We put our tired bodies to bed slowly, almost gingerly after the busy Angle Days weekend. “I’m so glad it’s over,” I sighed, almost falling onto the mattress.
“Yes,” he agreed. “It can be fall now.”
I went to sleep with those words on my every nerve ending that night, dreaming of cooler winds and peaceful transitions.
Endings are the most beautiful of beginnings, if we can allow ourselves the freedom to grieve them. I am learning self-compassion of late, and it has been a lovely reprieve – nay, evolution – to see the gift that a period of mourning can be.
We daily step our way towards autumn and away from these long, green days of sun and summer skies. Just as the biological cycle continues, so does the spiritual helix keep to its patterns. I am continually leaving behind a person I no longer recognize as I spiral ever-upwards. With each crisis of personality or relationship or community, I grow from the gifts it brings, and the old Kellie dies a little death again and again. Pieces fall away like the useful birch wrappings of my beloved chalky white trees. The trees are whole as they are, and yet they are continually becoming, with no apologies for who they used to be, which way they bend in the wind, and if any of their branches broke and scratched the neighboring trees on the way down. It is quite lovely, this growth, this death, this mourning, even while my existing ego clings to the pain for a time, grieving that which I thought was real, that which I thought I was.
But I see it clearly. I allow it, the flow of the feminine world and everything it subtly shapes. Every change, every death it grieves. Every creation, every birth it celebrates. I can simply allow it now. Perhaps that’s what I find so lovely.
Our society is a patriarchy, there can be no denying it. In this masculine world order, women rarely have permission to break open and show the true depth of their emotions, especially when we are raw and rebuilding. We must never rage or make war or ride the gift of anger until it has served its purpose, regardless of the wounds inflicted. No, we must always be put together, be graceful, conform. We must always adhere to the masculine way of thinking, complete with the dominant religion’s rules and its steady, ghastly push into governance.
We must never take credit for our own work or step up to pat ourselves on the back – oh I have learned that lesson so painfully these past many years. We must never dare to have an opinion that goes beyond our gentle, never-cursing lips. There are harsh penalties for breaking one of these or the countless other unwritten rules, particularly so from other women, though no blind-followers of the patriarchy would ever admit to that. It often feels like those who defend or deny are so entrenched they cannot see beyond their own prison bars. That used to be me and probably still is in ways I know not.
When a woman dares break free, we learn quickly the consequences of stepping into our own Truth. Living, creating, or speaking too freely begets a painful punishment that can push a woman in one of two directions. Either we fall back and live out our days in submissive silence or we push through the intimidation tactics, the louder-than-ours voices and stand-up in our own light regardless of the bruising that comes with such a passage. Both are excruciating; I know because I’ve bumbled back and forth trying to choose the least painful option for far too long.
Ultimately, I know which choice will lead to peace, to empowerment, to heaven on earth. And it’s certainly not going to be pretty, the getting there. We’ll get called “nasty woman” as Hillary was. Or “Pocahontas” as Elizabeth Warren was. Or every version of “lacking grace”, as I have been. Our likeness will be super-imposed on the severed head of rape-victim Medusa as Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Hillary have been. The different shades of our beauty will be compared to the prized perfection of dominant ideals, the way Michelle Obama has been compared to Melania Trump.
But my path, as it is for many women, is clear and it’s one of persistence. It isn’t the path that adheres to the patriarchy’s definition of grace, and it isn’t the path that lets bullies win the war. Bullies like minority-elected Trump with his imbecilic tantrums at whomever disagrees with him, bullies like his most extreme supporters who paint compassionate people like me as antichrists or as weaklings who offer nothing to their white god of capitalism.
Oh, it’s a death I’ve been avoiding for a long time, these final steps away from the constructs of patriarchy. I’ve knelt in its shadow and felt grateful for its protection, even while I came to realize its shelter and safety was suffocating, manipulative, abusive. But no longer. I emerge now, brazenly at times, overly-cautious at others, battle-torn and weary, yet ready and longing for the next leg of the journey.
There is such sweet irony in experiencing a turtle’s pace awakening in a location like The Angle. The Yin: the sweet feminine, forgiving gifts of the earth balanced perfectly with the Yang: the rough, aggressive often painful forces humanity brings to the equation. All here. All perfect. All exactly what I have needed to open my eyes just that much more.
Yes, it can be fall now. The cleansing death is welcomed once more. And I will grieve freely for a time. A short time.
It was my last year leading the charge of Angle Days, and I’m grateful to be walking away, leaving it in capable hands to become whatever it will become. I want to focus on my growing family and on bringing a public park here to this beautiful, yet overly-exclusive place. I also want to explain that this column, which has always been an unpaid, voluntary submission, has never been named “Kellie Full of Grace”. I have never claimed the grace of Mother Mary or of any enlightened teacher. I simply find the flow of life here, the grace that is exquisite acceptance of What Is, so much more than elsewhere.
This column is called Angle Full of Grace, because that is what I still believe.
(Published in the August 14th, 2018 issue of the Warroad Pioneer)