Friday, October 9, 2009

The Beauty of Purity

The wind is blowing, the waves are crashing against the rocky shore, and I can’t help but think of the recent trip we took to Newfoundland: lots of wind and lots of crashing waves there. There was also lots of friendliness, lots of entertainment, lots of beauty and lots of hardship, and I couldn’t help but sense the latter had something to do with the former.
Newfoundland has a long history of hardship, from the many, many family members lost at sea, to the small nation’s 700+ men killed or wounded in the World War I Battle of the Somme, to the resettled residents of the outports, to the closed cod fisheries. Islanders have learned from the rock they live on to let go of the small stuff. They’ve learned that the important stuff, the true stuff, the fundamental stuff of life itself will always endure.

Walking along the beach there, looking for treasures, I found bits of driftwood, broken seashells, and a shoreline of sensuous, tumbled rocks. I couldn’t help but pick up a few of the rounded stones and put them in my pocket. Stripped of all their cragginess, there was a vulnerability that was so beautifully true I just wanted to hold them, caress them, be with them. As I juggled the stones in my pocket, I came to understand that the battering they took helped them let go of their adornments, their edges, the pieces they didn’t really need. What was left was this beautiful purity I was openly feeling.
Our trip started in St. John’s, from where my husband and I picked up a rented RV. We came across rainbows and full moons, community dinner theatre and fine crafts, colourful boats and colourful people, and that was only day four. Next there were historical re-enactments and fine meals, fossils and fjords and by day seven, I was exhausted, overwhelmed by all the beauty.
And then we discovered the village of Trinity and its surroundings. Its charms so captivated us we stayed and immersed ourselves in the treasures that unfolded before us: a Ragged Beauty boat trip, hidden coves, soaring eagles, moments of splendorous solitude, handcrafted gifts, and a concert by The Once in an intimate church setting. It was there I learned that beyond beauty, beyond grief, beyond every spent emotion, was magic! When we exhausted ourselves by fully feeling our feelings, when we allowed ourselves to be totally naked and humbled, all lives harmonized in a breathtaking chorus of joy – an ode that was truly magnificent.
A comfortable, easy life may be what we think we want, but what we long for is that feeling of being so nakedly alive. My work now is to keep growing in my capacity to love, keep growing in my ability to be light and vulnerable. If I can allow myself to be as stripped naked as those rounded rocks, I’ll find the bliss for which I yearn. Oh, what courage that will take.
Thankfully, there are guides to show us the way. I can’t help but think of the outpouring of love when Senator Edward Kennedy passed away. The stories revealed a privileged man who was pounded by harsh winds and battering waves, and instead of becoming broken and crusty, he stood strong and humble through the cleansing and became a great man honoured by both associates and opposition. That’s true power.
Peace... beauty... courage... love: close your eyes and they all feel the same: relaxed... patient... knowing... powerful: solid as a rock.
It seems like the more stuff we let go the more powerful we become. The more we lose, the more we gain. Maybe songs should celebrate broken hearts and not mourn them. Gated communities and guarded hearts: why would we protect ourselves from becoming more fully alive? How did the stories go so terribly wrong? Perhaps it’s time for a new myth.
The winds of change are blowing.