The Revolving Wheel

 “With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls–woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Lindbergh’s notion of mother as the axis of the household wheel really resonated with me, as did her descriptions of being pulled off center and distracted by a million aspects of the “wheel” of life. Her comment that saints were rarely married women made me smile, because it makes me think of Wayne’s Dyer’s comments that gurus rarely have eight kids, because there is nothing like the experience of parenting to shake your sense of yourself as someone who has it all together, spiritually or otherwise. And, it makes me think about how after some reading about Zen philosophy, I decided that Buddhism and Zen were not for me, because attachment is at the core of a mothering life. I got super irritated with old Buddha and his remarks about being “non-attached” and I thought, “easy for you to say, Mr. Go Sit Under a Tree and Wait for Enlightenment while your wife stays home and takes care of your kid—I guess she was too unenlightened and ‘attached’ to let go.” Being a mother has taught me a lot about relationship as the ground of being and relatedness, not non-attachment, as the core of a rich human experience. As I described in a prior post:

I have learned a lot about the fundamental truth of relatedness through my own experiences as a mother. Relationship is our first and deepest urge. The infant’s first instinct is to connect with others. Before an infant can verbalize or mobilize, she reaches out a hand to her mother. I have seen this with my own babies. Mothering is a profoundly physical experience. The mother’s body is the baby’s “habitat” in pregnancy and for many months following birth. Through the mother’s body the baby learns to interpret and to relate to the rest of the world and it is to mother’s body that she returns for safety, nurturance, and peace. Birth and breastfeeding exist on a continuum as well, with mother’s chest becoming baby’s new “home” after having lived in her womb for nine months. These thoroughly embodied experiences of the act of giving life and in creating someone else’s life and relationship to the world are profoundly meaningful.

via Breastfeeding as a Spiritual Practice | Talk Birth.

Anyway, Lindbergh says:

…to be a woman is to have interests and duties raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essential circular. We must be open to all points of the compass; husband, children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider’s web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes…

How difficult for us, then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives. How much we need and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living…

She also acknowledges the essential, and yet often difficult to find, need for solitude to find stillness as the axis of the revolving wheel of life:

…Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves; that firm strand which will be the indispensible center of the whole web of human relationships. She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as ‘the stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body so that it might be still as the axis of a revolving wheel is still…

This beautiful image is to my mind the one that women could hold before their eyes. This is an end toward which we could strive–to be the still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations and activities…

…she must consciously encourage those pursuits which oppose the centrifugal forces of today. Quiet time alone, contemplation, prayer, music, a centering line of thought or reading, of study or work. It can be physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself…

…It need not be an enormous project or great work. But it should be something of one’s own. Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day—like writing a poem, or saying a prayer. What matters most is that one be for a time inwardly attentive…

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh from Gift from the Sea

I recall feeling this way about my own mother—that she was the center of our family, the anchoring space, the core to return to.

I realized last week during my nightly walk-and-talk session with my husband that I need to let go of being a regular contributor at Pagan Families. As I get closer to the reality of adding our new baby to the family, my eyes have started to cast around for things I can change or release to make space for him. I am working on my Womanrunes book project with a deadline of September 1st, as well as revising and expanding my Ritual Recipe Kit for future publication in print form. I’m also planning to re-weave my recently completed thesis project into a book (a short, modified version of this book is already available for free for e-newsletter subscribers at Brigid’s Grove). In addition, I have dissertation project upcoming now that I’ve officially finished my M.Div degree (I’ve already finished most of my doctoral coursework), not to mention working on my shared business with my husband, our farming and homestead projects, teaching college classes, and homeschooling our kids! All this writing, working, and preparing for a new baby means careful evaluation of my ability to add to or continue with the other elements in my revolving wheel.

I’ve enjoyed my time with Pagan Families and I look forward to continuing to share guest posts periodically during the year! Best wishes to you all!

23 weeks!

Modified from: The Revolving Wheel (Gift from the Sea) | Talk Birth.

 

About Priestess Molly

Molly is a priestess, writer, birth educator, and activist who lives with her husband and children in the midwest. She is a breastfeeding counselor, a professor of human services, and doctoral student in women’s spirituality at Ocean Seminary College. Molly and her husband co-create goddess jewelry and birth art at Brigid’s Grove: http://brigidsgrove.com and she blogs about theapoetics, ecopsychology, and the Goddess at http://goddesspriestess.com.


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