The Quickening Time

End of February Snowfall 017Winter continues to linger at Full Moon Cottage. Today, another storm has brought 4 new inches of heavy, wet snow. The quality of the snow, however, indicates that spring is near, since the air temperature is too warm to sustain a snow that is dry and fluffy. Winter isn’t over, but it’s moving along, as the greater hours of daylight confirm. 

snow, February 024

Our energy shifts away from the need to incubate seeds of ideas into acting upon them, from the stillness of winter’s tomb towards rolling away the rock and stepping into the light of another spring and the green life we’re called to create and recreate.

DSCF0035In my free time, I’ve been playing with paint samples and garden catalogues, two sure signs my spirit is quickening. (No surprise that the medical definition of “quickening” refers to the first detected movements of the life within a mother’s womb.)

The temptation to rush into projects has always been a weakness of mine; thankfully, I’ve finally learned to notice and honor the impulse but invite it to wait and trust that my creativity, if properly fed and rested, will birth what it must when gestation is complete.

End of February Snowfall 020“Take more time; cover less ground,” wrote Merton, and it’s become my later life’s mantra.

In the meantime, I meditate. I pay attention to dreams. I listen. Winter is still with me and her lesson books are still open. There are truths to retrieve, like threads that have unraveled and must be gently pulled forward and woven again into the tapestry of my life to make it healed and whole. Hold up one experience at a time to the light; enter it and know its meaning for my life now, and then weave this into the next experience. Spring will call forth the proper action.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been re-reading my childhood diaries. I began keeping a diary when I was eight and continued for the next 30 years. (Since, then, I’ve kept e-mails and journals on hard drive and now, in a “cloud.”) I’ve been focusing on my diaries from 4th grade through 7th grade, the years when individuation and finding one’s voice seem to begin blooming in earnest, since those years are integral to understanding my current book’s characters.

diaries, doves 002At the end of 6th grade, my family moved, and I was dropped into a new class where friendships had been long-formed and there were clearly-drawn lines separating the girls into groups that were accorded clear and varying levels of “worthiness.” When I later became a middle school teacher, I fought this tyranny earnestly. But, it seems, like other forms of bullying, it persists, flowing around teachers and parents like a river that must run its course, no matter what stones stand in its path. Pecking orders must be established, I guess. (Although I would never offer the persistence of cliques and bullying as an excuse to surrender the need to constantly teach kindness and compassion to middle-schoolers.)

diaries, doves 011

I’d forgotten what a hard time I had with this life shift, struggling for most of the next year to find the sense of self that had begun to be confidently defined at my former school. I missed friends and teachers with whom my growth and self-knowledge had felt sewn together and merged into a quilted patchwork of community.

At my new school, I felt both isolated and exposed at a time when a girl most wants to blend in and be part of a group. And it probably wasn’t as dramatic as I felt it to be, but our feelings create our reality and mine, during this adjustment, felt unwieldy and miserable. Of course, those days flowed into a new year, a place where the clouds lifted and the sun gradually began to shine. Winter ended and green life returned. I was changed.

diaries, doves 016

Reading these once-upon-a-time stories from my life has brought me many gifts: Steps of my life’s dance have again been clarified; patterns of interaction have been brought into focus and their sources better understood; methods of evasion I’ve used to conceal my feelings, even from my own heart, have emerged, and melodies my spirit knew but had forgotten have been sung back to me by the girl who wrote these diaries.

I hope she sings through my dreams and into the book I’m writing, but like the spring, her gifts to me will be born fully when they’re ready. For now, I’m content to ponder and feel a new wholeness quickening.

cats, birds at sunrise, moonshadows 049


12 thoughts on “The Quickening Time

  1. Ah yes, the garden catalogs…I’ve been deep into mine and drawing up this years garden plans to avoid repeating crops. Love the Mourning Doves! My favorites after my beloved tree swallows…Tree swallows to me look like happy little orca whales with wings….Up close their faces are similar. Stay warm by the fire and enjoy your journey into your youth! Thanks for sharing. Snow storm raging today so my son and I will hunker down by the wood stove and cook up some yummy food! Have a great weekend ahead Kitty…. Blessings to you… VK

  2. Kitty, your deep understanding of life and your beautiful metaphorical language always touches my heart and soul. “stillness of winter’s tomb towards rolling away the rock and stepping into the light of another spring” – you’ve captured that exactly. And the words of Merton are wise indeed, something I need to heed in my own life. Your stories of middle school are uncannily accurate as well, and that experience can scar deeply if we let it. Professional cliques aren’t much better, but at least adults have the tools of years of living to handle it.

