Whenever in a guided meditation or relaxation technique or daydream someone says, go to a place where you feel safe, go to your sacred space, I go to this place in my mind that requires first a walk through the forest. I am always barefoot on this walk, but the path is soft with pine needles.
I reach a small clearing and in that clearing is a small cabin.
There is firewood stacked up outside.
There are places to sit.
I open the door to this cabin and walk in, greeted by the glow of beeswax candles and a fire in the stone fireplace.
There’s a wooden table and chairs at the center of the room.
There’s a kitchen.
Because this is a hearth. A heart.
Sometimes I am met there, by angels or guides, by those who have gone on before me, who know me, who watch me, who listen.
Today, I stand in my garden with my cup.
At the feet of Mary, where I start every morning. I notice how the sweet woodruff has grown.
There’s not as much color in this garden as I’d hoped there would be when I planted it, but there is green. So much lush green. And I remind myself, green is indeed a color.
The color, in fact, of the heart.
It’s only Wednesday and yet this week as felt full and busting at the seems. Already, I feel I’ve failed at it.
The critical voice is awake and alive, picking me apart.
Maybe you know her, too.
She analysis everything and judges it all. Every word. Every moment. Every choice.
She thinks I’m an idiot who is pretty much ruining everything.
I hadn’t heard from her in a good long while, or at least she’d been quiet, but this morning she is back and I can’t seem to shut her up.
So I stand here in my garden.
At Mary’s feet. Mary’s bare feet.
Last week, I walked out into the yard and stepped on a bee. In all of my years of barefoot walking, it’s only the third or fourth time I’ve had to pull something out – a thorn or a sliver of glass or, in this case, a stinger.
And though I didn’t much like the sensation of being stung, I was sad for the bee, too, who probably didn’t know what hit it.
I think, this morning, standing here with this delicious cup of coffee and everything in the world to be happy about, I don’t know what’s hitting me.
I don’t know why the critical voice inside of me is so hateful.
And I don’t know, right now in this moment, how not to believe her.
So I close my eyes and I go to that cabin. The place where I am always at peace, away from the world and not required to interact with other humans.
I’m in the cabin and there’s something simmering gently on the stove, filling the room with spice and rose.
There are birds outside the window.
And then the door opens and a woman comes in laughing.
But not just any woman.
Today, I’m meeting Mary here, only instead of her lovely robes and veils, she is dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans. I see her hair, for the first time ever. Her head, uncovered.
Why are you so hard on yourself, she asks, and she is laughing and her arms are open and her skin is luminous, like the inner chamber of a lily.
She is, as always, radiant and full, but today her eyes are not downcast. Today, they sparkle.
I’ve made a total mess of things, I say.
She arches her eyebrows.
How wonderful, she says.
And I feel it begin to lift off of me, to change shape, to quiet down.
Life, she says, is so wonderfully messy.
And just for a moment a great breath swells in my lungs and I understand that grace isn’t always serene. Sometimes, it bursts into the room, boisterous and barefoot.
Sometimes, I have to be a mother to myself. This kind of mother.
The kind who laughs and rolls up her sleeves and delights at the smallest of things.
The kind who thinks I am perfect and funny.
Who doesn’t even think of forgiveness, because forgiveness is instantaneous. Because, Forgive what?
The kind who is carefree and rooted so deeply to the heart of the earth, she can soar.
I stand here in this space, grateful.
Grace plucks the stinger out and says, Now what, kid?
Let’s do something messy.