A while back I had a flash of recognition and inspiration when I saw an image of an eight-armed Hindu goddess, serene and strong, with a meditative smile that seemed to say “bring it on” to the universe.
I’m not Hindu but the image of this strong woman with her arc of eight arms arrested me. Maybe even because she wasn’t a diety for me, I saw her first and foremost as a woman, holding her own in a moment of chaos with grace and beauty. Something about the iconography of her multiple arms, which for a student of Western art history like I was, created and still does create a dynamism and sense of being in many places at once. But she did it with a smile. And her smile invited me to a completely new way of being.
Examining this self-assured glowing goddess riding astride a fierce tiger while conquering a demon that threatened to unravel the universe, I saw in her a role model, an inspiration for a way of being in my experience of being a mother.
Here’s a bit of her story:
Durga is a mother goddess who can redeem in situations of utmost distress. She is an embodiment of creative feminine force, existing in a state of svatantrya (total independence) and fierce compassion. Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.
Since then, I’ve found myself inspired by Durga to reflect on what weapons I couldn’t live without. I quickly realized that because I’m a lover not a fighter, (as I described in another earlier post about my anti-Mamma Bear status), I was inspired to conjure up a list not of weapons, but of tools.
Like many parents of kids with special needs, I have a kick-ass toolbox filled with tools honed and sharp, ready to be wielded at a moment’s notice, so that in any given situation — whether the demon is fear, exhaustion, lack of cash, bureaucrats, gatekeepers, odd-ball comments from strangers or five extra pounds weighing me down — I have a huge selection of highly specialized implements available to get the job done. Some tools are universal, some are personal. Some are physical objects, some are virtues. Some I’ve mastered, and let’s consider others to be on my wish list.
Durga’s toolbox has come to be a theme of my blog, though not every entry contains one. Other posts are simply reflections, a chance to think long and deep about one particular slice of my experience, hopefully long enough to get unstuck from it and take what lessons there are, if any.
I’m curious about your tools too. I want to hear about what tools you have up your eight (or 10 or 327) sleeves to keep you strong, courageous, joyful and compassionate. Please share!
And to those for whom Durga is a diety, I hope I have communicated how much she has inspired me. If I have somehow communicated disrespectfully, I appreciate in advance any generosity of spirit you might have in reading this.