The Dry Stream: Clearing Space and Letting Go
I never heard of The Dry Stream before, but this landscaping element captured my imagination during my visit to the Asheville Arboretum’s Bonsai Garden in May. Amidst the stunning contrasting hues of plants dripping with color, ran a formation of rocks aligned in a sinuous trail through the center of the garden. It flowed beneath several curved bridges, in simultaneous offering of motion and stability.A placard read:
This stream bed is intended to be dry; the only time it carries water is when it rains. With a dry stream the water is suggested. The water must be supplied by your imagination. The element of suggestion and the accompanying need for imagination are essential parts of the bonsai experience. In the bonsai view of nature, what is not there can be as important as what is.
Since returning from Asheville, I have been making time for clearing space. Let’s face it, to be blunt, I have belongings of three dead people in my house – no matter how much I loved and will forever love my mom, dad and sister, the books, clothing and ephemera together create this swimming energy of , well, folks who aren’t here anymore. Or, in keeping with the bonsai metaphor, are at least a bit further downstream. At least some of that pulling energy needs to go.
Today I was making pretty steady progress in packing Mom’s old books and moving her hats to the attic when I came across this:It’s just a whiteboard but as soon as I touched it, the clock went back a year to the period just prior to Dad’s death. The one year anniversary is about ten days away, and we used this chart to mark the nebulizer treatments that eased his breathing and the few times he agreed to morphine (he took the smallest dose about 5 times during the two week period before he passed.) Four angels’ names are written here, Anna, Hope, Janet and Peggy, the aides and volunteers that visited and cared for Dad so sweetly.
So the dry stream filled with rain today, and I let the tears flow. Then I looked at the board and told myself it is time to let this painful reminder go. Let the tug of it be gone. So I lit some incense, said a prayer, cried some more and … What is not there can be as important as what is.