Forty

by Jennifer on April 5, 2019

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

For my fortieth birthday this year, I threw a 90s-themed dance party. It was a costume party, so people showed up in all the styles that to me in the 90s were just clothing. And I re-created an outfit I would have loved to have worn to a party then. (See pic.) Oh, who I am kidding…it’s still the kind of thing I would love to wear to a party. (Wish you could see the boots.)

Yes, you might as well know this about me if we are going to be close…I am the kind of “spiritual teacher” who loooooves a good party. A good house party preferably. In all honesty, those two things are not at odds at all in my experience. How do you think we worshipped and did ritual in ancient times? Yes, we had amazing parties. All…of…the..time. It was often how we bonded, had visions, and healed together.

You might say it has been my party mission in this lifetime to find parties that have even a hint of that old magic…and I am happy to say I have been able to do so many, many times. Despite having to rally hard during times of extreme illness, despite a lot of other things that could have caused me to give up on parties altogether, I still, so long as my body agrees, peel myself up if needed and put on a pretty shirt I like and something sparkly and head out into the night as often as I can. I still lean in, hoping to hit one of those luminous moments that everyone is bouncing off the dance floor in the same rhythm and smiling with the bliss of wildly happy children. I still show up, hoping it will be one of those special nights that we all end up laughing until our faces hurt, or bonding over deep feelings in the wee hours of the night to deep, soft bass.

It is still one way I visit the temple. Oh, but there are so many. A modern priestess has to be creative about keeping the temple alive in her life. Thank goddess nature is still there…the original temple. Nature and each other. That’s originally what the temple was all about.

But anyway, loves, I’ve come here to reflect on being forty…quick, before I turn 41 pretty soon. I know age is just a number, and have been saying so since I was in the single digits. (As most of you know I was an unique child. : ) So reaching 40 didn’t have the impact for me that it seems to have on others sometimes, or at least in the movies anyway. I was just excited that I had lived four wonderful decades of life.

Never mind that I have spent one of those decades navigating a mysterious illness (mystery no more), which led me to depths of the underworld I would never even have imagined. But it has also intensified my inner superpowers…and even given me new ones. I wouldn’t trade the gifts for anything, even if they came by fire.

Really all of the best things of my life have come by fire.

I have always burned. But I am incandescent now. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Even if the blessings came via indescribable suffering. It was the price I paid to be burned clean.

And clean…oh my god does clean inside feel good. It’s no less rich, or complex, or wild…all the more so. It’s clean the way dirt is clean.

One thing, though, did surprise me about turning 40. And that is that I just couldn’t figure out how the time had gone by. How had it been 22 years since I graduated high school?? Or 18 years since I met my husband…I mean…WHAT??

It was the best impetus ever, well…after illness…to slow down more than ever and be present in every luscious and even every painful moment of this precious life. (Even though that has already been forefront in my mind and heart since I was a child.)

Three years ago I started decluttering my home. I had tried many times before to lighten my load, but it never really made a great change. Then I found The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I just knew. I knew I had finally found the way. So, three years ago almost exactly, I did the thing where you pull out all of your clothes and pile them on your bed. Then I hauled out all my books, then papers, then everything else in my house (kitchen, bathrooms, shed, tools, electronics and sooo much more), and finally, this winter, I pulled out all of my mementos. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? I mean you might be wondering why this took me three years.

Ha. Ha ha. Sorry, just needed a little laugh there. Mostly because you just wouldn’t fucking believe how much sentimental paper an Oracle, writer and record-keeper can keep. Oh, did I keep records. Yes, I had some confusing filed away documents like nearly everyone else does, but that isn’t what I mean. I am talking about the books full of poetry I wrote, the page after page of channeling I have recorded over the past twenty years or more…and, most definitely, I am talking about the letters box.

Oh, the letters box…

Somehow I decided that the best thing to do to cherish the connections I had in the past was to keep every single thing almost anyone ever wrote to me. Every note passed in class, every letter sent across the miles, every postcard, every birthday card…allllll of it. There were hundreds, and hundreds of letters. Letters from family, letters from friends, letters from lovers. There were things stuffed in like photos, show flyers, patches with band names on them, clippings (there was a photo of a naked dude in a field of daisies from a magazine…ummm, just because.) There was also a rubber glove, some hair, and some smears of blood. Because why not make it personal, right?

I had been afraid in some ways of my letters box for many years. It had some of the funkiest old paper smells (which I don’t react super well to, and is part of why I am doing this clearing), but beyond that I knew my heart was going to be pulled all over the place. And oh my god was I right about that. I thought there was one love letter…I thought it was the only full-fledged love letter I had ever received other than the ones from my husband. But I was oh so wrong…that one didn’t turn out to be a love letter at all.

