Thursday, October 6, 2016

"the woman who smiled…"

"Do I love my life
enough to brave it?
Do I love my life
enough to save it..."

Sometimes it only takes one phrase from a song to profoundly shift my perspective. Such as it was with Carrie Newcomer's beautiful new recording, "Season of Mercy."

I was feeling pretty dull. All the colors in me as washed out as the near-winter landscape below. I was traveling from here to there and couldn't seem to rouse myself from the feeling that we often feel like human cattle, being herded onto a completely packed trains, planes and buses.

That was when I remembered Carrie's new CD "The Beautiful Not Yet."  Yes, I needed her beautiful words, her turn of phrase. I wanted to immerse myself in her land of spiritual paradox.

I'd fallen in love with each of the other songs I had already heard from this collection -- a collaboration with author, educator, and activist Parker J. Palmer. I was ready for more. The next song on my playlist was "The Season of Mercy." I was immediately drawn in by the use of a banjo played like a sitar.

But it was when I heard these lines that I knew why I was listening:

"Will I be remembered
as the woman who smiled..."
You will have to listen to the song to understand the context, but suffice it to say that it changed that entire trip for me. It became my purpose. To be nothing -- but the woman who smiled.

And in that pondering, two other - more penetrating - questions that Carrie posited, were answered for me:

"Do I love my life
enough to brave it? 

Do I love my life
enough to save it?"
These may seem like obvious questions to many.  But when your whole life is shifting -- from the daily demands of being a mom, a caregiver, a significant cog in the mechanism of your family's life -- to….  Well, that was the question.  What?  And the answers to those questions seemed to loom just out of reach.

Carrie's song -- at that very moment -- was just invitation I needed to consider how I would answer them.  These were not professional questions for me.  I love my work. This was about something else.  And by the end of the weekend, I could honestly and unequivocally say, "yes, and yes." But the how?  I am still listening that forward. How will I brave this next chapter in my life? What am I willing to do, to surrender, to look at in a new way, to save it?  For me, this is a question of salvation.  The salvaging of what is essential, enduring, eternal, from what was useful, necessary, beautiful, and instructive -- however temporary.

I am starting with being the woman who smiled.  I will smile, at the dark-eyed children Carrie sings about, and at myself in the mirror.

I think, that this is a good place to start. It will take a clear-eyed commitment to unwavering kindness -- not just with those I am close to, those I meet, or those I have yet to cross paths with, but with myself. In order to smile at myself, I will need to be kind to myself.

I will need to see past the past. I will need to look deeper than skin-deep. I will need to be patient with my expectations, and expect less human perfection as I navigate new platforms of purpose, vision, and creativity.

But I can do this -- I know I can. So, here we go. I will begin to brave my life by being the woman who smiled.

I love this invitation from Carrie:

"It's the time of memory
the season of mercy.
Following out the thread,
humming the tune in my head,
just out of reach
always just out of reach..."
I have time to let the beautiful tune reach me. I will be patient as next steps reveal themselves to my waiting heart. I love my life. Today I am content to be the woman who smiled.

offered with Love and a smile,


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