March 29, 2011

Listen in the Moment

There is much to listen to, here, now, this moment - logs being piled up by the fireplace, a short exasperated sigh to my left, the hum of the heater, whispers of encouragement as the kindling takes the flame. I'm on a silent retreat with a dozen or so other writers, up in Point Reyes, California.
    Breakfast was a pleasant mish mash labeled “Australian Casserole” - I give thanks for hot food on this chilly day. I notice the Christian books for sale, a poster on symbolism I’d like to study later, a jigsaw puzzle of cats and easter eggs that looks completely out of place in this parish hall. In the lost and found I find a four inch horse shoe nail - symbol for Jesus on the cross? I’ll have to google it later.
    I sat with my coffee earlier, looking out the window as a tiny sparrow flicked through the bushes. Yesterday I noticed blackberries when I parked the car, and now I wish I had photographed the mist lying in the redwoods instead of pressuring myself to reach the retreat house.
    The ride up was fast and much shorter than I expected, giving me an extra hour before check in. Going through Oakland the traffic was hairy but I smiled at the thought of making this trail to Berkeley to have lunch with Amber when she goes to college in a few years.
    Amber - dear sweet Amber - the aliens have kidnapped my child and replaced her with a hormonal beast. I need to reread How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen... I don’t take it personally -  her crankiness, complaining, stomping around - but it wears me out and I wonder how to help her channel her energies. I find it baffling - she cried more over her T-shirt turning pink in the laundry than when her beloved cat died, calling her other mom and posting her woes on Facebook.
    I feel inefficient and ill equipped in these moments. I try to remain serene, a calming presence in the midst of her emotional storm. I recognize my own lessons here, trying to not take on her moods or feel like I have to fix her - though maybe I need to separate out the whites in the wash a bit better. listening to her slam around her room has me clenching my jaw and wondering how to communicate - better me than a couples counselor or divorce lawyer in the future. I wonder if she knows how much she makes me cry.
    In the moment, listening to myself, I hear what all mother’s wonder - was I present? Did I do the right thing? could I have done anything different? In the moment, I hear a voice say, “It’s all going to be all right.”