But nearly every single other letter in that box was one.

I have been loved. And even if I have lost most of the people in the letters box and I may as well have been sorting through the bones of old loves…I have truly been loved. And that, is how I got to be forty. I spent all those years being loved.

Yes, I have also been lonely. I have also been rejected. I have also tried to bond with animals to make up for lack of human companionship, and cried over Anne of Green Gables and her bosom friend, wishing I had one again too. But if there is one thing the letters box showed me, I have also been loved. And not all loves are meant to last. I mean, at least in this world. They always last in the bigger picture, I know.

So, while I could have counted my years in other ways…either painful or glorious, I can see that I can best count my years by the chances I took with my heart. Oh god yes, you might think by now I’d have given up…it hurts insanely sometimes to keep opening your heart. But I decided a long time ago that it was worth it, and that I would never stop trying. And that is my greatest triumph of all.

I’ve done many wonderful things. I have found and spent 18 years with the love of my life. I have lived out my mystical childhood dreams of sharing my work with the world…for fifteen years as of this month. (wow that feels so good to say.) I have had the amazing experiences of teaching in the temples of Egypt and Greece, swimming in the amazon where I saw pink dolphins, and with sharks in Fiji. I’ve learned an ancient form of temple dance in India and lived in a city full of temples there, and I’ve chanted with nuns in Tibet. But in all of what I have just shared with you, what really made the magic was and is the people (and animals.) The connections. The love. The temples in India were beautiful, but the families I was embraced by there were incomparable. The nunneries in Tibet were stunning, but it was the way the nuns gently nursed me when I was sick that will stay in my heart forever. And my work is obviously most deeply about reaching and loving all of you.

I had planned to read the contents of my letters box when I was 80. Yes, that was really the plan. But then the paper started, you know, decomposing gently…enough to make a smell I reacted to. That “funk” is why I did it now…and at first I was sad I didn’t get to keep the dream alive of revisiting it all when I was older. But now I can say with all my heart thank god I didn’t wait until I was 80. Because that would have been far too much longer to sit on buried love. Even if there was also buried grief, the sooner that could be faced the better, too. After all, if I want to have the courage to keep loving, I’ve got to make peace, and let go…but also let it in. Let in all the love I held at arm’s length when things fell apart or when we lost touch. Time to really feel it.

Because you have to let love flow if you want to be well. You don’t have to force it, or grasp it, or try to make it flow when it doesn’t or isn’t there yet. But by god if it is a river, best to get out of its way and let that baby flow. Even if you can’t show it or act on it for some reason…see if you can let it flow inside of you. I know we build dams inside when we have to…when we can’t possibly bear the love or the possible loss. I get it. I am not saying you should never do that. But when the dam starts to crumble, and your efforts to patch it up fail, it might just be time to step aside and let nature take over again.

She always does. Sometimes if you just slide your hips an inch to one side the entire old world can fall. And it is time for old worlds to fall.

I am also saying that, always and only under the direction of your own heart of course, it is worth it to try to love again. Even if you have had your heart broken a hundred times. Of course it’s just as beautiful and right to pull your energy in and heal when you need to…to love yourself that way is one of the most beautiful loves there is. But if, and only if, life is showing you that more love might be waiting for you and you know that love is meant to be yours, is meant to live in you, is meant to speak through you, is meant to be freed by you…take a chance. You are not alone. I am taking that chance every day, and it is only for the bravest of the brave.

It is how the world will heal.

And you will know, if beyond all your other callings, your calling is to be a lover.

Mine is.

I lost a friend in this last year. A soul friend. The kind that are the most precious and sacred of all. She was a lover too. She poured love on people like the most gracious sun pours light on the world on a staggering, blazing summer day. She had her heart broken more times than there are stars in the sky. But she didn’t stop. She kept loving. And I will always be glad I met her love with every passionate drop of my being, even though it made her leaving this world so searingly painful I couldn’t almost breathe for weeks and was racked with sobs most nights. Even though I also felt her with me just as much as before, or more, I cried for missing her body. I cried because of how much I would miss her hugs, and hearing her voice out loud, and seeing the flash of her movement across the waters like an animal glowing in the dark night.

Like I would say, and like my friend Gibson would say, and like Maude said to Harold when he told her, “but I love you,” at their parting…

“Oh Harold, that’s wonderful. Now go and love some more…

Love is the medicine for the pain of love. So go on lover, go on and love some more.

I love you.

Love,

Jennifer

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gwendolyn May 6, 2019 at 6:37 am

Happy and glorious 40th birthday year, sweet sister of the priestesshood. Perhaps I will also throw myself a grand party in a couple years when I “hit” 70!!! Love to you, Gwendolyn

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