“Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.”
“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”
The concept of a nest has intrigued me since childhood, conjuring up notions of something small, cozy, private. It is usually hidden from prying eyes, isolated in boughs and branches, offering a safe vantage point from which to view the world. Protection, safety, comfort, a mama bird and her little ones.
I made this series with the intention of helping me to cultivate and express what is sacred to me. In looking at the photos a couple of months after I created them, they still speak of the divine, but in a different way. I cannot separate them from my grief and healing process related to the death of my son, from my desire to hang onto him for just a bit longer, from my efforts to maintain some sort of connection to him, despite the nine years that have passed since his death.
Grieving is about hanging on and letting go at the same time. We hang onto the significance of the person we lost. We hang onto memories and to what those memories mean to us. We let go of their physical presence and learn to reconstruct our lives and ourselves without them. That is the task of healing, learning to live without someone or something to which we were attached, learning to continue to go on with life, despite the achingly empty, black hole that fills our chest. We learn to live without their smile, without hearing their voice on a daily basis, without hearing their laugh echo through the house. We hang onto tiny details, like how my son liked to eat pineapple on his pizza. Or the sound of the rhythm of his footsteps as he walked across the hardwood floor. Or the way that, at age 17, when we were taking the train to Chicago, he leaned his head on my shoulder and fell asleep. I can still smell his leather jacket when I think about that train trip.
Sometimes those memories make us smile; other times they make us cry. Tears are a part of healing, signaling that something touched us in a way that goes deeper than words. We often cannot find the words to describe our emotional states, and therein lies the beauty of art.
As Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, scars are portals to the wild self. The scar on my abdomen, which resulted from the emergency C-section during the birth of my son, is such a doorway. It is one tangible connection to him which I carry with me everywhere. We are inseparable. I can touch the scar, and I remember him being inside my belly. Having carried a child creates a relationship with that another human being that is unlike any other. No one knew my son in the way I did or for as long. I had a nine-month advantage. He and I shared a secret knowledge of one another, a private connection that endured beyond the cutting of the umbilical cord.
And so, in connecting to my wild nature, I reach out to the mother part of me, the protectress, the nurturer, the wise woman, the mama bird who tends to her nest and her little flock.
Until next time...