Back to Earth’s new Director Phoenix Smith and I are wandering this beautiful Buddhist Retreat Center called Ratna Ling up in Sonoma. It’s decorated with huge colorful prayer flags, thick like blankets and strung with a decorative and celebratory feel that reminds me of christmas lights, my own cultural reference point.
Somewhere near their book bindery and 2 strangely out of place ponies (one of which ran up to us just to snap at my hand and then go back to harassing its hay) is a garden with a golden stupa and a tree strung with hundreds of strands of flags. I sat for a few moments watching the prayer flags move in the wind. I thought about how nice it was to have the space to be empty and watch the wind move the colors.
For a moment I thought of plans, things I want, work tasks…and then a voice, new to the last few months, intervenes gently. It says “wait, protect this space.” The voice seems to come from my own inner peace, which apparently is advocating for itself.
Lately my dreams have been full of beautiful tiny blue vases and trinkets, the impulse to fill the shelves of my new life. When I wake from these dreams I remember that this year of letting go was not so I could turn around and fill the space right back up again.
This year my grandmother died, my partner and I split up, I left 2 women’s groups, decided to step back from BTE in a big way, and that I needed to move out of the city. I find myself now, in December, with a new life beginning to establish in a new place and new commitments- but it’s different.
I want to protect the spaces in between. I don’t want to fill them up anymore. The moments of utter ecstasy and freedom that occur as I fall more and more completely into the yawning spaces left between the wreckages of what is over- I will no longer be giving them up as easily.
I find myself the jealous lover with a secret, wanting to stay in bed a little longer, enjoying the deliciousness of as Rilke says “living my way into the answers.”
“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
in Letters to a Young Poet
Though it is supremely unpopular to wish anyone ill, I would wish this broken heart/broken open on everyone and testify with the utmost faith that this path of loss and letting go has given me untold riches, not the least of which are the spaces in between.
In between what I know, and what is still becoming.
In between the last love and he who this way comes.
In between who I thought I was and just being.
In between day and night, between first light and dawn, between the wax and the wane, the wane and the wax,
Between this precious day of my life and that unknown day I draw my last breath.