Lammas is a festival marking the grain harvest and is the midway point between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. The standard invitation is to reflect on what was planted in the spring to see what you are harvesting now. And if this is your headspace this year I invite you to check out last year’s post.
My headspace is swirling with thoughts and questions of rest and paring down. “What do you need to let rest?” “What needs to be released?” are a couple questions that come to mind. While these questions on the surface don’t seem to align with the harvest season we are in, the questions are central to land-tending and soul-tending in modern times. The questions at heart are about discernment - making decisions to create environments where the land and humans can thrive.
Contrary to what society wants us to believe (indoctrinated us to believe), we cannot keep producing without rest. A continuous churning of productivity will eventually lead to nutrients lost and burnout both of land and people. We want so much to thrive and often the messaging is to hustle to achieve thriving. But rest is a vital part of the production process and we must tend these boundaries for ourselves in a culture that encroaches on our body-landscapes continuously.
In the Jewish tradition we have what is called Shmita. Every seven years we were commanded to let the fields rest, and in turn, we were released from some of the demands of our daily lives. This seventh year, a Sabbath year, is called Shmita - Hebrew for “release”. In the modern era the Shmita year has become a guiding principle not just for physical land, but also for our inner landscapes. Shmita can take the form of letting our home gardens rest, taking sabbaticals from busy schedules, or simply using discerning questions to help us prune our lives from what no longer feeds us.
How does one let the land rest and still survive? It certainly takes some planning, embracing interconnectedness, and a redistribution of focus. AND when Shmita is followed the land doesn’t rest as much as it’s given the chance to do its own thing. Land still produces without human intervention - it simply and naturally finds it own rhythm and possibilities for growth. It is a year of releasing the land from expectations and bending to human desires. What would your year be like if you gave yourself the same release?
During the traditional time of harvesting what happens in a year when there is nothing to immediately gather? How does taking time to rest and renew feed our relationship to time?
Many lives have returned to the busy-ness of pre-pandemic (though the pandemic isn’t over) and to consider taking a rest so soon after many experienced the pandemic as a forced time out seems a hard NO. As humans we love all or nothing…but there is so much in between. We can rest our bodies, minds, and our land in micro and macro ways. We can rest to discern what has meaning and what needs to be released without putting ourselves in a time out that goes against our nature. You do you.
AND…how do you know you? The you that isn’t cultivated and curated? The you that isn’t trimmed and organized? The you who is like the land left to be feral and free? I would argue one of the ways to answer these soul-touching questions is to give yourself some spaciousness and time…to be like the land in the Shmita year, and see how you grow when returned to your natural way.
It has taken me many years to acknowledge I am not a fan of summer. Heat, intense sunlight, bugs, excessive daylight, the expectation of go-go-go is not my thing. My love of summer revolved around one main thing as a child - no school and that love followed me well into adult given I spent years in education. It feels risky to acknowledge this dislike - so much of our cultural narrative is around the easy-going, freedom, expressive season of summer. Disliking summer is not a popular opinion. But the more I learn about myself the more I realize this season just isn’t my jam. Of course summer isn’t all bad - it’s beautiful with everything in bloom and during the ongoing pandemic it gives a much safer option for gathering in person. So I try to embrace what pleases me with the challenges the season personally brings.
Lately, two new aspects of the solstice have been whispering to me, fresh perspectives from years past. The beauty of tracking the yearly natural cycle for years is witnessing that I never meet a season in the same way from year to year. There is a nuanced, complex relationship that has grown with time. A richness I wish for all of us.
Shelter is the first theme that whispered to me. Informed by the four of wands in the tarot, the card’s image is four posts decorated in beautiful garland - sometimes with a fire in the middle of the posts. The blazing sun of the solstice and the heat invite us to seek shelter from the intensity of the day. The card is one of celebration, reflection, and this year it spoke of shelter and the other theme on my mind - pause.
Pausing at the pinnacle of the natural year is rooted directly in the etymology of the word solstice. “Point at which the sun seems to stand still” is the root of the word. This time of year is a turning point. A milestone I am so grateful to reach simply because it’s the moment the sun begins to reverse course into the fertile darkness of winter. Focusing on the two themes of shelter and pause have given arise to questions that we can use to contemplate the season. I share the reflections as an offering to your solstice celebration.
