"I am burdened with anxiety. Anxiety for the lamb with his bitter future, anxiety for my own body, and, not least, anxiety for my own soul. You can fool a lot of yourself but you can't fool the soul. That worrier." -- Mary Oliver, "Sister Turtle," from Winter Hours
For some reason I had trouble falling asleep last night, and I woke this morning to find anxiety tightly coiled in my chest, a troublesome knot of angst that kept sending trickles -- and sometimes surges -- of fear out with every heartbeat.
It took some time to understand that the anxiety was probably not my own, and that in all likelihood I was channeling that of our younger daughter, now in the final days of camp. She's facing a transition always painful and this year doubly complicated by the lack of processing time: she will leave camp, which she adores, on Monday, and fly back to school, which she does not adore, on Tuesday -- and she's terrified of flying, and especially through storms -- which, given the current weather conditions on the East Coast, must seem inevitable.
It would also not surprise me if I were also carrying anxiety for any number of folks about the impending threat of Hurricane Irene -- after all, it affects so many millions of people, and so many dear friends and relatives of mine.
So I sat with that this morning, holding those concerns in my heart, allowing it to beat with them, speaking softly with the small frightened child within, carefully teasing out what is mine and what is not, honoring and releasing the feelings surging like waves, and sinking gradually to a calmer place. And there I found something new, something like a crystal: clear, and smooth, unshakeable; a gentle, fleeting reminder that whatever comes, there is that within us that remains steady and true.
And, at the same time, looking at this photo that leaped onto the page, I see that those anxious things, coiled in the dark places within us, are part of the growth process, and in their painful unfurling new life and light emerge. Still: sometimes it's difficult to watch... and feel.