Faith, Life Musings, North America

The gift of presence

I don’t always know what to write here. How to begin. Rather than having a blog schedule, or a calendar of “curated” content, I come to this space when I feel called. Led. Guided by something within that somehow does know. The words come intermittently at first. They feel awkward as I type, as I lean into the message coming through.

Signing the title on my first home, 2017

But then, eventually a rhythm. A surprise. A thought I didn’t know how to articulate written in a way that feels as if it’s coming from someone else, a gift to me in this moment.

I’m probably like most of you right now, sitting at home on the couch, listening to some music, checking on loved ones. I am scared. There’s butternut squash in the oven, a plan to make a pasta dish later. Suddenly all of the food in the fridge is calculated, measured with more intention. The question, “How long will this last, if?” is constantly on my mind. 

Oregon, 2015

Presence. Every year, I choose a word to be my focal point. To guide and ground me through whatever life gives, and takes. I’ve done this for a decade. Long enough to know that all aspects of the word will be honed in on, the light and the dark. Life has a way of doing that, taking our intentions and lovingly developing a curriculum that will challenge and grow us in ways unexpected.

Enter Covid-19. We are being carried on a wave so fast and big and insistent, I’m afraid the waves of the past will remain forever out of reach. And yet the steadiness of the shore, of a future we will someday stumble upon is nowhere in sight. 

There’s nowhere to be but here. Nothing to do but surrender.

Paris, France 2013

The past few days I’ve observed a few of my own responses to this crisis. The survival part of my brain (which is always activated) is feeling very self-important. It wants to gloat, it wants to brag about how smart it is, how its ability to conjure up worst-case-scenarios is exactly the skill I need most right now. 

It is twenty steps ahead, memorizing maps of places where the most green and presumably, fresh water are in relationship to my house, writing down important phone numbers and addresses, estimating how far it would take me to walk to my family, buying extra cans of tuna (I don’t even eat tuna), and congratulating itself for all the “survival” skills it thinks it knows.

Iceland, 2018

And then, there is my Spirit. My sense of spirit is stronger now than ever. It is calm, one might even say joyous. It reminds me that this is why I came here, what I was born for. It does not fear the unknown because it is fueled by love. Its only question is, “Who can I embrace and shelter in this love?” And, “How can my purpose align with the greater good?” It is not concerned with survival, but service.

It imagines warmth and laughter, community. It knows that Spring is here and with it the promise of a new way. It delights in the opportunity to rise, to connect to a power that has no need of money, certainty, or perfect health to soar, relying on currents of joy. 

Halloween 2018

There is no battle between the two, rather a re-settling. A shifting, a rearranging within. Survival has long been the frontward facing, most easily reachable part of my being, even though the strength and resilience of my spirit has made itself known many, many times. That is the force asking now to take the lead. Asking for trust (which cannot be present without doubt) and surrender (which cannot be without fear). 

Tennessee, 2019

May we ride this wave together, stronger in spirit and love than ever before.

With All My Love,
Mariah

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