REFLECTIONS: What does shelter mean to me? What shelter do I require? What shelter do I desire? What other beings do I offer shelter to? How can I comfortably extend shelter to others in need?
REFLECTIONS: When do I pause? When do I ignore the need to pause? What are the factors that contribute to me ignoring the pause (society/people/internal dialogue)? What/who invites me to pause? What is the smallest way I could invite the energy of pause into my life right now?
To me - shelter is my bed with my weighted blanket and a stuffed animal. My cat laying next to me while I work. It is my shower, my back deck, and within the hug of people I love. Shelter offers me a place to be completely myself, to foster a sense of safety inside, and away from many eyes upon me. It is a place free from judgement and built on acceptance. It’s a rarity. And pausing seems to inherently come when I seek shelter - that is the beauty of their connection to each other.
These reflections and energies are not season specific - finding shelter and taking pause are experiences we need throughout our life. Maybe they aren’t themes that are whispering to you right now…I invite you to tuck them away for when the calling for pause and shelter do visit you.
I’m not convinced that we need to be perfectly in sync with the natural world. Rarely has the external season matched with my internal season. Instead of the perfect match - what if we embraced harmony and relationship? What if we gave ourselves accommodations to make it through the season with as much grace as we can muster? The natural world doesn’t force us into just one way. Instead it invites diversity and multiplicity. Show me a plant that thrives without water and we can just as easily find a counterpoint that will wilt without hydration. There is no one perfect way to do the solstice or life. Instead it’s a journey of correspondence and attunement - with ourselves, our communities, and the natural world around us. May we all have the shelter we need and moments to pause in safety and sustenance that the shelter provides.
For the last several years, the Holy Week Missive has been inspired by the same quote, “When you get out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in" (Haruki Murakami). I try to move to a different theme, but the quote calls again and again too me - an affirmation that life is about change. You aren’t the same person who read this newsletter last year. You have grown, changed your mind, learned something new, gained and lost family, friends, loved ones. Something has changed for you in the last year - and if it’s nothing outward - your cells have changed, that is a requirement of living. And yet, while we are creatures of change, the last few years have been a chorus of wanting, needing to return to normal. Several years ago I went through a surgery that was to return me to my normal life - and what happened was the exact opposite. Instead I walked through the storm and on the other side was the unexpected. There was no going back to who I was, that normal was gone. And since that moment, I have relied less on normal as a destination and more on the new normal that presents itself each hour and day.
We have a magnetic on our fridge that says “The only normal people are the one’s you don’t know very well.” Normal is a facade that crumbles under deeper inquiry and observation. The word normal derives from a “unit of measure - the carpenter’s square” and developed into meaning “conforming to common standards or established order or usage.” And while normal began as something objective, it has turned into a subjective unit of measure for human living and worthiness. Society’s compulsory constructions are now what is seen as normal and many of us are trying to measure up to a yard stick that is antiquated and unattainable. Normal is a culturally created mirage in each one of our minds. This Holy Week I wonder how “normal” is keeping each one of us from living from our essence and authenticity? What are we measuring our life against? Who’s carpenter’s square did you give authority to in your life?
Stripping away the normal isn’t an easy or a quick task. It’s a journey to deeply honoring our needs even if they rub against the established order. It’s anchoring into one’s own being with unwavering faith that your soul is the measure you need and allowing others the same freedom. Normal has kept us culturally stuck in a binary with something good, right, and “normal” while anything outside of this square unit of measure is deemed OTHER and therefore bad, wrong, and amoral. For everyone, normal is a destructive measuring stick. We all lose when the standard is false. In this season where the theme of liberation is dominant for so many traditions, my hope and prayer is that each one of us is liberated from the constraints of normal. And that we all live a life where we can deeply embody our genuine essence.
“We turn not older with years, but newer every day.” - Emily Dickinson
“Renewal: restore (a living thing) to a vigorous or flourishing state," also figurative, of spiritual states, souls, etc.; from re- "again" + Middle English newen, neuen "resume, revive, renew" (see new). A Latin-Germanic hybrid formed on analogy of Latin renovare. From early 15c. as "be restored, flourish once more.”
