abundance

My life is filled with abundance. The world is abundant.

sunflowers

Right now, so many of my friends and loved ones are facing difficult times — and in the way these things go, many of them are having one after another difficult thing piled on top of them in an overflow of trouble. There are health scares for them and their loved ones, and life changes, and work trouble, and interpersonal trouble, and loss of all kinds. Having been through my own periods like that, I empathize so deeply. I’m glad I have experienced all those things myself so I can stand beside them however I can.

For me, right now, I am not in the midst of a rain of trouble. For me, right now, it’s a time of great abundance of every kind. Of great joy, of great peace. And I’m grateful for that too because it gives me resources to spare so I can be there for my loved ones a little more readily. When I was in my own huge storm a few years ago, I remember feeling the dreadful focus of all of it, the power of it, the overwhelm that kept me unable to connect to trouble others were having. My own troubles were so consuming they blocked the view. So now it’s my turn to get to have space and energy to spare, attention to give, concern and love to offer, an ear to listen, a shoulder to bear, a back to help carry. It’s a nice thing about the world that when some of us are in trouble, others of us can help.

And so I recognize the grace and wonder of my particular moment, and appreciate it all the more. And what a moment it is. Among all the rest, my oldest daughter Katie’s birthday is in just a couple of days, a celebration of the day that has melted me for 35 years, now. The anniversary of the day my life changed forever, and forever for the better. The day this wonderful woman was ushered into the world, through me. I love and admire her with all my heart.

there she is with HER beloved child, our darling sweet Oliver
There she is with HER beloved child, our darling sweet Oliver, taken a couple of years ago. I have hundreds of pictures of her taken since then, with Oliver and now also with Lucy, but I’ll stick with this one. She is a wonderful mother.

Katie is without a doubt one of the strongest people I know. She’s hilarious. She’s one you can count on. She loves her family more than anything. She’s solid, and tenderhearted. She knows what matters to her.

And Marnie, also in the vast field of my abundance. Marnie, whose earnest heart feels so familiar to me; Marnie with her adoration of her boy and her husband; Marnie, with her big quiet voice. For 32 years I have watched her flower.

Marnie and Ilan, taken early this year. Again, I have a bunch of other photos of her but this will stand in.

And Heaventree, my glorious Heaventree, the ground of my abundance. And poetry. And music. And beauty. And books. And friends, far-flung for now but no less mine. And my health, which at the moment includes mental health of the shiny, happy kind. And my husband, who will drive up from the city today bearing food and my big camera and his beautiful eagerness to cook for me. And my wisdom, which allows me to know that the wheel shifts and turns, it can do nothing else, and this abundance will shift too. Who knows what the fall and winter will bring, I sure don’t, but I am swimming in great abundance for now so if you need an ear, or space, or an arm, count on me.

* * *

As long as I’m thinking about my daughters, here is a wistful poem about the experience of being a mother.

The Mothers
Jill Bialosky

We loved them.
We got up early
to toast their bagels.
Wrapped them in foil.
We filled their water bottles
and canteens. We washed
and bleached their uniforms,
the mud and dirt
and blood washed clean
of brutality. We marveled
at their bodies,
thighs thick as the trunk
of a spindle pine,
shoulders broad and able,
the way their arms filled out.
The milk they drank.
At the plate we could make out
their particular stance, though each
wore the same uniform as if they were
cadets training for war.
If by chance one looked up at us
and gave us a rise with his chin,
or lifted a hand, we beamed.
We had grown used to their grunts,
mumbles, and refusal to form a full sentence.
We made their beds and rifled through their pockets
and smelled their shirts to see if they were clean.
How else would we know them?
We tried to not ask too many questions
and not to overpraise.
Sometimes they were ashamed of us;
if we laughed too loud,
if one of us talked too long to their friend,
of our faces that had grown coarser.
Can’t you put on lipstick?
We let them roll their eyes,
curse, and grumble at us
after a game if they’d missed a play
or lost. We knew to keep quiet;
the car silent the entire ride home.
What they were to us was inexplicable.
Late at night, after they were home in their beds,
we sat by the window and wondered
when they would leave us
and who they would become
when they left the cocoon of our instruction.
What kind of girl they liked.
We sat in a group and drank our coffee
and prayed that they’d get a hit.
If they fumbled a ball or struck out
we felt sour in the pit of our stomach.
We paced. We couldn’t sit still or talk.
Throughout summer we watched
the trees behind the field grow fuller
and more vibrant and each fall
slowly lose their foliage—
it was as if we wanted to hold on
to every and each leaf.

abundance

vacancyCuriously, in the last seven days two women have asked if they could stay with me for a number of weeks. Friends, women slightly younger than me, women I dearly love and cherish.  I’ve lived here almost nine months and despite asking over and over, no one has visited me and stayed in my guest room. That’s OK — I keep it there, available and ready at a moment’s notice for my son, should he decide to move home to Austin. I don’t convert it into an office or use it in any way. It is a spare bedroom, and it hasn’t been used yet.

After all this time, suddenly twice in one week? That’s kind of interesting. My friends have very different reasons for asking, and it made me so deeply happy that they did. Still, isn’t that kind of funny? Twice in a week, asking to stay for several weeks?

One thought I had was that somehow I have a psychic “vacancy” sign above me. As I thought about that a little bit, poking it, I realized that perhaps it’s true — and it’s true because I now have plenty. I have an abundance, more than I need. A gracious plenty, which is a Southern phrase I love so much — and I hear it in a honey sweet old Alabama drawl. A gracious plenty. That’s my life now, and aren’t I the lucky one?

I have a beautiful little home, and I think it’s not just comfortable to me, I think it feels like that to people when they walk into my place. I think it feels like a welcoming real home, settled, a home. I’ve always known how to do that — one of the great side-effects of a gypsy life, you know how to hit the ground running — and my daughters are the same. Their homes are such homey homes, you feel it right away when you walk through their doors. My home is small but plenty big, it’s not luxe or fancy but it’s beautiful and comfortable and more than enough.  I’ve come to think people are drawn to a person who emanates home. Home, where there is good food. Home, where there is a comfortable and welcoming bed for you. Home, where you kind of know where to find things in the kitchen. Home, safe and loving.  And I have that, and it’s worth everything to me.

I have enough to share, more than enough to share, and thanks to my friend Marian, I’m not afraid (to the degree I was, in January and February) of lack or want. I’ve always taken care of myself, and I always will (barring some terrible accident) and if you need something and I have it, it’s yours.

Nine months is long enough to make a whole new life, a whole new person. When I think of where I was nine months ago — arriving in Austin to my beautiful daughter Katie’s welcoming arms, thrown back by the grief of losing almost everything, and with nothing but my clothes in suitcases — and when I think of the months that followed, all that heartache, all that fear, all that pain, and when I look around now? Whole new life. Whole new person.

So my friends and family, near and far: the door is open and the vacancy sign is on.