Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thinking Things Through

This is not my yard.  I just like the shadows from the millwheel.
Ever since Chari wrote about who she is blogging for, I have been thinking about WHY I am blogging.... or rather, why I am not blogging as steadily (even compulsively!) as I used to.  

Usually I blog to clear my head -- but this summer and early fall, working out in the yard seems to be my activity of choice for head-clearing.   And there is a lot to be done outside -- our house and grounds were visited by Smokey the Bear's representative last month, and he gave us a list of things to do around the lot, and a promise to be back to see how we did it.

But while working in the yard last week, I realized that one reason I am not blogging much is because I usually blog what I'm thinking, and all summer, whenever I've found myself thinking, it is almost always about my Mom, who passed away this spring at a relatively young age (she would have been 79 this summer).

  • Sometimes I'm thinking about my Mom and Dad, about their lives, what they stood for, how they lived and worked. 
  • Sometimes I am remembering things about them, reliving moments that I spent with them.
  • Sometimes I am feeling. ... sort of like remembering, except less visual.    This goes way back to my baby days.

 Sometimes I'm just coping, I guess, which usually leaves me feeling like my head was underwater for too long.    CS Lewis wrote that grief feels like fear; I guess I know what he means, though for me it feels almost exactly like running out of breath, like when you're climbing a steep hill.  

I am not saying that this is a constant state of affairs.   Most of my day is lived on the surface and I don't feel consciously sad, nor am I consciously remembering.   But the deeper layer seems to be working all the time on processing what my Mom (and Dad) meant to me and what life is like now that they are not here any more.   In that way, everything I do is affected by my Mom and Dad's passing. 

It is a little like those last days of pregnancy.  You get up, you do your housework, you take care of your toddlers, you homeschool or go to work or whatever.  But all the time your body is focused in a completely different direction.

In this case, it isn't a physical labor -- it comes from somewhere else.  I think that it is different from losing a spouse or a child, in this regard.   It is part of the ordinary way of things that one loses one's parents, so it doesn't feel like a shock, like a reversal of life.    But the processing and getting used to a new way of life still remain.   It's more like passing from summer to fall, or fall to winter.   It isn't a shock, but it is a shift. 

When I'm doing this Work of Grief, or whatever you might want to call it, it is sort of like tectonic plates moving, uncomfortable, sometimes breathlessly so, but mostly requiring just care and a sort of protective interior stance.   It is hard to find the right words.   But hard physical labor seems to speak a silent language.   And there is the sun and warmth and the smell of pine and cedar.

This is not my yard either.     I like the way the barrels are arranged.

I expect that now that fall is coming I will get back into my normal blogging (sedentary) routine.   But I hope not to lose that sense of interior silence and just doing one thing after another.  I did not realize that work could be a sort of dialogue.  In a way it feels safer than speaking. 

I suppose those in the contemplative religious life do something like that, working through the pain of the world.    And I suppose I understand better why some people like Thoreau and the Romantics went to nature when they felt wounded by the ordinary way of things. 

For we know that the whole creation groans together and travails in pain together until now. Romans 8:22

 I am praying for all of you who have lost dearly loved ones, and for the repose of their souls along with the repose of my parents' souls.    And praying for your homeschools this year.   And for your blogging, if you do blog!    


  1. I can understand, Willa. I also blog what I'm thinking, and what I'm thinking lately isn't very conducive to blogging. Praying for you and your family. (Ha, what I'm thinking doesn't seem conducive to commenting in any articulate way either, lol)

    1. Praying for you too, Amy! I miss you when you aren't blogging but understand the challenges.

  2. Willa,

    We are all thinking about our reasons for blogging and what blogging means to us!

    I blog the stories of my life. I think all our lives are made up of stories, and by thinking and writing about them, we come to understand them and see where they all fit together. They all have meaning. I have learnt so much about myself through my writings and I have come to new appreciations for everything God has given me.

    Willa, when I am thinking something through I sometimes work too. My body goes through the motions while my mind is somewhere else. I sometimes do this before I start to write. Work... writing... there are all good ways to help us think.

    Willa, I haven't yet lost a parent. It's a situation I can't quite imagine but I know it would take a lot of adjustment, and I also would be doing a lot of reflecting. Ever since you lost your mother, I have been keeping you in my prayers each day.

    I have been redesigning my unschooling blog and in the course of doing that, I re-read a few posts. I came across some comments written by you where we shared our sons, grief, suffering and friendship. It was so lovely to once again feel the joy of sharing with you.

    God bless you!

    1. Hi Sue,

      I love your talent for narrative. Even though I wrote lots of stories when I was younger, I seem to have a hard time nowadays telling autobiographical stories as you do so well. I tend to talk either about what's going on inside, or else generalise.

      I think though that we have a lot in common in spite of our different approaches.

      Blessings on your re-arranging!

  3. Stephanie in GermanySeptember 5, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Thank you Willa. I will pray for you and your parents.

    1. Thank you for the prayers, STephenie, and I will pray for your intentions too.


We love hearing from our readers. Please share your thoughts or just say hello!