Saturday, January 25, 2020

Standing in the field again

Over four years ago I spent the weekend at a writing workshop on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound. Our last activity was a ten-minute write on the famous last line of Mary Oliver's poem, "The Summer Day": "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Ten minutes, from our heads, through the pen, onto the page. Here's what I wrote:

I plan to say yes. To whatever comes along, especially if it's unexpected. I've said this often recently: I'm standing in an open field, forest all around me. I'm waiting, with my arm stretched up and out, for what it is I am supposed to be. Not do. Be.

I have at my feet all my gifts: intelligence, articulate expression in the spoken and written word, the ability to listen with sensitivity and care, a passion for creating understanding between and among. At this point I have no idea how that will turn out. Who will enter the clearing? Will they arrive arrive on two legs or four or none? Will they be visible or just a spirit or essence? I am sure I will recognize their arrival quite quickly, regardless of their form.

Most of my bucket list items have been crossed off. What's left, I think, are the intangibles; what I don't yet recognize should be on that list. So far, I am still saying yes, knowing I'm on a right path.

Who am I to know what it is I'm supposed to do? What will the yesses to come be about? "We are all in this together" has been my mantra for a while now. Who are we, and what is together? I have to keep saying yes. That's the only way I'll know."

Less than a year after this ten-minute write, I said yes to volunteering at a refugee camp in Greece. Five times.


New arrival
Women gathering

Volunteer schedule
Afghan hospitality
Hallway to the bathroom

Team dinner

Laundry at the team house

At work with sleeping puppy

Then the refugee camp was closed by the Greek government, and the subsequent community center close for lack of funds.

I said yes to volunteering at an asylum seekers' shelter in Tucson, where we live in the winter.

Tracking device

These days, most asylum seekers are required to wait in Mexico for their asylum interviews in the US. The numbers at the shelters in Tucson are low and are likely to close soon.

That's why I'm standing in the open field again, my gifts at my feet, waiting. What will be next?


Tom said...

When we retired to a new location we were advised by my brother-in-law (who had recently moved himself) to say "yes" to everything, and it has opened up wonderful new avenues for us . . . but I must admit nothing as useful and inspiring as the road you're now traveling.

Janette said...

I look forward to your next adventure.
Tucson has so many places that could use volunteers. Arizona has had a tradition of helping - regardless of it being blue or red.Much of it comes through the churches and civic groups. There are sanctuaries, job centers, food kitchens and pantries, shelters and all sorts of things in between. The best thing for the "newcomers", who support themselves, can do is help the community already in place trying to move forward. When I moved away I realized how different Arizona really was.

Linda Reeder said...

You clearly have a need to provide service to others. If this is so, you will find a way.

DJan said...

As Linda says, you have a need to do this, and the way ahead will show itself in time. You are quite an inspiration to so many.

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