(Can you relate? ;-))
What a glorious accomplishment: the work day complete, the children miraculously fed and bathed and delivered into their warm beds; all I can gracefully manage on those nights is the briefest of snuggles and bleary-eyed kisses of goodnight. On those nights, as bedtime approaches, it's not uncommon for my perceptive son Ezra (6), to suddenly look at me quizzically, knowingly, reading the telling signs, before he asks: “Mama? Are you feeling all done parenting for the day?” to which I respond, wearily: “Yes, Love. Definitely all done parenting for the day.”
But other nights, precious nights like last night, there is a gracious spaciousness around this end-of-day time together, and a luxurious way we are all gentled and soothed to ritualize bedtime with song, breath, presence and cuddles. It is nights like these when all I can feel is the enormous grace of these profound relations.
Last night, tucking Ezra in first, we lay together in the dark of his bed after his book, and I asked him, as I often do: “Do you want me to sing to you now?” And he answered with clarity, as he tends to: “Yes~ ‘True Colors’, two times. Then ‘Ezra Star’, one time.” He snuggled in closer, as I started to sing, first “True Colors”, which is my own version of Cyndi Lauper’s old song…remember? “I see your true colors shining through… I see your true colors, and that’s why I love you, so don’t be afraid, to let them show, your true colors, true colors, are beautiful like a rainbow…” ;-)
And then I moved on to “Ezra Star”, which is my starboy’s birth song, my love song for him, the one that came through, direct from Spirit, a few days before he was born, which I have sung to him from the very beginning of his life. My daughter has one too.
While I sang his special blessing song I gave thanks inside my heart once again for the power of this sacred ritual, inspired by that amazing tradition of a particular African village, wherein it is said that each person has a song their mother receives for them from Spirit, before they are born, which she then brings back and teaches to the entire village. And this song is sung at all the major moments of transition in the person's life, starting with birth and ending with death, an anchor of holy sound and love and truth. And whenever they might veer from their own heart’s path in life, and need to be reminded about the truth of who they are, their song is sung to them, by the village, as a gift of remembrance.
After Ezra drifted off, I headed into my daughter Arayla’s room, where she lay reading, patiently waiting for me. I turned off her light, and crawled under the covers with her. I asked her, “Do you want me to sing?” And predictably, my little Piscean girl with her chatty Gemini moon, said with clarity: “No, thanks. I’d rather talk.” And so, smiling at her in the dark, I asked her: “And what would you like to talk about tonight, my love?” She answered quickly, softly, with tenderness: “I’m thinking about all the people from the fire, who aren’t falling asleep in their own cozy beds tonight; all the people who have lost so much.” :-(
I wasn’t surprised that this was where her attention was. I held her close, and simply said, soberly: “Yes, bless all those people.” Then she said: “It feels strange to count our blessings Mama, when some people have no blessings left to count.” This seemed a rather dismal thought for my sweet girl, and so I reminded her, gently: “Well Baby, no matter what has been lost, everyone still has the blessing of life, of love, of breath, of Spirit…right?” She sighed, taking this in, and then said, in her wise-way-beyond-her-years voice: “But Mama, some people? Some people don’t feel like life and breath are a blessing. They don’t feel the love. Some people don’t even want to be here in this world. They feel like it’s just too hard.”
These words struck my heart, and I thought of all the things I could say to my little girl in that moment to protect her from her own astute perception. Honestly, it concerned me that she was empathizing at this level of consciousness, and I felt fear grip my Mama-heart for a moment, that my precious 10 year old girl could somehow relate to human suffering at this level. But then I breathed through my aversion, drew her in closer to me, my young, wise priestess, and with her sweet head on my heart, I said: “True, very true, Beloved. So what can we do for them? What can we do for our own hearts in the moments when we forget that life itself is a blessing, and we don’t even want to be here?”
She was quiet, considering, and then she said carefully: “Well, we can just take the next breath, still. We can know that even if it’s a struggle, life is sacred. And even if life feels so hard and scary we can know that the hardness is part of why we are here. To learn about that. Right, Mom?” I breathed deeply, and said, “Yes, yes. Thank you. We can feel the intense pain of not wanting this life, and breathe love right into that. And we can always ask for help. Helping one another to remember our true selves, our gratitude, our love for our own lives, is one of the great ways people can serve each other.”
My mind went to Ezra’s birth song I had just sung a few minutes prior, and the great wisdom embedded in that tradition, intended to bring us home again and again, to remembrance and self-love, to a feeling of belonging to ourselves, to our community, and to Life itself, precisely for the reasons Arayla was speaking to. I noted with awe the poignant thread between my little ones’ bedtimes; one asking for their song of remembrance, and one deeply pondering the need for it. I prayed into the possibility that all beings might discover some version of their own "birth song"; and be held by our human community with the medicine required to beckon true remembrance.
She was quiet again, my beloved girl, and then I noticed her breath pattern had deepened, and realized she was drifting off into dreaming. So I scooted her precious head from my chest onto her pillow and whispered into her deep listening: “You are love. You are loving. You are loved.”