Two days ago, when I went to go watch the sunrise, I saw this:
It might be a little unclear in this photo but it looked like there were mountains across the lake. The layer of cloud across the horizon looked like a mountain range.
I started thinking about mountains which led me to thoughts on homeschooling.
In this upcoming year, I am going to be doing a block on mineralogy/geology, ancient civilizations including Greece (Mount Olympus), and the Old Testament (Mount Sinai). The “mountain” would be a perfect theme for our entire family for this school year.
The more I thought about it, I realized that it would be my own personal theme this year too as their teacher and as their mother.
In Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, he writes that “mountains are quintessentially emblematic of abiding presence and stillness.” As I read this, I remembered Mary Oliver’s quote from yesterday’s post:
My work is loving the world which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
Standing still so that I can learn to be astonished.
For most of my life, my mind has never been still. There has been endless chatter about past events and anxiety about future ones. I have been more of a volcano than a mountain. A volcano is a mountain that opens downward to the magma below the surface – a hole in the earth basically. I would let the molten rock erupt because I did not know what to do with that anger, that energy that I felt needed to be released in reaction to both small and big things. I “happened” to things, things did not “happen” to me. I exerted my will over events and people by always needing to shout so I could be heard. I needed to be right more than I needed to be happy.
Stillness wasn’t exactly my forte. But I have discovered that there is strength in stillness: to stand unmoving and rooted through any weather and any season; to allow yourself to be changed as light changes throughout the day and to be internally impervious to this change. Jon Kabat-Zinn calls this “calmness abiding all change.”
Can I be a symbol of stability and quiet strength for my children this year? Through me, can my children see a bird’s eye view of the world with beauty and form visions of their own selves? Can I sit in a peaceful silence for a second before I react, before I feel the impulse to erupt and then forgive myself even if I erupt an return to “calmness abiding all change”? Can I enjoy Neruda’s “delicious moments” of keeping still?
I want to be that grounding mass of love so that wherever they go, no matter how far they travel away from me, they know that I am always there. Clouds may obscure their view and sometimes they may only see parts of me, but I am there. I do not want to be a looming presence that exists to be feared or worshipped nor a stubborn and rigid force with an unbendable will. I want to soften naturally with the erosion of time and experience. I want my cracks – my vulnerabilities – to be places for my children to feel safe and to take cover in. I want to help my children find their footing by providing ways to challenge them without discouraging them. I want them to trust that no matter how many mistakes they make, I am here – unmoving and centred in this place, just as they will be forever centred in my heart.
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing the here and now.