Caregiving and the Divine Feminine
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you, dad"
"You know I'm gonna be like you"
Harry Chapin, “Cat's in the Cradle”
Bill, the beloved clergyman and volunteer entertainer taps his dusty cowboy boot, cocks his driving-cap crowned head and beams at the audience. His rendition of Harry Chapin’s classic tune on six-string guitar is appreciated by the bulk of the crowd in a muted and discreet fashion. As he plays, I respond to the lyrics with waves of emotion as a closeness overtakes my throat and tears well up in my eyes.
I scope the terrace where we are seated on this mild summer afternoon. Towering, fifty-year-old poplar trees skirting the perimeter shade the concert patrons. I think “Cat’s in the Cradle” is one of the most wistful pieces I have ever heard; a dad passing-up scads of chances to see his son with time marching on in both of their lives. Then the tables turn and now it really is too late for either of them…
If you’re wondering where this scene takes place and who the patrons are, well, I’ll do my best to fill you in. This is a centre for mental and geriatric conditions. It is segregated into units for the young, the middle-aged, and the mature. It was referred to as a “mental institute” when I was a kid. People guffawed and made light about being “sent to the nuthouse”. Today, my mother is a dementia patient, having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder over thirty years ago. She has been a patient at the Centre for two years now and she is in the later stages of the disease. This is not her first visit either. She first encountered the Centre when she was 40 and that was a whole other experience.
It is not just my mother and me sitting in the crowd. My dad sits beside us. He drives 45 minutes one-way and makes two round-trips a day to visit my mom. He is slouching in a chair looking somewhat bedraggled in his usual all-black garb. A recent addition to his ensemble is an aluminum walker which helps him get around after a recent knee replacement. I am willingly playing his chauffeur today, helping him visit the woman he has been married to for fifty years.
So there we are… gathered around us are 35-odd patients who have some level of dementia and/or other mental health conditions. Clive, the 92-year-old farmer is always picking up trash around the unit’s patio, trying to stay busy like he was in his days on the farm. Ella, who is probably closer to my age and is the youngest on the unit. I’m not quite sure what her story is, but I always make sure to say hello to her. I feel pangs of intense compassion every time I see her.
My father addresses every staff member and the majority of the patients by name. He has been known to write personal thank-you notes to commendable staff. Beyond the patrons are the nursing aids, administrators, recreational aids, occupational therapists, and nurses who care and can give more one-on-one attention than any nursing home could offer. The place is definitely riddled with its challenges and fleeting disappointments, but we have learned to navigate the waters here.
The Divine Feminine is a concept that has peppered various forms of spiritual speak and essentially describes consciousness being embodied in both feminine and masculine forms – so it is an energy more or less and reveals that both are relevant to obtain the apex of our creative selves. The light and the dark. The yin and the yang. The sun and the moon. Another example of the Law of Polarities in action. It is not just about the flowing Rubenesque goddesses’ images found in renaissance art, but real people with flaws and shapes that embody all ages, ethnicities, and genders. This is a concept that has ancient beginnings. The Divine Feminine is the side of us that is our gentle nurturer, our instinctual intuitive nature, our empathetic self, and truly the caregiver in us all. It is available and accessible, and we are living in a time where this balance is of value and, I believe, necessary for our survival on this planet.
I sputter on here and realize that I have struggled to really appreciate and, at times, honour my own Divine Feminine self. I have been much more at home in my masculine aspects. It has shown in much of my past and the times where I have had to survive and just do. I have, in time, begun to value the Divine Feminine in just how I show up in the world and value myself. This did not happen overnight. No, like for many people it has taken therapy, healing, time, forgiveness, bulldozing down emotional walls, and trusting in being vulnerable. It has required trusting in individual conscious transformation for all of us and in particular in my familial quartet. I am sure many of you reading this have your own story to tell which provides similar insights.
