It is late February and I find myself in Nashville still, amid an eerily premature spring. Of course, I am enjoying it -- my spirit is like the precipitous bud and bloom, more than ready to leave winter behind. But my human mind, which so often resides in the conflicting streams of fear and wonder, is completely unsettled by a season out of sync. It's hard not to see a theme: the natural world responding to our accelerated chaos in its own language of extremes.
I have been wanting to write something of an "update" from my time back in the city since late fall. For some reason it has felt nearly impossible. Perhaps I have been and remain somewhat in winter-mode myself, letting things germinate in silence. Looking around me now I see daffodils blooming, but the trees remain exposed, most plant-life is still sleeping.
I have come to realize in the last few weeks that if leaving my life on the farm last July was a stepping into the unknown, if it was entering a "second cocoon" as Paul Plotkin describes in his wonderful book Soulcraft, then it could be that I am simply so much still in the in-between that I am not sure how or what to report. If a part of me is dying and part of me being born, it could be that the chrysalis of my next self remains suspended. At any rate, songs have been coming, and for that I am always grateful.
I wrote "Mountain Spring" in the true dead of winter; to me it describes a sort of revelation and surrender. Not a giving up or resignation, but a going on and through -- hopefully even a sort of integration. The idea and image of clear, pure water coming from a deep, underground source (and never drying up) is something I want to hold on to. It is real, it is imagined, it is endangered, it is already extinct. It is what we need. It is necessary. It is sustaining, mysterious, powerful, vivifying. It is healing, transformative. How do we get it, how do we keep it? How can we protect it? Who owns it and who holds the power to use or destroy it? Will we ever get it back?
Also during the process of digging in and writing this song, I glimpsed more mysteries and truths about love itself -- seeing that we can come to a place where instead of constantly searching for love, we realize we are love, we are an accumulation of all the love we've ever experienced.
The term sacred wound is sometimes used to describe a psychological potentiality within us all -- it is a place in the psyche where we were initially hurt, but with time, care, and a precise, loving attention it can be turned into spiritual strength. For this healing and transformation to take place we must not ignore the original site of injury. We must not deny that we were ever injured. This is where we must be brave, and this is where we must use our best night-vision, to see what needs seeing in the dark.
Sometimes transformation takes time. Change is constant, but when you're hoping for transmutation, you don't know if it will happen instantaneously, overnight, or over a period of many years.
And you can open the door, walk out the door, and close the door behind you, and still not know how to answer when they ask if you're coming back or not.
All to say, I have been busy with my own inner work. I've been cultivating the internal terrain where songs (for me) come from. Where wounds are exposed and revisited with hopes of healing, where dreams are seeded and fertilized, tended to with care.
Looking forward into (official) spring, I plan to begin recording a new album in the next couple of months. And although I'm still not sure of the particulars, I trust the seeds that have been planted are pushing sunward even now.
Bubbling from the mountain spring: old wounds, new love
Shifting in the dying light,
will I recognize my reflection?
Cut away, cut away, see what I've become
Don't look away, don't look away, from what's been done
It's never over, it's never enough We're just layer upon layer
of love ---
Dancing in the winter fire: old dreams, new visions
Angels, demons, red-tail hawks,
keep on circling the roads unchosen --
A sister told me, sometimes,
to find your way back out again , You gotta go deeper
You gotta go further in ---
It never ends, it never ends It's never enough
We're just layer
upon layer of love
We're just layer upon layer of love ---
(Mountain Spring, © Jennifer Niceley, 2017)