I stood in front of the bookshelves in our guest room/meditation room and took down three books. I’ve added them to the small stack of books and magazines on the floor. My growing wish list for D.E.A.R. time.

One of them is David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea. After the original readings, I used each of these as cafeteria-style books–read a chapter here, a section there.  David Whyte shares in lyrical phrases (he is a master) creative ideas that I can tap into and adapt as my own. I first read Crossing the Unknown Sea when I retired from teaching.

I began counseling and life skills presentations for adults. My clients were working full-time and grasping for time and ways to develop their spiritual and creative side. Whyte’s idea of bringing our spirituality to work was both awe-inspiring and a bit scary. Most of us had been brought up that work was work and spirituality was for someplace else. After reading and rereading it over two decades, I can see how each of my careers was an expansion of spirituality in every part of my life. The seed for it was planted in childhood.

In describing the Inner Template of Belonging David Whyte gives an example of his young nephew stating in simple terms what he wanted more than anything for his life. A profession unlike any academic dream his family wished for him. “To be like my Uncle Michael driving around with a load of washing machines in the back.”

“Whatever particular horizons drew us as a child are the original patterns and templates of our adult belonging.” I spent my childhood summers in a sleepy Long Island beach town called Miller Place. We spent two months each summer in our idyllic small world encompassing an acre of green property, gardens, trees for climbing and a five-minute walk from the Long Island Sound. This world was inhabited by interesting people. What made it idyllic was the time and space to observe, to watch all this, …and to be.

“They are clues as to how we find our measure of happiness and satisfaction in the world.” The times I have been happiest, most content, and also most productive were when I inhabited a world that held freedom within a structure and time to laugh, observe and see new ways. Teaching did that. Counseling teens and families did that. Writing does that now.

My marriage does that also. I am in a space in my life, just past my 70th birthday, nurturing a willingness to let go of certain activities, to be open, to widen my horizons–new people, places, and things. It feels good.

What will be next? D.E.A.R.

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships