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Excitement thrummed my imagination as I paged through the sleek book, The Wild Braid (2007) written by the centenarian Stanley Kunitz and his associate, Genine Lentine. It turned out to be a book to savor, not to read.

As author, professor, and translator, as Poet Laureate Consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, he has influenced many. His poetic voice reveals an intimate knowledge of words that opens listeners and readers to Life’s interior, replete with mystery and hardships. Paradoxically, his acute sensitivity to multiple setbacks advanced his craft, together with his dream work as influenced by Dr. Carl G. Jung’s depth psychology.

The poet’s second passion was gardening, and for over forty years, he cultivated his seaside garden at his Provincetown, Massachusetts, summer home that he shared with his wife Elise, also an artist. There, with muddied hands, he was just at home as in his basement cell—with nothing to distract him—searching for that elusive word for his next poem.

 The Wild Braid, his final publication, consists of a collage of essays and poems comparing these two passions and how they had shaped his life. Its concluding chapters barely contain Kunitz’s voice, made transparent by revelations gleaned during a close encounter with the Dark Angel, his term for death, two years before his actual last breath.

Perhaps some of the blurred photos of the centenarian in his garden speak to his still-to-be completed transition: he was here and not here.

He taught me much …

At 9 A.M., I awoke with this coaching dream:

Someone gave me a gift. I pull apart the tissue paper and discover a large folded rectangle of peach cloth, my favorite color. I shake it out. In my hands, it becomes a belted leisure gown, something that Mother would have enjoyed wearing in the 1930s when it was fashionable. Later, my brother Mark joins me and explains the artistic significance of the designs woven into the luscious fabric. I’m touched.

This view into my personal unconscious heartens me. The Someone suggests Creator God, giver of all gifts wanting the best for me, even to the color of the garment, peach, a blend of orange, yellow, and white that symbolizes the divine feminine.

The belted leisure gown speaks of change, given my aging and illness and less need to adhere to my daily routine of self-care. Fit in what is possible—the essentials—and let everything else go; they’ve served me well, together with two years of on-going hospice care. My body has special needs now, and my Dreamer has dressed me comfortably in a garment that enhances my wounded femininity.

The memory of Mother in the dream recalls her love for the color peach. As a young married woman and unable to afford a form-fitting crocheted dress, the fashion at that time, she bought a pattern book and made one on her own, in peach, with long sleeves and calf-length skirt. When home alone as a child, I used to open the cedar chest in her closet, pull out that dress, and put it on—it never fit.

And my brother Mark’s expertise that informed me of the garment’s added interest speaks to my undeveloped interest for the arts, thwarted by poor health. In the dream, I was glad for his company. He just showed up.

My gratitude for my Dreamer’s coaching continues encouraging me as I trek, alone, toward my eternal destiny. It is working out …

This morning, a preacher proclaimed on AM radio, “Change is inevitable. At times, Life demands it.”

His words seared themselves upon my awareness and blocked out the remainder of his text. Yes, I mused, he was speaking to me. I blinked hard, pulled myself up in my armchair, and flipped off the radio. His use of the verb, demand, stung where it needed to sting and left a gaping hole: Within, writhed glistening snakes of resistance that leered at me.

So wedded to my daily self-care routine for months, I could not imagine more diminishment that would impinge upon my functioning. That occurred with yesterday’s bout of food poisoning and the experience of a new level of sinking weakness. Slowly introducing soft foods has helped, somewhat.

But the power of the preacher’s words also caved in my denial of weight loss and daily walks and use of the NuStep at the YMCA. I thought I could fix these changes by eating bowls of ice cream at bedtime; it had worked in 1982 and 2012—No matter that sugars and dairy had triggered joint inflammations.

So it’s all about accepting the unacceptable: the physical death of my body. The preacher’s words, “Life demands it.” still goads this process over which I have no control. Resistance is futile. The only way out is through each twenty-four hours allotted me by God’s will. I’ve no other recourse. It is working …

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