Labyrinth in Autumn

Under a half moon and an autumn evening sky

I walked the labyrinth with some women I knew

And with some who were strangers.

The candles glowed

The drum beat softly

The crickets were nearly deafening.

And the owl who chimed in

Made me wonder if this was all staged!

That last burst of life

That comes before the final breath.

When one woman blew into her conch shell

It caught me off guard but made me smile too.

As I walked in reverent silence,

Rosemary in one hand,

And a votive in my other,

I found myself begging God

To help me find my center again,

As I reached the altar in the middle.

It was hard to keep the panic at bay

As I wondered “What if I never can find it again?”

What if I remain lost?

But instead a voice kept reminding me

That it has felt like a part of me

Seems to have died recently.

And that dragging around the carcass

Is one damned heavy load.

(You know how “dead weight” can be)

There was no one

particular reason

For this death

It was everything

And it was nothing.

But the loneliness

And suffering.

Has been palpable.

I am anxiously awaiting

The rebirth, the lessons

The deepening and the return

Of my heart

I hope it comes soon

Even sleep has eluded me

These long dark nights

One can be so lonely

Even surrounded by those

We know or those we love.

It is alone in costume.

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SATURDAY FARMERS MARKET

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I don’t think I realize just how old I am sometimes. In my work I spend every day around young new mamas and their babies so perhaps that fresh, new energy invades my soul.

We went to the Durham Farmer’s Market on Saturday. We live right next door to the Raleigh Farmers Market and yet, we drive the 40 minutes or so to Durham for many reasons. The Raleigh market seems a bit like a mafia to me with mostly the good ole boy farmers who still use plenty of pesticides without a care or thought and manage to control the market tightly keeping anyone who relies on organic methods out of the club. I suspect that Monsanto is a given in their repertoire. It is amazing to me that there are NEVER any organic offerings and I suspect this stems from the fear that those pesky hippie farmers might just corner a market and make the rest look bad. I don’t know how this all works so it is just my own hearsay, but it seems pretty unusual in this time to be in a huge mass of fresh produce with not one single organic offering. Control trumps all, every time, doesn’t it?

Arriving at the Durham market exudes a sense of excitement as you pull up where there is a bevy of food trucks offering all kinds of items including everything from dumplings to barbecue to vegan sandwiches. There is a young, hip vibe with babies and kids everywhere. Folks are on line for organic coffee and gluten free breakfast along with music playing and rainbow haired ladies selling silver jewelry. Further along is the actual market overflowing with purple kale, oyster mushrooms, fresh turmeric, baby turnips, free range eggs, and grass fed beef, just to mention a few. Almost everything is organic or sustainably raised. The breads offered are crusty and grainy and gluten free or not, totally delicious. Even though both markets may sell kale, the two markets are world’s apart.

We brought our dog this week, not realizing that she could not come in through the food area with us so we had to take turns browsing and procuring. I sat on a bench at the playground area while my husband shopped. There was a sea of free, happy, exploring, courageous, beloved kiddos. Their parents stayed close but let them be. There were groups of parents and kids on blankets sipping their organic coffees and eating various healthy breakfast treats. One group was singing “doxology” along with their kids, which surprised me as a choral chant praising God. Even the little ones sang, “Amen.” Others were chatting about this and that in the world of parenting or non-toxic living. I gathered that for most of these groups, meeting here on Saturday mornings was a ritual, their own support groups, their own church.

I am one who sometimes believes that “everyone is happy” and that maybe my family is the only one collecting problems and challenges. I am a sucker for Facebook Fantasy where one only shows one’s best and most wonderful and I never even suspect that all is not lovely and happy. So, I looked upon this scene in the same way. Then, suddenly, my eyes filled with tears when I took in the whole scene of little kids playing and mothers watching. I realized how long ago this was for me and it was if I hadn’t noticed the passing of time. My youngest are 17-year-old twins and last time I checked they wanted nothing to do with climbing a jungle gym or for that matter, even being within 10 feet of me.

It was a trip in my head to the times I spent just like these moms, watching and smiling. And yet, I am not so naïve to glorify it all and to forget how much I always seemed to want to be elsewhere as well. I wanted to create, to eat in a restaurant uninterrupted, to be able to read, to be with friends and talk of subjects other than breastfeeding and baby wraps. It was the constant push and pull and though I knew the theory of “sequencing” made the most sense, I still couldn’t suppress those feelings of always having one foot out the door. Of course I wish now that I had kept both feet completely in the moment, realizing the awesome time of love and freedom that I was bearing witness to.

I remembered being in the playground with my friend, Pattie. She had twins and I had a singleton all around 3 or 4 years old. We wanted to talk uninterrupted so badly that we assumed we were perceived as the “bad mothers” or the “neglectful” ones because we let our kids GO and play and we NEVER went down the slide with them. We allowed them to fall and get back up on their own, while the other mothers hovered. This was all before the coined term “helicopter parents” but I suppose they were just that, now that I look back.

Anyway, I sat there watching this scene feeling great jealousy if I am to be honest. I wanted it all back. I wanted a do over. I wanted those years of having the blessing of being a stay-at-home-mom back at all costs and it was costly I know. I felt ancient and gray and sedentary as I sat on the bench with my dog. I envied the camaraderie and the ritual and the leaning on each other as these parents of all sorts and styles appeared to have. Do I call them “hipsters” or “yuppies” or just smart young parents setting out to do their very best to provide good physical and mental health to their families?

And if you are wondering if there were any other grey-heads besides me as in “grandparents” yes, there were a couple and they were in the fray but so different. I do hear over and over that grandparenting is most delightful and mostly indescribable but for me that prospect is nowhere near if ever. I have many sons but this is not where they are headed which is fine for them and thus, fine for me.

I guess I just didn’t realize how much time had passed and just how old I’d gotten as it passed me by.   It was a delicious yet bittersweet moment to observe and in the end, my husband came with our bag of fresh, clean delicious produce and bread to take home and savor in quiet. This was the quiet I’d craved for so many years and yet now I’m not sure it was really what I wanted. Isn’t that just how life goes though?

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