All is nearly in place for me to begin to write my next book. My cloistered scriptorium (a small writing space at home) has been tidied and organized. The majority of my 100 plus journals are neatly arranged on nearby bookshelves, awaiting harvesting. A cloth covered notebook stuffed with ideas, possible titles, photos, and other bits of inspiration is also within reach. The last step is to organize my computer desktop files, clear emails, etc. Then everything will be in place to begin.
The project will be a memoir. My journals will provide much of the content and kindling for my writing. When I began to write Ink and Honey, I had no idea it would take twenty-two years to complete it. Twenty-two years from now, if I’m still on this earth, I’ll be ninety-two years old. I don’t have the luxury of endless time to complete another manuscript. I have discovered that time is a precious commodity as I age.
I sense from the overture to the process of writing a memoir, that I’m readying my space, spirit, heart, and mind to record my legacy. Legacy is a theme, a word, a concept that has recently become a priority for me. The contemplation of personal legacy feels essential for the enrichment of my elder years. How to manifest my legacy through a written, and curated form of creative expression, is the next chapter of my work.
My muses are my feminine ancestors. In my bedroom carefully arranged on a bookshelf, there is an array of sepia colored photographs, small objects and jewelry belonging to many precious women of my family. All of them, represented by their possessions, have made their crossings beyond the veil. All of them. . .with the exception of my mother who awaits her turn to join them.
Their legacies are part of me and the tangible remains of their lives are a kind of spiritual technology, conduits, to long ago moments in time.
I hold my grandmother’s earrings and my heart hears her voice as she gently taught me how to pray.
I look at the photo of beloveds carefully posed on my great-grandmother’s front porch. The memory fills my senses with the sound of humming bees, and the summer fragrance of the honeysuckle vine entwined around the porch banister.
I touch the smooth face of my mother-in-law’s watch. The hands forever and mysteriously frozen at the exact time of her death, 10:22. I hear her last words to her assembled family the day before she made her final journey,
“Know God and love each other.”
The beauty of the touchstones left behind by these interesting women of another era, creates a bridge spanning space and time. Their legacies are palpably present. My ancestors’ simple, inanimate, personal possessions are vessels, alive with stories of the women who shaped me as a child and informed my way of living and being.
Now, as I prepare to gather my touchstones and life’s stories to craft a legacy that one day will be added to our family’s heritage…I take pause to remember and acknowledge the spirits of Sibyl Esther, Leta, Alta Mae, Frances, Lucille, Maude, Lenore, and Irene. I also give thanks for the woman who remains, Barbara, my mother.
A woman’s stories and cherished bits and pieces she leaves behind combine over time, to become her legacy. Feminine wisdom and guidance are waiting there within the dusty journal, faded love letters, and creased photographs. Her laughter, joy, sorrow and tears are forever captured within a string of pearls and white gloves worn when she had only just begun and there was a lifetime yet to be lived, and dreams to be dreamed.
What are the objects and cherished ephemera that hold your stories and the essence of who you are?
How will you share your legacy with those who come after you?
Who are the ancestors that informed your life? What do their spirits have to tell you?