4 Apr 2014

birthday letter

When I was sixteen someone close to me said I probably wouldn't begin to really enjoy life until I was in my mid-twenties. He wasn't entirely right, but in someways he was... I spent so much of my adolescence and early twenties wanting to be older than I was, mapping out plans and creative scenarios in my head - desiring to be in full-swing with the things of life that develop gradually. Things that can't be rushed however hard you try. Here's what time has taught me:

to learn deeply is to never stop. It is more than attending a lecture or reading a wordy book... more than experiencing something for the first time... it is an an attitude to be honest, flexible, enquiring and interested in what's happening to our world, what's stirring in my spirit, what's testing my faculties.

meaningful work changes over time, it morphs and grows with you. I always wanted to have a profession that let me care for others - that was creative too. Once it was to be a florist... then a doctor, then a forensic pathologist, then a diplomat, then a teacher, then a counsellor, then an artist, then a researcher, then a writer... I never imagined when I was sixteen or nineteen or twenty three that I would pursue the vocation of farmer and cultivator but now I am walking that path with passion and peace in my heart.

partnership is the thrill of joining with another person with no assurance of long-years together, health, happiness even. I have in my partner a husband, a lover, a confident, a challenger, a co-creator. partnership is how we function and disfunction with the promise to be true. how we work together and how we work apart.. making sense of another's thoughts, desires, ways of seeing and learning to express my own.  partnership is being vulnerable - and loving them as they change, and they loving you.

motherhood grows on me like stretch marks on my belly.... gradual, unrehearsed, desired - lines that are ancient and feminine and true. the acts of growing, birthing, sustaining, struggling, learning, re-learning and celebrating a tiny person so like and unlike myself never seem to end. they come round in seasons and I am enriched because of it. 

in my head I imagine my dream garden - all the things I'd like to grow, flowers to pick, herbs to smell, bees about particular plants, landscaping, nooks for resting or or raising seedlings, there would be enough order and wildness I say and trees surrounded by violet leaves and strawberries. I have started many gardens now in different places, different climates. They have taught me much about making plans and letting go of them. They have helped me understand my own limitations, the uncontrollable force of nature, and blessings of watching life grow, assisting the process, stepping back, harvesting, preserving and sharing the fruits with others.

Perhaps I am "where" I always wished to be when I was younger - to be already a mother, a wife, a maker of things - but that's not where my satisfaction comes from. There's nothing perfect about my life. There's nothing straight and simple and effortless. It's wonderful because it's raw, it's rich because of the kinship of others, beauty of faith and the desire to keep on growing.

I am so glad to be twenty five. I feel it. It's young and it's old. And that's the way I like to be.

"I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still a part of me, and always will be... " Madeleine L'Engle

Over and out,
Emily Clare
(the young old bird)


  1. Oh you young-old bird, this was exceptionally beautiful!
    Here's to growing and learning in all vulnerability and openness!

  2. What a delightful letter. So full of truth and beauty. Thanks for sharing. Happy quarter of a century! :)

  3. I love this! I agree with you on every point dear young, old bower bird...

  4. This is beautiful! I will be 31 this year, and I felt much as you did: rush to grow up. I met my guy at 20, moved in and we had our first son when I was 23. Our twenties are such a dynamic decade... xo


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