Happy Anniversary, Burlington

Late last night, the cat got herself all tangled up in a plastic shopping bag. She was completely panicked and thrashing about, but all we could hear were inexplicable thuds and crashes coming from the basement. Greg went down and saw what was happening, removed the butchered bag from around her paws, and watched her take off for upstairs, seemingly traumatized.

Pearl, too, did some thrashing this morning. I was attempting to change her diaper and get her dressed on my bed, where it seems most everything in our house happens (or doesn’t happen, as the case may have been on a recent late-night near-miss occasion when a certain small person appeared in the darkness at an inopportune moment), and she was having none of it.

Instead, she was writhing, twisting, squirming and screaming, as I stubbornly wrestled and struggled and battled and fought with her determined little package.

Then she used a word. She used a word and she told me what she wanted.

“NAKED! NAKED! NAKED!”

“Oh, you want to be naked, Pearlie? OK. You can be naked.”

And I tell you, her demeanor changed instantly. She stopped yelling. She stopped wriggling. She stopped resisting. And then she said, “Dressed, Mama,” lying there compliantly and waiting for me to put on her diaper and clothes.

*

Oh, to be able to say what we want. And to be acknowledged, seen, and given permission to be exactly where we are, as we are, how we are, what we are, without demand or expectation; these change everything. Quite suddenly, we find ourselves yielding, considering the other side. We open. We soften. We exchange. We change.

Somehow old news like this becomes profound and simple and enlightening when the messenger is so new.

Motherhood: One minute I’m negotiating a midnight standoff with a 40-pound bed hijacker, and the next a two-year-old is teaching me the heart and soul and blood and bones of conflict resolution.

*

Today, our eight-year anniversary of moving to Burlington, Greg and I met up at noon and walked down to Waterfront Park. We walked slowly. We had planned on taking a lunchtime yoga class, but even that felt like a “should” when really what we needed was to do nothing together. So we walked on the bike path along the lake, we sat on a swinging bench and rocked, the cool air reminding us that spring is a long-time-coming in these parts, these parts that have become home, these parts where our babies were born, where we were in some ways born again, too.

Born again? Yes, me. Yes, him. We were not fully ourselves yet eight years ago, and yet we were as fully ourselves as we could have been on that May Day in 2000. Today, we are also as real, as complete, as ourselves as we know how to be. But I wonder, I am so curious to know, what will the next eight years hold? What will I look back on in 2016 (?!) and see as self-evident? It’s like a story I can’t wait to keep reading. Or writing.

*

My friend and inspirer Jennifer sent me a youtube video last weekend of Steve Jobs giving a graduation speech at Stanford a few years ago. He spoke eloquently about connecting the dots, and how we can only do this looking back in time, not forward. We look back, and we see; we see the way the decisions fell into each other like nesting dolls, we see friendships we forged and others forgotten. My God, if I’m not careful, this post is going to become a graduation speech.

But looking ahead, we don’t know. All we can do is be here, be aware, be awake to whatever is happening. And what’s happening is that we are beginning to think about getting our bed back. We’re marveling at the ways in which our kids are our teachers. We’re emptying the dishwasher and we’re loading the dishwasher and we’re emptying our minds and we’re loading up on faith, yet again, that things are as they should be, that everything’s going to “work out” just fine if we keep going towards the light, keep coming out from beneath the shadows of fear and separation and judgment, keep knowing the Universe loves us, just freakin’ loves us so much just as we love the children who weren’t yet born, not even conceived, eight years ago.

*

This is all. This is where I am. This is where we are, walking together by the water, looking out at the soft greys so inviting over the mountains, feeling grateful, swinging on a bench, faces facing the strengthening sun, soaking it up, soaking it in, giving over to the dot we’re in now, that which envelopes us, delivering news old and new this very moment, and this one, and this one, and this.

6 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary, Burlington

  1. bella says:

    Chloe’s comment sums it up.
    I feel privileged, that I have just glimpsed something sacred and must take off my shoes to walk this holy ground.
    “Oh, to be able to say what we want. And to be acknowledged, seen, and given permission to be exactly where we are, as we are, how we are, what we are, without demand or expectation; these change everything. Quite suddenly, we find ourselves yielding, considering the other side. We open. We soften. We exchange. We change.”
    THis makes me love you all over again. :) For being this voice,for being you.

    Like

  2. Jena Strong says:

    Chloe, Bella, Shelli & Meg – your comments brought me to such a quiet place of humility and gratitude. Thank you for being here.

    Like

  3. Beth says:

    Dear Jena and all your friends–
    Don’t know if you all know that this post was a winning entry on the Virtual Tea House ‘where’s home?’ writing exercise…it was, and a package of wildflower seeds will be on its way to Jena as soon as she sends me her mailing address!

    This is an amazing piece of spiritual writing. Thank you, Jena.

    Here’s the URL to the finalists for that exercise:
    http://virtualteahouse.com/blogs/beth/archive/2008/07/11/who-s-yo-mama.aspx

    With much gratitude–
    Beth

    Like

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