All this hurrying
soon will be over.
Only when we tarry
do we touch the holy.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Yesterday was the Winter Solstice. In the last hour of fading light, I emptied the dishwasher, loaded it once again. I prepared dinner–a simple chicken dish and roasted cauliflower, sprinkled with olive oil and salt. By the time I finished, dark fell and wrapped the earth in black. The kitchen filled with the scent of good food and warmth. It also filled with the sounds of my family: Hubby worked in his office and sporadically yelled out questions, “Did you order the such-and-such for so-and-so?” Abby bopped about, thrilled to finally be done with tons of school projects. Henry drummed. (When Henry drums, the whole house drums with him. The kitchen is right above the space in the basement that holds his drum set; the hardwood floors shake and the dishes inside the cupboards rattle. I feel the beats in my stomach. I often wonder how easy it would be to create a sound-proof room.) I turned off all the lights and lit candles and asked Abby to call everyone to dinner. (And then I called again…and again, because this is real life.)
I love candle light. It feels mystical. Like it holds thousands of years back and thousands forward. It seems both mournful and hopeful. Just like life.
We sat around the table and I was struck by the ease of the evening. I watched the candle light dance on my children’s faces, across bridges of noses and curves of cheeks. These are the kinds of nights that I think about having often but don’t make happen enough.
After dinner, we all cleaned up and put away the food. Henry said, “I can’t wait to make french fries”. His fries are wicked good mounds of shoestring salty goodness. But a 10-year-old and oil in the kitchen = the undoing of the cleaning I’d just completed. So, with caveats about how to make sure he leave the kitchen the way he found it, hot oil warnings, etc, etc, etc (WHY can’t I just go with the flow and let him create and make the fries? Why always the lecture?), he began to make his fries.
I’ve been sore for weeks. I think my mind is pressing down on my body, working out its white-knuckled hold in my muscles and hips. There’s one knot in my back that I swear has been there for nine months. I can feel it seize upon deep inhale and it pisses me off. How can a knot live for months on end? With all the yoga and stretching I do, shouldn’t it be gone? What am I doing wrong? Nothing, of course–just living life. There is a circuitous pattern to the things I work on: I often feel like I am at the beginning again, and think, Oh For Fuck’s Sake, Didn’t I JUST Figure This Out But Here I Am Figuring It Out Again?
I love the dark. I love the way it makes me feel, cozy and wrapped up. I wonder if perhaps I identify with the dark because it mimics my insides. Maybe because it allows for the dancing flame to illuminate, one small light flickering mightily through the night.
So, as Henry heated the oil to make his famous french fries, I headed upstairs. I turned off all the lights in my room and lit another candle in an octagonal, gold mercury votive. I placed it in front of the window, a small flame piercing the dark. Outside, the craggy trees reached up, up, up into the night sky. I inhaled and smelled the scent of frying potatoes. I raised my hands above my head and stretched upward. Through soft eyes, I saw the candle’s flame throwing my shadow onto the ceiling above. I exhaled into a forward fold.
The sounds of my family once again surrounded me: Hubby helping Henry clean up the kitchen “the way Mom would like”, pans clinking and slightly muffled voices drifting up through the floor. I moved into Downward Facing Dog and then settled into a deep pigeon stretch. I rested, surrounded by dark, my life, my breath and the flicker of one, small, holy light.