This morning, I am humbled and proud to find my response to the above question published on Laura Munson’s HAVEN site.
Laura’s HAVEN writing retreat in Montana gave me the boost to follow my calling, to keep on writing, and to muster the courage going public. If any of you have a little knack for writing, join Laura’s HAVEN crowd. You’ll find your voice, and a bunch of fantastic friends to top the experience.
Read on… and please do comment, like, or share.
by Anne Arthur
“What’s your Haven?”
Shock waves running through my body, my brain scrambling for an immediate answer. What…where’s my Haven?
Blank. I am running blank, turning my attention to some other topic, avoiding the response to such painful question. Too painful.
Slowly, over days, memories flash through. Each having its own effect on my heart, my body. I still refuse to let them all in. Until, finally, I allow my thoughts to face reality.
Sweet summer days on the steps leading to my childhood home. My favorite place to play with my cuddly cat, while tiny red beetles hurry through, contouring my dirty little feet barring their way. Haven.
Roosted in the tree’s branch fork, munching bell-apples, contemplating my oh so confusing teenage life. Haven.
Years later, I sit on my terrace perched high on a hill in Haiti, feet resting on its balustrade, facing the green, wide plain surrounded by chains of mountains, bordered by the Caribbean Sea. The soothing peace is always instant. At the beauty of this spectacular view, all stress of downtown’s busyness, of slum’s ugliness, of people’s harshness falls off me. Breathing, inhaling the sweet smell of tropical flowers, my heart stills. Haven.
Another terrace, another European life. Snow has fallen, the world is silent. Stars twinkle in the dark night. Wrapped in a cozy blanket, I breathe the crisp air. Refreshing my soul, soothing the heated arguments that are part of my days. Stilling the ache, healing the scars. Haven.
In a whirlwind, I was back in the tropics. Another island, another terrace. Wide space, filled with enormous pots of Bougainvillea, Jasmin, tropical flowers of any kind. Lush, green grass in front of me. An old white wooden bench in a far corner, shaded by pink-blooming orchid trees, their long branches swaying in a light breeze. Far away, the Blue Mountains, majestic, impressive, beautiful. I sit on the comfy cushions of our royal-blue bench, a cup of finest Blue Mountain Coffee beside me. Dreaming, sighing with content. I craved a new life. I found it. Topped off with a light-filled dwelling in a quiet street amidst busy Kingston, with views to soothe away any storm of my life. Haven.
Twelve years later, I returned to the room of my teenage years. I moved my old table to the bay window, observing the change of seasons, enjoying the gift of this year-long stay in the village. Spring and summer long gone, this Fall was special and beautiful. The trees that just donned bright autumn colors now wear mounts of snow.
I look up from my laptop. The contrast of sparkling snow and blue sky is stunning. Christmas is coming. An eventful year will soon end. At this table, I am writing the account of these past months, yearning to spend a last Christmas with my mother.
I bought a smaller sized Christmas tree and placed it at the foot of her hospital bed. She enjoys the lights and the tinsel, while her own window displays the snow-covered front yard and village street.
Some withered red roses still hang onto branches of our large bush, each dressed up with a hat of snow.
Mami hangs on too, often dozing off, her strength fading.
I return to my own window, at peace. Our time together is a long bitter-sweet goodbye, but a good one.
We are both seeking, Heaven and Haven.
Back in Haiti. At last. Forging yet another new life. Unexpected, unsettled, it’s future unknown. Still restless.
Today, I am floating. Shocked to realize that I haven’t found another Haven yet. I am seeking, still.