I realized last night that it’s 2013. I did actually know that was the year, but I didn’t remember the significance of it until last night. The realization was that 2013 marks ten years since a pivotal moment in my life. To be precise it was March 19, 2003. I only know this because luckily computer files track the date they were created. That was the date I began to write. It happened over night. One day I wasn’t a writer and the next I was. Seriously.
On March 18, 2003 I went through a spiritual discernment process with a friend. She walked me through 12 questions and ideas and we sat in meditation together and listened together and talked. The goal was to find a question and then find the answer. The question in this process is always, What is mine to do to ______ and you fill in the blank through meditation. My question became, what is mine to do to be happy? The answer was one word, write. I remember thinking, well that’s not really very helpful, I’m not a writer. The key to the process though, was that even though I had no idea how writing would help me be happy, I said yes anyway. I took a leap, a giant leap and hoped I would learn how to fly and fast!
I’ve been flying ever since. I found a vast and boundless joy in writing. I found the place where my soul sings its song most truly. I found the space where I feel most connected to Spirit. It is that space where I sit, wide open and listen for the words. I am so deeply and profoundly grateful for that moment in my life when I said yes, despite not really knowing what I was saying yes to. There have been moments when that yes was more difficult to live with than others, like when writing the story Maria about a woman in a concentration camp. Yet, the communion I feel with the people in the stories and words that flow is an amazing gift. I am grateful for their company and their trust in me in sharing their stories.
The first thing I wrote was difficult too because it was a moment when I could feel that leap and I was in mid-air and didn’t know if I had wings. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t look down and let me fingers move on the keyboard. That’s when the dam broke. This is what I wrote that first day:
The dam that sorrow built
The pain runs deep but I can’t feel it. Too deep to fathom too deep to feel. The sorrow settles in my chest, in my soul but it hides biding its time. When will the release come? How will it come? Is it a flood or a trickle? I’d like to blow the dam up myself but I’m afraid of the consequences. Homes and villages will be destroyed. Lives will be lost. Will I be able to recover or will I be swept away in the flood. Who will I be after the dam breaks? Will I recognize myself? Will my soul be intact? Will it bring the freedom I long for? The joy? I can’t see past the dam but I can feel it weakening. Soon it will have no power over me or my emotions. I can feel my pain now, pressing against the dam. It is weakening still. Can love fill up the hole that sorrow will leave? I know it can but I am still afraid. Give your sorrow to me and I will learn to let it flow through me and let love take its place. Somehow. Without losing myself. The sorrow is near yet it will not defeat me in the end. I will rise above it and create a new world of love. Thank you sorrow.
The dam was the one I had built after September 11, 2001. I had felt so much collective sorrow that I was overwhelmed by it and couldn’t stand to feel it all. So I walled it off. That wall came down that day in 2003. And it turns out that the writing was prophetic for me. I didn’t remember how it ended until I read it again this morning. “Give your sorrow to me and I will learn to let it flow through me and let love take its place.” I know that sounds dramatic, but I can’t tell you the number of times I have done just that since 2003, and while it is sometimes challenging I have gained so much and been able to give so much through allowing the words to flow and so allowing the energy to move. So yes, I am grateful to sorrow and that dam it built. And I’m grateful to myself for saying yes, for surrendering and allowing that dam to be blown to smithereens by the powerful flow of both sorrow and joy that came in the form of words. Each moment of writing is a gift that I am grateful for and looking back over ten years of it fills me with such awe and wonder. I wish I could describe the connection I feel in those moments; though I’m sure the words will eventually come. For now I will simply say thank you to my willing heart and thank you to all who have read and shared the words that flow through it.
With deep gratitude,