At the end of 2009, when my friend Sophie started the yogalila gang thinking about what our words would be for 2010 I was stumped. Even though I had been doing the word-of-the-year thing for many years, for the first time, I drew a blank. So I tucked the idea away in a mind pocket hoping something would come to me.
Something came to me alright, though I didn't recognize it at the time. Instead of me choosing a word to symbolize my intention for the year ahead, a question was choosing me. On New Year's Eve I came up with the idea for an ebook with contributions from women answering the question, "What is dying to be born?" I thought the question was for them. I thought I was just collecting answers. Turns out the question was for me. Only I didn't know it until towards the end of 2010.
Looking back now I can see how the question that I sent out to that wise group of women on the eve of 2010 (and which eventually did become the so-way-beyond-my-expectations loved and downloaded ebook, What Is Dying to be Born?) was the beginning of that question weaving itself in and out of my year. As Zora Neale Hurston says, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” 2010 was definitely a year that asked a question.
I cannot say if I have the answer yet, though what is an answer anyway? The heart has its own calendar - let's say it's a soular calendar rather than a solar calendar. Not how many times does the earth circle the sun - but how many times does my soul need to circle this question before it unpacks itself? "We get wise by asking questions, and even if these are not answered we get wise, for a well packed question carries its answer on its back as a snail carries its shell."(from James Stephens' Irish Fairy Tales)
So, the question was, What is dying to be born? and my response, which should not be mistaken for an answer, was to dance in the flames.
Dancing in the Flames is the title of a book by Marion Woodman that I began reading at the beginning of the year. I picked it up off the reshelving cart at the local library in one of those accidents that later removes its veil to reveal the serendipity beneath, it became my guidebook for the year. I just ordered and can't wait to watch the new dvd of the same title - the trailer from which gives the flavour of what it means to dance in the flames:
Here are some of the flames I danced in over the past year, some of which lit me up and some of which burned me up:
~ Creating the beautiful ebook, What is Dying to be Born?
~ Re-grieving (or maybe finally grieving?) the loss of my baby boy, Vincent, in stillbirth*
~ Witnessing one of my closest friends through a traumatic period in her marriage
~ Supporting and championing another friend on the fulfillment of her dream
~ Watching a mentor and friend on get lit on fire with her own creative birthing
~ Letting go of something that had been part of my identity for the last 15 years
~ Watching, waiting and worrying as severe anxiety crippled my father
~ Standing by my father's bedside and hold his hand as he took his last breath*
*these two experiences really burned me up - I'll be writing more about them
Through living that question and dancing in those flames, I have uncovered deeper clarity about what it is I am called to do in the world.
This was a year of deeply exploring, deeply feeling, deeply learning and deeply loving. I cannot think of one word that could have held it. There is a lot more space in a question.
Is there a question in your heart that wants to be asked this year?
Get quiet and listen - you might be surprised by what you hear.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…do not seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke