Friday, April 8, 2016

The Broken Shell

Lately I haven't been writing much poetry or even prose.  I've been in one of my long transitions.  Like a butterfly in a cocoon, I don't even really know when I'll be ready to fly.

In the process of this deep, interior work, I came across an old journal from clay therapy with some other women in a group led by master potter Michelle Rhodes.

Each week, we would gather around the table in her country studio and try to construct something from within.  Here's a piece from April 2008.  It reminds me that process is everything.

I'm working with white river clay today, and it broke into pieces.  Dozens of shells and stones on the table.  My life in pieces.  Here's a broken shell.  The shell is me.  It has a story.

I used to be big, of course, not like you see me now.  I was big and strong, and I thought nothing would ever happen to me, nothing would ever hurt me, and I rolled along my way not worrying about the other smaller shells beneath me.

Then one day I fell and broke.  A part of me broke off – a big part – and I couldn’t believe it.  Nothing like that had ever happened before.  And I lost my confidence.  I was no longer able to protect myself and because of that, another, even bigger and more important part of me broke off.
Then I gave up.  I just wanted to die.  I rolled around and let the ocean carry me along its way.  I couldn’t die but I wanted to die.  Until one day, I realized I was still whole, and in a certain way, still beautiful.

I began to actually like my broken edges and the new lightness of my body without all the bigness of my former self – without even the beauty – and then slowly I began to soften.  And I rolled with the motion of the ocean – not giving in completely and not fighting, but just cooperating with it.
Merging with all the other shells rolling and tumbling into the perfection of healing.


Karen Erdmann said...

I had to hold my chest, this was so real. A tender gift for me today.

John Walter said...

Moving. You are such a terrific poet, novelist, short story writer and human being. This reminded me of a teaching story about a broken pot that I've heard many times, but this made it intimate and personal. Beautiful, Stirling.

grammietup said...

Sterling...I loved how I was drawn into your moment of discovery and I have someone in mind, a niece, that can use this as a tool for her healing process...Your voice in your writing is a gift and I thank you for sharing...Sandy Galloway Tupper

Stirling Davenport said...

Karen, John and Sandy,
Tears come to my eyes tonight reading your comments. I am moved beyond words.
Thank you.