Oracion and the Lady’s Lament


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Thus saith the Lord: A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not.
Jeremiah

People just don’t know what civilian prisoners of war are.
-Gene Green

Empathy is the antidote to shame.
– Brene Brown

Do not fear the Opposites
Who insist upon
The lie

Slanderers feign
A brutish bunch

But angels never die
– Song of the Washer Woman, Verse III

We should not be asking who this child belongs to, but who belongs to this child.
– Jim Gritter

blog images oracion


After traveling into the past, Oracion felt she could now surmise why she had forgotten what happened during the night as a child,  the night that she realized Mother had become an Opposite (what most people called in those days, a Dream Snatcher).  Forgetting Elements must have been placed in the small hearth that graced Oracion’s bedroom, which had rarely been lit.

For the next morning, when younger Oracion had found herself so ill, and her father injured (but still holding her in his arms, weeping) the room was filled with the smoky evidence of a hearth fire. Dark, curly entrails had already covered and settled into meager furnishings like an obscuration of sheet covers strewn out of thick fog.  Father’s clothing was covered with the soot of it, as if in recent attempt to smother it out, and as if he, having arriving much later than the moment he wished, stamped it out with bare feet.

At that time, Child Oracion hadn’t been concerned with the fire that had threatened her or the bedroom furnishings, for she was all concerned for Father, and for Mother, who had been taken.

“Will we get her back?” Oracion had asked.

“I do not know” Father had told her, and she read the pain in his eyes, for certainly even his honesty cost him.  “I fear she is dead. So, if you ever see someone who looks like her, be wary, Oracion.  Do you understand me?  Be wary.  So many things in your castle are not what they appear to be, and many persons in this kingdom want you dead, my precious daughter. My  precious…my  innocent, my much beloved daughter.”

Oracion sorrowed that he was brought to tears once again, sad that now he wept for her, but was also not concerned with the notion that she, as a princess, was the target of many malevolent forces.  If Mother could already be dead, Oracion’s grief  was all consuming.

Also, it was the time of the Priestly Conferences and the Cases, which coexisted with Stag Hunt.  It was early spring.

Oracion had a fear of which she could not let go, that her Noble Beast, due to the unique and genetically rare antler formation upon his head, would get mistaken for a stag and murdered for profit, the priests too busy to notice, or even to care.

She remembered sneaking out to look out the window of her turret bedroom many times during this illness (she had been ordered to stay in bed) watching the hooded prelates below, who scurried busily to and fro, constructing their tents before dawn.  They carried with them stacks of darkly oiled, tightly bound parchment, unscrolling them occasionally to examine undecipherable script, by the light of double trikerion lamps, held aloft on gilded swords.

The bright light from these golden sconces and from the priests multiple campfires, had cast an ominously powerful, pulsating glow, and frightening shadows upon the hunters, transforming ordinary men’s faces as they passed through the hooded prelates.  The hunters appeared to young Oracion then in a form she would later recognize as dichobots.  They were very much like the soldiers they were, but their eyes glazed over with the lure of their own growing, brute animal instinct.

Oracion amused herself then (as a distraction from these cumulative events) by practicing her shape shifting skills, but she had yet to advance from sandpiper, to dove, or even to sparrow.

And each transformation cost her,  much like Father’s dutiful honesty revealed, through his eyes, a heartache of monstrous proportion.  Shifting seemed to exacerbate Oracion’s illness, weakening her own heart further, and triggered it into random, flittering convulsions, which ultimately passed.  But Oracion imagined, in retrospect, this is why Father warned her not to practice warrior skills.  She was still too young.  Disobedient Oracion none the less felt watching the prelates from the secret vantage of being a bird or by cloaking  herself as a mouse, and from the added leverage of height (while remaining tucked up safely upon her own window ledge) was way too entertaining and distracting to resist.

Truly, shifting was the only power she could leverage against hooded prelates, some of whom were even bishops, while gaining a mastery over herself.  It seemed like she was prisoner, not a princess, held hostage in her own castle, which was also becoming a place she barely recognized, and had no permission to gain.

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Now, when Oracion in the present traveled through time to visit her Child Self Past, it cost her physically much in the same manner that learning shape shifting had cost her then.  However, she was a master shape shifter who had long since matured from the days of earlier lessons, and when she time traveled from the present to the past, she was sure to take along her fairy godmothers, Velocity, Alacrity and Joy.  Though fairy godmothers were at the same time children, they were companionable and reliable adult guides, especially after Chagrin had transformed herself into Joy.  Oracion knew they would never leave her abandoned should she fall ill in journey,  for if they were anything (child or adult) – they were ever faithful.

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Yet,  she wondered oft why this business of gifting “godmothers” to princesses was more like turning princesses into “mothers”, of loving (but at the same time, precocious) children.  “Who is training up who?” she had often jested with them,  readjusting the woodland wreaths they had merrily woven, then placed half hazard and crooked, upon their own heads.  Admittedly Oracion enjoyed watching their innocent, but wild revels in the wood, and their petal-costumed dance.  But for a wandering villager to unexpectedly come across Oracion’s dancing nymphs, it would have been more unsettling for them than coming across a moonlit, empty grave, in that rarely traveled, wooded byway.

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The Sacred Presence knew Oracion loved and trusted in her godmothers, much in the same manner that she had loved and trusted in Father, Noble Beast, or the madonna that now appeared in the wood, who seemed to prefer and therefore reside somewhere in the thicket that at one time had been Father’s pear orchard.

There was a certain, ever untamable aspect about Oracion’s love for these few.  Though there were those she loved with a restrained love, tempered with politeness, nurtured and matured with age, Oracion’s love for her own was a wild and uncontainable thing.  For there was a wild and uncontainable thing to each of them.  Each would give their very life for the other. And the Presence was pleased that Oracion loved in this manner and trusted the fairy godmothers (or shall we call them fairy godchildren) to protect her.

