Coming around a curve in the familiar country road, I knew I would see her. I had kept an eye out all day to no avail, only hearing soft crackles in brush, or gentle swishes through grass, but spotting nothing. I had asked earnestly all afternoon to see the deer, to receive whatever message they may have to offer me.
I had slept as much of the morning as I could, trying to let my body rest and heal from the creeping ache of a summer sickness. But I knew I needed something more to get well: bare feet on the ground, solitude, space. So my children and I ventured to my childhood home. Walking on my parents' property, I saw butterflies and dragonflies, heard horses and birds, watched leaping frogs and glistening beetles. I even heard the disruption of unfamiliar human voices echoing from other properties, a rarity in that rural setting. Yet no deer.
But as I drove my children from home to home, I felt the tingling knowing of intuition: deer are here. I drove slowly, carefully, on the middle line, in anticipation. And sure enough, she was there, suddenly and in the way, had I been in my lane. I barely saw her face as she shyly sauntered away from the roar of the car through the curtain of trees, disappearing completely as we passed. I did not see, but felt the keenest sense that she followed her fawns.
This final, officially postpartum week has brought me full circle to questions I grappled as my newest child was conceived a year ago. Questions that emerged at the radical solar eclipse last summer resurfaced as this most recent, less spectacular lunar eclipse occurred - questions of crossing comfort zones while setting boundaries; deciding what to declare boldly and what to hold secret; remaining permeable to what is meant to reshape me and staying aligned in what I mean to maintain as mine.
Her clandestine presence left me pondering as I drove through the rain, squinting against the glaring evening sun reflected garishly in the watery highway. My tears have fallen in earnest of late, though I have tried to move with and through them. Black bodies are imprisoned and brown people are boarded behind fabricated, gravely unjust lines and bars. As a white woman of privilege, where should I be allowed to set boundaries? When is my comfort complacency, and when is it self-care? How can I continually challenge myself to let go, welcome in, and do the work while giving grace to what I can actually do at any given moment without causing harm in another direction?
My grief always comes back to fear for the children. How to best care for our community of children, globally and nationally and locally. How to ensure we are not causing undue harm to some as we try to save others. How to let go of old ideas and embrace an essential new model of community for them. How to create what we want for them and live it now. How to listen to my inner child, the vulnerable person who often is the last one I care for until she throws a fit that shuts down all output. How to enjoy my own children thoroughly without ignoring the billions in need of as much love, whose parents are denied the right to give them proper care.
Yesterday, my family of five worked on the porch to build a sandbox. As we worked and watched, I suddenly saw a hummingbird flitting shockingly close at a freshly bloomed zinnia. All of us saw it and gazed in excited awe. It drank deeply from the blossom, perched on a nearby branch for a time, then zoomed in an arc around our lawn before flying out of sight. Time moves differently for the small bird than for us larger mammals - its seemingly quick movement belies its relative slowness, harbinger of savoring joy, of perpetual celebration. We marveled at its iridescence and smallness.
When I am unwell, there is a sure prescription: Sleep. Rest. Dream. Restore. I felt the earth under me become spongy as I edged closer to water. I admired the nests of Queen Anne's lace yet to bloom and unfurl. I meandered paths through a thicket I have watched emerge over the course of years from acres of grass. I stood under trees I climbed as a child, when I daily imagined worlds beyond what I could see. I am never walking alone, or in silence - always the eyes of the children, always their voices and songs, always their fates I am following, I am asking to guide me.
My bounds migrate. My tides ebb. My work evolves. I will not let my privilege become a personal prison that keeps me in self-indulgence or ignorance. And I will trust my soft humanity, my tingling intuition, my body's language. I will continue to commit to being both importantly uncomfortable and keenly in tune with what is needed, within and beyond. No matter who or where I am today, I trust that I must keep moving, but that I have permission to go slowly sometimes so as to take the best next step, so I only pause and do not stop altogether, so I may give due patience to meet what is waiting around the curve, so I may be ready to see what next sign is calling to my deepest senses.