan is not here this week. She’s on “retreat”. Her neice - mother of 4 ages 16 to 6 – single – just had an aortic aneurism. It does not sound good. There is so much pain in this world. So much pain.
I’m thinking that tonight will end early. Sinuses are really bad, teeth hurt, head hurts, body aches, neck is just not moving. Pajamas, bed, read…sleep. Tomorrow is a new day.
Slept broken, but well. Went to bed at 9pm and was up every 2-3 hours. Had to completely restart the fire around 3. Had one of those “real” dreams were I could not move. Thought there was a cat in bed with me. Maybe Jenni. The room looked completely “as is”. Just could not get my arm over to the lamp.
Got out of bed at 8. Can barely move. Body moaning. Added wood to the fire. Made Coffee. Swept. Started the “sacred dirt” on fire. Cleansed the room. So simple, it burned just right. Re-arranged my alter so that it felt right. Lit the candle. Read:
“I have just three things to teach:
Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the Source of all Being.” Lau-tzu
|Havan Samagri..."sacred dirt."
|A lifetime of treasures. Stones filled with the the oldest souls of this earth...
|A few old favorites and a few "in progress".
|Homemade granola, fruit, yogurt and organic coffee...heaven.
I truly am drawn more and more to the simple. I long for it. Ache really. So much so that I have to be careful it does not keep me in the future. Away from what I have right now. I am trying to learn what it means to take that longing and give release to it in the present moment. I don’t have to wait. It’s difficult with a family. There are so many other lives to consider. Lau capitalized the word Being. When I saw the eagle before I came I felt a very strong affirmation of the Source. I told Dave on the ride here that religion is mankind’s attempt at finding solid ground. Seems true for all cultures. “We” all feel the Source. The Being. The Source of ALL Being. In our humanity we try desperately to “pin it down”. That’s our tendency. I don’t believe that’s our nature. Tendencies often times come out of fear or ignorance. I don’t believe the Source is to be understood. In our limitedness, it can only be experienced. Accepted for what is. We do not have to label it. When we label something we begin to think we know the truth of it. “This is an Apple.” Done. “I’m not sure what this is…” Open! To all possibilities. Like Tolle says, when we think we know the truth, we stop looking. We would not know the truth if it showed up at our own front door.
I want to live a life present in the moment and open to all possibilities. Simple in actions and thoughts.
Today will be about being simple.
|Home sweet home.
|A friendly hello!
Some scientists are led to the undeniable truth that God exists.
Some scientists are led to the undeniable truth that God does not exist.
The truth is to be found in both scientists.
|A copy of a painting/poem I made for Sister Agnes before she died.
Sunday Morning. Beautiful, beautiful sunrise. Only a breath of wind. It will be a good day. Slept better last night. Only got up once or twice , but was sleeping very soundly. No fear. Pain started about 3am. Very difficult early morning. Could not get comfortable. Meds and heating pad would not even touch it. I think my massage yesterday caused some trouble. Treggor may not be my thing…or at least my joints don’t think so. I liked it, for the most part.
I let the fire go out in the night. I stoked it up WAY too much before bed and had to get up a few times and open the window. Fell asleep with it wide open – below zero. Crazy. Woke up to close it and it still was pretty warm in here.
|Homemade poppy seed bread...a delightful addition!
Out of bed at 7am. Made fire. Swept. Made bed. Made coffee. Read my 4 affirmations. First I lit the candle and spread sacred dirt smoke all over the room. First time this felt completely natural. Without thought or doubt. I felt connected to Tanuj and Moon – to all humanity. Even the Catholics…ha! Found a new book up at the house – earth Prayers. Talked about how our prayer to the Sun (or whatever) is not about what it does to the Sun, but what it does to me. I can feel myself moving away from the guilt and responsibility of religion. In the middle of my prayers I had to poop. In the past, I would have felt guilty about that. Not doing it right…again! Not having the strength to force myself in some sort of “martyr-like” fashion. There is no martyrdom in Buddhist philosophy/thought. Loving self is the greatest/first good. I felt that this morning. Taking care of my needs was part of my meditation. I felt as if I was taking care of one of my children. That the interruption and returning was ALL GOOD. Hard to explain.
I hope I remember.
|Me...completely and utterly content.
