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photo by Arnaldo James

photo by Arnaldo James

My mother says that because I am a writer, I think in complex ways. The metaphors are heavy in my speech and the imagery is endless. This is true. I admit, I am always searching for the best picture to paint with words. I am extremely deliberate with language. Each word carries its own weight, its own connotations, its own consequences of meaning. There are many words that people attempt to place on me, identities they decide I should fit myself into, whether or not it feels good to me. This I find fascinating. I am amazed everyday at the way some people dismiss their (and usually everyone else’s) emotions. If something doesn’t feel good or authentic or essential to one’s well-being, why hold it as truth?

So sometime during these years of journeying through the work of being and becoming a mother, I began to identify the place where this work happens with a name. I didn’t try to name it, but rather this labor, through which I am constantly mapping and discovering parts of my being, told me to call its home, “sanctuary.” The word itself is loaded with enough meaning already: something holy, something sacred, some place where religious or spiritual ceremonies take place. All that aside, I love the way the word feels in my mouth, the way the tongue is engaged, the interplay of soft and hard sounds. Also, it seems big enough, at the moment, to help me paint a picture of the place where my challenging, incessant spiritual self-inquiry grows.

The sanctuary is a beautiful and magical place, because that is, in essence, who I am. It has, however, been through seasons of grief, loss, and destruction over the years of becoming a woman. Some would say this is a part of growing up. I am not one to generalize my process, but I do feel that the turbulence I have found in my sanctuary is a part of my specific evolution into be(come)ing me. Before the instability consumed me, I liked to think of my sanctuary as grand, with radiant pieces of me decorating the space. Depending on the day, I might see something that looks like a temple, or something that looks like a clearing in the woods, or even a sanctuary composed of me perching on the moon, looking down at the earth spinning below.

My sanctuary is transient in shape and function, like me. It’s interesting to put this truth into words, because at the moment of writing it, I am having an epiphany. I am finding an opening in a place where there has been great stagnation for so long. The rubble I have been feeling exists in one form of sanctuary, the one that I see as a temple. In that form, I feel I experienced an earthquake, multiple earthquakes really, and the rubble is all around. The function of that sanctuary has been interrupted, and I have struggled to sift through the broken pieces. I have had people tell me to just sweep it up, throw it out. But that feels impossible because how could I discard moments of my life, fragments of what it is, what it has been, to be/come me?

Honestly, I have been living primarily in one view of my sanctuary. I must investigate this more deeply. I think I know why, but I will take my time to uncover the language and identify the nuances of this phenomenon. Openly incomplete, I am leaving this discussion for now….