Ch . . . ch . . . ch . . . changes

It started as a hairline crack . . .

. . . that slowly spread into a spidery web that I would have appreciated on a nature walk but did not enjoy seeing in my favorite mug.

And then, last night, I got home from a day in the city, to this:


It wasn’t a fall on your knees moment, by any stretch of the imagination, but I did give a little yelp and rush to cradle it in my hands.

So much for practicing non-attachment.

I received this mug as a gift from a student a hundred years ago when I taught in Maidstone, Saskatchewan. I love the feel of it, the heft of it in my hand, the just-right width of its lip against mine. I love the cherries smiling at me when I open my cupboard and the perfect amount of chai it offers up every morning as I sit down to write.

Every move I’ve made in my life (and there have been a lot), my mug has been one of the first things unpacked, providing instant sanctuary no matter how upside down the rest of my world might be. With my mug in one hand and a membership to the library of my new town in the other (have I ever mentioned how much I love my library?) the business of creating a Home can begin.

And now my mug is broken.

I’m still drinking from it this morning as I write this, but I don’t know how much longer we can limp along together. I knew months ago that I should have started looking for a replacement, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Denial, I guess.

Actually, there’s been more than a few things crumbling around me lately. A whole lot of harbingers of change that I’ve been trying to deny, because this sanctuary I’ve created in my life is just fine the way it is, thank you very much — I’m not really keen to change it.

But this summer my two favorite dresses wore through.

Not just one of them. Both of them.

One gaping hole was right over my butt, which I didn’t realize until I got home from walking to and from a friend’s house for tea. (When I apologized for flashing her, she said she hadn’t noticed. I’ll hope that was true for the rest of the town I sashayed past.)

The other dress just kind of gave way when my van keys caught in the skirt.

These were holes that can not be patched. The material is faded and worn (very well-loved). I need to just let them go. And yet they still hang in my closet.

And, of course, there was a huge change in our family unit when my eldest son graduated last June and hopped a plane to New Zealand. New Zealand! What was wrong with Olds? Or Carstairs? Or even Calgary? Anyplace in Canada would have been preferable, but, no, he chose the other side of the planet.

Big dreams require big leaps, but his leap has left a huge hole in our family — a change that is an ongoing challenge to navigate.

Add to that, significant upheaval in my husband’s work and this near-constant push within me to step into what Neale Donald Walsch calls ‘the next biggest version of the grandest vision I ever held for myself’ and I have to think it’s not just the fabric of my dresses that’s unraveling, but the very fabric of our lives. Which can make things feel all discombobulated and trembly.

As I was sharing all this with a friend on a walk recently, she said it reminded her of a Leonard Cohen song — the one that says,

There is a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.

That gave me shivers.

Still does.

I have a feeling there’s a whole lot of light wanting in.

Or maybe it’s not light wanting in. Maybe these cracks are signalling the desire for an outpouring of the light that is within us and wanting expression.

As I wrote that I immediately thought of my son, Jacob, who is allowing himself a whole new kind of creative self-expression that could be ridiculed by his uber-masculine teenage peers in this traditional Alberta town. But he’s doing it . . . and it lights him up.

My son, Gabriel, is leaving a blazing trail of light as he follows his travel dream.

My husband has so much more to offer the world than his current job situation allows. I find it fascinating that it’s falling to pieces to accommodate his need to shine more brightly. (Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it appears to be falling to pieces. I believe things are just restructuring to support his light.)

And I–well it’s always harder to see your own trajectory–but I know I am stepping into a new expression of Mothering, what another friend so aptly described as ‘the Mother role, transformed and expanded.’

(I’m just going to pause for a moment to fully feel the rush of gratitude enveloping me for the many wonderful friends I have in my life.)

I think I need some kind of ritual or ceremony to invite rather than resist these changes. Maybe I’ll wear both my dresses one last time as I play Leonard Cohen’s Anthem and dance my willingness to let in (and out) the light.

Maybe I’ll invite my family to join me.

And I will invite you to think about change in your own life.

It’s constant.

It’s inevitable.

What can you do to embrace it?

How can you dance with it, instead of against it?

What will help you to throw off your old habits and shine?

This entry was posted in deep thoughts, Random Ramblings, Sanctuary in a Crowded World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Ch . . . ch . . . ch . . . changes

  1. Lorien says:

    I love this Maxine. So much heart…and I love the resolution that flows into your words as you muse and ponder these changes in your life. I hear lots of hope and excitement peppered in with the understandable feelings of loss and grief at missing your son who is so far away. And I totally get it about the mug–I hope that you can find a perfect one when you’re ready! And maybe your old one can serve as a pen and pencil holder, or a planter or something??

  2. MJ says:

    Great post once again. As a mom with growing children I can relate. (But I confess I had no idea this was THE mug for you. I’m worried I might have drank coffee from it on one of our visits!)

  3. whoist says:

    Favourite mugs are irreplaceable. I broke mine earlier this year and I can completely identify with your loss! I even took a photo of it in pieces in the dustpan, can’t seem to post it here, but might do on my page! It’s hard to let go of something you love. I read once that parental love is the only kind of love where the aim is to get further apart. From the moment we give birth, through the moment we hand our baby to another person, and then through a lifetime of little steps, we let our children move away from us, as we strive to equip them with independence and autonomy, thus needing us less and less. It’s painful! I’m still on the little steps of a few hours away from them while they’re at school, I can’t imagine the enormity of children leaving home and starting to really lead their own lives. My heart goes out to you. x

    • maxinespence says:

      Isn’t that the truth? Parenting is such a kaleidoscope of contradictions and that’s the biggest one — inviting them into our world in order to teach them how to live without us. How old are your children?

  4. Pingback: Look What I Found! | Maxine Spence's Blog

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