Oracion knew this was true because this was what the madonna had confirmed.

The pear tree copse (by the power of time) had shifted itself as well, into wondrous trunks and strong branches that now grew to magnificent heights, interspersed occasionally with jade green pine, as if with bold, avant -garde, artistic intent.   Oracion and the godmothers would take violet and fern, weaving not wreaths but desiring to cast petals about the madonna’s feet (the godmothers’ idea) while she spoke to them,  in that steady and silent, maternal voice.  The kindly lady would gently submit to this, the Showering of Petals as Joy liked to call it,  so gracious she was, inside and out.  She was even more beautiful than Oracion’s own mother had been, and Mother had been an Etherate.

Oracion noticed that the madonna also wore upon her head a crown of more exquisite gems than Mother had ever worn, and it was interwoven with such unusual flowers (that resembled, in best human understanding, roses) that no earthly wreath could really, quite compare.

Therefore, Oracion’s companions had never bothered to boast or insult with a like gift of their own.

The lady’s fair, soft skin had a luminous quality to it that reminded Oracion of the moon.  Where she stood the beams of light that cascaded, particularly from her hands, sent shimmering translucent rays upon the pears that still fruited here in abundance, as if she was a spiritual chef sugaring them with a mystical, glittering light.

It was funny how much the madonna also reminded Oracion of Gilda, the washer woman, only Gilda seen in a manner by which Mother Nature had never naturally bestowed.  She remembered now she had gone to Gilda for advice as well, in those early days when she had first fled the castle compound, and sometimes Gilda would even sing to her, after her kitchen chores were done, and all the smaller children had been nursed.

But now that the time had come for Father’s Reviewing, the review of his death that is,  Oracion was glad she had come to know the Madonna of the Glistening Wood.  The anguish at facing this next step in her journeying was intense, and she shed so many tears before the woodland queen, so many shape shifter tears in abundance, that there was no need to cast petals, for wood violets arose instantaneously from the earth by the mysterious lady’s feet, wherever Oracion’s tears had fertilized them.

Finally Oracion begged her (for she had not yet this time heard the madonna speak) “Be with me when I go.”

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It was in this moment that the lady gently moved one of her hands so gracefully that a beam of light shifted, and fell upon Oracion’s face. It startled her and dried her tears with its sudden, perfect, consoling warmth, and drew up the ecstatic fairies high, literally – high. They soared up into the air around the lady in a dance Oracion had never seen them do before, but it was as if it had been borne in their blood of fairies ever since the beginning of time, and they were just now rediscovering it.

The lady then spoke to Oracion.

“My child, you know I have always been with you, since before you sought my Son’s grace through your bedroom turret window.  One day you will remember it all.  Now at least you realize it is you who travel with me (for I take you with me wherever I go) not I who travel with you.  But this has come to pass so that thou shouldst ask for my companionship.”

“I don’t want to see him die,” Oracion confessed.

“Nor did I,” she said.  The lady paused, her face so solemnly beautiful in this moment that Oracion felt tears spring up again, unbidden,  but this time they were for the lady, who was gazing upon her with such perfect love, perfect beauty and perfectly deep sorrow.  Oracion suddenly understood that a creature so lovely, could only experience sadness in an equally meaningful manner .  Within her solemn eyes lay an infinite profundity, like the ironic juxoposition of sky with earth.  There was gravity in those eyes, though not of a fallen nature.

It was the Weight of What she Understood, as it had been the Weight of What Father Understood.

The lady continued.

“But the viewing is part of the warrior lessons he wished you to complete Oracion, for it is only through a father’s death by which all of your kind is born.”  She paused another moment, a moment in which Oracion felt the lady was speaking things directly into her heart, that even the godmother’s couldn’t hear, issuing secrets that Oracion would discover there later, when she needed light for a second illumination.

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Then the madonna assured her:  “Even when you cannot see me, know that I am with you always, for I am inside your soul only to a lesser degree than the Very Presence, which makes up your very heart, very mind, very soul,  and even this very moonlit grove in which we now stand together.”

Oracion liked the way the lady called the Presence the Very Presence.  She like the feel of it to her intellect, as she had liked the feel of Noble Beast’s fur to her hands, the same way as a child she had liked naming Noble Beast, and in contrast, calling the corrupted shape shifters – Opposites.  It felt… True.  Who was this woman who was not her mother but her true mother, all at the same time – as if by adoption –  and who knew so well the language that the Presence used, and that He was so Very?

“Oracion” she added, as if now in turn beseeching. “My Son. They murdered my Son as well, and burned me at the stake, as they continue to burn me at the stake when they burn all women who speak in my name.  Now go.  Your hour is at hand.”

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Missing Persons

This, Cassie had known, ever since she
[static]
Cassie, my nephew, a driver in a small van
had wounded
seemed very apoplectic
the life of me
deep tissue scarring
my world
89
her limbs crushed beneath

[I find myself crying, feeling a very empathetic, deep sadness]
press a button
release the hatch
arrived in pain
Bobby was still throwing a
[static]
thrashing
like a giant pistol
assault rifle
no ones knows where the bodies are
by the side of the lake
a gorge
a pistol
crying in despair
I sat there
watched him pull the trigger
dust
cold, green grass
a river spotter
fishing
thought it was a hoax
drowned in despair
I took a watch
It keeps on ticking
turning point
freedom
viral
release
the words
the dead
can’t speak
the records
will show this
none the less
cut open the bag
the keys are in the trunk
murder
violence
brute force
the facts remain
I’m cold
ice
a sad time of year
making a living by the stream
these notes
do not indicate the past
From a vantage point however
the fish swim
see
grasping curdles in their mouth
like straw
sipping at Coke
Please don’t make me
come back and spoil it for you
a bronze star on my bed
morphine in the shack
squirrels in the rafters
were obtained for medicinal purposes
The bodies don’t disparage
[An automated sales call comes in on my cell phone, from Fox Lake, Illinois. My left ankle hurts]
Get up

The Tower Bedroom

Beware then of useless murmuring,
and keep your tongue from slander;
because no secret word is without result,
and a lying mouth destroys the soul.

