The hot wind came from out of the northeast, and slammed into the trashcans, turning them over and spilling their contents. Southern California Thanksgivings are always unpredictable. Usually so hot and dry that the air is electric. This one ticked all the boxes.
I am in my thirties, and we have two young children. My husband has taken them off to church and I am home attending to the housecleaning and cooking of the turkey. Guests are coming in the afternoon, expecting the traditional holiday feast. I'm new at cooking turkey, but confident I can manage. What's so hard about seasoning a bird and putting it in the oven? I've done it with chicken hundreds of times. I'm optimistic, looking forward to the family gathering in our home for the traditional feasting.
When the veil thins on October 31, we remember those who are on the other side. We play with the idea of death. Does it terrify? Does it connect us with those we can no longer see, feel, touch?
Children come to our doors and ask for treats (the threat of tricks isn't real, not anymore). Or is it? That's part of the fun. Give me something sweet or I will give you something frightening?
Life itself has been thoroughly frightening this last year and a half. We have been compulsive about germs, viruses. And rightly so. We knew so little about the terror facing us. Now we can see that some of our rituals to protect us were not quite on target. We sanitized everything. And it turned out that the air we shared was the thing that was most dangerous. Airborne pathogens. Nothing, really, is more terrifying. Unseen enemy, carried by children, friends, relatives. Without intention, without malice.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning in a frame that doesn't fit. You know what I mean. It's the way we see ourselves in the morning. Sometimes the frame feels like it belongs to someone else, someone I don't even know. It's too small, it's too big, I can't 'see' myself at all. I don't fit. It doesn't fit me. Who is responsible for this?
And often it stays that way all day. Unlike Alice, I can't go through that framed mirror in my mind's eye. I have to live with what I've got, at least for a time.
Did the frame come during a dream? Did I get into it because of a state of mind? Is it because I ate too much, had one extra glass of wine?
Water Bearer is my chosen spirit name. I am an Aquarius in the astrological chart, so it feels right. The many images of young girls and women carrying water from the well have always intrigued and satisfied me. I can feel the dust on my feet, the lightness of the empty vessel, and the struggle to lift it once full. I can imagine the journey to the well -- hot sun on my face, maybe wishing I had started out earlier to avoid the heat of the day. Was the water sweeter when the effort of bearing it was done with a glad heart? Was there a brackish taste if the task was done with resentment and anger?
One of my favorite writing prompts included the word apprehend. I checked the dictionary to be sure I was clear about its meaning, and found I did understand it as used today. But "to grasp, to understand, to arrest, and to fear" still seem like mundane words to explain a much bigger concept.
When I was in the habit of attending church, and studied scripture, I often heard the phrase “apprehending the Mystery.” And when I moved to a different paradigm and sat with meditation groups or new age practitioners, I found the concept there as well.
We lost a big Podocarpus tree (aka fern pine) in the winds earlier this year, and when it came down it almost took out a young lime tree. The same heavy winds took down a limb of an old bottle brush tree which, in turn, took out our power line and blew out the transformer in our neighbor's yard. It was a mess. In the middle of the night we had the roaring wind, the fire department, and the water and power people here. The live wire that came down was secured, and although we were without power for awhile, it didn't last long. In the days that followed, still in the midst of the pandemic lockdown, we had electricians and gardeners putting us back together and hauling away debris. We had some major pruning done, as one does after so much drama, trying to prevent a repeat should the winds return.
When I was very young and couldn’t get to sleep, or was bored, I would imagine that I had found a little house that was very shabby and very dirty. I resolved to clean it, and the only tool I ever imagined I needed was a washcloth and some water. But I felt that if I were just careful enough, diligent enough, I could by sheer intent bring the house back to itself.
I had this fantasy for many years. In fact, I’ve always approached a new challenge that interested me with that same attitude. Just go carefully, take your time, pay attention, and you’ll get there. No matter if you have the right tools, or the basic understanding of the task. Pay attention and you will figure it out. The key to this approach has always been the word ‘interest’. And there are a lot of things I really have no interest in. Like how a telephone works, or how to solve a calculus problem, or the granularity of computer programming.
We have been at home, in home, home, and confined to home, for one year. We have ventured out only to make sure our car battery was charged, to make sure the gas tank was full, and, well, that's about it. We are now 72 and 79, having each, of course, celebrated birthdays. I make an apology here for all the commas. But life is full of commas, semi-colons, and full-stops, and we just have to deal. We have been dealing.
I had the good fortune to participate in a meditation via Zoom yesterday. It isn't easy to access a meditative state in today's world, much as I know it's good for me (my blood pressure actually dropped 20 points) and that it is a practice that is not only personally beneficial, but like a pebble dropped in a pond, has ripples far beyond our knowing.