- Etymology Dictionary
Spring Equinox is here in the northern hemisphere and the word renewal has been rattling around in my being. For many springs, I would see the flowers begin to emerge and I would have grief. Grief that the world around me was returning to a vibrant state, and I inwardly was still in winter, still in the vulnerable, raw, sucking energy from the depths state. Many springs greeted me with this grief. My practice was to be tender with myself, reminding my wintering being that one day I will see the flowers emerge and the sting of their arrival would be lessened. Maybe in this moment you are a person that is hoping I say I have found myself aligned with the flowers this year, or maybe you find yourself wishing the flowers would stay hidden. But for me the deeper question is how can we honor where we are? How can we honor our own time, without society and others trying to dictate how and when we emerge renewed?
In my springtime grief, I would look at the Dickinson quote and remind myself that everyday I am newer, even if no one else could see it, heck even if I couldn’t see it. Each day, new cells would come alive in my body, each day a new thought, or a new movement. Sure, maybe it was the same old thing, but I was new because it was a new day on a planet that moves forward in the universe as well as around the sun. Newness is built into our lives on the microscopic level, and the moments when grace touched me, I tried to remember this profound simplicity of life not to move myself out of my winter but to honor the complexity that resides within.
As a society we have a habit of encouraging others to strive and live up to the potential we see in them. And while this often stems from good intentions, it can be harmful. What would it be like instead to companion someone right where they are at? Yes, to hold hope that they will renew in their own time…AND to recognize none of us know when that time is for others (and really for ourselves). And what would it be like if we didn’t internalize this need to live up to our potential? This internalized “I should be someplace else in my journey.” So much of us struggling to get to someplace else is often that voice of compulsory culture that says “we should….” My springs spent in grief would have been easier if I had not tried to meet everyone else’s needs of what I was supposed to look/act/communicate like in spring.
This spring, looking back on other springs when I have been in a more wintered place, I can see that staying more inner, more stripped down, provided me the time and space to deepen in ways I would have caused harm to myself and others if I had emerged prematurely. The last several years have stripped away compulsory timelines, so I could see for myself my own rhythm and cycles. I could see where I was constricted by outside structures, unwelcome, and in other places where I was the norm and therefore privileged.
Of course as with all spiritual initiations, sacrifice and loss color the renewal. But I remind myself what truly is to be cherished remains. And with the loss, newness has the chance to arise. To me, this is the process of our renewal, the stripping away of societal/familial/cultural "shoulds" so that we can truly see and embody ourselves. This is also the beginning of making a world that is more divergent and dynamic - where we can flourish instead of being constricted and oppressed by social structures that isolate so many of us.
So during this spring equinox, my inquiry is, “where do you find yourself at this moment of renewal?” If you find yourself “out of rhythm” with the outward season, what are ways you can assure yourself that your timing is right timing even if no one else can affirm it for you? And if you need permission (as many of us do), I honor and see you in your own season. It's ok. It's more than ok - it's natural. Take as much time and space as you need right where you are. The natural law is that seasons change, catalyst happen, and the same is true with human seasons. We will renew and emerge in our own sacred time.
This time of year expectations and obligations are abundant. Many of us overextend ourselves and/or commit to events we would rather sit out. Family and societal expectations are complicated - a delicate balance of meeting our individual needs with the collective desires. It’s not easy to go against the grain of society, it takes a lot of energy, and frankly, in the short term it may be easier and safer to appease, but what is the long term cost to our wellbeing?
Everywhere you look, this time of year tells us “normal” during the holiday season is a person who is happy, festive, and loves to gather. This is the dominant conversation, and yet most people I encounter don’t fit this normal narrative. Instead, people are tending grief, sadness, overwhelm, emotional wounds, and anticipatory anxiety during this time of year. When society says be happy, festive, gather and our inner experience is more complicated than that, it’s natural to bounce between the two extremes. We need to find the messy, complex middle. The middle that is spacious and multifaceted, that allows room for us as we truly are, not as we “should” be.
Normal is a construct when it is applied to humans. There is no normal human, only what society has deemed palatable and desirable. But what if you had a magic wand and you could create a world that met your needs, your desires? Take a moment, imagine that magic wand…and now reflect…What would that look like? What would your days be like? How would your evenings shape up? What qualities/values would be front and center in your world? What type of world would welcome you in all your glory?
