A few weeks ago, Page Lambert commented on the posting Keeping the Farm. She empathized with Martha – when Page and her husband of 25 years divorced, Page decided to move away from their small cow/calf ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming and relocate back to a mountain community in Colorado where she had spent some of her childhood.
Reading Page’s comment, I knew she had a story to tell and so I contacted her and she has agreed to share her story. Little did I know at the time that Page is an accomplished and published writer who writes about the Western landscapes and coaches writers about connecting with nature. In 2006, Oprah’s O magazine featured Page’s retreat “River Writing Journeys for Women” as one of the top six great all-girl getaways of the year. Her memoir, “In Search of Kinship” was published by Fulcrum Publishing and is available in hardcover and trade paperback.
I’ll be posting Page’s story soon and in the meantime, Page has generously shared this excerpt from the narrative non-fiction she’s currently working on, “These Things I Can Love.”
The “Divorce” issue of Northern Lights arrived in the mail at the ranch ten years ago—winter of 1995. Today is the first time I have had the courage to open its yellowing pages and peer inside. Perhaps I did not want to immerse myself in other people’s dirty laundry. Perhaps I thought that by not articulating the impossible, he and I could avoid the unthinkable. Ten years ago the word was verboten, not bandied about in our marriage. Now, seven months into our divorce, more than two years into our separation as husband and wife, I still wither beneath the weight of the word. Forced to carry the debris accumulated from millions of bitter estrangements over the last century, the word bulges at the black seams of its sooty edges.
But we did ours differently, yes? No angry accusations. No name calling. No fighting in front of our son and daughter. No fighting, even, in front of ourselves. Our thrashing about was done in private—away from the eye of the family, away even from each other. Except for those few times when we both lay wounded and bloody, our love seeping into the cracks of our silences like rain into parched soil.
I am still trying to make sense of it all. Which is why, this morning, I opened the paper to its Center, the section laden with topical writing by some of the best minds, and in this case, divorced minds. Sophie Madlin, according to her brief bio, lives and dreams in the Northern Rockies. Her story sucks me into its center but I am not mired down. I am uplifted.
I dreamed we lived in a castle, she writes. It was cool and dark, as though the central fire had been left unattended…I felt myself slipping into some formless, dark abyss. This isn’t just about a woman sliding into depression because the passion in her marriage has gone out. This is about the soul of the world. Do you understand? We have converted this world we inhabit to a home for the dying. When the fiery intensity of woman for relatedness and for life is dampened—through neglect or any of the other thousands of ways we collude to put out that fire—the soul of the world slips into the abyss…
How to give voice to soul before soul itself became extinct, she asks? In the end it seemed that the only hope for this lay in shattering the comfortable but numbing security of marriage and daring to live in the state of free fall, of radical insecurity…I left my marriage in order to be able to be a more intentional witness to the marriage of heaven and earth. Earth withers where we have wrenched heaven from her embrace…In truth, the restoration of the world depends on one thing only: that we meet her with the devoted attention of a faithful lover…this fidelity seems to be a womb for the new language struggling to be born.
Am I, then, struggling to give birth yet again? When all is said and done, when the bleeding is stanched, will a new conversation come crawling out of my womb, out of the deep abyss of my divorce? Are we entering into this new dialogue with the world one woman at a time? But what of the men? What of the men? How I long to enter the heart of Man. To treat it with tenderness. To whisper softly that the world no longer expects from it such armored steadfastness, no longer expects bloody battles, no longer needs conquering heroes. Let go the wariness, I want to whisper. Let enter the soft trust of love.
Mine is a faithful soul, despite indications to the contrary. And my womb still fertile, despite the waning cycles of its moon. Sophie’s dreams speak truth. Hope, the timid fledgling, is rising from the ashes of our silent lives. A new song is entering the world, and with this song we will pull the soul of the world back from the brink, back into the heart of mankind. We will stoke the fire with harmony, one gentle word at a time. ©Page Lambert, 2009