When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

~ Kahlil Gibran, from"The Prophet"

Monday, March 28, 2011

a centering of thoughts

I've forever had a busy brain that tends to channel surf through many stations while I go about the activities of the day. I always say it's never boring in my head because there's an animated conversation or lively video one can tap into. It's a trait I appreciate much of the time because it not only acts as an ongoing reflection of the fabulous people who fill my life and the interesting things I've been up to, but it's also the birthing room for a multitude of new ideas.

The downside, however, is the feeling of restlessness that results from my inability to effectively use the off switch to stop the racing images when I need to rest. Clearing my mind of all distracting thoughts to achieve the goal of total relaxation is an effort I've always found incredibly challenging, and the difficulty of that intention has increased exponentially since Erin died. Disturbing memories of her diagnosis date, life-altering surgical procedures, bags of dripping chemicals, the sound of her very last breath...   stealthily work their way into my efforts toward a quieted mind and often bar entry to a peaceful night's sleep.

I've been encouraged to focus on one calming image, stay there and try to prevent my mind from wandering by recentering my thoughts on that picture.  The key has been to find a focal point that doesn't remind me of Erin, and that is nearly impossible because essentially, she's everywhere.  Pleasant scenes of ocean waves, sounds of falling rain or rumbling thunder, the silky texture of Keenan's fur and even the taste of my favorite peanut M & M's all remind me of her in some way. When I try to force my mind to stay with the positive remembrances in association with such images, I find myself growing agitated at the effort required to not stray toward the ones that broke my heart.

My recent entrance back into the practice of yoga has resulted in increased levels of strength and flexibility, and has also afforded the opportunity to work on the introspective, meditative principles involved in the discipline, where I hope to hone those skills and take them out the door with me into my daily existence.  At the end of each session during Savasana, or resting pose, we're encouraged to let go completely of all mental agitation, tension and anxiety, to calm the mind yet remain present and aware of ourselves.  This has been most challenging, and while we're encouraged to center our thoughts on our relaxing bodies, I've continued to search for that one calming focal point to draw and then hold my attention. I finally found it. Wheat.

While lying on the floor in the studio last Friday, I recalled my mother telling me when she couldn't sleep she envisioned the movement of an endless field of wheat; the restfulness of settling into the sensation of a warm breeze blowing across her face and causing the gentle, unified motion of the crops, harmony. Amen. When I see wheat, I don't see Erin.  At all.  There is no connection.  They are separate entities.

And when that thought came to me, I remembered the poem copied below that my friend Karen shared with me some time ago.  Its simple words center my scattered thoughts and then add the dimension of a holiness reflective of the spirituality of God's presence in nature ~ a fundamental element of my faith I find personally comforting when eloquence eludes me; in times of desperation when in a tongue-tied plea for mercy I'm often reduced to a pathetic state of frustrated silence.


Lynn Schmidt says
she saw You once as prairie grass,
Nebraska prairie grass;

she climbed out of her car on a hot highway,
leaned her butt on the nose of her car,
looked out over one great flowing field,
stretching beyond her sight until the horizon came:
vastness, she says,
responsive to the slightest shift of wind,
full of infinite change,
all One.

She says when she can’t pray
She calls up Prairie Grass.

© Pem Kremer. All rights reserved.


  1. Amen.
    So glad you have re-discovered yoga. I haven't tried that so far - have tried to re-start a Pilates practice many times, though. Am about to get on the floor and do it again now.
    Blessings to you and that field of wheat.

  2. "...may the rain fall softly upon your fields...

    Peace is my wish for you, dear Mary.

  3. I know what you mean about the "busy brain." I'm trying to incorporate pilates regularly into my weekly practice, as I find that moving meditation works for me. But my husband just finished a 6 week beginner's meditation class (just offered once a week in the evenings), and after talking to him I think I'm going to try it. Intellectually it appeals to me, just not sure if I can actually do it. Congratulations on discovering the wheat field, Mary!

  4. So happy to hear that yoga is still going well - and that you have finally found a peaceful place to rest your busy and tired mind!

  5. Ah, yes that poem is one of my favorites. I'm glad it has helped you find some peace, dear friend.

  6. Hi Mary,

    Thank you for donating to Caroline's walk, and also for you sweet words on her website. I am so touched, thank you very much.

    Erin and Caroline remind me of each other, also. Erin's sweet and fun personality shine through both her photos and your writing. I know that like Caroline, she was simply a wonderful kid - and very,very loved. I also know how your heart aches and how you miss her, and I am so sorry.

    Again, thank you so much! with love and understanding, Carol