25 Years–and The Way It Is

by Maria Theresa Maggi on February 12, 2021

"Land, Sea, Sky," chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Land, Sea, Sky,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

February 14, Valentine’s Day, will mark the 25th “anniversary” of me receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It will also mark the 13th anniversary of eating low fat and plant-based in such a way that revitalized and returned me to a path of better health than before I adopted it. The simple way I eat has done a great deal of good for me, but in marking these significant anniversaries, I would be remiss in claiming the healing life I have experienced begins and ends only with a change in diet.  What strikes me in this moment is something less easily identifiable, a way of inner listening, for lack of a better phrase, that brought the healing possibility of changing my diet to my attention in the first place, and made me consider it, and helped it become an effective tool through the ups and downs of my conditions over the course of more than a decade.

Sometimes, though, that hard-to-describe “something” I listen to tells me other things–like when to wait, when to “not know” and have it be okay, and when to push back, or trust that I’ll find solutions I have no idea how I’ll find. Sometimes it just tells me to put myself into certain postures or positions, either physical, emotional or mental–sometimes all 3. Sometimes it tells me to be quiet in order to “hear”what is next. Sometimes it gets me to laugh, or  be more brave in how I love. It always leads me to appreciate serendipity. In this way, I happened upon the following William Stafford poem the other day, and I recognized it as an old friend I met years ago affixed to a power pole on a street in Portland as Romeo and I made our way home from the grocery store:

The Way It Is

William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

In turn, the poem itself reminds me of a post  I wrote here even more years ago called “Plein Air Dreamin’ Come True.” It’s telling that I always remember the title of this blog post wrong, instead mistaking it for the title I once gave the dream referred to in it when I first wrote it down, “Following The Thread of Life.” It’s telling that neither my dream and Stafford’s poem which resonates as so deeply true in my life experience have an actual literal thread in either one of them, yet that is what is so viscerally present to me in both. Near the end of that dream I tell the young girl now scared and looking to me for guidance that we would “follow the thread of life,” which became the tiles depicting intertwined snakes that made a path out from behind a cement wall into an art studio flush with light and works in progress. I wrote it felt ” good to have arrived. Like coming home.” Then I woke up with the phrase “following the thread of life “clear enough to say it out loud in the quiet of the night.

Perhaps the closest this listening came to being an actual thread rather than a metaphor for what can’t be literally seen came in the formof the beautiful red thread blessed by the Dalai Lama I was given for Romeo by the Tibetan monks who visited Newport a couple of years ago. When Romeo left this life  I placed this bright and beautiful blessed thread around his neck. It went on his body into the cremation fire, as I was told is the custom.

Yet even this literal thread pointed to more than the outward sign of a blessing. It would return in the form of the truth Romeo sent me that “love is a continuum,” as Cotton and I felt our way to life without him.   I do my best to follow the course of that continuum in my listening that can’t be pinned down in one format or any one manifestation or experience, praying I will recognize the feeling and trust it. Or maybe, like William Stafford writes, I am holding on to it the whole time. Maybe the recognition of that feeling when it resurfaces is actually the way I become aware I’m still holding it.

The last few years have been stressful, to say the least. That often meant  I didn’t have the stamina to make any art or to share it if I did–which in itself I recognized meant I was to accept and find the “thread” elsewhere, sometimes simply by trusting and having the patience to wait, and to discover what I could do until it returned–if it was meant to. But recently I found my way to that return–by listening and feeling as “the thread”  led me back to it. The simple chalk pastel above is evidence of one of the first times in a long time I followed “the thread” back into color, line, and texture.

At this 25 year mark, I am most grateful for my quest to listen for those “directions,” that “thread,” leading me into moments of healing presence. When I’m given the inspiration to recognize I am somehow holding such mystery, it steers me through all manner of uncertainty, fragility, challenge and pain to the sacrament of the present moment.

I’d like to close with my favorite Valentine’s Day memory, one I have referred to before to commemorate this day,  inscribed in a blank verse sonnet as a tribute to the sacrament of a treasured moment. Such moments filled with presence and love mean more than a 25 year anniversary and all the kale I never get tired of that’s gotten me to this point–they make the years worth living and the good simple food that helps me live worth eating.

