John O’ Donahue, author, poet, philosopher, and theologian, was adopted as my guardian spirit for my March 2021 notebook. I’d read of this ritual in choosing an author or influential being as a guardian spirit for each new notebook from Austin Kleon. I thought, yes, I need the whispers of these past wisdom spirits.
Also, while this notebook is in use, I also track down the written work of the guardian spirit and do some close ponderous reading. Quite often, the language of the writer will weave its way into the written words of my own wreckage of words.
In Walking in Wonder, in which I’ve been reading in the mornings, O’ Donahue writes that, “Each one of us is the custodian of an inner world that we carry around with us” (p. 7). How lovely this is to think about. A custodian is such an important essential worker. One who keeps the property well cared for, cleaning out the dirt and residue, pruning, and shining up the valuables for the world to see. He never seems to take vacation, and I’ve always believed that one must treat the custodian with the greatest of respect, or your garbage can might not get emptied. All that junk piles up pretty quickly.
He goes on to say how within ourselves, we carry a whole harvest of lived experience. Yet, it seems like these memories just vanish if not revisited regularity. Sadly, he continues, “memory seems to be focused almost exclusively on past woundedness and hurt, some of it induced and some real.” If we can be sure to trust our custodians, perhaps she can alert us to when we need a good spring cleaning.
I wrote these lines down in my notebook:
“It’s sad that people don’t use their good memories and revisit again and again the harvest of memory that is within them, and live out of the riches of that harvest, rather than out of the poverty of their woundedness. . . You can go back within yourself to great things that have happened to you and enjoy them and allow them to shelter and bless you again” (p. 12-13).
This. I had to pause and savor for a moment.
What more reason can we have for writing? in being story-catcher of this warm harvest? Each time I reread a story I’ve captured in detail, it’s relived as if it’s happening again in my imagination and I feel lighter, my heart expands and I’m reminded of how grateful I am for the life I’ve experienced. Even more so to have it written down in my notebook – for safe keeping, and for lifting me when my heart needs lifting.
Let me share one story with you that brings a small memory back and makes me chuckle, mostly because my husband and I have no willpower. This story is in comics, which sometimes allows me to capture more than if I wrote the description with words.
There are thousands of moments to capture into our notebooks, the smallest episodes that we think don’t matter.
Until they do.
I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.