Becoming Whole

On one of my earliest trips to the Berkshires, while perusing a shop with the woman who would later become my mother-in-law, I picked up this framed quote as a gift for my lover, capturing the carefreeness he embodied, which was in welcome contrast to the burden of responsibility I’d begun carrying at a young age.

33 years later, this passage comes to mind again, and I retrieve the dusty print from the basement, realizing that it was my own carefreeness that I was after then, just as he was after his own capacity.

This brings to mind what lingers from my last time assisting author/scientist/mystic Joan Borysenko at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Healing, who in her program “Spirituality, Neuroscience & Narrative” speaks to the way, particularly in the latter part of life, we’re drawn to gather and integrate the loose threads from our own story.

I think of this as I hang the print on my office wall and turn toward the day’s reading in Joan’s tiny book, “Pocketful of Miracles,” struck by the serendipity–how her words intertwine with my thoughts this morning–as I look out at the monochrome world blanketed in snow, longing for spring’s rebirth, inside.

The poet Robert Bly refers to Jung’s shadow as a long bag we drag behind us containing all the discarded parts of ourselves that parents, teachers, peers, clergy or society told us weren’t good enough. Bly says, ‘We spend our life until we’re 20 deciding what parts of ourselves to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.’ It takes courage to re-own our lost parts, but authentic spirituality requires that we make the shadow visible and that we make that which is divided whole.



Is it age or have the clouds become more beautiful?
(Both sides now??)

What also dazzles me on road trips is the compact we all share, no matter our party affiliation or religion or country of origin or gender identity or sexual preference or weight or income or felony convictions.

So many travelers co-exist on roadways and highways and bridges with very few tragedies given how many of us are moving at once.

There’s a grace in this, and I felt it earlier this month while driving through the Green Mountains in a storm, even as my car slid in the snow toward oncoming traffic–toward a Mac Truck to be exact–like the one that crushed my dreams (and my Nana & aunties) when I was a girl of 14.

“I will dwell in Her house forever and ever,” sang Bobby McFerrin over the car stereo, and at once I understood. There is no separation. We are always home.

Instead of delivering death that morning, however, my car righted itself, and so I continued south into the Berkshires, while the truck continued north alongside Lake Champlain toward Burlington.

What I’ve learned these past years while writing up against the bone of my deepest loss is that it too had its own grace even as it ached in the hearts of many.

I don’t know exactly what grace is, but I feel it when I look at the sky or when I marvel at how many of us are moving, praying, dancing–at the same time.


If we each had to assign a word to these letters, I wonder what yours would be and how different they might be from mine–or from one moment to the next.