a year

An offering discovered in the woods of Kripalu.

Remember where you were a year ago. Stop. Breathe. Really remember – in your heart, in your bones. Where were you? Then know what a difference 365 days make – always makes. Have you ever lived the same year twice?

A year ago: An office cubicle in a giant box of a building doing work in which I didn’t believe. Chris would pick me up for lunch and practically burn rubber getting out of the parking lot, saying how the place was certainly built on an Indian burial ground, its ju-ju was that bad. People walked in circles around the parking lot as a tiny respite. Going to the convenience store nearby was a small retreat. I discovered a grassy spot tucked behind the side road with a lone picnic table – which oddly no one ever used – and that’s where I greeted last spring, watching an owl one day and spying a fox another. There was probably a homeless person who had found the woods, too, as one day while walking deeper into them – before the undergrowth had come sufficiently alive to make the passage snarly and difficult – I happened on a neat little pile of emptied tuna cans. I found some peace out there, remembering the woods behind my house where I’d spent so much time as a nine-year old girl who firmly believed that her dog was her best friend.

There were plenty of days, though, when the sky was pregnant with dark clouds and retreating outside wasn’t a possibility. Then the only escape came via the computer, going inward. I wrote a piece about my early struggles with work right about this time last year, using it as an opportunity to revisit my own story, listening to my learned wisdom rather than to the drone of that dead building. And I plugged myself into Krishna Das, falling into his sonorous voice as though it could hold me above the tediousness of that place and its work. His words told a story that I couldn’t understand on a literal level, sung in languages I don’t know, but which made sense in my heart, a place I trust more and more.

Each of them spoke in their own way to the amazing birth that we can all give to ourselves.

Last year on the cusp of April I had yet to go to yoga camp, to walk a totally different set of wooded paths – paths that I would follow with new friends who would tell me about their lives, about their own amazing journeys to this healing place. They spoke of parents recently taken by cancer, accidents and bodily pains with which they’d grappled and tried to come to peace, horrible abuses endured. Each of them spoke in their own way to the amazing birth that we can all give to ourselves. Their stories humbled me, buoyed me, helped me to believe in my own journey.

Tomorrow morning I am teaching a grief writing workshop. It’s the third time I’ll do this in conjunction with the local hospice. My life is full, busy, nearly toppling. “Are you going to keep doing this?” Chris asked last night. “Yes.” I didn’t have to think. Every time it comes up on my calendar there’s a twinge of anxiety – I don’t have time for this now. And yet doing it heals me each time, opens me. Telling our stories is one of our greatest gifts – to others and to ourselves. Reconnecting to the page, to our voice.

Remember what brought you here. How far you’ve come. What wonders still await, things you can’t even imagine. The woods are waiting, new paths to be explored.


This video of Krishna Das seems to have been made at Kripalu, making it all the more lovely.


3 thoughts on “a year”

  1. Just beautiful, Jennifer. I love your “yes” moment, so deep and unflinching. The image of you listening to Krishna Das in your cubicle. We have covered a lot of ground in a year.

      1. how evocative and tender your writing, Jennifer
        thank you for memory… and Krisna Das, yes, the warmth of him.

        A year, yes it is the circle, the moving through of experience, the start of winter, again here.

        always healing and renewing to see that we have moved through things. there will be another day, another deeper way of being, beyond this day, and this one. Even in 3 hours, there will be a sweeter moment. It is not all the same thank god!

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