Thursday, November 06, 2008

Life after the Election and a trip to the Mountaintop.

So first things first, after I posted all that stuff about Christmas, Sagey commented that we have no games really, that we can all play. So games for the 7 and up set would be great. Or, some updated cards for Trivial Pursuit, including children's decks. We wanna play, but Sagey doesn't know any of that crap in our old 80s kids stuff. (I don't know that I know any of it!!). And she concurred that she would like to take more dance classes, and Aidan concurred that he would like to take music lessons so he can be in band next year. Yeay. no, wait: YEAYYYY!!! So PLEASE keep your eyes peeled for a cheap used saxophone (shouldn't have sold it eh, Ma??) and let me know if you can find one. Sage also mentioned she'd like anything High School Musical and Hannah Montana. I am also adding the category of princess because I read an essay she wrote about what she would like to be when she grew up and the steps she'd have to take to get there... she said a Princess. Even though I wanted to burst out laughing, I didn't because she took the steps so seriously (Learn to be polite. Meet a prince.). Also anything for just me and Sage to do would be great. She tries really hard to be with me and show me how much she loves me, and I realize I often brush her off because of how brusque she is. And this morning, she tried to cook me breakfast in bed, and she dropped something and made a mess and Colin told her she had to stop, and she didn't see his point of view about the mess, only that she couldn't show Mommy how much she loved her. I cried. Then I helped her make breakfast for everybody. (Our egss are SOOO yellow and yummy! I hope more of them start laying soon!!). So things we can do together without Aidan and Nadia would be great. They seem to have an easier time connecting with me.

So this is incredibly materialistic, but Colin and I would love an IPod, or small MP3 player. (how we'd share it I have no idea). But we'd really like to be able to pull stuff off of our computer and bring it for trips in the car, and stuff. I am hoping to save up for a new record player/tape player that has an ISB port (maybe for Colin's birthday), so we can put all our old music on the computer. We have such great stuff on record and tape, I'd hate to lose it or pay for it all over again.

NOW>>> on to the important stuff.

I stayed up to watch the election stuff, and once everyone else was asleep, i allowed Aidan to get up and watch some with me. He was mostly excited to watch John Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Indecision '08. We had a lot of fun. I sent him to bed at 5 of 11. I know, I know. But I did call to him and let him know, and made him a cup of chamomile tea right then. Rubbed his back, even.

Then, I went back and watched all the pundits blabbering. But I couldn't stop watching. And I watched McCain and Obama's speeches. I was touched by McCain's. He was earnest and clearly knew that he had allowed people to "mold" him when he could have been himself and gotten much farther.

That said, Obama's speech was amazing. Gentle, real, and not self-congratulatory. I have to say, this man is brilliant. Brilliant. And not crazy. (Although, just in case, David Allen Greer on Chocolate News on Comedy Central reminded him last night NOT to go crazy!!). Seeing Jesse Jackson in the crowd, tears streaming down his face (despite clearly being half crazy himself this year), made me cry. Seeing Jesse and Oprah being treated like everyone else, jammed in the crowd, also made me cry. We are equal in this world despite our posturing.

And so, I felt strange yesterday. Like it was all unreal. Could we really have voted with our ideals? Our ethics? Could the youth (I use this term losely, to include my own generation) actually be proud to be American? Wow. Wow.

My head felt detached, and my heart felt like it was a real center... so Nadia and I headed out, after dropping the big kids at school, and went to the hills.

Literally. I drove to New Hampshire. We went through the Franconia Notch. I didn't know where we were headed or even why. I just knew I had to be OUT. In the world. The natural world. I needed to think, to not think. To be. To breathe. To just listen to the sounds around me and share them with Nadia.

We ended up on route 112, which leads to Vt 302. We hiked a short trail that is a section of the Appalachian Trail, on the Lost River, just off the Kancamungus Highway. The trail starts out all beech trees and Nadia just ran through them, picking up leaves and dancing in the woods. She tried to go into the river (a small stream there, really). I grabbed her and headed the other way, and we looked through the silvery trees to the beaver pond. It was really a dramatic scenery. The trees were all birch, silver-grey bark, with a carpet of those gorgeous ribbed tan leaves carpeting the ground. Here and there lycopodium (club moss... the single stalk kind, with no silvery tail) poked through the leaves, as did various kind of ferns. I looked, but didn't find, beech drops. The hills curved down toward the highway from both sides, and behind us the mountains pile up larger and larger, with bare rock faces glistening in the sun. It was so warm I was in shorts and a tshirt, and Nadia had only pants and a long sleeve shirt on.

Our reverie was interrupted by LOUD planes flying overhead. They sounded like the Green Mountain Boys, breaking the sound barrier repeatedly in circles. Nadia had an absolute cow. Her face contorted and she ran to me, squeezing her arms around my neck. Poor baby, we don't live where there are loud planes. In the Kingdom, we could hear the boys practicing maneuvers sometimes. But never as loud as this, because here they echoed off the narrow valley walls and crashed into our minds like a drum circle in your ear. LOUD.

