miracles & lessons

Our set on a cloudless evening

Emergence.  I’m reading Rev. Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson’s blog post on the topic.  As well as her wise words, there is a quote from Ursula Goodenough, scientist and religious naturalist:

“[T]ales of natural emergence [are] far more magical than traditional miracles. Emergence is inherent in everything that is alive, allowing our yearning for supernatural miracles to be subsumed by our joy in the countless miracles that surround us.”

To both of them, I respond: I didn’t know that emergence could be such a thing.  As attached as I am to the metaphor of chrysalis with all its possibilities of gooeyness and dissolving, I have given very little thought to emergence.  Yes, I know there is, or hopefully will be, a butterfly at the end of metamorphosis but Carlson shines light on the miracle of emergence, the process of claiming change.  She says:

[W]e forget how miraculous we are. The sheer improbability of our existence escapes us, and we need butterfly garden-shaped reminders. Thank goodness there are small miracles surrounding us.”

Indeed.  I have so little considered us as miracle.  I have taken up the banner of chrysalis—the planning, the building, the letting go of planning and building, the surrender to what cannot be controlled. the patience and the resilience.  Most of all the patience and resilience, but to miracles small or large, to emergence, I’ve rarely tipped my hat.

View from the back porch

The shoot is winding down.  We should be finished by late in the day on Thursday. Julia and I will be on the road on Friday. After so many months on lock down or on extreme social caution, we have been immersed in the society of almost two dozen people, most of whom we did not know until we arrived here.  I had forgotten the quick jelling of a production cast and crew into a friendly community—a quick family—who works and plays together for the duration of a project.  

This has not been the measured emergence that we’ve experienced in Newton during the last few months, but a sudden and complete bursting out of our comfortable existence and a plunging headlong into our post-covid time.  

Julia has enjoyed the acceptance of this little community.  Accepted as she is and for who she is.  Sarah, and two others, Reno and Syd, have looked after her needs and coaxed her into work.  By herself, Julia has considered and commented on the process of work.  Everyone on set has entertained her, catered to her a little bit or a lot, and most importantly, her engaged her in conversation.  Most of the time, conversations have been on her preferred topics and everyone follows her lead.  Sometimes, she allows others to question her or offer a topic for consideration.  This intense dose of social engagement is not perfect on her end but it is almost constant through the days.  I have been actively looking and hoping hard enough that it must amount to prayer for social interaction enough for Julia to begin to move forward again socially after so many months of isolation and restrictions, so many months of zoom.  In-person school and then careful in-person meetings with her therapist have kept Julia from drowning in isolation but it has been a complete surprise that the social emersion that she so desperately needs came from two weeks with a movie crew.

I am not thinking about outcomes or next steps from this experience.  Here and now, Julia is in a better place than she was when we began.  She has reached a plateau of ease, albeit with a lot of resistance at times, where she feels valued, where she recognizes that she is doing is work, where she sees the possibilities of an adulthood with community around her. These may be fleeting glimpses which will fade quickly but they are new ideas for Julia—work and adulthood experienced with some joy and with people outside of her house.

This experience has been offered to Julia without the constant need for me to supervise and intercede.  I am still available at any and every moment to step in when Julia needs my support, but I’ve shared support with Sarah and those specifically charged with Julia’s care, and with the entire community.  Natural supports. In some ways this is akin to school, but the demands on Julia have been closer to adult living than an academic environment and my physically presence has allowed me a level of  eavesdropping on independence and necessary support that is unique.  I am within ear shot in a trusted environment. 

We have been staying with family friends of Sarah whom I had met during the years when we came to Maryland for Thanksgiving.  They have been gracious and wonderful—opening their home in all the ways we needed it including feeding Julia before I woke up in the morning at times.  Their home is comfortable and their house rules transparent.  It has been easy to be in the house and with them, especially considering that our schedule has been erratic and we were usually exhausted when we got home.  

I have had time to sit and read and write and pour over material to write some more.  Admittedly, I can almost always make this time in my week, but rarely do I give myself such permission.  I’ve made good use of the time, perhaps better use than when I tick off items on the ever present todo list.  I have not cooked a single meal save an occasional scrambled egg and we’ve eaten our meals in company which is ever pleasant.  

Many miracles and many lessons in this emergence.  And some sadness that it has to come to an end.


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