Earlier this week I was writing my morning pages, which I do more mornings than not, and I wrote something that surprised me. I’ll tell you what it was in a minute, but first I need to explain why it surprised me.
Usually, see, my morning pages (which I began doing years ago thanks to Julia Cameron’s wonderful book The Artist’s Way) are just stream of consciousness ramblings.
I spill out all my anxiety and neuroses, the same terrible embarrassing thoughts over and over: I’m such a loser, What am I even doing, I’m such a failure, I’m so scared, blah blah blah, all the same boring shit as everyone else. But then, right there on the same page, I rebut those thoughts: Actually I’m not a loser, I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m doing the hell out of it, I’m someone who tries things, I can do brave things while scared, etc et etc. In Queen Sweep parlance, I clean up my story. Every damn day, friends. Except, well, almost every damn day.
This mostly-daily writing is the most essential spiritual practice I have: pouring my unedited and raw messiness out onto the page so I can wrestle with it, grapple with it, turn it, love it, and ultimately transform it. I do this wrestling match as often as I can before I do anything else; that way I am not bringing all that gunk into my day and work.
Sometimes my writing practice is even more basic: I simply witness and bring love to all the tangled mess in my mind. This is because I am not enlightened enough for a gratitude practice, dear friends. Instead, I do a kind of stream-of-consciousness blurt-out: I love you, journal. I love you, tulips. I love you, my own messy emotions. I love you, scary phone call I’m dreading making.
It’s mindfulness on the page, keeping myself tender and fiercely honest company, a kind of moving meditation that pins my big wild thoughts to the paper and lets me walk away a little lighter, a little more free.
All of these are simply ways, as Rumi wrote, “to kneel and kiss the ground.” To make meaning out of our own complicated and mysterious existences. To try to find the holy amidst the cheerios and the bills and the laundry.
I had an interesting conversation with a fellow mystic a while back that has been brewing inside me for a while. She talked about how there are places on this planet that are just vibrant and brimming with what– for lack of a better world– I’ll call spirit. These spots are resonant, they are vibrating, they are alive. They have a presence that’s palpable (at least to witchy empaths like you and me). In the Shinto tradition, you might call that presence kami, the earth and water spirits that I felt so close to as a child growing up in Japan. My friend also mentioned that there are certain spots where all the spirit has fled, that feel dry and barren, that are a kind of energetic dead zone.
This resonated with me so much, partly because because I’ve had such a hard time sustaining my connection to the spiritual world in this new place where I live. But also because I, like so many of you, have walked through a dry and barren season the past couple of years. My heart felt parched and cracked, my creativity gone, my joy fleeting. It was mirrored by the brown dead fields outside my home– fields that, to add insult to injury, were being systematically chopped into more square plots for more square homes. I felt like a wilting plant, thirsty down deep.
A visiting mystical friend was listening to me talk about it and said, “It sounds like your whole life you’ve always used living growing things– trees, flowers, bodies of water– to connect with the spiritual world. And so because those things aren’t here most of the year, you don’t know how to tap into the energy fields of everything that is.”
YES! I said.
And a different visiting magical friend said, “But the rocks are here. The dirt is here. The prairie grass is here. Can you learn to tap into those?”
And I wanted to petulantly throw down my gloves and wail, “BUT I DON’T EVEN LIKE ROCKS! IN FACT I ACTUALLY LOATHE ROCKS! THEY FEEL LIKE HARD DEAD THINGS! I LIKE OCEANS AND GREEN THINGS!” I didn’t actually wail that out loud (ok yes I did, just a little, ok maybe a lot), but inside the quiet center of my toddler temper tantrum I heard the wisdom of what she was saying, and I have been thinking about it ever since.
Plenty of people find potent magic in the exact place I feel barren and cut off. (There’s a local apothecary that literally pulls magic out of the ground and turns it into salves and creams and beauteousness.) So I have to reach for a deeper magic, to listen for a different kind of singing.
I have to grow deeper roots than ever before, to connect to a reality deeper than the one I can see or even feel.
I have to forge a new evolution of my own heathen mysticism, one that isn’t so dependent on growing things.
And then of course just in the last few days, hilariously, the prairie is finally fiiiiinally going green again, and there are tulips growing in my OWN front garden, (that’s them up there), and I feel like I can breathe again.
But back to that thing I wrote in my morning pages, that surprised me.
I wrote at the top of the page, What do I want to write to my people this week? (That’s you, dearheart.)
And then words poured through my pen in a way that is kind of rare.
“Be strong. Be brave. Be kind. Tolerate no shit. You know as much as anyone else does. Trust your gut. Believe yourself. You are the leader you’ve been waiting for. You are allowed to want things just for yourself. You can get bigger than you thought. You matter. We can do this, together. Come with me. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know we’ll be better off together. I love you. You are so loved. The earth loves you. The earth longs for you to walk on her, to move your feet on her in your own particular pattern, so she can come alive for you.”
And then I felt that zzzzzing in my body. The one that lets me know I’ve struck a deeper chord.
She does. I can feel it. She yearns to come alive for us. She wants us to dance so hard in our own little corners that we dance her back to life. She wants us to kindle so much love and mess and joy and compassion right where we are that she can light up too. She wants us to water her with our tears and our menstrual blood and our milk and our songs and our jokes so that she can send something new up to greet us. She wants me to generate some of the energy that I’m craving from her, with love and humor and intention and sweat. She wants to work magic with us, but she needs us to be equal participants. Ooohhhhh.
In case you’re wondering, I have absolutely no idea how to do this.
But I also know exactly how to do this.
And so do you.
Just keep meeting yourself right where you are. Vow to turn your home, your heart, your garden, your journal, your work, your family, into something as beautiful as you can make it. Find the holy right in the heart of the mess. Honor the yearning in the emptiness. Learn to listen to rocks. Plant some trees. Go to the river. Buy new dancing shoes. Kiss your beloveds on the face. Make something real. Live like you are loved.
I don’t know where we’re going, but I know we’re better off together.