During the recent snow storm here in Virginia I was sitting drinking coffee and reading with a warm afghan over my lap. I started thinking about the afghan and its origins which led me to family ties and other musings. My father’s sister knit it probably between thirty and forty years ago. It was given to my mother and at some time passed on to me. For many years it was draped over the back of my sofa and used as a comfy perch for Mystic the cat. I now use it on winter mornings as I sit in my favorite chair.
This afghan is rows of different shades of blue with white mixed in to it. I am not a knitter (although I have made several half hearted attempts to learn and just never got it), but I can guess that knit and purl stitches create the wave like effect. Some rows are closely knit and others appear looser but it all works together to not only provide warmth and comfort but a pleasing complete pattern.
The aunt who knit this was not someone I saw often when growing up as her husband was in the Army and they lived in different states. My memories of her are of a warm, practical woman with a wonderful laugh who enjoyed her family and friends. When we visited her she treated us with love and was able to make even children feel respected and acknowledged as individual personalities.
What is all this pondering over an afghan? I am not a person who is much attached to things (or so I think😊). In fact I need a home as uncluttered as possible and often say I could easily live in the simplicity of a Japanese style home. However I am very appreciative of what I have. But I was surprised at my seeming “attachment” to this object. And I am beginning to see that the meaning for me is on several levels.
First, it is connection to family. Something that brings smiles to my face and loving memories not only of her and her family but of my father and grandmother. It reminds me of the heritage I have of strong women and men. Some bonds are tight or close and some loose with family members but all are connected and a part of who I am. Ultimately the afghan is connected to the Creator who provided the talent and interest in its creation and another reminder to me to appreciate the connections of love in my life. It helps me to be aware when I discount “stuff” lovingly given to me by family and friends that in truth keep the presence of Love always before me. And I have been graced with some beautiful extraordinary handcrafted gifts.
Oh I still will never have an over abundance of things and prefer open uncluttered living spaces. But I am learning to honor those gifts that raise me up in the love through which they are given. What a wonder that such kindness flows through life.
What “stuff” or “things” in your life hold special meaning for you? Why are they special? If there is nothing, why is that? Does it define your experience in life? Are there gifts you have given to others that have special meaning?
It is time to add another experience and teacher to this journey. Somewhere in between Mary Morrissey, Diadra and Carol, Jean Houston landed in my life (I think “landed” is a good word to use for JeanJ). I was looking through a catalogue when the book Mystical Dogs jumped out at me. I am an animal lover and the subtitle “Animals as Guides to our Inner Life” confirmed my decision to purchase the book. Little did I know this book was to be so much more for me than a book about the roles dogs play in our life.
It was here in this book about our journey to illumination that I began to believe in imagination. Most of my life I lived believing I really had no imagination or if I had it that it was most uninteresting. However, in this book there is an exercise involving imagining you are in an underground cave that contains levels of your inner world. You are to imagine as your guide, a dog that you know or have previously known. I have not owned a dog for many years but have a friend who over the years has had golden retrievers. There has always been a strong connection between her dogs and me. A dog named Doll became my guide and led me on a wondrous journey. My imagination soared and I have no doubt that the real Doll was present in spirit supporting, encouraging and having fun. I was amazed at how I clearly saw everything and was so involved with the process. On each level – sensory, psychological, mythic and symbolic- I connected. Please read the book if you are interested in the full experience. But one of its greatest gifts to me was a validation that I do have an imagination and with it I can learn so much and have so much fun. What a wonderful part of my humanity. Another gift was reminding me of my connection to the natural world and the oneness of all. In addition reading about the dogs that passed through the life of Jean and her husband was a quiet, uplifting, amusing experience.
About two years later I took an online class with Jean Houston. During that experience I rewrote my life story as a heroic mythic journey. Wow! There was drama (lots of that), tragedy and comedy. There was courage, compassion, love, play. Even what I consider “stupid” mistakes became important chapters in this adventure. But even more remarkable I began to wonder how it would feel if I looked at those around me as also being on a heroic journey. I began to see even those folks who irritate me in a different light remembering that most of us are doing the best we can with what we know at any given time. There is so much gratitude in my heart for being shown my wonderful imagination and the part it plays in my life.
How do you view your imagination? What part does it play in your life? Is it a positive experience for you? Can you see your life as a heroic journey? Where are you now in that journey? Watch the movie “The NeverEnding Story” for a taste of the hero’s mythic journey. Can you see parts of his journey reflected on your own path?