I'm in the"gathering" stage of writing an essay about the spirit of hospice for a book of photographic portraits. During these times of grazing and gathering, I flood myself with ideas and the words and thoughts of others by roaming through my bookshelves, checking indexes and table of contents of my books. I note what resonates. I jot down ideas for this project and other projects, some not even imagined until this very moment. I love this stage of writing, and it is always tempting to stay right here for there is always another book to open. I trust the process, however, because at some magical, mysterious point I know it is time to turn the wandering into writing. Blank sheets of paper and an empty computer screen eventually become compelling.
This morning I did more than skim the books in front of me. Instead I leaned back in my desk chair, tucked the quilt more tightly around my legs and wrapped my shawl more securely around my shoulders and read a book that has been on my shelf for sometime, The Tao of Dying, A Guide to Caring by Doug Smith. Along with many quotes and ideas appropriate for my current essay, I read the following:
Time is established.
It cannot be altered.
A year will always be a year.
A person's last year cannot be lengthened
A month will always be a month.
A person's last month cannot be lengthened
An hour will always be an hour.
A person's last hour cannot be lengthened
Do not reach forward.
Do not reach back.
Do not push.
Do not pull.
Be settled where you already are.
These are good words for the "sacred sixties," it seems to me.
So I return to the grazing and the gathering time, knowing that it will take whatever time it will take. I have whatever time I have. And soon, perhaps in a few minutes, my sweet six year old granddaughter, who is spending her spring break with us, will emerge from her bed and come into my office and say, "Hi GrandNan," and we will move into our time of play and companionship, loving and living whatever time we have. I am so lucky.