Last year, my husband’s uncle died unexpectedly. Sudden heart attack and he was gone, while on vacation in a desert paradise. He hadn’t been at our wedding years before, because he had been cast out of the family. For lying to and betraying them.
The rift didn’t happen when he cast aspersions at them all because they were Catholic and he was now born-again Christian. It wasn’t when he left his newfound religion and his wife and children and declared that he had discovered he was gay. It wasn’t when he began dating a man and became involved in a serious relationship. It wasn’t when he left his lifetime businesses behind and became a flight attendant – a somewhat silly, he thought, dream but one worth pursuing to be true to his soul.
No, the betrayal and lying came about over money. Simple loans that became complicated and tore a family apart for years. Until they were forgiven, and he was back in the Family fold again, to share his now fabulous life with them all.
And then he died, just a few months after reconciliation. So young. So unexpected. But at the very least, the word “after” applied.
He died after living true to himself. After showing the world who he really loved. After following that dream that had little to do with making a living, and a lot to do with just living the dream. And those who loved him, his true family and friends (including the ex-wife, the children, the siblings) who loved him unconditionally – they stayed by his side for the ride of his lifetime.
It’s crowded in here, my head full of too many people, too many voices. Too many feelings, snippets of lives moving in and out of my consciousness, or sometimes just in, to set up camp in my head and stay a while. These souls haunt me still, these people I knew once and think, maybe again someday, because I still feel them, I still send them light and love and hope when they pass through. We have conversations, communions, spiritual therapy sessions of sorts, untangling knots.
Always their knots, not mine. I don’t know who can help me untangle anymore. My husband is supportive, audacious, enterprising and exciting, but not a therapist. I suppose I have to hire yet another one, the what, fifth? sixth? Depends on who you count, I guess – I go through them eventually, reach the end of their usefulness or insights. Outgrow them as they tell me I could be a therapist, I should be one.
And am left on my own again with the voices of the past, broken records playing, once more with feeling. So this is my therapy, finding my own voice among the din.
We are children, waking to find our parents’ divorce ripping through our pristine lives like a tornado, tossing illusions aside, scattered into the screaming winds.
We are heartbroken, cast aside lovers, anguished to see our beloved merrily traipsing through daisies, holding another’s hand, while we languish in despair.
We are destitute spouses, bereaved and bereft when the banks come calling, demanding payments on debts never discussed, kept secret until now.
We are a nation in chaos, traveling through harsh terrain with the world watching every misstep, every protest, every internal battle laid bare.
We are an entire country stuck in transitions in time.
There’s a bridge in South Africa, as everyone on the planet with Windows 10 who likes nature scenes found out yesterday. So I’m not alone in this knowledge. But I feel like it’s meant for me, this picture chosen to appear on my screen. The bridge in South Africa, a land tied inextricably to the mixture of black and white, a land of unspeakable pain and breathtaking forgiveness – the bridge that crosses.
A river runs below, but that’s almost incidental. It’s the trees above and the ropes that surround and the wood plank support that pulls me in. I feel my feet on the bridge, the warmth of the sunlight through emerald leaves, and my hands on the ropes.
The intricate, looping, arched ropes. Even if I wanted to jump from the bridge, I wouldn’t be able to – beautiful, strong, solid thick ropes block my fall, curved patterns that stretch along the length of the bridge.
There’s no jumping off then. No going backwards, either. My only choice is to breathe in leaf-tinged sunlight,
I’m not where I wanted to be by now. I wanted to be settled, to have a house for the next 25 years, to already be a full professor, to have an established life that would stretch ahead of me like a smooth, untroubled stream into the distance.
Thank God I don’t.
Thank God I still have much to strive for, that I haven’t yet fulfilled all of my grandiose dreams. Thank God I still have much to learn, even as I’m proud of how far I’ve come.
…is haunting me, filling my head still with the feelings of transition and loss and nostalgia and hopefulness for this new year.
But it doesn’t make any sense, unless you accept the idea of “priestess.” That there are some women on this Earth drawn to spiritual places and groups because their soul’s charge and purpose is to be the light and life of that community. In eons past, they would live within the walls, spend every waking moment tending to the spiritual lives of the faithful. They are found in every house of every kind of worship, in every culture, throughout history. And my soul is one of these – I know because I came alive when I walked into my temple.
Last night before bed I learned a fellow priestess had moved on, had decided our community was no longer her path. And when I slept, I dreamt her dream.
All the welcoming features of the building itself were gone – warm mauve deepened into dark blue, stained glass windows turned into walnut wood walls, easily accessible gently sloping aisles stretched upward into high stairwells and narrow halls. And the spiritual leader had become unrecognizable, not just a new person but a farce of another faith’s stereotypical paradigm. And a woman she knew and loved (who is now gone) turned with rage twisting her face and declared, I am SO angry with you!
A dreadful place indeed, and who can blame her for wanting to leave? But my fellow priestess, you may travel on, but remember that your sisters still know and cherish you. In the end, dreams may help reveal our hearts, but you have to open your eyes to see.
I am here, about to receive my new keys to my new kingdom. And the power they have invested in me is humbling. I have discretion, they say. I hold the possibility of a brighter future in my hands for hundreds of lives that I will touch, who will come to me for guidance. And if I just believe in them, maybe, just maybe, they might continue on in confidence and pride to do amazing things with their lives. On this first day, I feel the responsibility. And I am beyond thrilled to be here at last.