Sunday, December 05, 2010

Reverb10: Catching up

I've seen several people I used to blog with joining the Reverb10 bandwagon and made the decision to use it as a way to see if I can get back in the blogging habit again.

Here's how it works. "Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead." The focus of this particular writing project fits well with what is normal part of my life's discipline, reflection at the end of each year in preparation for the year to come.

I need to catch up, though, since the project began on Dec. 1. The responses to the first four prompts will be brief.

Dec. 1: "One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?" (Author: Gwen Bell)

The word I'd choose for 2010 is success. The move to the new farm proved successful. New initiatives at the seminary have been successful. There's a sense of "arrival" that I feel in all areas of my life, not a comfortable feeling, necessarily, the kind in which I feel like I can just sit back and relax and I don't have to worry about anything. It's more a sense of feeling as though what we've done in all these areas is something worth maintaining and building on.

The word for 2011 is depth. There is so much about my life that is joyful and fulfilling. I want it to last and for that to happen, the roots established in this year or so need to go deeper.

Dec. 2: "Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?" (Author: Leo Babauta)

Oi. THAT question! Lisa and others have been encouraging me to get back in the habit of writing. They are aware of my desire and frankly, it's hard for me to really name what's holding me back. The way this question is framed really helps put in a more helpful perspective though. It's not such a psychological hold up to think in terms of daily doing. So, what do I do each day that doesn't contribute to my writing. Well, honestly, a lot of mindless internet surfing, particularly on Facebook. A lot of telling myself, "You have nothing to say. Who wants to read about endless encounters with goats, sheep, and other critters? What if now that I feel more settled in my life and the "searching" that motivated my writing years ago isn't so present, I have nothing of value or interest to say?"

So, yes, I guess just writing and not letting myself get caught up in whether someone reads it or not is the key.

Dec. 3:
Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

There's no difficulty for me in choosing that day. It was the day Lily was born. Lily, one of our lambs, was born with a lot of challenges. Her mom was accidentally bred and was too small to carry a baby to full-term. Lily made it long enough in the womb to be viable, but she suffered a compacting of her spinal column as a result of too little space to grow. When she was born, she didn't take the usual first steps within a few minutes. It is critical that a lamb stand up soon so that she can get the necessary nutrition from her mother. I waited for Lily to stand until it was obvious she was too weak. I carried her to a protected are in our barn and coaxed her mom there with some clean hay. The air was warm with the first hints of spring, but a cool breeze from the north made it clear it would be cold that night. The barn smelled of clean, fresh hay. Lily laid still in a corner when I returned with some things I need to milk her mom and to administer the essential colostrum to Lily afterwards. Her mom's udder was small and very little came out when I milked, but I gave every drop of it to Lily with a syringe. She drank it down quickly. Then, with her laying on my lap, I took a warm bottle with colostrum supplement in it and put the nipple in her mouth using my right hand and with my left hand I held up her chin so the milk would go to her stomach. Her mom watched cautiously from the corner of the barn, a growing look of concern taking over her face. She took a few steps toward us and watched curiously. Then she approached my side and took position next to Lily's back side. She reached forward and licked Lily's bottom, just as she would do if Lily was nursing from her, an action that helps stimulate the young lamb to suck. It's hard to describe that moment, to capture all that I was thinking and feeling in those few, short minutes of cooperating with the two of them to help that lamb have her best shot at life. I was new to farming, and was dealing with my first newborn without Lisa's help. I wasn't at all sure I was up to the task, but Lily's mom gave me a deep sense of confidence and assurance. I have likened it to ordination. It's as if in that moment, Lily's mom chose me to be her shepherd, to help her care for her struggling newborn. It was a powerful moment.

Dec. 4: "Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?" (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

Wonder for me is almost always attached to the natural world and indeed, my life is filled with daily opportunities to be caught up in a deep sense of it. From the long walks through the woods that change and support life in such amazing and diverse ways as the days move us from season to season to the slower, deliberate movement through chores in the morning, I find some much all around me that leaves me breathless and curious at the same time. What I think is missing for me in this area is the long stretches of time when I sit down with pen or computer and put words to those experiences, to find meaning in them beyond what's obvious in the moment, to connect that wonder to a deeper or broader sense of the expanse of my life. That's something I hope to cultivate more in the coming year.

Okay, I'm caught up now. I'll post for today's prompt later. I need to give it some thought.


Jules said...

The story of Lily, as you tell it here, takes my breath away.

Yes, you need to get back to writing.

The blogger formerly known as Cheesehead.

Songbird said...

I've missed your writing and look forward to reading more of it.

Lost City Denise said...

Keep it coming. We're reading.

Linda said...

Thanks, everyone!