I’m taking an online mini-class. It’s become a thing, over the past eighteen months. You sign up and receive a daily prompt or meditation. I have learned a lot. My question today was “What do you love?” Which got me to thinking.
Now this has been a question I have lived with for over fifteen years in one way or another. Around 2002 I took an Ignatian retreat in daily life. The focus of much of the work is around what brings life, what brings joy and energy to your life, and how this connects to your vocation, or “life purpose” (life porpoise).
For the longest time I tied this in to my life of service. I wanted to be a priest and I was sure that once I got there the aching hunger in my soul would be gone. That path wasn’t to be and once set aside I spent another nine years searching.
In the past year or so I’ve been considering the four elements. My main element is air – ideas, thought, I can easily get lost in my head for days. My second is water – emotion and feeling. These are both fluid and amorphous, hard to tie down and see or hold. I have this sense often. The minute I try to embody a thought or feeling it slips away, wraith-like, a half-remembered dream lost in daylight.
Thanks to a long period of work with an excellent therapist I’ve reconnected to the earth. Grounding practices, practical craetive work, time in the natural world or working in the garden make this a real and nourishing part of my daily life.
It’s the fire that’s missing.
Pondering yesterday I was aware of a dullness in my stomach. A heavy, leaden feeling. It might be called depression, ennui. It felt like a black and empty hearth-space.
To get anything done right now (and honestly for some time) I have to drive from my head, from air space. I have to find a reason and force it into being, daily chores, work, “leisure” activities. It works most of the time but it’s draining.
It seems to me that if there’s fire there, passion, then that heat will do the driving. It might not be my work that provides this, it might be an interest, or a community group, or a cause. But the fact that that is my passion will mean that I haul ass to get my work done so I have time for it. It will be the power, the energy, flowing through everything.
I am wondering if when I became a mother that fire went to my children. I didn’t take to motherhood easily, I grew into it with them, and then out of it as they changed, and then back in. It’s been a woven dance between us, me and my sons, for over two decades. And I wonder if the passion and energy doesn’t end up poured into raising them. Not because it’s an endless joy, or the most fulfilling thing I will ever do (much of it is hard work and routine) but because it has to be like that. Not only my physical energy to care for them and work to provide for them, but my very soul poured out to make their life and growth possible.
And I wonder if, now that they are grown, the fire is all gone, the purpose served. It is an elemental thing, mothering. My blood given to make their flesh, my life given to make their life. Of course.
And now. I wonder. What will kindle that flame to birth again, what will grow the tiny spark, feed the glowing embers, what is possible, waiting in the wings. I burn candles and am hypnotised by the flame, watch the smoke of incense rise and dance. I breathe into the deep space in my stomach, and wait.