Childhood Fears: The basement

you know what sounds good right now my grandfather
asked from the red recliner by the front window

a nice big bowl of ice cream from the deep freeze
what do you think Squirt want to go down to the freezer

Squirt was me and I was having nothing to do
with going down into the haunted basement

there be monsters a sign should read above the door
or beware of the portal to Hell or doorway to death

the first three steep steps had no handrail
so it seemed like stepping off into the abyss

uncarpeted glossy wood slippery to child sized shoes
no traction no handhold a sudden fall an instant death

I don’t want ice cream but my grandparents
insisted I conquer my fear of the basement

staring down into the chasm I could almost see the monsters
starring back at me from dark empty shelves

my grandfather’s power tools could be nightmares come to life
the deep freeze grumbled threateningly from the darkest corner

I could tell where the witch hid which corners the ghosts crouched
I knew what lived underneath the workbench

going to the basement for ice cream meant a battle
with my deepest fears fear of falling of slipping of dying

fear of dark corners and empty shelves of mythical monsters
and cunning beasts all waiting for my small self to wander in

all waiting for grandpa to want ice cream grandpa I said
can you come with me he just chuckled you’ll be all right

the monsters and creatures and witches may not have been real
but the fears and the deep terror in my heart were

one more night I faced the monsters alone and wished someone
would hold my hand and show me gently the way to safety

Changes

Driving home from my dad’s on Father’s Day, I had some ideas come to me as I sat in the car, trapped between dark woods on one side and a quiet river on the other. When I had a chance, I scribbled some notes, and just now typed out my thoughts. So, here’s what came from being stuck in traffic for two hours on Father’s Day. 🙂  (first draft, very rough)


Changes

“In the middle of my life, I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost.” ~ Dante

What happens when we awaken in Dante’s dark wood and find ourselves lost and confused in the middle of our life? How do we find the light again? The path? The way? Where do we go when we can no longer go home?

Although it feels as if we’re surrounded by darkness with no way to turn, we’re standing at the frontier of who we were and who we will become. The past always inhabits the now. Who we were, what we’ve done, who we’ve been in community with throughout our lives, goes into making the person we are now. But even that is fleeting. Who we are now is a fleeting moment which moves ahead into the future and backward into the past, simultaneously. Much like a rapidly flowing river viewed from the shore. Rivers drink from a deep and distant source, and as we find our way to that deep source in our own lives, we’ll find our life’s river gives generously to the landscape around us.

Ask yourself, what is “now” inviting you to do? Where is the current of the now asking you to go? Be impatient with trite explanations. We want the answers and the questions that bubble up from our river’s deep, undying, undrying source.

Perhaps this season of life is calling you to a time of silence. Of hibernation. A time of hiding. Time alone is a natural process. A bear hibernating through the winter. An injured animal taking time alone to heal. The stillness and quiet of a time of seclusion can bring greater self-knowledge. And self-knowledge can help lead us into – and through – the next frontier of our lives. Savor the aloneness.

Stop your life’s current conversation and listen. Is it superficial? Caught up in daily-ness and busyness? Be still. Quiet yourself. What is the big question of your life? The beautiful question? The essential or serious question? Find your question. What gives your life meaning? What lights your soul’s passion? Your essential question can be different at various times in your life. Don’t resurrect older questions, although your new question may be a variation on a theme.

Ask your own question, not someone else’s. When you find the question that’s hibernating in your heart, allow it to help you find your new voice. Let it welcome you into the new conversation of your life. Give it opportunity to lead you to your new identity.

Along with a new question and a new identity, you may find your entire life reorganized, including the community around you. This may be unnerving and a bit frightening. But do the brave thing.

Put your head down and make your way through the dark woods into the light of the next phase of your life. You’ll come to a place you don’t know, but in the process, you’ll come back to yourself.

~Debi