Scenes from a Valentine’s Day

Romeo, my four-legged Valentine,
focuses on a clump of dead leaves
with the olfactory equivalent
of a microscope, while over us
the sky has opened to sun, then turned gray,
and now a few flakes of snow flutter
in the air that shifts its color with the clouds.
We’re on the edge of campus; a young man
in black sweats crosses our path, his arms full
of red roses wrapped in red paper.
The snow falls but doesn’t stick yet;
the sky is that color of milk hinting
a storm might come, its wide mouth agape,
as if opening to a deep kiss.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear Readers. And Happy Anniversary to me.

 

Maria (moonwatcher)

Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Silvia February 13, 2021 at 9:29 am

Happy Anniversary!
I am glad you are sharing your story.

Do you know Dr. Saray Stancic? Her MS story is also truly inspiring.

Greetings from Germany, Silvia

Reply

2 Maria Theresa Maggi February 13, 2021 at 11:13 pm

Thanks Sylvia! I will have to look Dr. Stancic up.

Reply

3 Silvia February 16, 2021 at 6:57 am

What strikes me that in 2020 Dr. Stancic had her 25th anniversary too. And she discovered Roy Swank about 8 years into her MS journey.

Reply

4 Maria Theresa Maggi February 16, 2021 at 10:24 am

Thanks Silvia–just looked her up! Nice synchronicity!

Reply

5 Veronique Blommaart February 13, 2021 at 10:07 am

Happy anniversary. You have inspired me to change my lifestyle, almost 7 years ago. Thank you for that ❤️

Véronique
The Netherlands

Reply

6 Maria Theresa Maggi February 13, 2021 at 11:12 pm

You are welcome Veronique–I really appreciate you!

Reply

7 Marge Evans February 13, 2021 at 11:46 am

I love your writing. thank you

Reply

8 Maria Theresa Maggi February 13, 2021 at 11:12 pm

You are most welcome, Marge! Thank YOU!

Reply

9 Chaya February 13, 2021 at 6:22 pm

Sometimes the thread seems to leave on its own, which is as forlorn a feeling as losing a friend, an answer, or even a whisper of reassurance in the desert. I’m there now, but am encouraged to hear where you are after 25 years with a difficult diagnosis. Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve learned along the way — your words resonate.

Reply

10 Maria Theresa Maggi February 13, 2021 at 7:59 pm

Yes, Chaya, that can happen.Thank you for mentioning that experience. I find when it seems that way it works best for me to just “fog around” and have faith I’ll find it–or it will find me, or show me it’s still there when it’s time. I find even that very acceptance of being in the fog ends up being a kind of way of keeping hold of the thread. Blessings to you.

Reply

11 LJ February 14, 2021 at 3:18 pm

What thoughtful sharing of your inner realms. I love the things you’ve described here, and share many impulses and reactions and movements to-and-from in my own way along the path as you have described them. Blessings on following the way of your path, of your thread, and it’s a delight to have somehow known and seen your lantern’s light bobbing out there in the darkness when I looked up with curiosity.. “Who else is crazy enough to be out HERE right now?” LOL… Happy Anniversary.

Reply

12 Maria Theresa Maggi February 15, 2021 at 7:37 pm

Thank you so much, LJ!I love your image of my lantern’s light bobbing up and down in the darkness and you looking up with curiosity! That’s just lovely! And haha–yes, ME–crazy enough. LOL xo

Reply

13 DONNA BETTS February 15, 2021 at 11:40 am

Happy belated Valentine’s — Thank you for always sharing your inner heart thoughts and now for reminding me about life’s thread.
With love,, donna B

Reply

14 Lisa is Planted365 February 15, 2021 at 1:57 pm

How lovely. Thank you for sharing your story …

Reply

15 Gena February 24, 2021 at 4:51 am

This is so beautiful, Maria. I re-read it this morning in an effort to stay connected to my own thread, and it helped me to do that. Happy (belated) anniversary!

<3

Reply

16 Maria Theresa Maggi February 25, 2021 at 2:11 pm

Gena, it means the world to me that your rereading of this post had such an effect. Thank you so much, Dear Heart! Much love xo

Reply

17 Veronica April 15, 2021 at 11:39 am

Two months late, but I want to wish you so many happy things, and continued health. My diagnosis anniversary is coming up in just a few days. How life has changed since then… Friendships lost and friendships gained. That thread is a mysterious thing! Thank you for always sharing your story, it has helped me in my path more than I can even say. I’m ever grateful for your friendship, and that our threads met those many years ago. xoxo

Reply

Previous post:

Next post: