Every time my nieces exclaim "I did it all by myself!" I hear my own voice echoed.
I love being able to "do things" and to be self-reliant. I can do a lot of things by myself and I love solitude, but I also know the deep wonderment of
sharing experience, and I deeply crave being seen, accepted, and belonging.
How do we show up for each other? How do we let ourselves be seen and allow ourselves to truly inhabit a place of belonging?
Last night a dear friend and I held a "wake" for her 10-year-old yellow lab. Millie went fast— a tumor on her leg was discovered only a few months
ago. I had been checking in about Millie, knowing that her days left living this precious life were dwindling. So when I got a text saying that Millie
was to die that afternoon, I was ready. I asked my friend if she would like company with the vet, or digging the pond-side grave (Millie loved to swim),
or with anything else. My friend texted back that she thought she "had it." I had no doubt that she did— could— and would “have it.” But
I felt a deep heart-sigh an hour later when she texted, "I think some company might be nice. Can you come over?"
Children dying of leukemia request to be read "Charlotte's Web" more than any other book. Why? Why do they want especially to hear of the fall season's
approach and of a beloved spider's death? What does this free up in them? A children's book about a pig and a spider? Yes. Because it contains the
language they deeply crave. It is real. It is about beauty, friendship, loss, relationships between lots of creatures, and it is real. It is why my
mother is reading it to my nieces this summer. It is riveting because it is so real and honest. And I am so glad that another generation will sit on
a porch crammed together to hear about Fern, Charlotte, and Wilber. How do stories like this free us? How do they inspire us? How do they set us free?
How can we to use our language to connect with others?
We speak thousands of words a day. We text. We phone. We write. We listen.
But what touches us? What do we really want to say? What do we really allow ourselves to hear? How do we frame our questions and our words to allow
others to feel accepted enough to share their hearts? How are our hearts pried open to share? How does poetry and literature pry open our curious and
It was an honor and a privilege to be with Millie’s human in her grief. Even when you don't know what to say or what to do, there is something about simply
sharing space, listening, and being together, sharing stories, food and drink, looking at pictures that feels so real and good. In grief we can’t be
anything other than who we actually are. It's ok to tear up, to cry, to laugh, to howl, and to just be ourselves. It’s almost impossible not to be.
If you are a lover of words, nature, poetry, or yoga, please consider joining me next year at the very first Words To Live By contemplative retreat and yoga program at PYC.