When the Heart Waits


Midway this way of life we’re bound upon,
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone… .
It is so bitter it goes nigh to death.
— Dante

I have felt stalled out on writing. If I believed in writer’s block, I would call it that. But doing so feels to me like an avoidance of something deeper that wants to be recognized and embraced.

Deep breath.

Writer’s Block

What is happening here? I am no longer teaching and after carefully organizing all the material I have for my novel, am not writing it. In fact, I have been procrastinating writing this piece for the newsletter and also keep pushing writing the blog to one side. I write weekly with 3 friends and that’s about it.

I keep saying I’m waiting to discover what I want to be when I grow up. I laugh when I say it but I know it’s no laughing matter.  I don’t know what is next. I only know I can’t continue teaching on the schedule I had developed. I love teaching, love the presence of all you lovely, lively, intelligent women in my life, and look forward to the two retreats scheduled later in the year. Yet I can’t go back. I must go forward–but to what?  Retirement is not an option; I need purpose in my life and I find it through work.

“Wait.” That’s my body’s message, and my soul’s. I recall that I spent much of 2013 until very recently dealing with medical crises–my own and my family’s–and that I do not have total control over the nature of “recovery” or its duration. Still I feel I “should” be able to manage it.

How do we wait when everything in our culture tells us to press on, grab the bull by the horns, and make a splash.

Wait and Observe

Maybe it helps to think of “waiting until the time is right.” If I treat each moment as the right time for whatever is appearing, then the right action must become evident.

From the book shelf, I retrieved When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd (Secret Life of Bees) and have begun opening my heart to the message. At the same time, my husband and I are re-reading Women, Writing, and Soul-Making together, (sometimes it is necessary to retrieve one’s own wisdom!) reading again what I wrote about letting our writing rest, trusting the process, and leaning on our intuition. I have, it seems lost myself in my own life to discover, as Dante says, that I have stepped off my right road and blundered into the dark woods with the right road lost from sight.

What is the underlying fear? I open Women, Writing, and Soul-Making to Audre Lorde’s words: Maybe this is the chance to live and speak the things I really do believe, that power comes from moving into whatever I fear most that cannot be avoided.

So what is the fear? Perhaps that I won’t find the road again.

I now recognize this place. I have lived long enough to celebrate this as a “late-life crisis,” a time of facing anew the transitory nature of life and its preciousness. An opportunity to spin a chrysalis and embrace the process of metamorphosis. Who knows the nature of the butterfly that will emerge?

Ranier Maria Rilke wrote, “Patience is everything.” I believe him. I will wait with an open heart. I will listen to the water in the fountain and for the song of my soul. Already the writing of this is opening me up to possibility.