this week i’ve been spinning threads of story related to home, inspired by last week’s celebration of birth.
in the weeks leading up to hosting the celebration, i went through a thorough and deep spring cleaning. drawers, closets, shelves all received attention as i followed the impulse to shed. my daughter returning home from college and this party on the horizon seemed to align perfectly with what felt like my own cycle of growth and together, this all called for a cellular rearranging. it was serious; it was deep. i took something like twenty bags of donations to goodwill.
marie kondo’s tidying wisdom echoed as i carefully touched items throughout my home, choosing with intention what stayed and what went. i felt like i was breathing life into my home.
and into my self. because with each choice, i was becoming. a newer version of me coming into being.
as the day of celebration drew closer, the relationship with my home–this place— became more and more vibrant. it was as if i could feel her arms wrapped around me/us, a deep sense of being held and protected washing over me as i carefully remembered all that had led to this moment.
i remember once hearing toni morrison say that place is more than a backdrop to story; place is an essential actor.
curiosity grew around this place that i’ve/we’ve called home for the past six years. this plot of land on the corner of highland and madonna, in a river town that still feels distant. a place that has increasingly known both as chosen and choosing. i know that we are here–precisely in this place, in this time–with purpose.
there’s many layers to this.
first, we chose this place to centralize our family. in the years before moving here, we were spread too thin, scattered. at that time, the five of us were in five different schools, in five different school systems across the city. it was too much; we needed to simplify. we came here, where our family began–in the place where our first child was born. a place we knew we’d be outsiders, a place that felt familiar and strange. we came back to Kentucky.
we chose this particular place, on the corner of this street because a family had loved and lived and died in it over forty+ years. ripening it. breaking it in. preparing it.
we chose this place because it felt right.
partly, because of Gaia, the giant Cypress in the front. and Oak in the back, along with Lilac. and Gingko and Evergreens on the side. our home is surrounded by these trees, in this place that feels deeply exact–particular to/for us.
i know and love these tree beings. the kind of knowing that is generated in heart and belly and comes from relationship, communication. my recent peak in curiosity about this place compelled a different knowing and so i did a bit of research, turning to Ted Andrews’ Nature-Speak for information on these tree-kin. here’s a bit of what i discovered:
Cypress (keynote: find comfort in the home; new understanding of a crisis): the cypress is one of the wetlands and swamps, of places that lead to the underworld or infernal kingdoms. Going through a swamp means facing one’s fears, sacrificing for a greater cause. The cypress encourages us to explore the sacrifices that we are making within our life and guides us to a greater awareness that sacrifice does not always involve pain and suffering, especially when that sacrifice is made for something or someone we love. Its presence as a sign can stir the primal feminine energies, the creative forces that are static in our life. Cypress will help us manifest opportunities for healing. It helps us in understanding our crises, and it awakens the comfort of home and mother. (p263).
Oak (keynote: strength and endurance win out; open to new spirit forces): the oak tree was sacred to the Celts and Druids. it is aligned with primal male force, a powerful symbol of male energy, the yang or electircal aspect of the universe or individual. The Oak has strong ties to the realm of nature spirits…provides the energies to open the doorway to the inner realms and their mysteries in meditation, magic, and in real life. Acorns symbolize fertility and the manifestation of creativity…Oak trees provide strength…Now is the time to demonstrate your own strength and endure. The energy will be there to do so and as a result new confidence and new spirit forces will open to you. (p281-282).
Lilac (keynote: balance the spirit and intellect; contact with spirit is imminent): The Lilac will align and balance all of the chakra centers of the body. It awakens mental clarity for one wishing to activate the kundalini in a balanced manner and spiritualizes the intellect. Lilac draws protective spirits into one’s life; it has a strong tie to the nature spirits as they use the lilac’s vibrations to raise their own consciousness. The flower is fragrant and powerful and help harmonize your life and activate greater clairvoyance. The message of the lilac is usually very clear: this is a time to balance spiritual activities with intellectual activities. Spirit is close and willing to work with you. Now is the time to open and develop trust in your spirit guides. (p276)
Gingko: the gingko is the sole survivor of a family of trees that was around when dinosaurs walked the earth (190 million years ago). During the Ice Age, glaciers wiped out all gingkoes except in China. It is considered a living fossil with the ability to survive millions of years of change and even the soot and grime of modern cities. (p.246). It is considered a sacred tree and a symbol of resilience, health and longevity. A cultural icon, it is also associated with hope and fertility.
each one of these kin has offered specific medicine to my homegrowing during this season of my/our life. there is no question.
homegrowing. this is a new term that comes as i write this and as it comes, it feels so true. i love the idea of homegrowing. it resonates as precisely the endeavor i’ve/we’ve been up to…since the beginning of time?
“beginning of time” feels right insofar as it the endeavor feels beyond time and space. tyson yunkaporte’s wisdom around the circular nature of indigenous story comes to mind here: that there is no fixed beginning, middle, and end. that in reality, time is fluid and cyclical, folding in and over and through.
this place carries with it stories that weave with the now; stories that both shape and are shaped.
land holds history that is directly connected to the past and to the future. when brought to awareness, there is a sense of connection to the Big Story. i know that this place chose us as much as we chose this place.
my brain is inspired by my heart and belly here and so again, i’ve been doing a bit of research about this particular place. two threads i’m holding now, from history:
just a few hundred yards away from this place was the legendary Indian battle of which 500-600 graves of warriors were discovered. according to Indian legend, in 1749, a Cherokee chief betrayed a medicine man highly regarded by the Shawnee and Miami tribes, which led to the fierceness of the fight. their remains were found, where they gave their lives in honor of that medicine.
the state’s first white woman, Mary Draper Ingles, came to the area as captive of the Shawnee Indians; she later escaped from Big Bone Lick to the Ohio River and made her way back home to Virginia, some 500+ miles. alone, with one other woman.
there’s mystery in how these stories (including the unfolding of mine/ours) connect and how they relate…and, of course, they do. in part, because of this place.
living these days feels like a constantly refocusing zoom lens that focuses in on the particular and then back out to the cosmos. in, on each moment and choice before me, positioning me with enormous and essential value, and then back out to the Big Story where i am simply a grain of sand.
at times like these, such a lens of consciousness supports life. it allows me to include more and more of reality–the good, the bad, the horrific–in my experience of humaning. returning to tyson yunkaporte again, he defines trauma is harm without meaning. when we get that all has meaning–even when we don’t fully understand it–the hardest, most painful things can become incorporated into our self, our stories as essential threads in our homegrowing.
our six years in relationship with this place has generated love, life, and death.
i am/we are
from this place, with this knowing, every encounter is purposeful and with meaning. everything and everybody belongs.