This morning my sister woke me up in the dark to have breakfast with her before she headed off to a conference and I started my day care week. Before joining her in the kitchen I put on my daughter’s hand-me-down comfy pants and my son’s hand-me-down hoodie, soft items and comfort objects which hold their energy now they’ve grown up and moved out of these items and into other worlds.

It was fine to talk with my sister about her date last night, to catch up after missing her last night because I was tired and went to sleep before she returned to sleep in my son’s old bed, third of my children mentioned here in this post, whose room I painted and freshened, while trying to preserve his essence and leaving space for his remaining at home possessions, guitar cases, books, art materials, clothes he has yet to integrate into his new life or to discard.

Last week my friend and I went to a day long workshop on chakras and energy meditation. One of the most powerful pieces of the day was the guided meditation on the chakras and the invitation to totem animals into our individual psyches. All week my friend and I have been relating to these images and they have been shaping our lives.

On Friday my friend got news the cabin his family has shared the last many years was damaged by a tree that fell in a recent storm. His worry was not for the furniture or books or structure so much as for the worry it would cause his family and for the objects that live there which are his links to his grandparents, which he felt sure would be safe, due to their location in the space.

I’ve been reading a book given to me by the woman whose home held the workshop last weekend, a book by a woman in the Jungian tradition. She tells of an image created in her mind when she was a child and feeling insecure due to a family who traveled a lot and parents who weren’t always present and how that image of an island shaped her life. The island exploration she writes about leads to a description of the importance of stones to humans. The rock her partner discovers when they visit the island of her imagination, which turns out to be an island in real life, Iona, contains the universe, and in noting that, the writer explains how we all are created from elements of the universe, and thus contain it, as do the rocks.

All around my house are piles of stones, lines of stones, jars of stones, pockets of stones, from around the world, from beaches, from mountains, from other countries, from east and west and north and south. Some I remember finding, others I do not. I’ve loved stones such a long time I can’t remember the first ones I collected, though I know I’ve carried some with me for decades.

My friend Alice collects stones and bits of nature, too. Many of us do. When I enter a home with piles of stones or shells or pine cones or childhood treasures, I know I’ve found a kindred soul. We understand the memory and meaning an object can embody, the power it has to link us to important people, places, and times in our lives, to the universe.

I hadn’t thought so much until last weekend about the power a totem animal or image could have to help me/us relate to deeper parts of myself/ourselves, to help me/us imagine new ways and worlds. Life surprises that way. If we are open to possibility options continue to unfold.

I’m happy to have returned to Jung as I begin my applications to grad school and imagine myself transitioning at some point in the next few years to work as a therapist. These images and totems and meaningful objects in our lives are guides, perhaps, to how I want to work with others, to the power we can access via intuitive or meditative or contemplative or narrative routes.

Last night I visited the home of new people. When I arrived one of the hosts gave me a tour of the space he and his partner have only recently been living in. The most powerful piece of the tour for me was a book shelf carefully arranged, across from a baby grand piano in their living room, with small carved wooden figures lined up on a shelf above a menorah, which the host told me had been in his family a long time before he turned from it to a shelf by the window on the other side of the piano which held photos of his parents and his partner’s mother, all dead, reminding me of an altar Thich Nhat Hanh had described in a book I read this weekend about creating space in our homes for meditation and making an altar with images of our ancestors to return to and honor and to include as we go about our lives, and which I had talked about with my friend as he was worrying about the cabin and his parents who are going through a big transition.

Maybe that will be my project for the week, to create a space like that for myself, to honor the life of the spirit and my ancestors and to relate to them in my home space, in a physical way that might offer opportunity for a ritual of grounding in the knowledge of my place in the spirit world. We’ll see. Just the image of it created here holds power. For me, writing is ritual, and words are power. Also objects. As the workshop last weekend reminded me, the grounding in the everyday, earthly world is not to be dismissed or contrasted negatively with the spiritual, but to be connected and honored as a place of equal importance and power.

Heaven on earth, heaven and earth, both are true.