I come out to the cabin this morning, Sunday morning late, the sun well past risen, and turn on the furnace. Opening my journal file on my Toshiba laptop, Toshi (as she’s nicknamed), asks if I want to return to where I left off on Thursday morning. Thursday morning. That’s a long time for me. I closed out Thursday morning’s entry saying:
“So aware . . . being here . . . of my own story. How we each have our story of ourselves. How this “part” of my life has become part of my story and perhaps will always remain the most compelling part.”
And so when the next day my interviewer on The Voice of Change radio program, Sharon Ann Wikoff, asked about the difference between image and presence, this was foremost on my mind. I told her I have an image of myself in this cabin that will be hard to let go when the time comes. The Voice of Change radio interview
Arriving here this morning, I realize that I have an image of spring, too. I realize it because I am so happy to turn the furnace on and feel the “furnace” kind of heat. It takes the chill off. In the house, the furnace is not on and the chill of morning and evening fills each room. Outside and inside, it is damp and the damp feels bone-penetrating. The daily change in temperature alone, sometimes by 35 degree or more, also has an effect. Yet the cabin’s furnace brings warmth that hums like surround-sound, and is constant. It varies by no more than a few degrees once ignited. In this small space I hear the igniting. No sound of a thrown switch, but a pop like a match lighting flint.
Sometimes, when someone asks you a question, or you get one going internally, (one like this one on the movement from image to presence) it is suddenly there all around you, calling your usual way of looking at things into question. As the heat tempers the damp and my aches feel soothed, I’m just saying I never remember, in advance of spring, that my body gets along less well with this season than with any other.
In my image of it, spring is the time when I can be outside without being bothered by flying insects. It is the time when, for a few glorious weeks or days, I can be outside without feeling too hot or too cold. Spring is bursting with new life. The first iris, daffodil, lily of the field, will truly make me rejoice. Spring is also the time of fields lying fallow. The time prior to planting. A long way from harvest and yet the time of preparation for the harvest’s promise.
As I pondered this, I thought how funny it is, that the words that give us many of our images of new life are actually about cyclical events. Perhaps what it is, is that, when we “hold” images—we make them into one time deals. At “one” time in life we’ll lie fallow, then we’ll plant, then we’ll reap; we’ll die once and be reborn once . . . when it’s actually a continual movement . Howard Thurman called it the growing edge: “Look well to the growing edge. All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born.”
Anything can become new again. As I watch the squirrel babies being raised once again, taking flight via acrobatics, I realize they aren’t the same babies I watched last year or the year before, but they’ll repeat the visible nesting in the old Martin house, and then the timid, and then less timid, and then bold steps to leaving the nest.
We cycle through seasons over and over again. And maybe the same is true of images. Being here, we’ll have an image or two of ourselves, but if we hold them loosely and see them for what they are, maybe they won’t have to keep us from being present. The cyclical is part of it all; the circle of life. And what an image represents may be what we carry, as my cabin represents the inner life I’ll carry within me, and that will stay with me wherever I go.
In Chapter 17 of The Dialogues, just before starting our time on the mountain, Jesus says:
You may wonder still . . . how you can be told that you have arrived and are at your journey’s end and yet still have farther to go. You have nowhere to go. The journey is over. You stand at the threshold, the gateway to the site you have traveled so far to reach. You are here and desire fills you, even while you know the glory of having arrived. Desire calls here, louder and stronger than ever before, because of your proximity to what you have desired. Every hero’s journey returns him home. … You have taken the inward course, the inward journey, the only journey that is real in the only way that is real. 17.20- 17.21