Thursday, January 12, 2012

Being Seen

My Brittney Spaniel, Shannon, in our field in 1972

I had a beautiful dream last night. My faithful childhood dog sat in a field that is bright with silence and vibrant with clarity. I was with her. We were both childlike and yet old and wise. Every feeling and experience I'd had seemed to be distilled into one experience. 

This morning, the frost was shining like a heavy blanket of stars in our field and orchard. A subtle shimmering hovered over the bent grasses and limbs. Yet something else was out there too. In the dark wood, at the edge of our pasture, our neighbor's dog was moaning from his pen. 

Still, the dream lingered in my own eyes. I did not see my dog again in this reality. But I remembered her. And I felt her living inside my body,  just below my left shoulder.

I needed to come here to this desk and write to you. I felt the need to tell you that you are not alone. Whoever you are, whatever the circumstance that grabs at your attention, whatever grief you have, you are not alone. Those moments that seem to be gone or thwarted or unseen by others live right here in the body.

I've lived almost all my life feeling the pang of being unseen, unheard. It's a universal human experience to feel this way. Perhaps you feel this way. Though I don't know who you are I was thinking about you. I wanted to reflect to you something that David Whyte wrote in his poem Sweet Darkness:

"...The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you." *

For me feeling lonely has been a captivating story, a nearly constant barking from the edges of my view of my life. It's not true like I thought. It's an ancestral story which is also stored in my body. And it lives right beside the shimmering field in my chest. It's a dark and dank dead woodland with a lonely animal kept penned and hungry. 

Perhaps I cannot choose what memory or energy lives in my body. But I can still be free. I can choose compassion. I can choose to be present with whatever has been living there inside.

The dream last night is beyond a smallness that needs to make sense. My sweet little dog  taught me by example how to see with eyes that are light and open as the shimmering sky. 

I will not shun that lonely one in the dark woodland any more. And I will not forget the clarity and vibrancy of wonder either. I live between the two. Seeing them.

There, in the field is a gentle companion that loves you without prejudice or even history. She sees you as if for the first time. She is beyond making sense of all that has passed or figuring all that will come. There is a companion with eyes that see you and know you. Where does that one live in you?


Copyright of words (except quotation) and image Richard Sievers, January 2012

* Excerpt from David Whyte's book: River Flow, New and Selected Poems, published in 2007. p. 348