Sarah La Rosa

going to ground

Sarah La Rosa
going to ground

When I reach through the hole at my center, the gift eludes my grasp.
Whatever it may be, I can possess it only as that mystery which beckons
from the greatest distance and draws my heart deeper into the quest.
The journey waxes full and then wanes dark,
again and again.
I stare into my hole focusing on a single point,
waiting for her to dart wildly through my landscape.
-Meinrad Craighead

A series of days and nights, a few sunsets, one warm handful of gradually fattening moonrise and a great deal of fog moving in and out in its own tidal rhythms; an ebb and flow over the landscape so synchronous with the arrival of sunlight and moonlight I am convinced that it and the sea are in collusion with one another.

This was my time away from time, my days inside the In Between Place, my time out of time, to recalibrate, re-center, find quiet in a space outside my daily life that is filled with sounds not always harmonious to the song of soul.

I thought I would sleep a lot.

I didn't.

I arrived to my solitary retreat fatigued so deeply in body and mind that I felt like crying the entire first two days.

But reliably, I lay for hours in bed each night unable to sleep.

Once I finally did, I would waken between 2:45 and 3am each morning, prodded by some invisible hand.

I'd wrap myself in the soft throw blanket I'd brought with me, wandering through the dark house to the front where glass doors showcased a star rich night and crashing surf just yards away from me.

Eventually, I'd wander back and fall into a light sleep once more, racing through stress dreams- work, errands forgotten, mistakes to be corrected, imperfections and worries and all the daily chaff cluttering up space where inspiration and peace long to dwell in me.

My mind still wants control of these hours, and is resisting the dissolution I have come seeking.

I read four books, cover to cover.

I cry through two, feel indifference toward one, dislike the other.

I write in my journal.

I promise myself I will write whatever comes in the moment.

In The Moment is my chosen theme of the week.

Just be Here now.

Listen to that bird call, only that.

That bird is all there is.

Do you see the sea?

The wave that crests and crashes at you?

You will never see that wave again- that wave is the only wave that shape, that particular collection of water molecules in this moment- you are the only one that saw it, beside the bird.

Savor it.

I do. And I mourn it.

My theme of In The Moment begins to unravel and reveal itself as a series of deaths, each minute to the next.

Every beautiful breath is a prelude to an ending.

I feel it all keenly, in my body, in my heart.

There is a sharp painful blow to each beauty I witness, and a darkness to every discovery as I move through grass and sand and pavement in my solitude.

The northern face of late fall lies inside deepening shadows, over-ripe fruit and vegetables, inevitable rot, and overly sweet scents of decaying leaves.

I read words, many words that describe my hunger for things unspeakable.

Words like these:

"Artists live a spirituality of epiphanies."*

This is precisely true for me.

More words:

"Repeatedly I know the times (the life times) when I go to ground. Let me alone, I cry, I need to rot and rise up and say, "Look, I have fashioned something which has never existed before." In a sustained, rhythmic, creative life, the essential urge for solitude and the fall into our prima materia is utterly trustworthy, despite the fear of failure, of chaos. Artists thrive in the deepest layers of mulch; we seed those pockets where the search has reached deepest, places where the hunt consumes the very ground that hosts it. We sit down deeply into the compost from which all imagery rises. We sit down into that darkness, that somber place, uncertain whether any image will rise from those containers in our soul that never dry out, where deep memories spill forth even denser memories until we marvel at the wellspring and do obeisance to the source, her dark matrix." *

On a morning walk, I come upon the black body of a dead crow with no obvious wound.

He lays below me on a narrow footpath near the water, his beak agape in a post mortem caw.

The same day, during a walk just before sunset, I come across another death- this time a large brown goose.

All the earth is speaking to me of endings, transitions, death and decomposition.

I am paying attention. 

Time to descend, to allow decomposition, disintegration, and the unraveling of ideas and plans and hangups. 

This includes, inevitability, grief.

I will sit with this grief.

I will allow it to wash over and through me.

I will trust that the sharp edge of my sorrow will soften and transform into a potent moving love.

This moving love heals where there has been wounding. Deep wounding.

This moving, mobile, active love that offers a way out.

But I come to it only through the corridor of my grief.

My human experience of endings and death and dissolving and decaying knows no other way to release, in the fully embodied way that holds the power necessary for such a moving love to do its holy work.

So I will honor my grief as a sacred transitory space where mercy is invited in, understanding is called forth to illuminate the deeper meaning, and love is welcomed to touch and mend the torn places.

My grief is holy ground.

My grief serves a divine purpose.

It is not to be shushed, consoled or pushed away into private, dark corners.

It is a wild travail that follows the death at the surface of the land, riding the leaves down to the ground.

Down to the ground, where it will lay as still and cold as death itself, waiting to be transformed by new thoughts, new feelings, and renewed purpose that is seeded by the juicy things that work secret rituals underground, waiting for someone to acknowledge grief as friend, not foe.

* excerpts taken from Meinrad Craighead: Crow Mother and The Dog God, a Retrospective