So life has been hard lately – more like mid-winter: out of season, out of synch, like this carpet of summer white. But a time of valuable lessons, perhaps, and the hardest lesson for me the one that’s always hardest and has endlessly to be repeated: how not to withdraw and curl up inside my snail-shell, but stay present when things are tough, stay in my place and keep doing what I can, however inadequately. Resisting the constant temptation to declare defeat whenever I feel exhausted, overwhelmed, overwhelmingly negative, I have stayed, and it’s largely been ok – surprisingly ok, really. Somehow, when I was growing up, I never learned that where we mostly have to live is in a desperately messy mid-ground, so far from perfection, so far from what we think we ‘need’, but not necessarily disastrous either. I guess my parents were so deeply unreconciled to their lives that they weren’t able to model this.
Rereading one of the books that has most moved and impressed me in recent years, St Nadie in Winter (and thence my snow metaphor) by American zen priest Terrance Keenan, a brilliant mixture of memoir and credo in prose and poetry, I find this:
“ Intellect raises the questions, but it cannot answer them. It is life itself that resolves them. One has to be open to it, allow it to be blameless..."