I have been struggling in recent months, trying to run away from my greatest fears and yet being forced to face up to them. This is something that has been a theme of my life. It has been a difficult time for me, frightening, and painful, and yet I know that ultimately by facing my fears, and by getting through this I will be closer to becoming the strong, peaceful, calm person I know I can be.
One person who has been helping me along this journey, (though he has little idea I am sure of how much he helps me), is Jon Katz. He writes about his life on his farm in upstate New York, Bedlam Farm. I love the way he writes. He is honest, and wise, and generous in his willingness to share his own pain and his own dark places. This helps me. It makes me feel as though I am not alone.
Jon Katz and his wife Maria recently adopted a donkey that had been rescued from certain death. Jon has been chronicling Simon the donkey's story as he recovers in their care. As I read this each day it never fails to move me, especially now. The following piece is no exception. I don't usually quote so much directly from another but I found I couldn't shorten this because every word is necessary. It is so beautiful, and so sad, and yet so hopeful too. It gives me hope that I will get through all of this, and that I too can open up towards my fears instead of running away from them. I know this is what I need to do to move forward with my life.
"Each day, Simon’s soul emerges. I can see him best, oddly enough, in silhouette. So much stronger, more emotional. When he came to the farm, his eyes were lifeless, his soul spent in a losing battle for survival. He was at the edge of life. But each day, his soul gains strength. Simon is a messenger, I think. He comes here with a message for me. Open up, open up. Listen to me. Time is short.
We move together, silently, in the early morning, wordlessly, yet talking to one another all of the time. I open the barn door, he is waiting behind me. The other donkeys know not to come in. He walks in ahead of me, and stands by his grain pain, waiting patiently while I come into the barn, close the door, pour our two scoops of grain. At first, he rushed to the grain, almost in a panic, sometimes knocking me over. Now, he walks slowly to the pain, looks at me, sniffs it, and then lowers his head and eats it. Then he comes over to me, puts his head against my chest and is still, and there, something passes between us.
He is so much better, but there is a haggard look about him, weary, wise. Open up, open up, he says. It’s harder for men, I say. Open up, open up. Listen to me. Is that why you’ve come here? To tell me that days are precious, time is short, use the time and answer for it? No answer. Odd, but my body is different in some way I can’t define.
I have been opening up, I think. My life. My work. My photos. Maria. My friends. It is hard to open up, frightening. But Simon comes from the edge, and so he has strength, his message is powerful. And I listen to him, and am listening."
Jon Katz- http://www.bedlamfarm.com/blog/2011/06/26/simons-journal-listen-to-me-open-up/
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