Changing Shape

My baby is due in a little over two weeks!

To honor this transition for our family, I am going to take a few months off from offering healing sessions in Middletown, starting next week. I will miss working with you folks during my time off, but I am excited and grateful to be able to cocoon away with our new little one. I will let you know when I am back to work and open for sessions.

This past week, I went for a long walk at one of my favorite local wild spaces, Anderson Marsh. On this particular day, I was wrapped up in the contradictory feelings I have about becoming a mother. The palpable changes in my body have altered, for a time, my ability to engage in the rest of my passions the way I used to. While I am so excited to get to know this new family member and nurture him or her as s/he grows, I also grieve the loss of my freedom as I’ve known it. Even though I have an incredible, supportive husband, there are times I feel alone in the experience of holding this little human in my body, and in the commitment I am making to breastfeed and nurture him or her once s/he’s on this side of the womb. There are so many unknowns. So many questions about how I will help to hold and shape my child’s life. Everything is changing.

With the help of pregnancy hormones coursing through me, I spent most of that morning aimlessly mired in exhaustion and doubt and grief.

Then, I went for my walk, and as I moved through the wide plain of countless wildflowers and knee-high grasses, and into the low hills of valley oaks, my focus on the hopeless side of this change began to balance. The smell of damp soil from a recent shower, the songbirds belting out praises as the sun peeked out from behind fluffy clouds, a hungry chorus from a newly hatched nest, the aliveness and presence of all the growing and moving things in that dynamic ecosystem—all these things pulled me out of my funk and broadened my perspective.

The real clincher of a teacher was this grandmother oak, tucked away on a back trail near the edge of the marsh. The trunk was almost ten feet wide—massive. And it was also almost completely rotted out, with only the shell of all those hundreds of years of life still intact. Yet, the tree’s branches were vibrant with spring growth—the cambium layer flowing with enough life to leaf out a full canopy.

Had I encountered this tree in the winter, I would have assumed it dead, but not so. It simply looks different than many other live trees. It is a striking testament to the cycle of life, its own decay fueling and enriching the new growth at its fingertips.

By no means am I a rotted-out oak. But my shape is changing, and will continue to change as I walk forward with my child. All of our shapes change as life brings us losses and gains. And somehow, we still like to expect things to be static and predictable.

Losses and gains. In the grand scope of life, how do we even know which is which? We sure like to label things. In every change I can think of, both loss and gain coexist.

Most days, my heart dances as I think of all the possibility and wonder I will experience with my child—to discover the world through new eyes, to watch a unique person unfold into who s/he is, to kiss chubby cheeks, to play games and laugh and be the trusted arms s/he runs to when tears come, to snuggle during story time, to watch the love s/he will add to our family and friends’ lives . . . I want this change. I want this child. And yet, with all of that desire, loss exists, too—the farewell to an old way of life.

This week, I am thankful for the fellowship of the plants and animals that helped me to loosen my grip on the old, familiar shape of who I am. I hope you can welcome the communion of nature and of other humans who can help affirm the sacred life in you, as your shape changes, too.

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