Wisdom of Solomon

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Do not fear the Opposite
The dark that steals the dream
Man cannot reverse the flow
Of river, gorge or stream

Song of the Washer Woman

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When the Presence allowed it, Oracion could travel into the past.

On these nights she often found herself in the upper chamber of the castle turret, looking for Mother and something else she had lost there, a long time ago.

This room had served as Oracion’s bedchamber when she was just a little girl, in the days before Mother was taken.  Oracion had begged Father to let her sleep in the attic, for the moonlight shining through the small window there was beguiling.  Because Oracion was closer to the moon in a turret bedroom, it would cast enchanted lunar reflections and shadows within – all throughout the night – of which Oracion had learned many things. She learned things of which most children were not privy, things of which even most shape shifting children had not been privy.

At least that’s how it had been in those days of old. In modern times the moon drew closer to earth to educate all of the young, as if in compensation for the stars which had been lost, burnt out in their orbits or cast to the ground.

But in days of old, on certain summer evenings, Father would allow Oracion to accompany him through the small trap door and winding turn of stairs that led from her bedroom to the open roof top above, and she relived all of this now. He and daughter would spend long hours in contemplation studying the landscape below from the advantage of height, moonlight and crenellation.

She remembered she hadn’t asked him for much in those days, but whenever she did, Father had not denied her.

And though Mother had not resisted the idea of a tower bedroom, she balked whenever Father took Oracion to the roof. Oracion saw again her face, tinged with a delicate pink, demanding “Whose idea was this?!” It was as if Oracion was a fragile possession not safe in her father’s presence, and would somehow plummet from the castle rooftop to the ground below, in some unforeseen accident or unexplainable turn of events, that Mother would inevitably blame on him.  Mother also suspected that Father was up there teaching Oracion the Art of War.

blog image Oracion in turret

Which he was.

But he was just giving her the Early Lessons, which consisted of maps, animals and flowers, and in particular the types of birds.  He would tell Oracion how the shifters would shape themselves into the humbler varieties – shore bird, sparrow, and turtle dove – to go unnoticed among the enemy.

“I would  want to be a sparrow, or a dove” Oracion had announced, for these creatures had several times landed in her hand for a crumble of scone, and she thought them the most gentle and intelligent of all birds, especially compared to the brutish Jays.

Father had smiled at her then, then would mention, casually, how shape shifters could even shape themselves into bats, and get up into a turret tower, to frighten little girls.  He had teased Oracion relentlessly.

Mother was correct in many things of which she suspected Father, but wrong in so many others, and she grieved for he who had loved Mother from the beginning and therefore had to willingly subject himself to her more worrisome imaginings.

For Mother was one of the Beautiful Ones, an Etherate, who would not become tame in any fashion or sense of the word, whose noble northern heritage would beguile any man, or make anyone love her, just as the moon had inevitably enchanted Oracion in the attic room.

She remembered Mother’s cloud of dark hair (which some said was much like her own) and eyes as blue and twinkling as the clearest spring water, laughing and flowing through a river gorge. She smelled of honeysuckle, baking flour and sometimes a sweet smoky scent that reminded Oracion of fire from an evening hearth.  She graciously swept through the castle in velvet slippers and flowing patterns of rose, gold brocade and lace.  Oracion remembered now that Mother had always been conscious of the dust Oracion’s skirts collected, as Oracion ran laughing and tumbling through heath and heather, but laughed off the dust that collected on her own as if it was just added embroidery, casting a delicate hue.

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And although Mother did not laugh all the time, her moods being most delicate, her laugh was one of the things Oracion now missed the most. It had rung out like a transparent chime up, up through the castle’s chambers, and sometimes when accompanied with lullaby or tale, had lured Oracion warmly to sleep in that bedroom, in which Oracion had dreamt dreams that only protected princesses dream.

Yes, in time travel Oracion missed Mother’s laugh and those days as deeply as that turret bedroom had been high above all river gorges and blistering mountain heights.

The room had been sparsely furnished. 

During her night travels when she returned there invisibly she would find the same small bed beside a rarely lit hearth, fur rugs, rolls of parchment and scattered orange peel, a single crucifix being one of the few adornments against vast stone wall. This was because of Father’s penchant for giving things away.  Oracion had shared the compulsion, and their secret charities were another thing that Oracion feared would drive a wedge between Father and his Etherate Bride, when she was just a little girl.

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Father himself then would laugh –  at such concerns –  the adult ones young Oracion had voiced to him in those days, throwing his head back in amusement at the ancientness of such a tiny soul. She was his verbal dueling and parsing protégée before she reached five, and was only too eager to trade in her words for a sword, so she could become a brave warrior like him.  His dark brown eyes would study her and twinkle at her with a lucidity that surpassed even mother’s blue ones. This suggested to her he possessed secrets so deep and elusive they were like that of the moon’s, and she hoped he would share all of them with her in time, because he could refuse her not.

What Oracion did not realize then was how much of the light that had burned in Father’s eyes was simply the manifestation of the love he felt for her, his daughter. She was truly his Little Ancient Soul, and he often called her this. How bittersweet this made Oracion feel now, recalling what she had taken for granted, or not even noticed, even though she had been ever vigilant, loving both of them with all of her heart, mind and strength, and all of her tiny soul.

blog image young Oracion as soldier

 

“Do not trouble yourself with growing up too quickly, Oracion” he had advised.  “Just think instead of the merriment of the washer woman at the light cast by our candlesticks set upon her table on Feast of Fat Pheasant”.

