balm for the late-winter blues
maybe you, too, feel pummeled. pummeled by the news. pummeled by the daily screech of nasty. the abundance of bully. maybe the unrelenting ice (and the cracks and the creaks in the bones that go with it) has left you gasping.
at our house, there’s a nasty case of shingles, and i’m walking around in a hard plastic splint, thanks to aforementioned ice. i don’t mean to be the human embodiment of eeyore, my favorite misanthropic donkey.
but, yeesh, february took a very long time to come to its last gasping breath.
i was gasping, all right.
and of course three-quarters of the pain is self-inflicted, since i’m the one who tuned in early, and never did leave, the shenanigans on capitol hill. the ones where over and over all day wednesday we witnessed displays of ugliness and partisan baloney the likes of which had me muting half the day, and wiping away tears at the end. sometimes the news of the day makes me think we’re back in ancient rome, crammed in the coliseum, watching gladiators tear each other to shreds. tearing us — and the moral fabric of this national experiment in hope and humanity — into tatters as well.
good thing an old, old friend, a friend who is the antithesis of all that is ugly in the world, good thing he was pencilled in for a long, slow overnight visit. the sort of once-in-a-rare-while visit that requires — no, invites — a whole day’s attention to all the arts of the hospitable heart. there were fresh sheets to tuck onto the bed, and sinks to be polished, besides. there was lavender water to spritz onto pillows. and a table to set with old fine blue-willow china. just-opening daffodils were slipped in a vase on the sill of the window in the room where our dear friend will dream. the dinner, slow cooked, will serve as invitation to a long night’s nautilus of deep conversation.
an overnight guest is the chance to step outside our everyday rhythms, while at the same time drawing another into the intimacy of those very quotidian rhythms: kicking off shoes after work, rinsing dishes after dinner, turning out lights for the night. falling asleep, each in our rooms, to the shared lullaby of an old house’s hisses and snorts.
or maybe it’s simply that to open our home — truly open it — is to open our heart. a muscle that demands regular exercise ( and not only of the cardiovascular kind). a vessel that begs to be filled with a good surge of love. the center-point of our soulfulness that, once in a while, does well to be reminded of its capacities.
all i know, at the start of this newly born month, at the end of the longest shortest one, is that it’s balm to my late-winter blues to crank up the flame on the stove, smooth the sheets on the bed, and await the face at the door of the old friend who, time and again, has shown us the best of human connection.
may your month bring you the balms you so need…
and what are the balms you reach for in your soulful apothecary?
Ah!… the Rumi “Guest House” personified today! I love this. I may just ask someone (a warm and cozy someone) to visit just to have an excuse to turn inward, Lately I feel more as if I have been standing at the door to welcome all “different” visitors who generally show up. I am so sorry about the shingles and splint. Although now that I am typing that, it sounds like an inn of woes! “Shingles & Splint”…or an interesting drink to order. 😉 You are my third report of a splint from a fall on ice in the last few weeks. I hope you are my last and you are healing quickly and prayers for the shingles too ~ never fun. March 1st never felt so good, even a cold one.
The Guest House ~ Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
oh, dear gracious! leave it to you, sweetheart, to have a poem fit for the moment. and a rumi poem no less.
turns out my friend who was here is a friend who leads soulful retreats — think rilke, think meister eckhart, think visionary women — all around the world (london, germany, spain, the french countryside). and whose visit — and the deep conversations that lasted late into the night and began early in the morning — has me thinking of inviting him to these leafy parts for a soulful chair retreat. guessing we could fill the house.
watch this space, as i percolate this idea, and dive into details…..
In like Inn. 😉
A soulful chair retreat sounds absolutely heavenly!
When you write, I curl up and read though I often don’t talk time to respond as I used. Your essay was so tuned in to so many I speak to. When I am invocation it is glorious as I take a break from the news that proves that since Trump took office our country is so broken. Add the snow, ice, wind, rain, and gray clouds and one feels diminished somehow. Add shingles and splints and one can only curl up with a good book and wish for June to arrive. I hope that the next month finds you feeling a little better each day. I am anxious to hear how our boy is doing! He is the sun! You are both such a sweet reminder of the past. Love, Laurie
oh, dear laurie! forgive my tardy reply — i was driving our overnight guest around town, and only just now back home. you melt me with words that T is the sun! he is, isn’t he? i ache at the thought of his not being within arm’s reach next year. we are due for a grand lunch before he takes off. sending giant love from my house to yours. oh, the joy of finding you here. hope you are good. i know you are glorious. always. xoxo
I am a “silent chair”…I have read your books , read all your blogs, and I was highly disappointed I couldn’t attend your talk on Merton because I was too sick!
BUT, today you especially touched my kindred spirit with your relief that this “longest, shortest month” is over because I can definitely relate! I’ve been going through a suffocating and overwhelming death loss, I then got a viral infection that caused me to get ear fluid in the right ear making me lose my hearing, nasal problems where I couldn’t breathe and laryngitis…all this making me feel like the universe was closing in on me. I went over the edge, experiencing panic attacks, high anxiety, and debilitating claustrophobia. I am happy to say, I’m on the road to recovery.
Your blogs and the responses from ALL the chairs have helped me cope with many adversities, and also, have given me much happiness from all your positive and supportive outlooks on life!
Thank you for listening!!!!
I am your loyal fan and reader,
Ohhh, I am wiping away a tear reading this….I am sooooo sorry for your terrible loss and the avalanche of hardships triggered across the weeks.
I am speechless — and so grateful— to discover that you’ve found this quiet little corner a place of light and hope. I know the chorus of voices from allllll the chairs is a lifeline for me — over and over and over…
Sending up special light and prayer for you today, and tomorrow and each prayer after. Thank you for reaching out. Squeezing your hand across the distance….
My balms include coffee, tea, fire in the fireplace, the daffodils for sale at Trader Joe’s this time of year, the weight of a warm comforter on our bed & infinity pots of soup!! Snuggles from my two loves help brighten the gloomiest of days too.
Sending you a hug & hope you’re done with both the splint & the shingles ASAP! Xo
snuggles are infinite balm. especially with that littlest pumpkin of yours. xoxox
love your litany of balms. speaking of which i need to put in a cinnamon-raisin-walnut bread order…..xoxo
After a busy weekend, I’m only just getting around to posting a comment here. I love your description of February as the longest shortest month! Curiously, even though ours was the coldest, snowiest February on record, I felt cozy and snugged in throughout. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the mercury getting above freezing! Hard to believe this is March, with temps still below zero. Spring will be all the more miraculous this year, after The Long Winter. We’re living in Wilderian times!
May your sore arm heal, may the shingles vanish, may the bright March sun bring you warmth and a much-needed melt. So happy you had a beloved friend’s company over the weekend. xo
good monday morning, sweet friend. it’s brighter than bright out there, and colder than cold. there is something about the light, though, that signals a shift. and it’s taking my heart aloft….soon i will begin my search for green nubs pushing through the crust of frozen earth…..
may your march be a warming one…..