For the next few days, Leah doesn’t go near the typewriter. She takes long walks of three or four miles, during which she focuses on the blossoming spring trees, the fresh water ponds and the streams tumbling over waterfalls.
She tries not to think about the book. Or her ancestors.
Instead, she takes photographs of bright golden forsythia, and the many daffodils and hyacinth in bloom. She posts them on Instagram.
She also spends large chunks of time in meditation, focusing on her breathing. Sometimes she consults one of her favorite spiritual books, “The Power of Now,” by Eckhart Tolle. Sometimes, she opens to a random page and copies down paragraphs like this one on page 116:
“The key is to be in a state of permanent connectedness with your inner body – to feel it at all times. This will rapidly deepen and transform your life. The more consciousness you direct into the inner body, the higher its vibrational frequency becomes, much like a light that grows brighter as you turn up the dimmer switch and so increase the flow of electrons.”
One afternoon, she spends two hours focusing completely on staying in the body, connected to the now. She puts on soft meditation music designed to clear the chakras – the body’s energy nodes. The music is hypnotic.
She jots down the time and then lets herself do nothing but sit on the grey couch and stare out into the meadow. The dog sits in an easy chair in the corner.
When Leah starts to feel anxious, she accepts what she is feeling. She tries to give it no name. She steadies her nerves and focuses completely on feeling calm. She imagines a warm flood of emotion comforting her body. She senses her breath, slowly coming in and inflating her lungs and belly, and then slowly slipping out again.
Her mind feels as still as the water in the daffodil vase she filled the other day.
The next thing she knows a half an hour has passed. She opens the Tolle book again and copies down another paragraph:
“The end of suffering is the acceptance of pain. Consciously embrace pain…” When you do that, Tolle writes, “a beautiful shift takes place, like a fire.”
She closes the book. She opens one of her old journals, at random, and reads the entry for January 28, 2020, more than four months ago, long before she started writing in Italian.
“How do I tell the story of how I have healed? How can I explain the way Mary’s spirituality has reached into my core? All I need to do is stay in my heart, she says, loving myself in the face of whatever my feelings are.”
She turns the page. The next day she wrote this entry: “You fear the dead frozen feeling. Wrap up the fear in love and violet flames.”
Leah decides that she will go back to the grey couch. She will repeat what she did the other day, staring into the meadow, feeling her body.
Before she does that, though, she pulls the clean sheets out of the dryer and sets them down on the unmade bed. She also folds a load of clean dishtowels.
Leah has to pick up Poco at the groomer’s at 2:30. She sets a timer, lights a candle and sits down on the sofa. For the next 35 minutes, she will do nothing at all. Nothing except focus on how her body is feeling in each and every now.
Later, when she checks her phone, a quote has popped up on the screen. “Poet Adrienne Rich said, ‘We must use what we have to invent what we desire.’”