Dear Mother, Dear Father

Dear Mother, Dear Father

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.” ~ Rumi

As a poet I love Rumi,
I love the weight of his words,
of how the mirror breaks
and many different versions
of truth grow within the family.
Within ourselves too.

A liberated sheep in a post Shepherd world,
poetic landscape of the soul
is my version of truth.
From fifteen to fifty,
a life-changing metamorphosis
which I faithfully recorded.

Now, four years later,
I come back to my mirror
to gather the pieces that reflect you.
The good, bad and ugly ones.
I thought it time to update
myself on your lasting effect.

So what has lasted?
Surprisingly not the pain,
nor the horror or heartache,
and this renders me speechless,
as, when I think of you now,
I remember other things.

I remember the echo of birdsong,
the image of a roaring fire,
the joy of hearing you both sing.
Sketching the moon and stars,
taking walks of wonder,
squirrels and bedtime stories.

I remember the day you told me to stand still
as, on a branch at the top of the pond,
I saw my first ever kingfisher.
You walked and talked the seasons,
I learnt which flowers would grow
in the hedgerows and when.

I remember tall foxglove spires
and tortoises in round tin pens.
Watching you milk the cows,
herding sheep, cutting corn.
I remember how your hands aligned with nature,
how every field became my home.

My childhood is with me in every wood I walk,
in the long caw of the crow,
in the short hoot of the owl.
In the life and death cycles of nature
my joy comes from connecting deeply.
Please know this learning lasted my entire life.

And what of the pain?
Even though I hold you accountable,
I choose to let it go,
let it move through me
and in so doing I become more human,
and so do you.

For I know life has beaten you up too,
that’s how karma works,
you grow up with pain
and pass it on.
Only I’ve left mine behind the family tree,
hopeful nature will reclaim it.

Keeping my heart open,
far away from the language of thorns,
allowing me to hear and feel
the cries of all who suffer.
Most especially you,
children of the universe.

I press these words to my soul,
dear mother, dear father,
for these will be the last words
I write to you.
Farewell, and peace be with you,
I love you and set you free.

Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2017

14 thoughts on “Dear Mother, Dear Father

  1. Oh, oh, oh… This is exquisite, Deborah. First, the way memory preserves and presents those moments that open the soul in the midst of disaster. My childhood horrors were “natural” disasters, a dying father, an emotionally frozen mother, no one speaking of the death in the room. But is this where my memory rests now? No. I remember how my dad supported and loved me even as he lay dying, even when the rest of the family didn’t have the words to talk about it. He said, “I love you.” And my mother’s cold withdrawal from loving her children after his death? After my husband died, I got it, although that’s not the way things went for me. I understood why she made the choice to not feel, to not cry two years straight. Instead, she pulled on her persona mask, went back to work, and created a new career.

    You express the blessing of forgiveness that comes when we do our own soul work and understand those threads of destruction and shame that are still alive in us and need to be left behind.

    The Jung in the Heartland conference was spectacular and worth the exhaustion I’ve felt since returning home. My paper was the final presentation and well received. By mystery and synchronicity, it tied together the threads of the previous three days, even though I’d only had a title to work from and knew nothing about the details of the conference as I wrote the paper last spring. “Follow the image,” you said. I did. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much Elaine for your truly wonderful review here! What a great question: “But is this where my memory rests now?” Just awesome! And for sharing your father’s loving, and lasting words. I realised, finally, that I had this choice, we all do, about what remains. What memories will last for each of us, and so I unearthed the happiness of my childhood, allowing the light of forgiveness to shine brightly … not in an attempt to gloss over the darkness but to see that both co-exist and live together at the same time.

      Earlier today I read, “Not every birth is a cause for celebration, nor every death a cause for grief.” ~ Buddha (quote). How “right” those words feel in this moment, after reading and reflecting on your beautiful, wise words. I feel there’s a huge soul evolution underway in the world today, with many more people waking up to glimpses of their true selves. In pure synchronicity, a few days ago I overheard this … “when I’m writing I’m least full of shit and the most authentic version of myself” and found myself nodding in agreement! All writers nodding I guess!

      Oh my goddess! I’m absolutely over the moon that the “Jung in the Heartland” conference went so well, and I’m hoping, hoping, hoping that we’ll all be hearing more about the event in the near future! A new article for your blog I’m hoping? Oh well done my dearest friend! Are there are video’s? I would love to see you reading your work. And as for the feedback you received from the audience … I’m not surprised, it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G to read! Thank you so much for allowing me the honour of glimpsing your beautiful soul. Love and light, Deborah.

  2. This is such a beautifully written and moving commentary on your personal journey to overcome the trauma of childhood with your family. I love the use of Rumi’s mirror as the metaphor to help you see the many different versions of childhood that are held within one family – there are so many versions of the truth.

    Being at one in nature is such a wonderfully healing experience – by taking the positives from your early life and integrating them into the joy you have of woodland walks or any wild environment you really show how strong you have become.

    I also love the fact that you may forgive but you still hold your parents accountable – that for me is such a strong statement and, I feel, the real way to handle the “forgiveness” issue when recovering from hurt. I used to question how I could forgive those that had hurt or wronged me when it had left such deep scars. I wanted to forgive as I know how the anger held internally could slowly eat away at me, causing stress and dis-ease, but it has been a slow process and one I have struggled with where a couple of dark shadows from the past are concerned. Your seemingly simple statement of accountability is a bit like a lightbulb moment for me and makes it much clearer for me. So thank you Deborah for shining a light with your words in so many ways!!

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for your wonderful gift of compassionate words! Rumi was a poetic genius (wasn’t he!) with his perceptive use of the broken mirror as metaphor for the different versions of truth held within families, and the world at large. Yes, there are many adaptations to be found, as people only tell themselves the stories (versions of truth) they can live with.

      In the end (allegorically!) getting down on my hands and knees in the dirt, for all those years, has paid out incredibly well in terms of discovering more inner peace and true forgiveness. By integrating my earlier positive experiences with Mother Nature, “other” memories are becoming more and more accessible … memories long since buried under the old, long-standing heartache of childhood.

      I’m sooo pleased I’ve been able to help you see past your own anger and the dis-ease that you were previously holding on too. It’s taken me decades to reach this point. Holding my parents accountable pathed the way for true forgiveness. Forgetting what happened is not possible nor is reliving it! Thank you for shining your beautiful light on my words today. Blessings always, Deborah.

      1. Thank you for your reply Deborah – I’ve been giving this more thought and I think that people only tell themselves the version of the truth that they can live with at the time…its only when they start to see the real truth of their life at that time that they can learn to forgive and use the positive experiences to help their healing.

        Having lived with the story of ‘this is my lot, I have to put up with it’ for many years I changed that version of my truth by realising I didn’t have to put up with it, put an end to it and through doing that I set myself free.

        1. Thank you so much Sophia for sharing more of your reflections. Yes, I agree whole-heartedly! That’s why truth is often described as “pieces”… for each person holds their own version of what happened (however defined) and often believes their version to be true.

          Our stories change when we gather up the “pieces” (memories for me in this poem) and turn our inner telescope around so that the vista changes. Freedom is often found by living out stories that lead us “full-circle” back to health, happiness and healing.

  3. Forgiving the unforgivable is tough. It takes a lot of wading through the mire and muck to get to clean waters. Yours is a powerful, moving, well written poem. HF.

    1. Thank you so much HF for your kind-hearted words. I truly believe deeply held childhood wounds need to be healed, and if at all possible, forgiven. Yes, much wading through the “mire and muck” has led me to deeper freedom and the joy of being able to return to other memories. Nature with Her divine healing ways has brought me full circle. Hope the day finds you well. Warm wishes, Deborah.

  4. O my goodness Deborah, this is so beautiful thank you. I think often of my parents, long gone, both very special and wonderful human beings in many many ways. It is only later in my life that I reconcile their darker aspects which I have come to see was baggage carried over from their own childhoods and the era in which they lived and from which they emerged, wounded in many ways. It also made me see the necessity of not bringing those ‘qualities’ into my own relationships or to my children and I am still learning and try to meet the challenges within my own limitations. I think of them fondly and know that my family was ‘normally dysfunctional’ and that the wounds that I carry are my responsibility to heal …

    Thank you again dear Deborah! xx

    1. Dear Susan, I’m wiping the tears from my face as I read your beautiful words! Thank you so much for “getting it” and understanding those darker aspects within each family and the dysfunction we all have to live through and for sharing your deep reflective insights. “Aging & Becoming” aha, see you got it absolutely right! In hindsight, writing my poetry book was a necessary task, vital even, one that kept me alive through the darkest of hours.

      Reading Rumi yesterday, released words I’d been carrying around in the deep pocket of my heart since I was a very young girl. And here I am, “somewhere in the woods, in mid-life” (quite literally in the photo!) with truth and compassion breaking open my heart! Dante comes to mind! I have no need to ever write of them again, for all I wished to say is written here. Oh how the healing lessons of love, nature and forgiveness keep unfolding! Love and light, Deborah xx

  5. Deborah, this would make a great opening poem for a second collection. Four years later and your metamorphosis is completed. Thank you always for recording your life in poems and gifting us such amazing work. What new journeys await I wonder? Keep writing, it’s your destiny Dear Poet, Dear Dreamer! All the best, Anna.

    1. Thank you so much Anna for your wonderful gift of words, endless support and constant encouragement! Please know I’m truly humbled and indeed, inspired (yes it’s growing on me!) to write a new collection. Ha-ha! I may even borrow your title, “Dear Poet, Dear Dreamer” for a new poem! As for metamorphosis, never complete, only the next stage.

      It was deeply cathartic to write this personal poem. Yesterday as I read the Rumi quote, verses started to flow through me … it’s always amazing when a poem writes itself! I feel like I’ve come “full circle” in many ways and rediscovered the simple joy and healing qualities of nature, forgiveness and so much more. Blessings always to you, Deborah.

      1. To quote Rumi: the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.

        An essential part of every poetic process I guess. I shall be returning to read this one many times. Deeply rich poetry.

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