Oracion would giggle at this, thinking of Fat Pheasant and hopefully, soon to be fat Gilda, the one little boy Gilda had borne who had died,  and all the children whom she had since wet nursed, which could constitute the whole, entire village guard. Father would toss Oracion up upon his shoulders in this moment, still laughing, and Oracion would be laughing too, feeling lighter and safer there than even when they stood on the turret landing, surveying the landscape below.

But perhaps Gilda’s new fortune was why Mother had accused Father of stealing the trikerion lamps from the chapel priest in the first place, the prelate with the dark brown hooding and intelligent but brooding eyes that Oracion respected, but somehow still feared.

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It had been a moonless night, with rain coming down in torrential drifts, when Oracion first heard her parents arguing about trikerion candles. She remembered that night well because Noble Beast had not shown up like he usually did.  Noble Beast showed up whenever it was raining or the moon was obscured by shadow or snow.

Oracion had awakened because of the pounding of rain against glass and her parent’s angry voices from the chambers below, but this did not disturb her as much as the absence of The Creature. She had glanced about the room, half expecting to see Noble come padding silently towards her on his huge, hairy Beast Feet, beseeching her with sad eyes until she allowed him the pleasure of sleeping at her own.

But he had not.

Oracion had not known or cared until now from whence Noble Beast came, because he was yet another one of those things she simply did not question, and took for granted in those days of sweet cherries, moonlit lessons and the smells of sage and dripping candle wax.

Invisible Oracion moved with emotion into the past now and watched as a younger Oracion arose from the bed, not bothering to slipper her feet, seeking instead the creature she loved like a childhood pet to warm them. But he was not really a dog. Noble Beast (which is just what Oracion called him) was very much like an oversized German Shepherd, yet not quite canine, because he had two antlers that emerged from his head in such a fashion that one bent across the other, then twisted down once again to end in a sharp point.  This unique antler formation had reminded Oracion of the small crucifix that graced her wall, but even more it reminded her of the cross banners the brave warriors carried, with the family crest with gold lettering hanging down from one side.

It disturbed her, the drawings she had seen of those crosses and banners broken, littering the ground, golden calligraphy now stained red.

blog image washer woman with son

So child Oracion hurried down stairs of drafty white stone passage, until she reached the rooms below. There she momentarily forgot her quest to find Nobel, because Father’s voice from behind Mother’s bedchamber was filled with something Oracion identified as pain. She was not used to hearing Father like this, and little Oracion crept even closer to the closed door, to listen without being observed.

“Desirous, how can you say this, of what do you speak?” Father was asking Mother.  “Why would I take the special candles from my own chapel passed down to me from my father before me, and his father before him, that which has been consecrated to my Lord?  Of what dark deeds do you accuse?”

“If it was not you than it was Priest” Mother stated with a voice that still sounded angry,  but now determined, and colored with urgency.

“Why worry yourself, even if the old man did?” Father queried. “Do we not feed him enough? Do we not pay him enough, to perform the rites?  If the priest has taken trikerions for dark purpose, the candles will not light, and if he has taken them for good, to bring light to others, then we cannot condemn.”

“We should not tolerate a thief in our house for any reason” Mother insisted, and Father must have come to her then, consolingly, for after a moment of silence his voice grew softer still.  Oracion had to press her ear against the door to hear it.

But what Father said then frightened Oracion to the quick.

“There now, there now, you know the truth, Desirous. The only thieves that can wrongly take things of value are the Dream Snatchers.  And these I will never allow in my house, I promise you.”

Upon hearing this declaration from her father’s lips, a chill had gone down the spine of young Oracion, a chill accompanied by the realization of an evil present, although not yet quite understood.

Though Oracion had not known what these creatures were called before, when she heard “Dream Snatchers” she knew of whom Father spoke.  But Oracion had thought up to this point in time that these evil things, these dream stealing creatures,  were just imaginary, and not a real threat to anyone’s well-being.

And she had been calling them Opposites.

blog image Oracion learning from book

She called them Opposites because when she woke to find them silently prowling about the side of her bed, which she often did –  sinewy, dark, smoky creatures – which were part smoke, part human and part beast,  drooling and smacking their lips grotesquely as if to devour her, they reminded her in an opposite way of her Noble Beast.  She had screamed of course when they first appeared and called out for Mother, who would come to her doorway almost immediately in rescue. When Mother appeared the monsters would disappear quite instantaneously, leaving only a swirling, smoky residue behind, as if they had never been there. Could it be that Dream Snatchers were so frightened by something as pure and beautiful as an Etherate, they could not exist in the same space at the same time?

“Where did they go?” Oracion had asked.

“Where did what go?” Mother would ask.

“Opposites” Oracion would say, her voice still trembling.  She did not really even want to say the word out loud, as if to speak it would hasten their return.

“Silly child,” Mother would say “Opposites are just your imagination.  You don’t see them here now with us, do you?”

No wonder Mother worried about her well-being, child Oracion thought to herself, frozen at her parent’s bedchamber door.

Mother knew the truth of what lurked in Oracion’s bedroom, but perhaps had not wanted to acknowledge their existence so as not to frighten the little girl.  In seconds Oracion’s mind was spinning, grasping at what could really constitute and motivate such vile creatures, and it didn’t take long for the little girl to theorize that they were some form of shape shifter, but with darkness of soul.

