Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Holding Space

Lynn Deanne Childress
Madison, Wisconsin
January-July 2020

Holding Space

For years I had been working and writing on the side--my dream was to be able to stop working and write full-time. The Rensing Center held space for me to realize this dream; or rather, it gave me a chance to find out if full-time writing was as essential as I believed: it is not. But learning to hold space for yourself is essential. My earliest lessons in holding space came from being at the Rensing Center. It freed me from the obligations and relationships of my ordinary life, which gave me time. It freed me from the strong ties of my possessions, which erased memories. It taught me the best lesson: the truest vocation is to be honest about your circumstances and your actual abilities.

The next lesson in holding space came in March 2020. I was scheduled to leave at the end of the month, but things began to crumble. The Rensing Center's Material Mindfulness/ Draw-Down event for March was cancelled because of COVID-19. Shortly, thereafter, we entered lockdown. The Sunday potlucks ceased. I began ordering food online and from the Clemson Area Food Exchange to avoid the grocery store. The first Sunday Garden Party on April 5 became a socially distanced funeral for Bob the cat. Evelyn's 100th Birthday Party was shifted to Zoom. The incoming artists were delayed until another time. COVID was now holding space for the Rensing Center.

By May, I had become something of a hermit at the guesthouse. I focused on what was immediately around me--the Viburnum bush, St Brigid's well, and the Cherokee Rose were all wearing crowns of honeysuckle, trailing fragrant streamers. I could feel who I was because everything else in the world had been deprived of its energy, dried up and blown away. All that was left in the space was a beautiful, pure, gentle, calm, joyful human being. This is the moment that I will hold as the gold standard for being, against which the other moments will be measured, when life becomes too crowded again.   --