“Strongly I will think, will remember often, how within I’m vitalized by all primal spirit strength, will strongly sense within me weaving soul and power of will, will reflect in stillness how I can find a hold in my heart’s depths when my soul, quiet in itself, rests and also strongly acts out of itself.” by Rudolf Steiner, “The Heart of Peace”
I’ve been reading a great book: “Living the Quaker Way,” by Philip Gulley. A friend recommended it after my post about searching for buffers in this chaotic world. In his preface Gulley writes, “I’m not inviting you to a church but to a life,” built upon the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality. And it’s in these pages I’ve learned the phrase “centering down,” a common practice before a Meeting of Friends. (Although we don’t have a name for it, it is also what you’d experience 15 minutes before the service if you were to attend The Christian Community.) It means choosing to create the quiet needed to reconnect to one’s inner life, making more space for whatever divine or higher presence guides you. And, according to the author, it need not be sitting in silence. While he described his experience with walking meditation, a vision of yarn and needles came into my mind. The familiar feel of them in my hands became a life line during the family’s bumpy transition back to urban life and school. I do also love to sit in silence, a more traditional centering down, but it comes much easier after the rhythm of knit and purl have passed between my hands for a few minutes.
Between that and the unfinished projects I discovered while clearing out a fiber moth infestation, there is a lot coming off the needles these days. This Striped Linen Stitch Cowl, however, I finished up over the summer. I received the yarn (a Mountain Girl Yarn, whose Etsy shop is currently on a little break) as a gift from my friend Kim at Mothering with Mindfulness, a few years back. I don’t receive yarn gifts often, so I when I do, I am always tempted to extend the gift by making something for myself. I had a few other projects in mind and actually started one and pulled it out before I settled on this cowl. I’ve been wanting to take on a linen stitch project for a while and this one was perfect: since it’s in the round I only had to learn half of linen stitch! It proved the perfect repeating-pattern-travel-companion for about a year. I took it with me to Ann Arbor, and Nova Scotia, and tossed it in my carry-on when I came back to Denver in July for my training program, then, back again to Canada. All the while I wondered if I was going to be able to double it around my neck. I started with not quite enough yarn for the project, by my estimates, so I cast on a few less stitches, fingers crossed. Excited to say that it does tightly, but still comfortably, go around twice! We’ve had an uncharacteristic rainy week and it has been so lovely to pull this out.
I wish I could say that I’ve been outwardly preparing for Michaelmas while wearing it, but alas, no. One myth of parenting I am beginning to really understand: it does not get easier as the children get bigger, it just gets different hard. What the children once needed in physical care–diapers, feeding, shoe tying–they now need in emotional care. I find it equally difficult and more complicated, and draining all the same. Which is why our nature table at the moment consists of left over pictures from Lucien’s birthday (in August) and a vase of flowers from Nana’s garden that should’ve made its way to the compost days ago.
I am thankful for the years when I’ve had more space for dragon bread and harvest activities, because I think they are part of why I have an inner relationship to Michaelmas. A simple, enigmatic relationship with the courage to act; the courage that He can plant within our hearts. For some, those actions may be loud–taking to the streets. But let us not forget the others. The ones carving out a simple, conscious, life, in partnership with the Spirit, an act that goes against every grain of our more-faster society. Let us not forget the courage and sacrifice it takes to turn off the device and “center down,” making room for whatever it is that reconnects us to our best and most authentic selves.
That’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow afternoon. Come join me on the porch if you’re passing by.