KATY DIMOS RAITS has a special place in my heart. It only feels as if I’ve known her since birth. (For one thing, she was born first!) I had the great honor of marrying her with soul mate/ true love Eric Raits some years ago. (I’m vague here only because my memory does no counting!) No true friend is ever replaceable, which both lends life its zest and joy, and makes it a skull-crushing heartbreaker at times. Yet I believe that love, in any and all of its forms, is exactly what we are here for, and cannot help but feel each “trade off” for perceived “safety” as a poor bargain, and diminishment. It is the opening doors that thrill me.
Katy’s life journey has been far from easy, but she has always just delighted me. There’s no explaining it, or need to. (In thinking upon it, the idea “kind of like ice cream!” strikes me. But different, and better.) She and Eric are now both rangers of some renown at the Everglades National Park, and in their free time are likely as not off trudging into some Godforsaken, magnificent swamp with their cameras. Their shared love of the natural world can in no way be unwoven from their living adoration of one another. They are both hell-bent on actually seeing Creation in all of its richness, native glory, and infinite variety, knowing that the wider and deeper one’s field of vision, the greater the growth and opportunities to love still more. Simply put, it is where love is, for them. Who needs more reason, or can give one better?
Ten years ago, out on the relative isolation of the Loop Road, they came upon a female panther and her two cubs, and were able to snap this picture. The fine animals are critically endangered, and their encounters with roads in active use all too often tragic. Not here! Katy was soon to undergo a divorce, and has two sons. The feeling that some sort of meeting had taken place, that it all meant something, could not have been stronger.
The last couple of months she’s been facing an ominous and “out of the blue” health challenge, and living under its troubling shadow. She finally went under the knife on Tuesday, with apparently excellent and optimal results. (Thank you, God.) Before and during the surgery, I did the image above for her, with a singular intention. It is less a regular gift than a manifestation of prayer. (But then again, why split hairs? Maybe any difference is inconsequential.) This is how I pray when I’ve GOT to, and HARD. I can imagine a chef engaging with abandon his/her kitchen, or a musician likely turning instinctively to music. And so forth. This is my way.
I set off on such journeys with neither compass, precedent even in my own experience, or even the first idea as to exactly where I’ll wind up. But every single time, it’s definitely a journey.
Katy and Eric in the Garden, 2008. A random celebration undertaken just for fun, using as its foundation a couple of paintings by that one-of-a-kind painter and city toll collector (Paris), Henri Rousseau..
But that’s all right, because the one thing of which I am certain, and all that I really need know, is that wherever it may be will be the right place, exactly. On the one hand, there’s no map for this kind of journey. That can be awfully intimidating and uncomfortable in a world that fixes its small vision only upon maps of the sort sold in gasoline stations, and refuses resolutely to do otherwise.
But on the other (and here’s the real beauty of it!) your vision is no longer limited to the lines previously drawn for you by others (with their purple crayons!). And once you have consciously undertaken to set out upon your own journey, becoming truly lost need no longer be a concern, ever. If you think about it, one is “lost” only in relation to some damnably fixed point where he or she is not, and fears will never be! Those upon such journeys, too, also tend to find that personal guidance of actual use does show up, at the right time(s). Why? I cannot say. But it does.
No matter where we are, or how we might conceptualize our present state, I believe that we are at any moment free to change direction (subtly or with broad brush), to backtrack, choose again, or even start out all over, with a clean slate. All we need do is allow it, which may or may not be as easy as it sounds. Oh yeah, and to give the “naysayers” a suitably wide berth. We start off equipped with a complete sufficiency of our own dread fear of change. We’ve no need of borrowing any extra from others eager to share, no matter what their intention.
“Your soul, as we see it,” said they.
Finally, back to the point. Since to my way of thinking any heartfelt prayer for one truly belongs to all, this one is now also both for you, and yours. Times are hard for so many of us. It is a time of displacement in home ownership and steady employment, unrestrained greed in a corporate culture run completely amok, and an all-time low in real leadership, on any level. The faith of the People is in jeopardy, and our hearts badly broken. All that is true, and yet for some reason quite frankly mysterious to me, hope lives within me still. I can’t figure it out. It must mean something.
So, please know that you are not alone. Keep hope alive, even if only a tiny flicker. The difference between that small spark and utter darkness is HUGE. And together we shall make our way forward. Let there be Light.