I am sitting in the brilliant sunshine with my three dogs and cat curled up and sleeping around me. The weather is crisp. There is no wind. It is still. And it is beautiful. It is the kind of moment when the commitment to practice gratitude seems more gift than discipline.
What do I share in this first blog back after five months of solitude? My false self would whisper, “You better have some wise, inspirational deposit to offer to prove the months away weren’t wasted.” And my true self? The one that knows I am beloved and that I belong? What voice emerges from that place?
That voice calls me back to many hours over many days and many weeks, face-to-face with my limitations, immersed in a living metaphor.
If there was ever going to be the time and space to tackle “The Staircase Project” this was it. Stripping, scraping, sanding, repeat. Layer upon layer, decades of questionable design choices. I was determined to get to the original wood – no matter what kind of condition it might be in. As I suspected, the wood was pretty banged up – far from perfect or pristine. But beautiful none-the-less. Beautiful because it was real. Its scars hiding the stories of the feet that had danced, pounded, skipped, and wearily plodded their way up and down.
The real thing is worth it.
It’s not easy to peel back the layers applied for the sake of expediency, protection, to be on-trend, or simply feeling like there were no other options. It can be scary to wonder whether it will be worth it all in the end – whether we’ll actually find real beauty there – or simply need to apply a fresh coat of paint and move on.
It’s a lot better when we can share the process with others – commiserating when it is difficult and slow – celebrating progress. And its really helpful to have a dream of what it can be.
I have held a vision for a very long time of a place of belovedness and belonging where people will be safe and free to engage their own “project.” Where we don’t feel so alone, where we can be encouraged when its difficult, where tips and tools can be shared when requested, where we can be accompanied in the becoming. I’ve dreamed of a way of being together that still honours the autonomy of each one to tackle their project at their own pace. I picture the ways we'll celebrate together, where affirmation is lavish, laughter rings out, and joy spills over. These dreams of liberation and flourishing and being real …. these are the dreams that I carry for me, for you, and for our shared life together.
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit