"When I read the finished poem, I realized that I had never written anything like it before. The normal buffer between the inspiration for a poem and the poem itself was entirely absent. I wasn't sure how it had happened, and I wasn't sure I could do it again. Two days later, having failed to find the answer to this mystery within myself, I asked aloud, 'How am I to do this?
A voice replied, 'To those who give hearts, words are given in return.'"
Now Is The Hour of Her Return, Clark Strand
Before I launch into what I need to say today, I want to welcome the dozens of new visitors who found me talking with Dawn Montefusco this week on her newest Write from Your Heart seminar on how to find and share words that heal.
For anyone who missed it, my message was simple: before you write one word, you must fall in love with sentences.
Little did I know when I recorded that conversation with Dawn in July, that there were quite a few sentences waiting for me. And I would fall head over heels in love with all of them. And I would listen to them and follow where they wanted me to go.
And where they want me to go is, well, both thrilling and slightly terrifying.
If you’ve been reading my Notes from the Field newsletters or blog for a while, you know a bit about my devotion to the Feminine Divine and to Original Prayer—prayer before patriarchy sucked all the mystical juice out of it.
But whether this is your first visit or you’ve been here for years, you might want to take a deep breath, maybe pour a nice cup of tea, and sit down.
Because I’m about to tell you a story I’ve never told before. How could I? It just happened. This week.
This is, I think, the first installment of a whole new story, a story that will reveal herself throughout the remainder of our quarantine.
And hasn't this been the most astonishing year of quarantine. We are living in the proverbial worst of times, best of times.
It is most certainly a worst of times if we look only with our over-trained, linear, cause-and-effect eyes conditioned to weigh, evaluate, judge, label, and reject.
Those eyes are afraid to see the reality this illness relentlessly reveals. But the illness doesn’t care. Each day she reveals another painful truth about who we are and what we’ve done to our planet and to one another.
Like everyone, my plans for this year have been completely upended. I sit here alone in my house, not traveling to Scotland, not leading the intensives I had planned, not moving to the Hudson River Valley, not having friends over for dinner, not even shopping for my own groceries.
Don’t give me a hard time about that last one.
My son lives in New York City and has seen the ravages of this disease. So to keep him from worrying about me, I let Instacart fill my cart. Which is great, until my order for 1 garlic clove turned into a pound of garlic and my order for 4 tomatoes turned into 4 bags of tomatoes. Guess what I’m having for dinner.
So I sit in my deep soul writing chair keeping company with books like Sharon Blackie’s If Women Rose Rooted, or my brand new copy of the classic Carmina Gadelica (be still my heart), or the heart-rending history of how religion set out to destroy the Goddess and silence women laid out in sharp detail in The Alphabet vs the Goddess, or Clark Strand’s prophetic messages from Mother Kali in Now Is The Hour of Her Return.
And as I turn the pages, sentences grab me and morph into threads in my hand. I look down at the thread, the sentence I’ve underlined, and I know it matters.
I may not know why. All I know is the sentence touched me. And so I repeat it aloud. And write it in my journal.
Since quarantine began in March, I’ve fallen into a new and rather delightful rhythm of days.
I have more time.
And I have more time to sleep. Which is a very good thing, because I am now awakened every night by my Feminine Divine voice to take dictation.
She woke me Monday to announce the name of my next book. On Tuesday, she woke me with the five chapters in the table of contents. On Wednesday, I heard the main character’s name. I’ve never heard a name like that. As I continued to listen and write in the dark, I began to hear how she speaks. And began to fall in love with her. And then, her young companion began to show up. On Thursday night I scribbled as fast as I could, taking down scene after scene of their time together. And last night, I cried as I recorded the closing scene and sketched the final illustration.
I am floored by all this. Not because I’m to write a new book. I like writing books. I’ve written seven.
I’m floored because this is a radically different type of book. A book unlike anything I’ve ever written. Or ever read.
It's fiction. but it's not fiction.
It's history, but it's not history.
It’s a children’s book, but it’s not a children’s book.
It's a fairy tale, but it's not a fairy tale.
It's the story of the mystical lives of women, the story patriarchy never wanted to be told.
What is it? I don’t know. I will leave it to my publisher to squeeze it into some recognizable genre.
For now, my only job is to write. And write I must. Because the Voice of this book is relentless.
She wants to be seen.
She wants to awaken our invisible eyes, the eyes of our hearts, that we may see the truth of who we really are and why we are here. And see that it is our job to create the best of times.
This is a story that can heal.
Next Sunday, I’ll tell you the strange tale of how the sweetest and most powerful endorsement I’ve ever received revealed a hidden black puddle—a puddle that has trapped countless women before me. And a puddle I have fallen into over and over again.
I had to make a choice: step in the puddle and stay safe. Or step over it and walk into the unknown. No turning back. No pretending I didn’t see it. It was, at last, time to make a decision.
In the meantime, pour another cup of tea and listen to my conversation with Clark Strand on Praying at the Speed of Love.
See if you can’t pick up a few clues about my new book as you listen to sentences straight from Mother Kali. And don't miss Thomas Merton's sneak appearance. He's a big part of my coming story.
to finally telling the story that heals