all the crushing tides,
rivulets, flashing bolts of
life, light, fire and ice
carve these etchings’ speak
and harden, encase tender
flow while seeds erupt
magic, making me
in spite of, because of all
these shredding life songs
“Love is a momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events: first, a sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another; second, a synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors; and third, a reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.” Barbara Fredrickson
Stepping out into a sudden deluge of rainpour, I found wet pavement for my bare feet and a redheaded son in tow. After a week of rest after surreal travel setting my health back a bit, this feast was unavoidable. And beyond welcome. My youngest followed me out into the night and the grass underfoot was all squish wonder, wet and cool. The maples overhead, as I walked intently towards the street and the strange light in the torrential night air, fluttered under a relentless pounding wealth, dropping more fat wetness onto the top of my own red head. And I kept walking, my ancient son behind me, chattering, asking me “What are you doing?! Where are you going?!” He was shocked. I had gone from couch to doorway to outside in a fluid, silent spill. I couldn’t respond. I just laughed. Then finally the inner upwelling of little girl spoke, “I have to get out there to the street…” Then I stopped at the curb and stomped in the flow of water running like mad down the road. He balked at my madness, echoing my own endless reflections on non-point source pollution and all the possible chemical ick getting on my skin. I could only laugh, shrug it off “Whatever!” I stepped into the street, realizing my 75 year old Mama was stepping into the yard too, chattering away with my other ancient son, Isaac. They were laughing and following at their own pace. No protection, the intent clear in their progress under the same trees, towards the same street and surreal light. I spread my arms out wide and lifted my face to the downpour. Something I had murmured, I don’t recall, evoked spontaneous response in Evan. He shook his head and smiled and grabbed my arm to pull me into a hug. And held on. For whatever reason, he had needed my silly girl response to rain and fears of stupid chemicals in waterflow. He needed that reminder that I’m playful, girl, not just Mom. Then we were joined by two more and the walk down the road began. My own girlish Mama soaked to the skin and Isaac too, we laughed our way down the street. For a moment we did the silly walk, arm in arm, one leg crossing over the other’s (like the Monkeys, if anyone remembers such), singing. But mostly we basked in what it be… in love and torrential earth/sky fusion activities. We made it all the way to the end of the street and I had to turn around. It was the best I could manage after being laid out with my health for a whole week. But what a rush of renewal…
Once back under the maples and away from the street light, we lingered, all of us, chatting and grateful for a rainfall without the risk of lightning and the cool breezes coming up from all the gusty tanglings of elemental surrender. And because my youngest ancient child spoke of how we’d likely forget the moment, however wonderful, I have put this to post here. One day he’ll remember and laugh and the waterflow will call him out for another dance with the agelessness we all embody every once in a while. But I wonder where the world would be were we more eager to forget age and role and hair color and anything but soul as we soak up the song of rain, abandoning custom, worry and obstruction for just one more dance with the child within, how much more freely would love erupt and grow.
Four packed tightly under covers…eight feet gifting each other with warmth, one pair seeking another less warm, giving kind remedy; sharing space tangled up in an attic bedroom with no power but two candles and giggles and then sweet sleep in a hushed daylight filled with ice. Soft snores after a breakfast too big except for nothing else to do in a town coated in winter’s grasp.
Then firelight and stove top sustenance, candles lit all over a house bathed mostly in shadow and cold but oh so warm. Games and face time, firewood and laughter, gathered ice for coolers salvaging what we can. Tallulah River stone soup for feet unaccompanied, gathering hot river gems up in cloth to carry up to bed, settling in for a night of no heat.
A renewed, stark, startling awareness of what conveniences pilfer,
their insipid gain robbing us of something only an ice storm can bring…
connection more profoundly felt, reliance more sweetly known.
turning to the earth for protection…
appreciation for life’s turns less convenient
reminding us of treasure sometimes lost
in what we understand as wealth.
Maybe the earth conspires to remind us how vulnerable we are, both in our advancements and without them. And without our bonds of love, our shared space and renewed survival ability, we would wilt under a perpetually shining sun.
Either way, there’s nothing like the pleasure of finding your kids will make, not complaint, but fun in the face of one more dance with winter’s whimsy.
A couple weekends ago, we trekked to the woods of Hillsborough, NC for our annual family gathering at my aunt’s lovely home in the woods. While there, we managed to rub elbows with family from Virginia, Georgia, Illinois and Texas – to name a few. The hug count squeezed itself into the dozens. Doses of Purple Jesus and chocolate chip cookies added a flare of whimsy in the afternoon. Purple Jesus is a bit of redemptive alcoholic juice, 100 proof sanctification for the courageous, awaiting brave imbibers in a white bucket with a lid on it. It sits there begging dogmatic reverence find a new vibe, a sort of salvation from anything stuffy or pretentious. Besides the warning signs, the tiny little paper cups are a dead give away: you don’t want much of this heady stuff unless you’re up for a long nap in one of the hammocks or a loud show of your less-than-reserved self. Or one followed by the other. I have about 4 big sips of Purple Jesus every year as a rule. I laugh at the irony, a bucket of 100 proof liberal for a few diverse backgrounds creates that inevitable doorway into common ground. We’re human after all.
It turned out to be one of the best times for me, in spite of my qualms. I often face these gatherings with a contradictory mixture of reticence and pleased anticipation since it’s a lot to ask of my energy in general these days. And our group of folks consists of a mix of significantly conflicting political and spiritual backgrounds. It includes my parents and sisters, the characters from a past life story within my ongoing dynamic life reality, one far-removed from the territories we had claimed together. I much prefer my religion of love, trees and earth but the divide created by such profound change is often best bridged by a river, with a few sips of colorful salvation to make it all go down. It can feel surreal out there under leaves and sky. But we manage to reach past those differences and find the love in the company of trees long lost to ancient resonance, swaying in breezes oblivious to the mind’s pitfalls, sinking roots into radical grace. We take our cues from their silent testimonies, unaware and sedated by their hypnotic ministrations.
And we often walk away wishing for more opportunity to see each other beyond the woods and songs of an afternoon.
In retrospect, I find myself wishing an annual gathering for all the nations of the world, a greet and hug fest of Purple Jesus and chocolate chip cookies for the body, mind and spirit, where we set aside our differences and remember our appetites for affection and common ground, where we listen to music, pull out our guitars and sit by a fire as the river winds her way through the magick trees. We need our place of remembering where we meet, what we share beyond all the differences we pose as obstruction to unity. We need to remember how we’re all reduced to beautifully being human in the arms of earth mother, the flow of elixirs stripping pretense and pretend under the seeing sky so blue.
this cup my blood…
the nectar of…
the heartbeat of…
some thunderous dance ‘neath cover
of leaves and longing night,
drops of torrential heaven cries
falling down, pounding ground
and all around a great unfolding,
blossoming redemption regardless of
all the accusations
fall to your knees and drink of this cup
the only one whose wholeness calls to your own,
the only one restoring primal innocence,
washing away confusion in earth’s profusion of song
drink deep this quiet magnificence,
seep into bones our song of union…
“Teach me how to trust
my inner knowing,
of my body,
the blessings of my spirit,
teach me how to trust these things,
so that I may enter my sacred space and love
beyond my fear
And thus walk in balance
with the passing of each glorious sun…”
Sweep me past the rubble
carry me fast to river rapid
where earth’s gentle cooling touch
washes “me” away, shredding scant no-face,
remnants of long-erected defenses
all of life’s angsty debris,
pour in, over, all around me
keeping vessel shiny, new
setting soul free
again and again.