Alone in an Empty Universe

From my journal for Thursday, September 24

3rd cup. coffee.  WholeHeart questions.
The poem was about a lighthouse
1. Who are your light keepers?
2. What keeps you afloat?
3. How are you “keeping a light for those left out”?

I found them very difficult.  I feel like there’s no source of light in my life right now  —— first, I am aware of the sunlight falling in my room, then of the moon last night.  Then of Sebastian, totally unaware of his strength, of the light he is carrying ——     As for “keeping a light for those left out,” I’m in outer darkness myself.  No, I’m not in outer darkness, Baby Jenny is in outer darkness and I am the Witness.  I see her there and I sit down next to her.  I don’t know if that can be called “keeping a light.”

I’ve been thinking that, a baby, who’s before the age of object constancy, is absolutely alone when mother is out of sight.  If mother is out of sight for too long the baby is traumatized.  What does that baby feel?  An utter aloneness.  In the dark, no light, no warmth, an empty universe, there aren’t even any people in it.  It’s not like I’m all alone, maybe even feeling horribly lonely, but I know there are other people in the world.  I know that now, as an adult.  But a baby without object constancy does not know that, cannot experience that.  What she experiences is an utter aloneness, so overwhelmingly painful to feel  —— what would you feel if you were the last person left alive on the Earth? —— that the baby’s reptilian brainstem goes into freeze, and the baby will suffer from PTSD for the rest of her life.

I realize that the importance of “3rd cup” writings is they give my subconscious a chance to process the information.  I find that there are often questions that I simply don’t know the answer to right away.  Sometimes, a day later, or after a walk with the dog, I find myself coming to an answer.

“WholeHeart” is an organization in Burlington VT.  They have weekly “Wellness Circles” on Zoom.  We are read a poem, given prompts, allowed 5 minutes to write.  Then we are put into breakout groups of two or three, and given 5 minutes apiece to read what we wrote, or just talk about what it brought up.  The two people who are not reading are asked to “listen generously,” to not offer advice or criticism.  I have found it very helpful in this time of pandemic.  Especially now, as Kendal has 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the staff, and is in lockdown mode.

Sebastian is a character from Elizabeth Goudge‘s novel, The Heart of the Family.  He is a survivor of bombing and concentration camps.  He’s obviously dealing with PTSD, though it’s not named.  He is described as grey, dry, and dusty, but also as having great strength that he doesn’t seem to know about.

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