Finding Balance

watching and waiting

At the Hammer Museum a few months ago, a “Redbook Dialogue” took place between Katie Sanford and Jack Kornfield. At one point in the conversation, Jack Kornfield made a reference in passing to “Katie’s blue book, and Jung’s Red Book”. He was referring to Katie Sanford’s book, The Serpent and the Cross,which covers 30 years of her inner work and contains reproductions of more than 60 paintings that she made of her emerging relationship to the feminine spirit.  As Jack Kornfield mentioned the books, he motioned to where they lay on the table. Katie Sanford’s book, thin and modest, looked like a children’s book next to Jung’s huge tomb.   With both books present representing individual journeys of self-discovery, the dialogue that night emphasized the importance of paying attention and giving voice to one’s inner life.  I was inspired and I came away from the talk even more committed to paying attention to this journey that I am on. The experience also left me thinking about the relationship between men and women, the masculine and feminine,  productivity and creativity and how we give and get support. Both books are remarkable and are worthy of comparison on a number of levels but in that moment I saw them as representing another concrete difference between the nature of  men and the nature of women. I left thinking that only a man could have created The Red Book. It feels like the time, and space necessary to accomplish something so monumental, must have required a huge support system and the presence, patience and support of external feminine energy.

My children may not need me to make them lunches or run baths for them anymore, but they still need my presence, awareness and attention when we are together and even sometimes when we are apart. I have found that part of mothering is creating an open-armed space that is separate from me yet open and available for my children to enter and be in. I am aware even as I carve out more time for myself, that this safe space that mothers hold for their children makes a deep inner journey difficult while  kids are still  living at home.   When I had my 50th birthday I was welcomed into the circle of crones.  I understand now that this was not because me skin had dried up or that my menstrual cycle had stopped.  This was because I had finally reached the age when my deep well of energy and creativity could finally begin to be focused in new directions.  As women we fight against clocks our entire life.  We have a biological clock that keeps us aware that our child bearing years are passing us by, another that reminds us of the years left to accomplish something of note in our careers and a third that marks the increasing age of our parent.  We are constantly aware of time and constantly trying to find the balance between time, our needs, what we want to do or accomplish, and the needs of others. I am beginning to understand that the point of  balance that we are striving for is both internal and external, masculine and feminine, temporal and spiritual and is both personal and inclusive of the presence and needs of others.

4 comments to Finding Balance

  • Julie

    Beautifully said Marlene! Thanks for the reflections and reminders to pay attention to the difference and to the balance that is needed. The fulcrum point changes sometimes and it is a juggling process to keep a center that holds the balance in each shifting moment. Like a juggler it seems sometimes, like balancing on a ship at sea…I have come to realize that balance (so important to us Libras) is not a static point but a dynamic process of holding, that requires vigilance and attention. Thanks for your words! And yes, Katie and Jack inspired so many moments. I recall too Katie at 92 saying that she was “surprised that life kept her so long” – a touching reminder that it is our life that keeps us here…some lifeforce that will have its way with us.

    • Marlene

      Beautifully said Julie! Vigilance, attention, juggling, balance, surprise – a perfect description of life. Your words bring to mind teetering on one foot while first learning the balancing poses in yoga. xo

  • amy walker

    I just thought how much you might enjoy gender council? Have you heard of it? I am going to one this weekend downtown through project butterfly, check it out on the web and see if you are interested.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>