A Mystical Birth Day Gift

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In the early morning hours of my recent birth day, I woke embraced in total darkness and thought of my mother exactly 74 years earlier. I knew her labor was prolonged and so I knew now, at 3am, she and I still had seven hours and 21 minutes ahead in the birthing task before us. As in that time nearly three-quarters of a century ago, I was surrounded by this same darkness within her body. In addition, I would have been moist, too, enclosed in a water environment much like all my swims later in life in the ocean, the bay, and the sound off the shores of Long Island.

An unexpected fact rose into my thoughts: I’d always been a fearful swimmer and in that moment of astonishing, fragile connection between two worlds seventy-four years apart, I questioned: was I fearful then? Of course, an instant response said silently, you must have felt terrified by being slowly pushed and squeezed forward into an unknown world ahead.

My thoughts returned to the wonder of the moment, an experience unlike any I’d ever experienced. Gratitude to my mom for giving me life rose within and gently filled all the spaces of my heart. I thought of all her labor: my birth, and all the tasks that followed in raising her first child. I was not an easy child to raise and our relationship wasn’t always smooth although, eventually, we did work through many of our conflicts toward the end of her 89 years. Yet, when she died, although I’d worked before and in years after to remove it, sadly one relentlessly immovable brick remained in the inner wall I had carried through the years.

Nevertheless, in the still-dark and mystical early morning of my birth day, I knew that my 74th birthday had opened with a profound gift of grace. At the end of the day I realized unequivocally that grace had unsparingly filled each moment of the day.

The next day, as I wrote about those mysterious moments, I found the gratitude that filled and softened my heart the day before remained. Then I thought I’d search for that stubborn, persistent brick that had weighed me down for decades–and discovered with joy that I could not find it; it had disappeared–for good, I believed.

I was intensely humbled by this gracious gift. My favorite word, shalom, slid into my thoughts, filling them with the rich, diverse affirmations the word gives: peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, and tranquility. And to you, my dear reader, I say, “Shalom.”

This piece was originally published at Story Circle Network’s One Woman’s Day blog.

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About Mary Jo Doig

At the turn of the millennium, I arrived at a cross-road that brought me to a splendid, if unforeseen place, almost as if I were a traveler on Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled. I was single again, my three children were grown and building their lives, I'd experienced a health issue and was working on an improved lifestyle. I also ached to do two other things: (1) change my long human services career in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, where winter seemed to be at least seven months out of every year, and (2) move to a warmer place in the universe. My decision: did I want to continue on the path I'd been following pretty much all my life, or could I gather my then-fragile courage and start life brand new somewhere else? These were scary thoughts for a single woman in her late 50s. Five hundred miles away, though, I fell in love with a new mountain range, Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where I knew not a soul except my daughter who was attending college in the Shenandoah Valley, and I moved. I rented a tiny cabin on a mountain in the woods and lived there in solitude for two years, working in a new career by day and, when home, communing with the incredible natural beauty that surrounded me. There I also began to write my life stories, which were aching for release. I joined the Story Circle Network in early 2001, a rich place in cyberspace for women life writers, where I strengthened my written voice and began sharing my stories. I found so many opportunities to grow: 10 year facilitator for an online writing circle of women writers across the country; thirteen year editor of the "True Words from Real Women" section of the quarterly Journal; a reader and reviewer of women's memoirs for the SCN Book Review site; program chair for two Stories from the Heart national conferences in Austin, T. Presently I'm teaching Women's Life-Writing and Older Women's Legacy workshops in my part of the world in Central Virginia and facilitating the ongoing Circle of Memories Writing Circle (formerly an OWL workshop that continued on) at the Crozet Public Library. I am blessed with three wonderful children, a son and two daughters; a small, huge-hearted family; dear friends; my beagle Addie and cat Button. My hobbies include reading, writing, editing, cooking, gardening, quilting, knitting, biking, and simply being with the profound beauty of the mountains that embrace my small two acres in the Blue Ridge. The life stories I began writing in 2001 have grown deeper with time, re-writes, and personal growth. All these years later, I'm scheduled to publish my memoir, Stitching a Patchwork Life, in 2018.
This entry was posted in Childhood, Family, Gifts, Gratitude, Mystery, Peacefulness. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Mystical Birth Day Gift

  1. Mystical indeed – very moving story for those of us lucky enough to be reading this.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elaine Ercolano says:

    Shalom to you Mary Jo and thank you for your beautiful writings which so enrich my life.

    Like

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