If this was true, than Oracion knew what she must do, but it would take the courage of a brave warrior, not just a princess, so the time for her to evolve was now.  She had to see where the monstrous creatures went when they disappeared at Mother’s entrance, next time they invaded her room.  For as long as smoky exhaust still lingered and swirled it suggested Dream Snatchers could not leave castle grounds quickly.  Oracion wondered what they cloaked themselves into next, perhaps a malformed grape vine to climb down and out her window, or a deformed animal –  part pig and part goat – howling in agony at a turret moon, which would be way too bright for their weak and watery eyes to tolerate for long.

But what were they really, and what was their natural form?

 

blog image castle wall ruin

 

 

Time travel to the past can be such a fascinating but frustrating thing.

For as the Oracion in the present sees the Oracion in the past,  forming this plan to catch Dream Snatchers in action, it is as if suddenly, time starts to speed up. Stone walls start decaying, first solid then crumbling, loose stones tumbling out in random fashion from their sockets, archways fading in and out, then dissolving altogether into translucent, arched tree branches, which in turn are becoming more and more solid over her head, until Oracion can see the morning light of present filtering through.

No, she must stay here in the castle and watch.  She has long since earned her own sword.

The sound of rushing in the ears again and she is back in the past. But as usual, she has lost a segment of time, skipped over it like a section of ink on parchment too wet and blurry to read, and now little Oracion is in her bed being woken by something wet upon her arm. 

Is the window open, and rain coming in?

No, it is Father, holding her in his arms, and the raindrops were not raindrops nor moistened, faded parchment but his tears, which the child had never seen before. The sight of him crying moves child Oracion to such love she calls him “Daddy” this time, instead of the usual Father.  Looking up at him, she also notices what looks like horrible wounds about his neck, as if rows of sharp blades had been pressed into the weather-tanned skin, and at intervals pierced it.

So she lays her small, child hand upon the bruises gently,  as if the touch of it could heal, and asks “Daddy, what’s wrong? What happened?”

Oracion has seen this scene too many times.

It hurts and she does not want to see it again. But she knows she must go even further back into the past to find what she missed, what she has lost, and realize again what she needs to realize.  (Rushing, rushing, the sound of rushing in her ears like a pressure, a frightening wind, driving rain against turret glass, Divine Presence be with me!) and then she is still in the tower bedroom but back to the deleted time frame, when it is not raining at all.  Father is not there either, and instead a hideous Dream Snatcher half crouched, encircles her bed.

“Mother,  come help me, quick!”

The Etherate appears moments later, disheveled in such radiant beauty that perhaps –  if Oracion had been a bit older – she would have suspected her cries interrupted Mother in act of her brother’s conception.

When the beast disappears Oracion waits only until her mother leaves her room as well.

Then she gets out of bed and peeks out from below the open archway that constitutes her bedroom door, just in time to catch a glimpse of the tale end of Mother’s evening cloak, crimson red, sweeping dust as it disappears down the stairs.

Back in her room,  the Dream Snatcher’s residue is still visible, like dusty entrails which one would not wish to inhale.

So over to the window young Oracion rapidly scurries, hoping to watch as the Dream Snatcher flees. This time the moon is quite full, illuminating everything below it, the extended drawbridge and finally the figure that emerges upon it to meet Priest, who has strangely been waiting there all along.

But it is still only Mother, in her crimson red cloak, the figure that emerges from the castle.  Mother’s hood is drawn up around her face like Priest’s brown one, and despite the moon and the brilliancies of color, Oracion marvels at how similar in this night the two hooded figures appear. However, when the priest removes his hood, and Mother in like fashion removes her own, there is no trouble making distinctions between them.

Mother’s face is hideous now, perhaps not even human.  Her face is that of the Dream Snatcher.

She opens her jaws wide as if to devour the wiry little man with long, fierce teeth, but instead slowly leans her gaping mouth close to breathe Oracion’s dreams into the greedy priest’s ear.  After receiving the vapor, he removes what he has brought hidden from beneath his garments, a trikerion lamp, and hands it to Mother, who enfolds it into her own.

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Oracion is so stunned she cannot move or speak, and it is only when she sees Noble Beast come charging swiftly out through the castle gates to attack the Dream Snatcher, and watches horrifying movements of flying fur and teeth too rapid to mentally contemplate, then Noble’s neck being pinioned and tightly clenched in her own mother’s jaws, that Oracion can scream at all.

“No!”

The child’s cry alert the beasts. They pause in one, simultaneous motion to look up at her, and in another instance, are gone.  Both beasts have vanished, and now Priest alone stares up at Oracion with eyes still quite human, but as cold and dead as the stones in her tower bedroom wall.

All that remains of Mother is the swirling, dark smoky residue at his feet.

It takes another moment for Oracion to realize that her hands are clutching the window ledge so tightly that they hurt painfully, until she realizes they are not hands at all anymore, but the tiny feet of a small sandpiper bird. For through the intensity of her emotions she has awoken her first transformation, but has not yet achieved sparrow or dove.

In this moment Oracion is just a ground bird, trapped way up high on a ledge.

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Song of the Washer Woman, Verse II

Do not fear the Opposite
Who dies not out through blood
Though blood is red as roses are
Life forms but through its bud

 

 

Farmer’s Almanac

Remove grace, and you have nothing whereby to be saved. Remove free will and you have nothing that could be saved.      Anselm of Canterbury

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As Oracion was leaving the home of her estranged sister, the home where she sensed she was no longer welcome, where she had found not hospitality but the remains of an evil priest’s poisonous flowers in a window box, there was an instantaneous change in the atmosphere.

Though there was no apparent reason for it that Oracion could intuit, no breeze or wind shifting hair about her face, or tossing dark branches of trees across a moonlit sky, the temperature had plummetted suddenly, from sixty to about thirty degrees.

