Members of the Field here it is!
My first is a slightly squirmy, red-faced, hair-playing, long-winded, stammering attempt at a live video. No clever editing just responses from my heart and although I confess to dreading the making of it, it felt surprisingly great afterward and something I’ll definitely do monthly for my subscribers and supporters.
In the video, there is a part where I explain where I learned the word “capacious”, I mentioned that I would add the quote from the novel “Charlotte’s Web” that was referenced in Krista Tippett’s interview with children’s author Kate DiCamillo. They were discussing how much we should share with our children about the nature of reality to preserve their innocence. I think for our own good reasons we sometimes want to shield our children from pain and the truth of life and death.
One example of this in my own life is my vague memory of looking for the family dog. Standing on the back porch at our farm with my hands cupped around my mouth the way I watched my mom do it, calling out “Buuuuurgandy come!”. She was a beautiful Irish setter and living out in a pretty secluded rural area she sometimes felt like my only true playmate and friend.
I was very young, but I remember loving the feel of the little bump on the top of her soft head and the way she ran in circles chasing her tail just for fun. I was filled with wonder when we witnessed her give birth and nurse a litter of puppies and I can still remember the most incredible puppy smell and the active mele of entangled love when they all spooned closely side by side fitting perfectly next to each other to nurse.
It was one of the most memorable things I had ever seen in the first 5 years of my life.
I hadn’t seen her that day and so I called for her over and over, and I imagine I got louder and louder because before long, my mom stepped outside with an expression I’d never seen on her face. I was very young, but I remember her telling me the sad news with teary eyes that she had been put to sleep. I don’t remember much else, or even how I processed it, but she was gone. I was of course probably the last thing on my parent’s minds faced with having to do such a sad and painful thing. My mom was losing her furry best friend and she understandably wanted to protect me from the pain as Moms do with their very young children. And this is not to criticize that at all, I appreciate being so loved and protected.
The word capacious is best used to describe how we have the capacity even as children to hold it all. We can be honest with them. We are wired to manage the entirety of our shared human experience. Death. Divorce. Job loss. Bankruptcy. Mental Illness. Whatever we all face in our lives we can face it better together. Psychologists have different theories and they don’t all agree on the best way or proper age, so it’s really up to us to decide.
E.B. White’s book is a great example of this and children love to read the book “Charlotte’s Web” over and over because of it. They know a terrible thing is going to happen at the end (Charlotte’s passing) and they also know that it’s going to be okay. That we all have the capacity to bear all of the things and the sorrow we encounter in our lives. Books like this help to teach our children that we can stay and be with or move through all our feelings. That this too shall pass when we surrender to it.
We are stronger than we know. The author was complimenting E.B. White for somehow managing to tell the truth and make it bearable. He loved the world and in loving the world he told the truth. The example used was the heartbreaking conversation near the end of the book between Charlotte to Wilbur:
These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall. Christmas will come, then the snows of winter. You will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world, for you mean a great deal to Zuckerman and he will not harm you, ever. Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur - this lovely world, these precious days…”
It feels like I’m coming to an age where all my friends raised in the 1960s and 1970s are dealing with these end-of-life challenges that we all face as human beings. Some of us are facing the fragility of our own lives with serious age-related illnesses like cancer, along with our aging parents. Some are in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s and many of them are facing the illnesses of age, the anguish of a degenerative loss of memory, and some are actively in search of a good home. It can seem like a full-time job finding a place to help with our care and palliate our transition out of this world. We’ve had a beautiful life and we would like a beautiful death. The process may not feel that way. A bit like giving birth. It’s not pretty. It can be sad, painful, expensive, and frustrating for everyone. At some point, we all will be faced with this if we have the honor of living into our 50s and 60s, but no matter what age we are, even 5 years old, none of us are immune to experiencing loss when we love others.
Today there is a memorial for the amazing mother of some childhood friends of my husband’s. This woman, Lisa, was so filled with grace and goodness, you felt it in her presence. She touched the lives of everyone who encountered her and my husband mentioned how welcome he always felt in their home growing up. I’ve always had a soft spot for her. She had a beautiful English accent and was always so poised and polite. Positive and quietly affirming. In fact, we have personally kept in touch with them for about 25 years on and off with Christmas greetings and we exchanged sporadic letters. Despite her age, her death was sudden, unexpected news. Today my heart feels broken for the whole family and especially her husband and grown twin boys and their wives and children. Today and for the days to come may feel like an unbearable thing to endure.
And yet somehow we do.
Because we’re capacious.
We can show up vulnerably in our lives. Allow it all. Trust our process with a deep knowing that we will be ok no matter what form or how long it takes for us to feel anything let alone feel better.
No matter what is coming for us around the bend.
Thanks for reading and watching today. If this video helps, please share or ask questions and let’s get real and heat things up in here a notch!
Already looking forward to “seeing” you next week.