Going on three years now, I travel once a month, usually by plane, 500 miles to be a part-time caregiver (I have no children of my own, I must add). There is a cooperation and a sharing of the caregiving role which to me speaks of the Divine Feminine principle. This is partly why I have chosen to have a home-based business. I want to support the people that I have chosen to learn, love, grow and evolve with in this lifetime and who have chosen to do these things with me. I miss them dearly if I do not see them during the occasional month when I can’t make it home. Would I have picked this path years ago? Absolutely #$&# not! My growing up was one where there was extreme tension and times of utter estrangement. It was a massive mess of egos and resentments curdled into one shit soup. There were years and years that my father might not have even known my phone number. My mother, during a period of ever more profound illness, always tried to care for me and overcompensate for the situation of constant peril with my father. However; through time and depletion of her own emotional resources - that aspect or desire within her has faded – and might I say beneficially so. My brother also disenfranchised himself for years due to his own demons. I was always coined by everyone as “sensitive” and quite misunderstood as to why I liked all that “woo-woo” stuff and who I was at a core level seemed to have conditions attached to it. To say that we were fractured is an understatement.
We sit on this patio today and the only thing I can write is that I feel utter love for these people. When I speak of the Divine Feminine, I don’t think I’m putting a sexist slant on that terminology at all - there is no gender assignment in my mind – it is the energetic qualities that matter and not whom I am specifically referring to. For me, to be in your Divine Feminine as I have mentioned is allowing your expressive, nurturing, intuitive, feeling, flowing, and guided nature to arise and be shown in a fashion that gives such homage to spiritual unity. I have seen more of the Divine Feminine in my own father in his primary caregiving role than I ever could have imagined. He has softened into these parts of himself that really mesh beautifully for our relationship and albeit an oddity for him, seem to suit him quite well in his own spiritual transformation. As for me, I had tended to favour my more masculine traits for a variety of reasons and the feelings linked to perceiving that I was in survival mode. Doing, going, making things happen, pushing the envelope, crashing into the next household project, envisioning the new list, overthinking and more overthinking, infusing vitality into a business, moving from one country to the next, making travel arrangements, creating the next plan. The scales had been tipped and today, maybe more balanced between the masculine and feminine with more awareness within myself.
When I come back to my home province to be with my parents, when I am at this institution, when I see the love and devotion of people all around, and when I feel the history between us – all I sense is this rushing surge of love in my Heart Chakra. Really, it can hurt at times, but everything dissolves into pure LOVE. I am a better version of myself. I know, I know, a cliché. But it fits.
I feel that caregiving and the Divine Feminine are inextricably linked to our own spiritual essences. I now offer soul-based readings as a business service and I would love to work with my own family, but that is something I have to ask permission from them to access their records; and maybe that will come and maybe it will not - and that is okay. I mean look at the range of experiences we have all shared in our individual spiritual developments.
Harry Chapin’s crooning melody always seems to get to my emotions no matter if it’s Pastor Bill strumming it out or a DJ on the radio playing it on a classic oldies channel. I certainly understand feeling nuances of “Cat’s in the Cradle” in my own life. The past as a family had its stormy times that we all played our roles in, we all engaged in our choices and there were consequences to our actions. What I do rejoice in is that our choices today are to stick together and to work through our fears and fallibilities. Something in my heart feels content and satiated at that admission. The idealist and romantic side of me feels pleased. The little girl who had such high hopes for humanity is now a grown woman with the same hopes.
Somehow we decided to pull together and we resurrected a thread of connection that now is bound by a well-formed and deep and quite flawed love.
What an incarnation it has been.
Preacher Bill finishes his set. I let out a deep sigh and try to inconspicuously wipe my tears on an already somewhat snotty shirt-sleeve. My father and mother sitting together to my left, both casually turn toward me. My father quite adoringly looks at me and pronounces “Maureen, we love you and we are so proud of you.”.
Note: Some names and details have been changed to respect peoples’ privacy.
How has the Divine Feminine shown up in your life? Does it feel integrated into your experience?