It’s not easy to occupy the liminal space beyond societal, communal, and familial expectations. But what if you followed that impulse to hide in the closet/bathroom/backyard for just a moment of silence? What if you lived in a society that welcomed solitude, introversion, and reflection? What if you gave yourself permission to create gatherings that fulfilled your needs & desires for connection and not what society says our gatherings should look like?
Life, like us, is anything but normal. Each day passes, we have our routines, our daily rhythms and at some point, life will say “enough” and eventually invite (or force) in a new way. This is a choice point - a path with many variations - a welcome change, a change that is inconvenient but one that offers possibility, or a change that just f#cking sucks but requires us to move through no matter what. We all have experienced some form of this in our lives and the last couple of years has been a collective through point with various degrees of suck.
This solstice is one of those choice points. To continue the “normal” way or to embrace the individuality of you. Solstice is a magical still point where darkness beckons us to sing what our soul desires. Here in the longest night for us in the northern hemisphere, I invite you to light a candle, take out your magic wand, and whisper (or write) to yourself a world beyond normal.
Tending to others, whether it's professionally or personally, takes energy and capacity. When we tend to others, we also require tending ourselves, it's a non-negotiable. We can only tend to others with the capacity that we have for others to tend to us. Each one of us is an interdependent being - we require giving and receiving to get the most out of life. So who are the beings that tend to you while you tend to others?
This is even more important if you are a liminal space holder - leaders, teachers, creatives, coaches, healers, and spiritual seekers. You are visible but also in a position of seclusion and aloneness - the only teacher in the room, the CEO of a company, a solo-entrepreneur, the healer in the room, the artist in the studio, and the coach who lifts up and inspires others. Who tends to you?
We often don't speak of the loneliness and isolation that liminal space holders feel. We've lumped it into, "we are doing something wrong - it must be fixed" instead of acknowledging that it is part of the job description. Visibility isolation is real and can be soothed by deeply connecting in a sacred way behind closed doors, confidentially and privately you allow yourself to be seen.
We can share the power we have - flatten our institutions, inspire others to tap into the power within, be client centered, and lift others up and still there is space between us. There must be to embrace the in-betweenness that require us to do our job. We hold the long visions and the paradoxical embodiement that reflects for others their own determination & beauty.
My invitation is to embrace the whole vocation of liminal space - reach out for support and embody the in-between. Find that trusted being who can tend to the wholeness of you, while you tend to others.
Equinoxes, the midpoint between the two extremes, the solstices. Here above the equator, we are heading into fall. The leaves are beginning to turn and drop, the air is a bit crisper, and our energies are starting to turn inward. At the same time, below the equator the grey begins to clear, foliage is returning, and awareness grows outward. Both points, two sides of the same coin.
This year I have been pondering the symbiotic nature of the equinoxes of the world. While fall and spring appear so different, presenting as opposites, in reality, letting go and emerging work together to form the rhythm of life. Each one feeds the other. I envision the leaves dropping, seeping their nutrients into the ground and re-emerging into the flowers in the Southern Hemisphere and the reverse happening when it's Spring Equinox here. This interconnected nature of what was planted in the spring is coming to harvest, and what was harvested and given space to rest is ready to emerge anew. And the equinox is the still point between the two halves, a sliver of balance among the waves of change that never end in the natural world.
And during these seasonal changes, I am reminded of the many times in my life where my insides didn't match what was happening externally. I was in winter when it was outwardly summer, or in spring when it was fall. During these times I took comfort in the possibility of a new season and the honoring of my own rhythm, even if it didn't look as it was supposed to.
Rhythm is our anchor. We sync up with it, we attune to it. And this attunement doesn't even need to be conscious. Andrew Huberman, has a wonderful podcast that explores the inner state of our being, from the chemical to the emotional, and the research has caught up with what humans have known, we are linked. Our heart rates mimic each other and our breathing syncs up with those we are with. We can register the internal state of others, all unconsciously, and what we register our bodies begin to turn towards. We are linked the way the trees have root systems that reach out and support each other. Not only can we be connected to each other in this elegant way, we can attune to ourselves and our own inner rhythm by a tool we have with us all the time, our heart. Sensing our hearts for our own rhythm can be a freeing anchor when the world around us swirls. And with our heart sits our lungs, the air element that resides in us. And we can bring our awareness to our breathing and notice it. And the noticing will change our breath...no effort required other than attention.
