Category: Intimacy and Loneliness


I was kind of in a hurry, dashing into town to pick up a few things. It was cold, grey and damp, but my car was warm and my four wheels could get me where I needed to go quickly and then back home again to host a friend’s visit.

You know…..that light at the four corners takes FOREVER to change so I  cleverly turned left for a short-cut behind Bess Easton Coffee to quickly drive across the parking lot and across the street to the pharmacy and Belmont’s market.

But no such luck. Turning the corner to make that quick dash, right there squarely in the middle of the road heading in the same direction was an old woman, pushing a little shopping cart with empty shopping bags attached. She was all bundled up against the cold, layers under coat, hat, gloves, scarf and she was SLOWLY making her way..and I mean SLOWLY…inch by inch….alone.

My first inner response  of impatience was “Oh, SHEESH!” ….. but just momentarily as I reminded myself that I now live in a Senior Housing Apartment complex and though I can quickly veer around those with walkers or a cane in the hallways of the building, someday a number of years from now, that could be me!

Compassion, my dear. Let’s polish that up a bit.

I backed up and turned my car around going to a store behind me instead and also stopped to top off the gas in my vehicle. And then I proceeded to my original intended destination, though about 25 minutes behind schedule.

The old woman was gone from the middle of that short-cut, and I was able to cut through, across the parking lot, across the road to the big parking lot of the pharmacy and market.

And there she was… inching her way step by slow step over towards the market…! She had covered quite a distance in those 25 minutes and quite frankly, I was awed and humbled by her determination, her courage, and her intrepid spirit making her way alone, without partner or friend, on a cold grey day. It was a very long walk in distance and time.

ELDER-kin. There are so many of us now…from about age 60 to 90+..especially single women, living alone in senior apartments.. families somewhere else and ever so busy..adult children on the move and grandkids too and so much time between visits. We did not know when we were younger about the sometimes isolation and lonely journeys we must take in this third life chapter.

It takes courage and pure GRIT to take that LONG WALK alone to the market on foot on a cold day. Women, I must say, are known for that kind of pure GRIT… haven’t many of us just up and done what needed to be done as we once accompanied partners, children or aging parents through all kinds of growth pangs?

Seeing this Elder Kin sister from across the distance stirred my heart and almost brought tears to my eyes. I blessed her, and me, and all courageous elders who are are taking that long walk…even when it is slower than it used to be.

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

update Feb 2016 (2)

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Every so often I need to write about the lost art of letter writing, which to me is a very sad indicator of a distressed culture, particular one that is originally and supposedly trained in literacy. 

Nothing can compare to the possible eloquence and depth of a personal  letter, thoughtfully composed with the express intention of intimate communication and deepening of relationship. A letter can connect two souls, hearts and minds in a way a dashed-off paragraph in an e-mail or a three-lined tweet can never do. And let’s not forget the bastardization of language, an inquiry of another’s well-being reduced to the single lettered laziness of a “how R U? ”

There is the revealing of personality in penmanship and unique handwriting and the historical treasure of wrinkled old letters and documents on parchment for the sake of posterity that cannot be conjured up and savored in sterile black and white print from a computer file.

Bringing us now to this essay’s main image of this sad abandoned mailbox. This was the mailbox out in the front yard of the home I used to own. My home,One time it was the receiver of a mix of the usual bills of homeowners and letters from family and friends…those personal letters so eagerly awaited when distance kept us apart from personal visits.

But then, over the years, technology changed (or rather, infiltrated) our culture,  people’s lives changed and the computer allowed a quicker “touch-base” communique easier on the run, but less informative. That mailbox became less and less receiver of the written voices of people, but more and more the temporary receiver of printed corporate billing and junk mail and flyers.

My mailbox began to lose heart.

Eventually the billing also went online, and that mailbox only became a holding place, until emptied, of colorful  and jumbled hastily stuffed-in fliers and paper junk advertisements which I refused to bring into the house.

Entered then the cultural change of a mailbox unit at the post office.

My poor mailbox was eventually overtaken by brambles and thorns..alone and abandoned by human connections, it became home to a small nest of bees. The happy ritual of going out into the yarden to check for a letter…a LETTER…or to say hello to the mailman…went the way of many of our rituals of belonging both to family and community.

On New Year’s eve this year, I made a decision (not a resolution) to write monthly letters to friends or family whom I deeply care for. I never know what I will talk about, but when I start writing I try to share stories or history or interesting things that invite dialogue.

