It’s here: The day when the pressure of wanting to write outweighs the pressure to be wrapped in silence. I could be reentering the world from a monk’s cell, where I am allowed neither the input of others’ words nor the output of my own. Some part of the cell is the grief that returned to my doorstep as the first Thanksgiving without Ruth Ann’s earthly presence approached. But the greater part is the need for rest, for time to let my heart’s fields be fallow, for time to allow all the good and the bad, the bidden and the unbidden of this year to settle, to compost and fertilize whatever is next to emerge.
Over the last weeks my internal images shifted. I’ve been at sea for months. First, alone and adrift in a life boat, watching as the ship that was carrying me sinks beneath storm-driven waves. Later, my lifeboat sprouts oars, and I can row. No land is in sight. I have no course to follow, and no stars to guide my way. I row anyway, not knowing where I am going, or even if I am going anywhere. There is just rowing, and the vast expanse of ocean surrounding me.
Weeks later, in France, another shift. The wooden lifeboat transforms into a Zodiac, propelled by two powerful outboard motors. I stand at the helm, the throttle open all the way. The rubber craft skips over the tops of the waves, as much borne by air as water. The salt spray stings my face and eyes. I still have no idea where I’m going, but wherever “there” is, I’m getting there fast, and the speed is exhilarating.
In the gentle warmth of January afternoon sun, a new image, a new landscape, emerges. There is a field, with plowed and ready soil, stretching towards the horizon, waiting. I do not know if I’ve already sown seeds that will soon sprout, or if there are yet unknown seeds to be planted.
The field does not give me an answer. In winter, when life is tucked away safely into dark earth, awaiting warmth, both planted and barren soil looks the same. But I know that I’ve tilled the ground, and that it is ready to support whatever new life is ready to grow, be it already planted or yet to be sown.