These touchpoints of the seasons, the equinoxes and solstices, are moments that call our attention outside of ourselves. To look up from our lives and orient to what is here, now. And what is here, is the natural world's moment of balance. Two days out of 365 are moments of complete balance, and after this, either daylight or nighttime will begin to expand. Might we take a cue from the natural world and relinquish the perfectionist drive for balance? The scales of Libra are never fully still, and this moment of natural balance will fade with the sunset. I invite you to reorient to rhythm and see how that anchors you in a way that is different from balance. Rhythm makes room for what is present right now, and will continue to make room for the present, again and again. Balance is fleeting while rhythm is change and constant in one beautiful energy. May we all connect to the rhythm of OUR season and let the winds of change be our heart’s desire.
QUESTION FROM READER: "Why do some items take once, others a few times and some go on forever despite working on it constantly? Frustrating when you hit it from every direction and every practice you know and it still comes back. The Spiral answer of going deeper each time gets old and is there an end or is it bottomless? Some issues seem the end comes quickly and others are a bottomless pit. It would be nice to have a discussion around it."
VL: It's been a year and a half of sitting with this question. I'm not sure we have an answer that can be satisfactory so here is an offering that may have some usefulness in shifting perspective.
SPIRIT: What do you consider a long time? Is that a long time for your personality or your soul? Could your healing be over a life time or many life times? Why the rush?
We can imagine getting the same answer each time does get old, might we suggest looking at location instead? Are you the same person each time the problem arises? Are you in the same location - geographically, in space, in your life? Would it be possible to ask yourself to review the problem from your current location now as if you had a fresh set of eyes (and tools) to review it from?
While from your vantage point somethings end quickly, have you gone back and asked your past selves if this is true? Maybe that ending was a continuation from another time and you just witnessed the tail end? And lastly maybe the problem isn't asking to be "hit" from every direction, but whispered to, that it is ok it has shown up, even if it is a downtrodden, weary traveler from a foreign land that is looking for a new way forward. For example, it needs a new wardrobe, fresh food, beauty, and the empathy that life is difficult, but they have found a place to land for the moment. And yes the houseguest may show up again and again. Not because you have failed, instead because you teach it something new, you offer it care and love, you welcome it when others would be destroyed by it.
Healing in your culture has been made to look a certain way. It has been taught that there is an endpoint and a cure for everything, instead of a more gentle approach. What would it have been like if you had been raised with teachers that shared with you their own healing journey that spanned lifetimes? What would it have been like if your community didn't push you to heal as manipulation to be a certain way? What if your culture understood time and space for healing is much longer than human time? What if you could complain about your suffering without a continual invitation to fixing, but instead be met with a deep compassion for the suffering as all humans will suffer?
This is our long way of saying zoom out which is not the same as deepen. It can lead to depth but in a different way and texture. Zoom out to see the interlocking spiraling wheels of your lives. Zoom out to give more spaciousness and time for you, your soul, and your suffering. Zoom out not to "hit it" with every practice but to just observe it. Observe it with beginner's eyes as though you are meeting yourself for the first time. How would you treat you the stranger? Certainly there is more to say on this topic. But we feel we have said enough for the moment.
VL: First, how funny they picked ZOOM as the answer...cue the groans. Second, I want to clarify, the weary houseguest they are speaking of is not trashing your house or harming you. That is a clear line that it is them and their issue and not you. (See Toko-pa's blog post, Everything is a Mirror, Until It's Not for a brilliant teaching on this).
We are not healing in isolation. Society does have a hand in our healing. We have family, friends, work, and other institutions that impact our wellbeing. And much of our world isn't set up for us to heal, what we are set up for is curing; quick, fast, and definitive. Curing certainly has a place in life, but it isn't the only endpoint for healing. Healing which may lead to curing, often takes more time, space, and boundaries and those energies aren't our cultural strong suit. Healing is swimming against this cultural current. Maybe it isn't you, but society that isn't getting the memo it needs.
Healing takes WAY more time than we as a culture think it should. I wonder what it would be like to acknowledge this societal layer as a part of your healing journey? What if you said in some form "This piece of healing that I'm needing isn't me needing to change or fix me, but it's some outward structure that I don't have any control over?" Or "this piece of healing/resolve that I am needing goes against a societal structure (family structure) and I have limited impact on that structure. How can I increase my capacity to be in this challenging space?" I believe these are relevant questions to ask, even if our pain and suffering is physical. We have a back pain or neck pain or foot pain. There's still structures that are in place that impacts our well being, that requirement us to sit at a desk or work, or to shower and get ourselves to a workplace and then when we get there we can only be half of ourselves. That all takes effort and brain capacity. And I don't think we recognize that enough in our world.
