She is with me - I can feel Her as soon as I step out the door. She calls to me, she pulls me further away from the houses of humanity, deeper into the wilds; the windswept heath, the dark forest, the bright birch glades. I smile and answer her call with a song in my heart, my footsteps getting lighter and lighter as I head out to meet Her. I walk taller, with more grace, my body flowing and moving without the restrictions that are usually placed upon it. I feel an almost eldritch tingling in my blood - the awen is awakened....
"to the seeds,
to the beginnings; to one clear word for which
there is no disguise and no alternative.”
I have grown accustomed to mourning and rejoicing in tandem. It seems throughout my life some of the most profoundly joyful moments, good news, and inconspicuous but thrilling arrivals have found their way to me in the footsteps of sadness, change, and difficult times. If there is a lesson in this trend, I am still learning, growing with every new turn and opportunity to respond and adapt.
Just as I was accepting a job offer and entirely new course in life – including a major residential move – a friend lapsed into serious condition, then left this old, dusty world just a day beyond my acceptance of this new path. I was watching deer move delicately across a green meadow, the new morning sweet and endless, as my friend struggled for breath and held the hands of friends and family too numerous to name. Just as I stumbled up a mountain path, where a small doe stood sniffing the air, my family – back in Indiana - dealt with struggles of their own, how to honor an aging loved one’s wishes while serious health issues pressed against good conscience. And all the while my own conflicts provided sullen backdrops against the abundant beauty around me.
Is it right to be happy when others are not?
How do we fully live while grieving for those who are dying or have gone on?
I grapple with my need to move quickly in the midst of so much emotion. By nature, I am a mover. To remain still, coming from my history and character, welcomes potential peril. I move on, even when my heart is broken and everyone around me lingers, catatonic in hurt. I move with the clouds. I say goodbye as the wind pushes memory and time over ridges, against the horizon. I carry stories. I speak them, and speak through them. I move, too, in the gray space, as everyone naturally moves away from our grasp. Friends, lovers, and family circle the wheel, just as I.
There’s ache in my heart for the many losses faced over the years, for the pains and sicknesses that have plagued those I love, and for the reality that, yes, our limited, linear life becomes ever more apparent as loved ones fly off into hereafter. Childhood, for those fortunate enough to be awarded this innocent time, is short. For many, childhood is merely a time to fight for survival. Fair or unfair, the wheel turns. We mourn. We move on.
As I reflect upon my time in Colorado and the deer that greeted me on my morning walks, I am reminded of a moment of holiness and complexity in my twenties. Holy is a word I choose intentionally. I was facing a devastating loss, dealing with the inevitable end to an ugly situation. I was very alone – not in the physical sense – but the dejected sense of being alone, when surrounded by people who could not or would not understand or acknowledge who I am or the obvious circumstances around us. I was about to walk into a hotel, when I saw a couple of young does rush across the busy county road. The first made it in a daring leap between automobiles. The second was not so lucky. Just as she made it into the first lane, a truck hit her hind legs… and without the slightest pause, continued to drive away. The doe stumbled twice but managed to cross into the National Forest land just beyond.
Without thinking, I left my stunned companion and darted across the road and scrambled under the barbed wire fence. Looking back, my companion simply walked into the hotel and closed the door – a final impasse. I keenly remember an urge to find the doe. I knew she must be in bad shape, if even alive, and I couldn’t stop my legs from moving into the thick green tangle of late summer foliage. I must have walked for an hour before reluctantly turning around to head back. That’s when I saw her. She was on her side, just beyond a thick stand of trees, lying on ferns. I neared and met her eyes. I could tell she was dying. I leaned down and placed a hand on her side as she took her last few breaths.
There was something in the acknowledgment of that final moment of life that was comforting. Sad, yes, but… the truth of being fully there, present and with this transition, soothed my mind. And, something tells me my being there soothed her also.
Autumn – it’s coming. The nights are drawing in, and though the sun’s strength is still strong, there is a chill in the breeze that carries the smell of woodsmoke. The greening is fading, the vegetation now out of room to grow after a hot summer, and is now an almost choking mass, ready to fall back and rest a while. Deep within my own soul, I feel these rhythms, and will shortly be following the inspiration I see all around me within nature. The time for rest is coming, but first there is the harvest, with plenty of hard work still lying ahead. The bees and wasps are still hard at work, soon to be looking for homes to winter through, should that be in their nature. The swallows will soon be leaving, the fledglings having already taken to the skies. They are waiting, waiting for the right wind to take them back, once their food supply begins to wane.
I simply adore the autumn. The leaves will soon be changing and falling, the sweet smell of decaying foliage and the crunching of dried vegetation underfoot. The light changes, so beautifully in the autumn – it has that certain slant that makes things seem even more magical....