Soul Musings

How do I care for my soul? By dancing and being whirled so fast that the room spins and I shriek! What else? Snowman Graduation II David DayCowboy boots, painted toenails, and my faded 501s. Lavender fields, weeping willows, and sweet peas; a ripe pomegranate, a preening peacock, and Sam, my son’s dog. An armada of leaf-cutter ants, the peculiar praying mantis, and that bewildering baby-blue tree at Cornerstone on Highway 121 not only all feed my soul, they blow my mind.

What else nourishes me? Silver hoops, a carved Buddha, and blown glass; Mary Oliver, John Steinbeck, and Anne Lindbergh Morrow do, too. They all sustain me.

What else? Rim rocks, pines, and breezes; a hot bath, a soft blanket, and a damp kiss. A chocolate-chip cookie and a cup of white tea. Finishing a crossword puzzle, writing, puttering in my herb garden, dreaming.

Rio Caliente, Bali, and Sonoma touch my soul—especially Sonoma, my beloved home for thirty-some years. My happy roots are entwined with this valley’s, snaking under Broadway, twisting about the Plaza, creeping and crawling and climbing through the hillside vineyards and valley oaks. I’m so fortunate to live here.

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Being with my grandson: pushing him on the swing, cradling him when he cries, touching his tiny fingers. I love smelling the sweetness of his skin, watching him watch a butterfly, listening to him burble and hoot, feeling the pulse of his heart as he sleeps on mine.

I honor my soul by not disturbing it. I don’t watch violent movies. The television moved out with my sons, and my old radio is silent. Weary of the headlines, I canceled my Chronicle subscription. I no longer get ruled, riled, and raked over by front-page grist and gossip, by the constant barrage of consumerism and advertising, nor by the disturbing behavior of political hacks, corporate shills, and shameful clergy. When important events occur in the world, someone will let me know.

For a long time, work fed my soul, then kidnapped it. A year ago I wrested it back. No longer needing to prove my worth, I relinquished my badge of busyness. I’m no longer the first to arrive and the last to leave. My work and I’ve come to a friendly truce. Ahhh, to have times when I have nowhere to go and all day to get there.

I respect my soul by listening to my intuition, trusting, and forgiving myself. By honoring, observing, and befriending my troubled waters and disowned parts; even my perfectionism, resentments, and crankiness settle into place. I care for it by not taking sides when I am divided, by patiently waiting ’til I sort myself out.

Matt, Catherine, JonHaving time with my family, being thankful for my sons, even when we are not getting along. Remembering my father, making peace with my mother, thinking about Michael. Falling in love. Attending to the details of my ordinary life. Taking care of myself. Doing less.

I care for my soul by being grateful. Knowing I’m connected and knowing I belong. Knowing my soul is inseparable from the world around me, interdependent with my family, with neighbors, friends, and foes. The world is a much smaller planet, all of us intertwined. How can we care for our own soul if we overlook another’s?

And, I’m not all that cosmic. I have the tongue of a fishwife and the mouth of a sailor, nor do I suffer fools gladly. I still gossip, judge, and nag. There are a few folks that I’d like to slap some sense into. I bear my share of continuing consumerism, self-indulgence, and self-centeredness. And finally, I admit that I’m unwilling to share my space with ants or mice; my apologies to them, but a visit to me is risky. They can pay me back upon my death—that is their work. This is mine.

Catherine Sevenau
11-5-2004

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