So far only one person has written back. My brother. We still talk periodically on the phone, living 2000 miles from each other, but the letters elicit different thoughts to write about and to respond to. My children living very very busy lives (we hear that a lot, don’t we from our adult children?) have informed me that for now not to expect a letter as they are swamped with the responsibilities of family life, children, social events and have no time to skim a letter, let alone write one. I have to remember my days past when I sort of lived what they are living now but in simpler and slower style culturally. 

At least we have texting.

Still I know that spiritually and psychologically  a happy letter in the mailbox is a delight to see…and a surprise too..whether or not it is mindfully read in the moment.

Maybe I also know that I write a letter to them, for me, to allay the sometimes feeling of abandonment when we become…  well, you know..the Elders in the family apart from the mainstream of our once inclusion in active family life. I also feel that as an Elder in a fast-moving, superficial and skimming-over society, that I have a responsibility to share the stories ..our stories… for the sake of posterity.

Living now in an apartment complex, there is no lawn, no personal garden nor a mailbox by the road. There is a built in wall of mailboxes inside the building. My mailbox is only slightly smaller than my apartment, which of course is delightful..this my new home. But I will continue to write the letters, a practice akin to writing in my journal or on this blog. And if you are on the end,it would be grand to hear from you……. 

From Christine, the greening spirit

Moi 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MoonCircle Three

Ah! The Dark Moon/New Moon in Libra. Libra: one-on-one commited relationships ie business partners? Professional and client? MARRIAGE? (also ­art, harmony, beauty, balance/imbalance, dependency/co-dependency, negotiation vs autonomy, gracefulness, diplomacy, and nice-nice for the sake of peace at all costs).

Journaling:

I have spent a good part of my adult life in partnerships and a bigger part of it as a single. In each of those two states I have been fully “in” it as it unfolded.  And I have learned important things in each……relationship with other and relationship with self.

The experience of being single and “in charge of myself and decision-making” without having to negotiate with another has afforded me the deep silence and extended times of chosen solitude necessary for the creative expressive part of my life’s calling. This freedom is an intense personal need that has only gotten stronger as I have gotten older.

The single life allows me the quiet and mental space in which to hear the inner promptings of inspiration and creativity. Just like the woman in the mandala alone in the greenhoouse planting beautiful flowers or the the woman taking time out to sit back and just be, without guilt or having to follow another’s schedule, I have  treasured the autonomy of being “single” and have somewhat chosen this in spirit if not in reality. I think. Because..

I also know that the warmth and sharing of devoted partnership or one-on-one intimacy is equally precious …when it is working at its best….in shared commitment and loyalty,  hugs, family time, conversations, brain-storming, task-sharing in the household, private games and shared jokes and humour, the history of trials and steadfastness…gifts, all.

Perhaps it is possible to have both, but I have yet to solve the challenge of that and though I am grateful to have experienced both, I am not sure exactly what it is the path that is truly the right one for me as I get older… now.

In this Dark Moon/New Moon in LIBRA mandala, my feelings gravitate towards the two images of the solo moments. Perhaps it is that as I have gotten older, have been partnered/married I am not now willing to give up large portions of my soul just for the sake of “peace” within relationship that threatens that. The partnership images are enticing…but it would definitely have to be the right person who would allow me to take periodic sanctuary into my own private personal soul-space.

Maybe it is a lifetime exercise in all relationships to work with the balancing of “self and other”.

Dark Moon Picasa twoFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

Eyes See You

                                                          Eyes See You

Yesterday while finishing up the transaction in line at the grocery store, the young clerk handed me my change and the receipt. As I took it, I did something shocking. Smiling,  I caught his eye  as I said “thank you” and for the briefest second or two a flash of human connection happened which startled him before he shyly smiled back his eyes locked with mine.  Not just a clerk and a customer and a quick  “have a good one”  but an actual rich moment of recognition, appreciation, acknowledgement and respect between two strangers.

How rare that is these days, as we mindlessly look away from people,  and out or down into distractions…hand-held phones, I-pads,  lists, or the never-ending agendas and self-talk in our mind  blinding us from really seeing and “being-HERE- now” in the present situation. How equally rare it is to  “wake up” amd turn away from those many other things crowding awareness of who is right in front of us…to consciously break away  from distraction for a moment to actually turn and LOOK at another directly eye-to eye to SEE and be SEEN.

