Leaving is like a slow grief. As we leave this place we have put roots down in together for thirty years, there is pain. Actually, counting childhood, I have been in the desert for forty years. Not sure about the wanderings….
And so we gather with groups of folks we have loved. These are people, young and old and in between, whom we have done life with in raw, bold ways. And in those places I have an invitation before me. Do I dare to remain present? Am I willing to listen with my heart?
Part of me wants to bolt! (And this from an “extrovert”)!
There is something I am startled by in this season. I have “done” many things; written curriculums, facilitated groups, midwifed women, taught classes. These are not the things I am hearing back.
From the teen moms, now grown, the take away is simple. I greeted their babies and drew on their bellies (belly mapping a baby). Greeting babies, so common to me, gives connection to that little human. And I asked permission (may I touch you?). This is life changing for those of us who have been violated.
Not the curriculum, the knowledge, the program. The things that stick are put into words: respect, dignity, permission, voice. And I offered my eyes.
This theme I also heard from my journey-mates. “You gave me your eyes.”
What is that, the offering of eyes, of presence? It is an invitation.
I also hear that I invited story, that we created places that flowed from our own stories. It seems small, really, the inviting of story. But this is radical, revolutionary stuff. When I engage my story deeply, and wrestle with its pain, only then do I have the right to dive into story-waters.
This desert landscape has been the place of my deep wrestling. Everything I thought was true about me, and my childhood, has been exposed in the light. Layers upon layers have been stripped away, until I stood figuratively naked in the arid landscape.
It is only from this place that I have the privilege to hold space for stories to emerge.
These are things that I am invited to notice. I am going to a place, in grad school, where other things matter. Titles, letters behind a name, publications, position….
And in this season of goodbyes none of those things have been spoken once.
Eyes, presence, respect, story.
This is the invitation, to my heart. Am I willing to enter a new place and offer my eyes? Am I willing to be present, in that green and rainy land, to another? Am I willing to offer my story, to create safe spaces for stories to emerge? In a more scripted, techy birth environment, will I continue to ask permission, to honor the yes and no of a woman young or old?
I am listening.
Thank you for gifting me with your words.