I’m killing two birds with one stone today.
You know, accomplishing two things at the same time because it’s convenient to do both.
It just so happens that the weekly photo challenge theme and also Day 6’s theme in Developing Your Eye photography workshop (that I’m determined to finish) was “solitude.”
Two birds exactly the same and I’m going to hurl my stone and put them both to rest.
But for a minute, I’m going to digress, and I’m hopeful it will bring me back around to this theme. The mental picture I get of hurling a stone at two birds causes me to remember a funny story. And maybe I can somehow relate it to solitude.
Many years ago when I was just a teen, my mother was continually disgusted by a solitary skunk who frequented our yard. We lived in the country where pesky animals like rabbits and deer liked to use my mom’s garden as a one-stop salad bar.
But the skunk really didn’t fall into that category. Mom just didn’t like the stinky thing in our yard and I believe she also worried that our tom cat would tangle with it and come back to the house smelling to high heaven one day.
So one summer evening, the skunk appeared in our yard yet again. Since it was after dinner, Dad was home from work and the three of us were sitting on the side porch looking out at the majority of our expansive nearly four acre yard.
Mom spied the skunk and said to Dad, “Go get your shotgun and shoot that skunk. I don’t want him in the yard.”
Dad replied, “He’s not hurting anything. Actually, skunks eat the grubs in the grass, so he’s a good thing.”
Dad didn’t budge, so Mom decided to take matters in her own hands. She grabbed a brick that was lying around in the garage, and with that in hand, walked towards the skunk while Dad and I watched.
“She’s going to get sprayed,” Dad commented shaking his head. I nodded agreement, yet watched fascinated as my mom exhibited enough courage to head towards a skunk with only a brick for a weapon.
She got within a few feet of that skunk, wound up her brick-toting arm and hurled that brick at the critter with all her might, hitting him smack dab on the head. He fell right over, instantly dead, while Dad and I stood amazed and speechless.
From then on, my Dad teasingly called my mom “dead-eye.”
My mother was one of a kind. She was an only child, born to older parents, so I imagine she had her fair share of being alone in life. And that brings my thoughts back around to that theme of solitude – the state of being alone.
When her elderly parents both reached the point where they no longer could live unassisted, Mom didn’t have any siblings to rely on for help. So we moved into the larger house where my grandparents lived in order for Mom to take care of them. By herself.
When they both passed away the same year, even though she had my dad, my sisters and their husbands, and me as family, I know she felt that sense of solitude again.
My mother enjoyed anything she could create with her hands and many of her hobbies involved moments of solitude like quilting, sewing, crocheting, even cooking and baking, which she liked to do by herself. She usually rejected any offers of help in the kitchen because I think she did enjoy her moments of being alone.
Often we think of solitude as a lonely way of life, but I don’t believe it is. Sometimes we need a period of being apart from others. Being alone. In solitude. To think. To pray. To mull things over. To heal.
A bit of solitude can do wonders for your soul. I’m pretty sure my mother knew that too.
“Solitude is not a way of running away from life … from our feelings. On the contrary. This is the time we sort them out, air them, get over them, and go on without the burden of yesterday.” ~Joan Chittister (The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully