The Church of Gentle Luxury

I’m sitting with Grace by the window in a treasure trove of sunlight and clouds–of white fur and pleather cubes, and a sapphire velvet chaise lounge draped with blue-flowered and animal-printed pillows and throws. Joni is spilling over both of us and I’m trying to figure out which of us—me, Grace, maybe even Joni–fashioned this little alcove. The question fills me with more pleasure than the morning already has. Which is a lot, actually.

It sounds ridiculous, suggesting my cat arranged fabrics and furniture to create this robin’s egg dreamscape by the window. Can’t you see her dragging everything in her cunning little teeth? But if she didn’t actively arrange this child’s dream turned inside out, she certainly inspired it with her perfectly composed paws, her caramel stripes and gleaming eyes. With how she absorbs and exudes beauty.

God I love her. I have zero idea how I’d do intuition work or anything else without her practicalmagic, anything without her reikitty paws-on healing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration. Things are so hard all around, nothing feels safe outside my door. Inside I still feel like yesterday’s lunch, that feeling of having crossed a finish line only to realize no one was on the other side. But like everyone else I’m even more afraid of what others may foster. Again and again Joni’s Same Situation: “Old friends indifferent/you must have brought that on.”

But even melancholy Joni raises my soul, her lilting ability to name it all in a suddenly soaring couplet. She’s my favorite of the white lady singers I voluntarily listen to, a super-small congregation.

And there’s that inspiration again.

As the world sprints toward rebirth on Ostara (March 19), I most feel myself as in my intuition readings, where I serve as conduit and candle. Again and again in my office it happens: My clients and I pour tea, clasp hands, and then observe the unfolding of their red carpet—the path on which they will live through these hard times with truth, grace, even awe. What is inspiration but the ability to see both beauty and mystery in absolutely everything?

Breathing it in, breathing it in. Breathe in: another definition—a denotation, even– of inspire. I sip from my coffee, eye the neighbors stirring across the way while really watching my clients over the last three days–their wonder and sorrow; the distinct light radiated by each each wave, each particle. Everything a miracle which makes none of it a miracle which is a miracle unto itself. Just look at who came through each of the three sessions–not just ancestors but artistic guides: Madeleine L’Engle, Emerson, and Joni, always Joni.

And so I find myself listening to Turbulent Indigo, am album I’ve never listened to before—made in 1994, after her first hundred peaks. It’s tragically produced but still struck by her sly sincerity, that sudden phrase that knocks you back on your heels.

Grace next to me on an azure pillow, the glamor of her fur merging with the thrift store mink I—we?—foraged for my lair. Compounding the gentle luxury I’ve longed for all my life. Now of course most people I know possess spouses, grown children, (second) mortgages, more forgotten dreams than unrealized ones. Not me, not me. I still perch on a precipice, at a window, at this window. Making do with not-much as new-old Joni trills into the sun shadows, the late and early light of this only-mine Sunday, sorrowful and joyful in its solitude. No long-time lover, not even long-time love except for what my heart harbors for everyone all the time.

You know: only that.

Ahead of me stretches a day with others, friends even, and beside me Grace rests her chin upon my lap with a trust she’ll never share with anyone else. Even at my lowest–and that’s exactly where I’ve been lately–I’d never check out, for I could never betray that trust.

The album dies out just as the day begins to pick up steam—cars honk now, birds chirp more confidently, the light grows more bracing. I put down my book—one I’ve read before and admire more than adore—and Grace and I blink at each other. Once, then again for good measure.

This is all I’ve got: sweet softness, gentle luxury. It’s not-enoughness has to be enough.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy