Early during the pandemic, I learned more about unordained Julian of Norwich and her anchorhold. I began to recognize the covered porch that stretches across our bungalow in Ravenna as my anchorhold. On one side of the porch is our quiet and now-closed-to-others, four-walled home. It harbors my blue room and altar, my books and writing utensils, as well as Rob’s grand piano, adequate sound system and our zooming computers.
On the other side of the porch, beyond the front garden that Rob lovingly tends, is the sidewalk. It leads to the park and ravine south of us. Especially early in the lockdown this pathway carried scads of people, a surprising variety of them, some known and some heretofore unknown to us. Often I rock on the porch and visit with the passersby. Or not. Sometimes I hide behind a giant juniper bush and watch. It has been so easy to love the others this way. When conversations develop, they have been rich and full. At some point I began to realize I could offer what might be needed simply by being here, watching and loving. I can be a secure firm hold in a rocky sea from my perch on the porch, encouraging the parents, accepting small gifts from the little ones, laughing, crying along too.
God prepared me for this work from my anchorhold. Last summer when Rob was slowly recovering from surgery, while his prognosis was bleak, we rocked together on the porch and welcomed many friends and family members. They came with their gifts of nourishment and prayers for fond well-being.
This summer, Thank God, Rob is cancer-free, still working on his digestion issues but essentially well—gardening, music-making and bee-keeping. Occasionally he still rocks with me.
Amazingly, during this wild summer, we have finally replaced the front walkway, refurbished the porch, and created a welcome tree and arbor. Today new railings were installed. It’s been a long time coming. Seven years ago, when the piano was being delivered, its leg punched a hole in the old walkway. Since then we have covered the breach with an indoor-outdoor carpet square and let the ant farm below develop. It’s miraculous that this would finally be the summer of full restoration. I am reminded that Rob’s bladder is gone and so is the ant farm we harbored. We have added a hammock I bought in Nicaragua as well as a small solar-powered fountain. We purchased a propane fire circle to use as cold and darkness descends.
It is now time for me to get clearer about what I will be during my retirement. For one like me, it will always be a challenge to resist doing and achieving. My prayer is to embrace my porch anchorhold, the literal one that now has a new and sturdy path connecting me to the world. As I place my hands together in the middle of my chest, I pray that this anchorhold for welcoming and rocking here in my heart will be accessible too. I know this calm center will flourish given intentional steady breath all day long. For this, I am firmly resolved. İOjala!