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With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90  days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.

23 February 2013

Reading Mariechild Together: Fiery Tenderness

I love the seeming dichotomy in the concepts that are twinned in today's reflection (Diane Mariechild's Open Mind -- Womens' Daily Inspirations for Becoming Mindful). Mindfulness as tenderness; fire burning. Who would think these two things go together so well?

Yet that is what Meridel Le Sueur is doing in the poem fragment that begins the piece.

How can we touch each other, my sisters?...
We keep our tenderness alive and the nourishment of the earth green.
The heat is central as lava.
We burn in each other. We burn and burn.
     We shout in choruses of millions.
     We appear as armed mothers, grandmothers, sisters, warriors.
     We burn.

Mariechild then talks about mindfulness practice at vipassana  meditation retreats, during which the women present are not only practicing together but are aware that they are breathing the same air. That is what creates a safe space and makes the time of being together even more profound.

"We are learning to keep our tenderness alive...this gentle touch is felt by the Earth and all those walking on the Earth. Our actions become less harmful. The fire is burning away the dissatisfaction, the inability to see."

The refining fire of awareness, of the tender and intimate understanding that we are all connected: we shout in our millions, we burn for clearer vision and a better world.

How do we bring such awareness, such fire and tenderness, to our daily lives? What I have learned as I live with chronic pain is that awareness and practice of this kind does not happen in spite of the realities with which we live -- whether they be chronic pain, or constant busy-ness, or unrelenting responsibilities -- but along with, alongside, and because of them.

With this fiery, sweet awareness, I shout with the millions when in my morning quiet time; I burn with tenderness when I remember to go about my restricted days with love, in peace; I burn with my sisters when I lie on the bed in a dark room with a blindfold over my eyes, unable to move for the pain in my head.

Somehow, tenderness and fire are a very natural pairing when brought together by my weakness and vulnerability.


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