I listened to Jack Kornfield and another lady last night. Tapes by Sounds True from up at the house (these are just the greatest nuns ever). I really need to listen over and over again. They are so good. But one of the things that resonated with me was this idea of naming things when they arrive. It finally meant something to me. If I had any advice to give, it would be – Just try it! I’ve heard this many times before, but never really practiced it until recently. It’s quite amazing how just naming something helps it to pass. “That’s an itch.” “That’s my back hurting.” “That’s uncomfortableness.” “That’s hunger.” It’s crazy! Like when you were a kid and you tell your mom that you hurt your knee. If she does not acknowledge it you feel like it’s going to hurt forever. You sit alone weeping about how you think you’re gonna die. But if she says, “Oh, I bet that really hurt!” and then kisses it…well then, off you run! All better! This is how we care for ourselves. Like a child.
|The back side of the wellness center.
|Inside warms a host of chickens, a not so sociable cat and a momma goat.
|Ah ha! There are TWO of YOU!
Inside the front porch of the main house. That's as far as they get!
“We are the only living thing that upon going one direction, wishes we had gone another.” I have to think about this one for a bit.
Sitting on my front step in the sunshine, listening to the birds. They are just chirping and calling like crazy! Spring is so close. I ran inside to get my journal as thoughts just keep pouring into my mind.
Last night at supper we read these beautiful “Grace” cards. All very feminine. Written from the perspective of women, but also as Mother/Creator. I felt sorry for the lone husband. Wondered if it made him feel at all like he was a “visitor” in this women’s world here at the Well. Ran into the same couple in the Wellness Center this morning. Had the same thought. Now, sitting here, I see them walking up the hill together, towards Francis, where they are staying. I wondered again – does he feel uncomfortable in this women space. And then I thought of Carol – making the statement that we need to “get the men here”. So I then wondered if they would change anything to make it more “man friendly”??? AND THEN - I was blown over with this feeling of “All of Time” - and the patriarchal foundation of almost every culture. And I am filled with love and admiration and pride…and sadness for women. How they have survived. Continued to be the carriers of faith and tradition and ritual throughout generations despite our exclusion. Things are changing slowly. Adding another, more beautiful layer to the earth takes time.
I don’t think anything should be different from how it is right now – constantly changing. I think this direction is good. Where the Well is at in this moment is exactly where it should be. The farmer ladies just arrived back from Mass.
|Pictures from inside the wellness center. A warm and inviting, very peaceful place to sit for reflection.
|Looking out from inside the sauna. Of course, it was NOT on!
Lupus and heat are not a good match!
|Sister Agnes, you are dearly missed.
|Sunday evening meal in my hermitage. Leftovers never tasted so good.
|I decided to make some very small bookmarks and hide them
in some of the books in the House of Clare.
|This one is maybe twice the size of a postage stamp.
Monday. Final Day.
“I don’t need another mother in my head.” Moving away, being distracted, naming it, moving back, being distracted, naming it, moving back, being distracted, acting…not acting…moving back, All without guilt. Because being true to what IS is what is most Holy. Going with the flow of Nature, of the Universe, of all that IS is the right thing to do.
Can you imagine what the world would look like if the nuthatch looked at the woodpecker and “gave it a shot”. Everyone has their nature – what they do, what they are meant to do – because of who they are as individuals. “Humankind is the only living being that goes in one direction and wishes it had gone another.” We must be like the nuthatch. Waiting its turn, hopping down the tree from branch to branch, grabbing its seed and flying off. Or, the woodpecker, who pecks his way through life. Never wishing, wanting, hoping, trying to be the nuthatch.
You know what your true nature is because it is always there with you. Uncover it! Peel off the layers of fear, doubt, longing, inadequacy…find what kind of bird you are and just BE. What clothes do I like? What food do I like? What does my art look like? What words do I write? What books do I read? What places do I want to visit? How do I like to spend my time… Be careful though – seeing our true nature is difficult. Always question why.
The morning is floating by like clouds on a Fall day. When I try to hold them, they disappear.
|The view from my porch.
|My chair looking out the porch windows.
|Fun work. The rules when painting in this book are...NO RULES - MISTAKES WELCOME
My very first day I was greeted by a hawk flying from right to left over the lake.
My very last day I was greeted by a hawk flying from left to right over the lake.
|A snapshot of my journal.
This is the tree that held the bird feeder - which was right outside my front window.
I quite often sketch things so I don't forget.
Moving slowly. Paint. Pack. Paint. Pack. Slowly put jewelry back on. Wedding ring. Friend’s bracelet. Medical ID bracelet. (last)
The hermitage is clean, journal written in…4:05. Dave will be here at 5 for supper up at the house. Front porch painting is done for now.
It’s been a good visit.
A reminder of the Holiness within.