In closing to your question, gentle reader, I want to offer gentleness to you. I want to offer compassion to you. I want to offer grace to you. I firmly believe you have all these things. I hear the weariness in your question. I feel your urgency to get on with the goodness and joy of life. And I believe so much and have witnessed it, that we don't need to accomplish healing (or health) to have these things. Suffering and pain is an overrated teacher, this is what my teacher has said to me again and again and I agree. Maybe the learning is the joy between the suffering and that this joy is as tenuous and tender as the places that suffer and are in pain. Life is learning without a test to past or a next level to attain. Life is one big laboratory not a lecture hall. We come here because this is what our souls long for. We are the hungry ghosts for knowledge that is bigger than our personalties and these bodies can hold. Yes this plane is a bottomless pit of learning, may we find our way to enjoy it as the endless buffet our Spirit companions do.
In humble service and with an inadequate answer, I bow to your question and your willingness to speak from your heart.
QUESTION FROM READER: I have been on a spiritual hiatus, so to speak, for a few years and find it hard to motivate myself to get into practice again.
VL: I have so much to say on this topic - but I think Spirit says it better. I will say that there are many times in my life that I have been on what looks and feels like a spiritual hiatus and that couldn't be further from the truth. My practice just shifted to be more internal and woven throughout my daily life. My practice went into the doctor's office with me, the MRI machine, the operating room when I had surgery, while driving, showering, sitting at my computer, etc. Others have carried it into a loved one's hospital room, chemo therapy, and to the DMV.
My practice became praying throughout my day, and whispering to the wind with no answers. My practice became 5 more secs and one more breath. My practice is losing hope and faith again and again and then finding it.
The purpose of ritual and ceremony at the beginning of the journey is to learn and grow. And then somewhere the ritual becomes more internal, you become the ritual. I still do rituals and ceremonies now, but they look very different in my private life. They are simpler and more subtle, but more potent in my experience. I do miss my former spiritual practice at times, but I also know it's not what I need at the moment.
And like all practitioners, I have gone through periods where the silence of Spirit is deafening. My frustration at being able to hear for other's and not myself was maddening. But I learned that sensing for others was sensing for myself. And that sucky in-between of working and waiting as things take shape happens to everyone that is devoted to The Mystery. We are cyclical beings, and our spiritual lives are as well.
SPIRIT: Oh dear, this is a common process in spiritual life. Can you think of it as though your process has changed to be more internal and quiet which needs a different type of motivation? Throughout spiritual life practice changes based on needs and capacity and that is ok. Might it be useful to explore what is spiritual practice for you now? Is it more simple and elegant - walking with the trees, drinking a cup of warm liquid, tending the flowers, reading, creating, working, resting when your body needs to? These are all spiritual practices simply because you are a spirit doing them.
If your question is about longing for a deeper connection and the greed that your practice has gone dormant, might we suggest speaking to spirit while you do your earthly things? Whispering hello to the trees, speaking to the soul of your animals (if you have them), saying hello to the birds, speaking to the Spirits that surround you - even if you can't sense them at the moment. Ask them, beg them to come and be with you. That you long for them. And if it troubles you deeply, seek help. There is no shame in being able to sense for others but not yourself in this moment. Seek assistance to hear your own unique spiritual medicine for the moment. Find assistance that won't overwhelm you and will be gentle in their understanding that a tea light is as potent as a bonfire. And look within, your practice is still there, wintering, and when the snow has melted it will return.
VL: The basics never fail me. They continue to teach me and be a source of strength and renewal when I need it. The foundation of any ritual are the elements. Fire, water, air, earth, mineral, and the natural world including the animals. I speak to these elements with the belief they are listening and without the expectation of an answer. I believe it pleases them to be seen and heard, like it pleases me. And therefore I have done a good deed. On hiatus, when no tool or ritual seems to be right, return to the foundation of magic, along with the element of time and let it reawaken you.
Thank you for your beautiful statement that held so many questions and possibilities within.