Out of old tales, we must make new lives. – Carolyn Heilbrun, from “What Was Penelope Unweaving”
Make a myth/drawing ancient stories into wheeling forms/that praise…/Let it be spoken, shaped/ in spirit, given./…unreel it, shape it, voice it in another birthplace… – Rose Flint
Last week we introduced the myth of “Penelope” from Homer’s Odyssey. This continued the thread we’ve been weaving lately of mythological women’s stories. It also gave us a chance to weave the threads from the previous week’s read-around by hearing comments from all 40 present during that evening of words. Words like ‘perseverance’ and ‘hope’ wound around the room, looping through each woman’s heart and hands like a hand-held ribbon of truth.
Then the opening poem – ‘Penelope Says’ by Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke – with its wonderful rhythm and modern pathos: “I was erasing and being erased …”, “absence is the theme of my life …”, “I understand in the end what human presence is, what absence is …”
In our excitement to share so many ideas, we ran out of time to share our words. But we did spend part of the evening weaving a type of papier-mâché bowl by layering tissue paper strips and glue over plastic templates. The results were colorful despite a fitful start with slippery materials. In the end, an empty bowl is a powerful reminder of the value of receptivity, of openness, of the necessity for space in our otherwise crowded lives. Space that can be filled with hope, if we only persevere.
“Because perfect expression is blocked when the inside is pressured by pain”…
from ‘Penelope Says’
When one holds pain’s anguish, it’s hard to show just how you feel. You disguise it with fake laughs, smiles, even stories. Anything to get by when really you’re wanting to scream, lash out, let the world know ‘I’m hurting, why won’t you notice? Ask me what’s wrong. Just ACKNOWLEDGE ME.’
You start to feel alone, helpless, hoping and longing for something to happen. Shift the course of life you’re on. Nothing. So you wait … And then it happens. The tide turns, and voila! you find peace. Peace within yourself. Just a small glimmer of hope. It’s enough, though. You have so long to do, it seems like the hope will vanish. But you cling on, fingertips white with the pressure. And you know this, too, will pass.
I’m strong-willed and nothing, not even these walls, will confine me.