It’s a tricky thing,  this eye-contact because we are stepping into the area of intimacy, vulnerability and the momentary revelation of our deeply personal tender human-ness. As it is said “The eyes are the doorway to the Soul”.   To not look at all into the eyes of others is to dismiss them and be only partially present. But to turn and look directly for even a second too long breaches necessary personal boundaries and is rude and even worse, invasive.

But when we can, to turn and let our eyes truly see whom we are talking to, or to risk the exposure in letting ourselves be seen fully for even the briefest moment can be the healing balm of connection in the often fast, soul-less pace of modern life. A “sparkle” in the ordinariness of the day.

For the briefest moment, the precious gift or blessing of “Eyes See You”  between people…and SMILES… can, I believe, change the world within oneself, within the other and  in the World.

**** An Art installation: “The Artist is Present”…sitting silently gazing eye-to-eye with strangers…until… “a (familiar)stranger” from the past emerges…. exquisitely beautiful and moving…another Eyes See You……

 

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_oFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

Flower 4

I am a member of a wonderful Unitarian/Universalist community. Part of our Sunday service is this pledge:  

“Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our prayer. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love….and to help one another.”

Time and time again I have witnessed these precepts in action in this group, gently pulling people out of isolation and into warm connection and belonging especially in times of need or challenge. A truly caring community free of dogma, as is the way of Unitarians, and full of kindness and sincere interest followed by action.

This past Sunday our interim minister, Rev. Jan, spoke so wisely and compassionately in his sermon about the experiences of “Loneliness and Intimacy”. He addressed the sometimes familiar feeling of sometimes being “alone in a crowd” or even “alone in a relationship”. He clarified the differences between men and women when it comes to “intimacy”, men sometimes associating it with a sexual relationship,but women often identifying its presence in deep sharing of stories, deep listening and being “heard”.

I loved all that he shared in his sermon and I KNOW that his thoughts and insights hit home with just about everyone who was there and have lived life alone and with others.

My own family knows that Intimacy is a deep need that is primary for me. Speaking the truth of feelings and experiences with each other, trying to live without judgement, attempting to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspective have been things I as a parent have attempted to teach my children as they grew up. In my later years, I found that the way of Unitarians matched my thinking about this. In my personal friendships and in the workshops I have facilitated, deep sharing, respectful listening without judgement have always been things we have aspired to and attempted to be mindful of. These things foster trust, true soul-filled connection and healing of spirit and emotions.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with friends with whom the treasures of “intimacy” in these ways have been a part of my life. I am happy when I have been able to offer that same treasure back in return. A win-win..we are all healed, and gently drawn out of the lonely place of isolation and disconnect able then to then express our full potential and unique gifts with the blessing from others.

Yesterday, while thinking of the words of Rev. Jan’s sermon which powerfully hit home and have lingered in my consciousness for several days, I went through my photos looking for a nature or garden picture to write about. Instead, I came upon these pictures of a past birthday of mine, and a dear dear soul sister who had stopped by unexpectedly to honor my birthday with a special gift.

Flower 5

This Soul-Sister, “Julie” whom I often call “Jewel-y” because she is a jewel, has been at different times “girlfriend”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “student,” “devil’s advocate”, or “vulnerable and open-hearted seeker”.  Over the years, these individual roles in our friendship have shifted depending on the situations of our very individual lives. A tender shining example of soul-ful “intimacy”… listening deeply to each others stories, challenges and successes, encouraging each other when down, celebrating with each other when up, holding secrets, offering alternatives, challenging decisions and actions that might  block our paths, and more.

Women know these kinds of friendships that sustain us through all other relationships with lovers, partners, parents and children…  Often Soul-ful intimacy may or may not be found in those other situations.

Each of us, my friend Julie and I,  have gone through some very serious and stressful changes in our individual lives over the past several years. We cannot get together much or connect as often right now as we give attention to new situations requiring deep focus and other connections. But I love these pictures of our friendship that seem to have captured the depth of sustaining  support, delight and unfolding that have, and always will, shelter us from the experience of isolation and disconnect in our lives when we might sometimes “feel alone in a crowd”.

btw: my birthday gift from Julie was that throw blanket in a wild animal print. We had been in our women’s group celebrating our wild creative selves and artistic self expression.. there were also cookies are for the sweetness of friendships…!

shawlFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

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