Oracion instinctively wrapped her cloak more tightly about her, and pulled its hood further down over her face not so much to disguise her appearance, for it was night anyway (and when traveling, she found night was best) but because it was so cold. It was also as if to shelter herself from something yet unknown, advancing behind her.

Indeed from somewhere behind Oracion, down the cobblestone alley through which she hurried like a silent vision to some and a disturbing nightmare to others, below many shuttered windows and many bolted doors, Oracion become aware of a possible second hurrying presence, although she had heard nothing audible.

Strangely, her companions Alacrity, Velocity and Joy had not become aware or alerted by the presence of a stranger behind them approaching stealthily, or if they had, they made no show of it.

In fact this evening her godmothers had cloaked themselves as a Great Dane, a German Shepherd and a mischievous frolicking alley cat, solely for Oracion’s pleasure and amusement. The first two now flanked her side, and the latter was casually distracted by a single, dry leaf tumbling rebelliously across well-swept cobblestones like the last laughing hold out against order, high society and sophistication.

This thought, this odd leafy analogy, passed through the back of Oracion’s mind so half hazardly (just like the leaf) she made a casual, mental note to examine it later when she wasn’t being stalked by a possible executioner.

Yes, it was a very strange night indeed, so unusually silent, motionless and now cold, but the canines continued to stride in undisturbed sleek formation right next to her, their soft velvet fur as unruffled and smooth on their backs and their necks as when Oracion first buried her face in it and kissed them as dogs a few hours previous.

The suddenly incarnated “dogs” had seemed to smile at her in return, in deep reciprocated love, devotion and obedience, but now their wide canine grins and lolling tongues seemed to express only idle amusement at their sister cat’s antics.

If they were undisturbed by the stalker, could it be because the mysterious stranger was not an enemy, but a friend?

She remembered the lessons Father had taught her as a child centuries ago, about the meaning of the weather, when Oracion had bent down to carefully place precious, tiny, pearl-like seeds into holes Father had dug in rich, chocolate brown earth with his well worn, much larger, and much stronger hands.  Dropping temperatures and silence could mean many things, he had told her, but two she recalled now were someone imprisoned, or someone being sacrificed.

As Oracion halted and turned around to look she let her hood fall back, boldly exposing her easily identifiable pale face and features. She would not be afraid this evening.

And there he was.

He was a lone dichobot, not advancing upon Oracion and her animals aggressively, but looking rather startled himself.  In fact the robotic dichobot looked frozen, frozen in the street –  and frozen in time.

The smooth, heavy, all concealing body armor had revealed his presence to Oracion out of shadows when it reflected the moonlight and now he stood motionless, in the middle of the street facing her, uncertain whether or not he should move forward, approach or even if Oracion were friend, foe, or perhaps illusion.

Slowly he removed his mask, and when their eyes met and she read the sadness in those ancient eyes of yet another time, it almost moved Oracion to tears.  But in another dimension, it would never have come to this. In one, they would have embraced, and in another, Trock and her would have valiantly fought side by side, and been willing to die for one another.

In another yet to come, perhaps they would.

Quickly, Oracion redrew the hood back down about her face and started running away from Trock as swiftly as she could, because having seen her, he would obey his vows he made to his master to kill Oracion, or be killed.

And if he tried to kill her, how could she obey her vow to her own father to help set Trock free, without hurting him in the process, while defending herself?

As all the possible scenarios and possible outcomes of this unfortunate meeting played themselves out in Oracion’s mind, as unexpectedly and randomly as a leaf – passing over sterilized cobblestone upon some mysterious air current –  Oracion felt herself reaching for her sword just to make sure it was still there. Instead, she found herself grasping the coarser hair of horse’s mane as she herself was lifted high, and swiftly carried away from all danger, on the back of a giant destrier stallion, escorted by two noble canines that now barked excitedly at its side.

Lenten Grievances

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Oracion, upon hearing her neighbor was sick, dared to venture into the village one evening by light of the remaining stars. She donned a simple black cloak which was roomy enough to hide herself, and her offering for the poor – which in this instance consisted of waxed candles, fruit pastries and clover wine, a bundle of hearth pumpernickel, a bundle of rye, and a pound of soft, sweet cheeses and herb butters.

Oracion had packaged the gifts in pale papers and wrapping twine, placing them carefully into a small, moss-lined basket, adding as if in after thought, a clutch of gypsy blue violets, gathered before dawn on the previous day.

As she drew nearer the house she was marveling at how her flowers  (those that grew in Oracion’s hidden part of the wood) were different,  and she hoped they might bring her friends a secret kind of joy and health.  Indeed, flowers that grew freely seemed to benefit from a wild sturdiness not intrinsic to most.

Oracion recalled in comparison, the stunning genetically cultivated flowers she had marveled at in the priest’s chambers, so long ago when she had been imprisoned there, which were all perfect, identical and grew artfully arranged in rows – but which were somehow strange, and without heady fragrance or longevity.

They grew in even numbers as well, not odd, and they bloomed for just one day, then curled up to rot like obedient expendables.

Oracion was aroused from such botanical contemplation when the house which she sought loomed suddenly before her, modest in size and well shuttered.  How ironic that a row of the priest’s day roses had perished recently in a tidy window box attached to the dwelling, and as per usual, there remained just a neat pile of thorns, for it was night.

Ascending the porch steps, Oracion thought she saw for one moment – behind the shutters, though closed – curtains fluttering slightly in a cool evening breeze, then realized the windows were not open at all to welcome her, such a night, or any heady, woodland breeze borne fragrances in anticipation of spring.  And the windows not only were shuttered and curtained, but had also been sealed.  There it was.  She saw it plainly now;  a pane of thick, sealing glass.

The cleansing had begun.

And what Oracion really had seen behind the glass –  someone drawing the curtain aside to peek out from within  – which would once have been welcoming  (it’s our beloved friend, so come let us open the door) had turned furtive and cold.

The Dichobots had already been here, and Oracion was to be shunned.

She had drawn in such a sudden, startled breath, that she almost dropped the carefully laid basket at her own feet, as if the added weight of realization, loss and sorrow in her heart had also caused the small basket gravitational pull, and her own rare wild violets to tremble, wither and collapse.  Then Oracion caught hold of herself, considering.

She would not disturb her friends in the night.

She would leave the gift basket however on their steps without gift card or note, and in that manner, and in only that manner, could the small offering still be used.  This way in the morning her beloved could still take part in it, and be nourished without excuse, blame or shame, nor threat of scourging or punitive dispatch.  They could not be punished for any reason at all.

For though Oracion’s guilt was imaginary, as long as it was still imagined by some or by one, she would not share it with another, especially not with those that she loved.

And although the scentless gasses emitting from the wicked priest’s genetically designed flowers were sure to have already altered her friends’ minds to some strange and curious degree, plucking and destroying memories and understandings from their brains as efficiently as dying day roses (leaving just their thorns) she prayed that in their hearts they would still know she had been present, and remember her name.

For they had been sisters once.

Shape Shifters, Part II

“It’s really about the trans fight.”  ~ Anonymous

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In that moment many things happened at once, because Oracion sometimes saw and heard many things, all at the same time.

Though she could not yet understand them as simultaneously as her brilliant companions could, Oracion hoped in time (when she had grown just a little bit younger) her mind would be as clear as Alacrity’s –  and her thoughts as fast as Velocity’s –  but that time was not now.

She was well aware of the priest’s snake, that she knew he fondly called Onion, as it hissed and slithered out of the open bedside drawer. The snake was raised up in an instant, as if suddenly balanced on the tip of tiny feet, that were somewhere hidden but now emerging at the base of a still undulating tail.  In that instant Oration also observed Onion’s fangs, the tongue, and two small fetus size bulges packaged within the snake’s body – one in mortal stillness, but the other still slightly moving (Oracion realized in horror) and trying to get out.

Oracion also noticed a flash of light about the fat snake’s neck, which registered meaningfully as her own diamond bracelet, constricting the poor snake’s breathing, but preventing Onion’s expulsion of dinner.  She drew back and screamed an inaudible scream – as the snake tried to strike at her face, even though Oracion did not really scream in fright. She screamed more in anger for that which the old priest was using the snake.

For since night was like day to Oracion, and although she knew what she saw during her travels was real and had real meaning, she also knew her guides and her Father would always protect her, even from snake venom.  The danger was never real. Therefore her scream was more a horrified outcry against evil and the horror of everything she saw and now knew to be true, rather than one of sudden fright – or personal defense.  The castle chanters were singing “decoy” anyway –  to inform her there was something else she must look at (though the word sounded more like a silent chime, as their words always did in this venue) even as Oracion was also made aware her scream, however silent as she was invisible,  had been heard in the chambers below.

She was made aware of this because in that same instant she heard men in heavy boots pounding ominously, as they ran up the stairs.

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The fact that the wicked priest seemed to hear what was silent was more significant to her in this moment than the fact that his guards now ran up the stairs with murderous intent, and it was this fact that did mystify – and somewhat frighten her.  For hearing what was silent was reserved to the shape shifters and to her Father’s people, not to those whose business was soul murder.

But nonetheless, even as Oracion struggled with her desire to help the second baby out of the snake’s body, and knew that second baby was also her (in some mysterious way), Velocity laid an invisible hand on Oracion’s own invisible hand. In the next instant she was transported to the evil priest’s closet, as if in hiding from the angry men with the monstrously loud boots.

If the old priest had stolen the secret to hear silent things, had he also obtained secrets to see secrets as well? Could he find Oracion here?

Could that be even possible?

Though the enemies had seen shape shifters in various formula and format, the shape shifters were the only ones left that Oracion knew of,  to see reality for what it actually was.

To the pathetic wicked priest, when he could see her, at least as far as Oracion could tell, she would always just be the deeply disturbing garden nymph, with wild eyes, too pale skin and a cloud of black hair, the one he had cast off into the forest for being too intelligent.  He probably had fantasized that the girl would be taken in by the other commoners he had banished from his kingdom, and somehow, as if through what he viewed as a lower, less than pristine class contamination, forget everything she had seen within the castle walls.

How could the old priest actually see or understand who Oracion really was, when he did not even deem her human, or understand how she could be present when his tap dripped, babies cried, or even when he had flash backs to his own mother, hundreds of years ago, screaming at him for some imagined offense?

But while in the closet Oracion sensed, if not smelled, the unmistakable odor of long decayed flesh, it was so dark that Oracion could no longer see anything either.  The priest’s closet engulfed her like a sickening tomb.

She could feel around with her hands, however, and though what she felt disturbed her much, it suddenly made her see clearer than she had been ever been able to before.

Alacrity was whispering something silently into her ear that sounded like “Fuhrer” then “bioethics” even as Oracion was hearing the voices of booted men, perhaps a woman, and some other visitors (good or bad she could not tell) right on the other side of the door.

“ok, Miss Spider…” a voice began.

Oracion felt skeletons hanging from hangers, their little bony feet knocking and clicking against her back, as Oracion found a place to crouch, making her own body very little by kneeling on the floor.

“they found her…has a business now…probably should have stayed away”

The bodies must have been stacked together and compacted quite tightly in this closet, pressed together to get in as many hanging skeletons as possible. Surely they could not have been all of this one priest’s kill Oracion thought, as her small movements disengaged a sprinkling of loose toes from several dry, ancient feet, but this clink, clink, clink of the bones, apparently, the outsiders could not hear at all. The men continued their chatter, as if they were women gossiping about the next door neighbor, not soldiers with guns in front of a closet containing ancient bones.