    I’ve been mooning over my catalogs to decide which of many plants I desire (don’t need any – but . . . ) I planted seeds this past weekend, always a symbolic act and satisfying to the gardening soul. As for the book you are writing, I plan to be first in line to buy it. You have so much hard earned wisdom and joy to share and you make the world better by sharing it with us.

    • Thank you, Lynn; you are a kindred spirit and I’m happy to have found your wonderful blog and begun sharing thoughts and words with you. You’re right, professional cliques can be painful, too; I didn’t experience their negativity when I was teaching middle school, but when i worked as a TA at a university, they were most evident and, to me, kind of amusing, but I wasn’t going to pursue an academic career and could afford to stand back and observe without engaging. I sure hope such egotistic carelessness hasn’t hurt your feelings or art. As with children (who learned their behaviors from adults, after all), it seems to come from an inner fear and self-doubt.

      So happy to hear about friends planting seeds and leaning into the light of spring: it gives me hope! 🙂 Great joy to all your green hopes and dreams!

  3. I You have a wonderful, meaningful magical way with words and I love to lose myself in them.
    I try not to rush into new projects, it gets easier as you get older I think. How lovely that you allow your thought and ideas to germinate, I hope they all blossom as the seasons change. How amazing that you have kept a dairy all these years, I was thinking about that quite a lot and think it must be such a strange experience to read thought and feeling you had as a child. Wow!
    Your pictures are as beautiful as your words…..I’m glad the snow is not able to take hold now, the wildlife will be relieved!
    Ahhhh….your doves melted my heart, I love them. We had a dove chick brought into the rescue yesterday, they are always so gentle and calm and allow us to handle them without struggling against us. Their little beaks are tiny and fragile and I always feel like my fingers are far too big and clumsy when trying to get food down their throats.xxxxx

  4. Thank you, Snow Bird; I really appreciate your visits and kind comments. I love the doves, too, and am so glad they visit every day. I envy your chances to care for them and to feed them: wow!

    It’s interesting to go back and read those diaries…so many events have been forgotten and then a few lines remind me of vacations, sprained ankles, my family’s adventures…it’s lovely!

    Blessings on all your projects and their fruition, too! Happy Almost-Spring!

  5. Your thoughts about encouraging young people to see beyond the limitations of cliques, and the social pecking order are so important. I am sure that as a teacher, you did your best to encourage kindness and tolerance among your students, and it would be truly wonderful if you could embody this message in a book (or books) for young people, helping them to see that often much is lost when taking the easy path… and that each person is a world on its own, as well as being part of a greater body that includes those around him. I found your words in this post very encouraging and optimistic.

    • Thank you, Shimon. Yes, countering what children hear and experience inside and outside of school is always an uphill battle for teachers, as it is for parents. Our media could do a much better job of considering their offerings. Thankfully, there are many good books available and being published every year that reinforce these themes you mention. They’re not always the books that get the most attention and certainly, a book that preaches or that lacks strong characters and a captivating plot should expect few readers, but I’m always able to find new books that creatively enchant without sacrificing characters who are aware–or learn–that their choices have consequences and affect others.

      So grateful for your visits and comments, Shimon.

  6. How wonderful to have such a chronicle of your life journey. Looking back always provides an important perspective – and sometimes helps us find our truest self.
    Another beautiful post, Catherine. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Absolutely right, Ogee; we can lose truths we owned when we were young. It’s good to revisit my childhood through my own words and insights and ponder the path between then and now…

    Thank you so much for your time, open heart, and comments.

  8. How very precious to be able to return to the hidden thoughts and writings of your childhood Kitty. I can only imagine how you could traverse the past and the present from these old diaries. And the flood of memories they evoke. I am sure they will find a beautiful way of being expressed into your work today.

    It must surely be a great comfort to see oneself grow into maturity and like a plant having gone through all the different seasons of life and still have its roots deep and strong and firmly planted in the rich soil of life.

    This post brought me much pleasure dear Kitty. Sharon

    • Thank you, Sharon…it’s mysterious how the child is hidden within, sometimes so inaccessible and at others so very present. It has been, as you say, comforting and interesting to traverse old paths with new eyes. I so appreciate your visits and comments, always insightful and welcome. Peace to your day.

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