As Matriarch of The Burrow I am received with certain deference(s).  For example, when the daughters converge in our dressing room the Boomer gets first chair at the vanity table, then Gen X and Gen Next daughters.  Like position “chairs” of an orchestra, under conduction of legacy, we move in order despite protests of “But I’m almost finished!” or “I have an order to what I need to do and you  just ruined it!”  Their concert of rolling chairs yields to my entry.

I get the green chair closest to the hairdryer, the curling iron, the flat iron, and the clock named Moshi.  Flashing colors and replying “Good Morning” to my greeting, Moshi reminds us that we are all once again, late.  We step up the tempo, exchanging shoes and jeans and last minute approvals of what is presentable to the outside world.

One last peer into the mirrors we stand, three generations staring back at us before we move in and out of various exits.  Like meercats we bob in and out of the burrow: retrieving the forgotten phone, bluetooth or homework page, before the dust settles and the dogs can no longer hear our cars down the road.

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Today I did not eat.  I afforded myself my ritual morning coffee because it is doctrine and because I had only slept a few sparse hours.  Tender Warrior spent the wee morning hours battling dream time rock golems, and I spent them soothing his battle scars.  I brewed the fresh Starbucks grounds into my favorite large blue mug, mixed in the heavy whipping cream, sugar free DaVinci syrup and topped it with more whipped cream.  It’s less beverage and more indulgent art.  I tumbled into the couch and tilted the contents of the mug to my lips.  As the sleepless haze lifted I remembered. Today I had committed myself to a fast.

I had been moved to such lengths in church Sunday morning as I heard our minister describing the moral implications of the congressional budget.  He touched briefly on the cuts that would leave women and children without food stamps.  He pledged his own fast in solidarity with those families and the religious leaders who shared his, our, vision of fair and responsible governance.  He called from the pulpit and my conscience answered.  But let’s leave the politics here.  The insight I gained from this small act of protest was far more personal.

By mid-day the gnawing in my belly had begun to garner my attention.  It was more antagonizing than agony, but my inability to ease it shifted my thoughts inward.  It occurred to me then as it does now.  The challenges in my life are the challenges of abundance.

I am loved and thus committed to those around me.

I am talented and thus needed.

I am intelligent and thus indulge my interests.

My home is warm and spacious and thus requires upkeep.

I am healthy and thus capable of lending my strength.

My stomach groaned reminding me that but for grace it could be otherwise.  Today I did not eat, yet I was nourished all the same.

It’s late morning and I lay there, sprawled upon my bed, irritated by the constricting heavy mucous that has taken residence in my chest.  I can hear Herding Stars and The SunGod on the back patio. It’s the barking hour.  A particularly joyous time of day, if you happen to be a dog.

So much for coveting an extra hour or so of sleep.  No matter.  Today I woke up tallying my shortcomings not my successes anyhow.  It’s not a particularly productive past time, but it suits my mood.  This monstrous cold is sweeping me under like a rip current and the whole week feels like a lateral swim against the tide.

My inner critic rails against me.  Is it even possible to fill all the roles I have pronounced upon myself?  Devoted Mother. Dutiful Daughter. Responsive Partner. Competitive Student. Dependable Therapist.  Compassionate Volunteer.  Socially Responsible Woman of Faith. … Dog Mistress….

I close my eyes and argue with this vicious inner cynic for a while. It’s exhausting and I once again seek sleep as a refuge.  Just before I finally drift off I hear Tender Warrior playing outside and I smile.  Perhaps it is possible to be the shoreline, not the swimmer, and let each role shape me instead.

The Crone’s dark shadow creeps across the land.

Thrice she strikes the blunted staff of her sickle upon the earth and bids her daughter, “Rest and bear no more.”

The brittle wasted ground beneath her cracks.

The young mother yields, and taking the sickle from the Crone slays all that feeds un-weaned  from her bosom.

Slouched and ailing she shepherds the fallen into the Crone’s black shadow,

and in that fertile darkness,

slumbers.