I picked her up and whispered over and over that it was ok. I imagined briefly what it must be like to be a mom in a war-torn area. How do whisper "OK...." to a terrified child listening to the planes there? Knowing the planes actually are menacing? Here, they are practicing to go there and kill people. To terrify mothers and children. To fight over oil. A few tears slid down my face.

But then I put her on my back, threw the baby bag over her which effectively held her tightly to me in a way no backpack ever does and in the gravitationally correct spot. The straps sat further out on my shoulders, allowing them to pull back and supplement the strength in my chest.

So up the hill we went. Over the river at least 6 times. Signs posted periodically on the trail spoke of the treacherousness of the hill and rocks. I wondered at what they meant by "Experienced hiker". But it listed "The Cascades" as being a half a mile up the hill, so we went, Nadia snuggled against my back, and my earth shoes sticking to the rocks like climbing booties.

The hill was not easy, and had lots of bold face open rock, and I imagine that in other time the rocks are wet and slippery. But it was amazingly beautiful, warm, and dry this day. the sun poked through the bare tops of beeches, birches, and evergreens. The cascades were a beautiful series of waterfalls tumbling through the rocks and over downed trees.

Nadia whispered "water" and I asked her if she liked it. "Yeup," she said. At the top of the waterfalls, we stopped and sat on a rock, staring out across the waterfalls, and then over the valley.

Suddenly it occurred to me what I was looking for.

Here is the beginning of life. Primordial ooze of spirit, if you will. I know New Agers often speak of "God within all" and use it as a way to exemplify the "god" within themselves and to feel as if they are the holy be all and end all.

But here, there was god. God in all and through all. Moving, not static. Through me and Nadia, and faster and slower than the waterfall. Like wind through the trees. Like wind through my heart. Here, all things are created equal. Here, we dance with the spirit of life. Here we stand tall with the strength of millennia.

Earlier this week I heard someone speaking on NPR about the "slurs" thrown at people in various elections in US history. One talked about the Jefferson/Adams election where someone was called a "Deist" because they believed in a God that made the world, then turned away to other things.

At a time in my life, that idea would have appealed to me. At another, it would have frightened me. I'd say I have been a Deist, an Atheist, a Humanist. The divides in Judeo-Christian religions do not interest me. And the Eastern philosophies, though they touch my heart, do not reflect the entire picture for me.

Here, on this hillside, I thought about all those pieces. What if we looked inward, prayed and meditated to hear the voice of God within, so that we may, in turn, look outward to our deep connection with the world? Looking inward only turns us in towards ourselves, and hardens our hearts to the larger world. The heart is not a piece that is deep and individual. It longs deeply for connection. The soul's energy is tied to the world... and even those things we imagine to be non living. Rocks are alive, if we understand that their seeming static status is only relative to our own time frame. Once we recognize this connection, we cannot see the world the same way.

So here, literally amidst the mountaintops (I have been to the top of the mountain... and I have seen the Promised Land... I may not get there with you...), I felt that what changed for us in this election was that the voice of connection was speaking to us. And only those who think God is a detached, separating voice, could fail to feel it. God is not on the other end of the life line. God is here and now.

As I walked (very carefully!) down the hillside in silence with Nadia, I heard in myself that God truly is in and with all. But this does not make me, or anyone else, the center of God, the center of the Universe. It puts God at the center of me. I am therefore required to connect myself, my heart, with the heart of the world. I must seek and do good for the universe. Only there can any of us truly find God.

Sillily enough, as I headed for the car, I heard the Battle Hymn of the Republic in my head. It felt fun to sing it. It connected me to the little girl who came home from school this week, carrying a huge Uncle Sam, and talking about how everyone should wear red, white and blue on election day. What I thought frustrating and too easily swayed in her, I began to recognize as pride and connection. I wished briefly that we had been able to be in a crowd like that at Times Square on Tuesday night, watching and barely breathing with the world. Instead, I have to be satisfied with having allowed them watch me fill in that bubble and feed the paper into a machine (step up from Craftsbury! It would have been into a hand-count ballot box there!). Nadia's giddiness and screaming as she ran through the gym (distracting other voters, no doubt), and Aidan's insistence that I vote Obama/Biden first (I saved the best for last), and Sage's deep patriotic fervor, reminded me that we all feel our connection differently.

It is my job as mother, teacher, counselor, to help nourish that connection, even when it doesn't fit with my personal paradigm. It my calling to recognize the forms deep connection takes, and to hold it sacred. To help others to hold it sacred.

So we came off the mountain top and headed home, a pile of birch leaves in the seat next to me. We followed along the winding, rocky, post glacial river to a wide valley, and past the reservoir in Plainfield to home. We went inside and nursed quietly until Daddy got home at 1.

Nadia spent the next few hours playing outside while Daddy worked, connecting to her home and sense of safety in this unsure world. And I went off to volunteer at Sage's class on their Native American unit.

I dropped off my resume to be a substitute to the principal while I was there. Sometimes, you connect any way you can.

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