I can’t carry a tune. Or so I have been told, ever since my voice cracked in the Christmas Chorus performance at church when I was young. And since I somehow volunteered to sing Jingle Bells in a zoom caroling party, I also started thinking about how in December of 2012, I took a hymnal and sang my heart out at the Alzheimer’s unit where my mom was living, and it didn’t matter one bit if I was off key. By the time I started the 3rd song the whole unit of patients was gathered around, and many were able to sing along. Their eyes shone, and my mom especially was the happiest I had seen her in a long time.
My mother spent the last year of her life in that unit and I visited her daily. At first it was the hardest thing I had ever done because there was always so much chaos and the normal ways of relating to others was not possible. I would see her clothes on other patients and other people’s clothes on her, but it didn’t bother her. Cherished photos we thought she would want to have with her ended up all broken because possessions no longer mattered to her. Her roommate would rock back and forth and make these loud moaning sounds. I quickly learned to not care about any of that. What did matter was that she always got a big smile on her face when I came, although she would call me many different names. I learned to relate to her on a purely emotional level, and gradually I started to see what a gift that was. We were sharing a relationship of pure unconditional love with zero judgements or expectations, something that is not usually possible in even the most ideal of parenting relationships after a child is no longer a baby. It was amazingly beautiful when I could set everything else around us aside and just be in that love with her.
Recently, a friend forwarded to me some notes she had on the Empress tarot card and one sentence stood out to me on a list of 5 things under a title of Embodying the Empress: “Unconditional love or bust!” When I allowed myself to say, “I want to be nurtured” in my prayer petition as it bubbled up in my heart a couple of weeks ago, I knew it meant nurturing of myself as well as receiving nurturing. And I am learning that this unconditional love is a key component, both of myself, from others and for others, of being nurtured.
Perhaps the hardest place to practice unconditional love is with ourselves. Turning off that inner critic is tough sometimes – it can be very sneaky. The never enough voice. The must accomplish stuff voice. I am learning in my prayer practice that if I nurture myself, the nurturing and unconditional love become a circle that feed each other. Nurturing allows unconditional love. And unconditional love encourages more nurturing. And when I can remember that we are all the face of the Great Mother, then I can remember that loving myself unconditionally is to love Her. Maybe if I think about doing an exercise program for my body that is part of Her body too that will motivate me a little more!
I have written before about the process of making a flower essence and the accompanying “attunement” or meditation that I do with it. Magnolia spoke to me very specifically about unconditional love. She said to me in the meditation: “I am ancient, deeply fragrant, open hearted Love. Feel my primordial unconditional Love being offered to you….” I have found that being outside in Nature is also a place that I experience unconditional love. And understanding that the Earth is literally our Great Mother lets me fully understand these experiences. I always felt this incredible awe and life energy and aliveness in the presence of nature, but I didn’t know what to do with it. Knowing that nature is the body of our Great Mother, now I can truly allow myself to let this knowing settle into my heart as Her unconditional Love and let it nurture me. One of my favorite quotes from a favorite book of mine – Way of the Rose – says: “You do not live in a random universe because you do not live in a Motherless universe.”