Clear blue skies and dazzling snow have given way to torrents of icy rain. The town snow plow made its way gingerly up the mountain at morning’s first light and then back down again – adding salt and gravel for those venturing out. The valley was almost entirely obliterated by mist when I first woke this birthday morning; I could not see past the carriage barn and its silvery slate roof. The valley view, my glorious every day wake-to-love view, was just a matter of faith – there, though momentarily not there.
I am at that stage in life when I no longer greet each new birthday with a long list of goals to achieve in the year to come, new leaves to turn over, a “new me” to become. I am what I am, what time and experience have made of me.
The solitude of the farm, and the gift of waking up each day to its beauty, have given me a kind of clarity. In the months since moving here, I’ve been listening to Tara Brach’s guided meditations podcasts and coming to understand (and live by) the notion of radical acceptance. In many ways, this idea connects to that of querencia, which Georgia Heard wrote about in her book, Writing Toward Home:
In Spanish, querencia describes a place where one feels safe, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn, a place where one feels at home. It coms from the word querer, which means to desire, to want.
Georgia’s words stayed with me for a long time, and I now see that they became a sort of personal quest for me, for I’d come to realize that I’d lived in many houses without ever feeling at home. I’ve written before of the sureness with which I felt I had found my querencia in this most unlikely of places – an old farm off the beaten track. Who would have thought that someone raised in the vibrant bustle and unending action of cities would feel the querer to be here?
But, moving here permanently opened another bend in the journey, a deeper insight into what querencia can mean. Brach writes this
“In bullfighting there is an interesting parallel to the pause as a place of refuge and renewal. It is believed that in the midst of a fight, a bull can find his own particular area of safety in the arena. There he can reclaim his strength and power. This place and inner state are called his querencia. As long as the bull remains enraged and reactive, the matador is in charge. Yet when he finds his querencia, he gathers his strength and loses his fear. From the matador’s perspective, at this point the bull is truly dangerous, for he has tapped into his power.”
To gather strength and lose fear… that’s a worthy thought to pause at, to journey home towards this birthday day and beyond.