Ocean View: November 18, 2009


Ocean View
November 18, 2009
By Jude Rittenhouse

In my last entry, I waded into oceanic waters, touching the currents of several subjects: relationships, presence, the unknown. This time, I had planned to swim a bit further into the realm of relationships. To that end, a week and a half ago, I wrote:

I began this day with my love: waking with his arms around me, dragging myself away from his warmth and out of the burgundy nest that is our bed. We plodded by rote through our Monday morning rituals: while he showered and dressed, I pulled on workout clothes, carried laundry downstairs, fed our impatient cats, made his granola and my teas. When I heard his shower stop, I headed to the basement and threw in the first load of darks, then came back up to finish in the kitchen. We left the house by 7AM to catch his train to the city. Each week begins this way for us: separated by life’s requirements. I wonder if this might be a metaphor for how humans live: fragmenting ourselves in order to scurry through the strange mazes we have made of our lives. After the workout, I came home to what always waits in silence: the ever-shifting relationships I have with the many selves inside.

That’s as far as I got before losing myself in the crevasses of an over-filled schedule, though I had planned to explore an image that has been evolving in me since childhood. I had hoped to talk about castles: the cloisters and bastions we each build around ourselves. My little human plans ran into the granite canyons of life’s seeming requirements—plans and illusions both pulling me away from what simply is. So here I am, starting over and over again.

Activities prevented me from writing. Doing, rather than being, kept me paddling frenetically across a choppy harbor, kept me from floating out to sea with the tide, then diving into those patiently waiting depths of stillness. I took on yet another job for additional income. Getting enough sleep became as challenging as sailing a Beetle Cat against the gale of last week’s nor’easter. My body rebelled. Post-menopausal bleeding warned that something had gone awry inside, then a tooth cracked, sending me into excruciating pain. Abandoned places screamed in the only way they could.

This morning, the now-naked trees shiver. Almost all of yesterday’s sparse gold leaves have fallen, their tired faces pressed against earth, ready to learn her transformative mysteries. A few curling leaves remain stuck to their old places, as if clinging to a dream of being supple and green. Ocean is about as dark as she ever gets. Yesterday’s doctor and dentist appointments resolved nothing, though the first caused abdominal pain and the second temporarily ameliorated the worst of my mouth pain. I have tried to get my uterus to talk before the doctor tries again for a biopsy later this week, but it’s angry, silent. The entire left side of my mouth still aches. In the roots of a tooth, there’s a deeply buried rumor of something I’m not sure I want to hear. I turn to the maple outside my window. Its weathered bark wisely reminds me: each ending is a new beginning.

What is here right now is a clock urging me to shower before a client arrives. Now the phone rings: a call from the doctor’s office, confirming the next appointment—the next prodding attempt to learn what hides in the tight darkness of my womb. I need to stop writing, though I want to continue. Next time, I hope to report more about those quiet rumblings in the depths of my body. I hope to make time—like making cotton candy out of sugar and air—and share what I’ve gleaned while exploring relationships: all the castles inside (with their towers, moats, treasures, dungeons), which reflect and are reflected in every outer relationship.

Need, want, hope, inside, outside: I know these are not true places, just the Scylla and Charybdis, just illusory rocks which keep us from sailing on home. For now, you and I must wait in the unknown. That placeless place: that frightening and glorious sea of truth. No hope here, just what is. Stay here with me, please. Stay with me remembering:


We are thick wooden bowls
deep as night’s sky, shallow
as a child’s cupped palm
waiting to receive.

Each bowl’s emptiness,
not size or lack thereof, making
a sacred wisdom. Listen. No
shouting. No tears

or shoving here.
Though eyes may overflow
as we carry this lack
in our fullness. Waiting,

always ready
for water and light
to come and waltz skin to skin
in night or daytime

as if everything that exists
sings this one song.
Our song. The only song.
Here in the hollow

of our bellies
after all that commotion
co-motion, emotion, motion
goes quiet.

Jude Rittenhouse has received a Writer’s Grant from the Vermont Studio Center, a first place short story award, and various poetry awards. In addition to her holistic practice, Integrated Healing Services, Jude teaches at conferences, retreats, schools, hospitals, alternative health centers, and domestic violence shelters. She is also an inspirational speaker and presenter for literary audiences, cancer survivors, spiritual gatherings, high school and college students, and other groups. In all of her endeavors, she strives to empower others as they explore their unique journeys toward wholeness.

To learn more about her holistic practice or to inquire about her poetry chapbook, Living In Skin, contact: Jude@JudeRittenhouse.com or call (401) 348-8079.

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