“very sincerely misguided.  It’s like getting a tongue lashing from a snake…all of her comments are crazy…starving children can’t talk…standing up”

But at Oracion’s own feet, another type of body lay… lifeless, but still warm.

A little girl, around seven or eight.

Oracion felt the small, still, familiar hands of the child, and her familiar, round cherubic face, the cloud of tangled hair as soft as she could imagine the silk threads of the blouse of a madonna, and impossible ever to comb… while the most brutal pain of all and heavy understanding suddenly settled on Oracion’s heart.

Would she die an eighteenth death at this moment, in an evil priest’s closet, just so she would understand, with dangling skeletons above her, and her third beloved fairy godmother,  dead at her feet?

“I don’t know what to tell ya…her father called the judge. The North Door ceremony, over expenses, music… accomplished. I realize depression –  but the only possibility is a mixed seed”

Oracion wept bitterly, holding the poor, lifeless body of Chagrin in her arms.

“the only thing to do…threats, sticks, making stars…hey, what are we waiting for…you know in theory his father’s outbursts pre determine dream obsessions, an isolated bath…maybe the tin man did what he did because she wouldn’t even get a book – a false prophet, to deceive the elect…”

“Father, be with me!” Oracion shouted, no longer able to bear this moment, but fearing the next –  her rightful anger and love for Chagrin suddenly igniting into a desperate urgency, and so of course,  Oracion’s surroundings changed once again, instantaneously.

She was back in her forest home with Alacrity and Velocity, and Oracion was running through the leaves and sticks and underbrush to find where she had put her most innocent Chagrin down to sleep earlier in the evening,  on a blanket of warm winter edelweiss.

There was another moment of excruciating grief and understanding in The Seeing.

For all daughters who see, also grieve.  And all mothers who see, also grieve.

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It was seeing the child motionless, the child that was at the same time Oracion’s child, and at the same time her fairy godmother, as still as that first motionless baby within the snake’s body, that ripped another bloody sword into the center of Oracion’s heart. For she had to look to see if she could ascertain the gentle rising up and down of the child’s chest, to see if there was any life left, but Oracion knew the moment of death had just arrived, when she had arrived on the scene.

For in that same instance, the moment Chagrin’s chest ceased all movement, the child was already shifting into her new form, and breathing life’s breath once again.

Chagrin was an even younger child now, her hair a prettier and paler shade than the paleness of that winter moon, and her eyes brighter than the sparkling diamonds in a once treasured wristlet band. For what these eyes had seen while asleep and would always see now, was what Oracion could sometimes see as well, or at least intuit –  the Constant Presence, the Father Made Known, Who lived where He Would – to be with them always.

“I never left your side” she finally heard His Voice say in a voice that rang out though silent, like a loud crashing waterfall, in answer to the helpless cry she had shouted out to Him in the priest’s bedroom closet.

Chagrin’s laughter rang out as well and echoed merrily,  like a sweet musical note ringing loud and clear and finally free throughout the forest. And as the child sat up and reached her arms out to Oracion, Oracion beheld in them the gift of a small bouquet of edelweiss, clutched in a hand.

But Oracion knew she was no longer Chagrin anymore.

“Mother,” Chagrin called her, for the first time ever.

“I am finally Joy.”

Shape Shifting


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Oracion had been warned not to go near the new castle that was already old, that stood in danger of crumbling at the end of the wood.  It was there the wicked priest had taken the sun a long time ago, on a night so dark it lasted the length of three nights, and if not for the light of the moon, her kind would have died of grief.

Happy to be released, Oracion had made her new home in wood and flower, to trod upon moss and fragrant violet, ponder the graceful movement of heliotrope, and listen to chimes in the wind.

The three fairy godmothers that Father had given her were with her still.

Athough Oracion appreciated their companionship, she had to take care of them like little children, because all fairy godmothers will be, in some ways, little children. Subsequently, they often got tired and clung about Oracion’s neck heavily during the day, or pulled at her hair. Chagrin was the oldest, and was often found wandering off into the dangerous parts of the wood where the fog was deep, and had to be fetched before the child fell into the moat, or worse – got mistaken for Oracion.

If anyone found Oracion, the old priest would have her murdered instantaneously. If any of his servants dared to speak to her first, they would be executed as well.  And she felt it would have been her fault, although she didn’t think it was.

But she missed her friends.

The thought of burning at the stake didn’t frighten Oracion, but stoning did.  For her kind would be found guilty of knowing whatever sins the old priest had committed, and she would have been stoned for each one of his sins, as well as each one of her gifts, and each one of her fairy godmothers, the priest pocketing these things like plucked pansies into his robe.

And the moat into which she feared Chagrin would fall, was not like regular moats that Oracion had read about in story books when she was little (many lifetimes ago) or the one that had surrounded her own home in the Other World, but one that ran deceptively through pine and leaf throughout the forest floor like a giant, tangled snake set out to catch its prey.

Now that Oracion was even younger, she was very wary of this slippery inlet’s particular danger, and the fog that rose up from it in cloudy mists. It was the type of poisonous fog that had blinded some.

But the nights in the forest were beautiful because the fog never reached the sky, or obscured the moon.  And although the stars were falling now at regular intervals, the nights were getting brighter than ever before.

Some said these bright nights were day, and of course they had always been, to Oracion.

For it was in the night that Oracion could shape shift like the other children into invisibility and fly.

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Sometimes, after securing Chagrin, she would gather Alacrity and Velocity to her, and together they would slip into mysterious places forbidden, all walls dissolving in an instant at the touch of her hand. She saw books lining shelves that contained the hidden things, and passage ways that were really there, but hidden from plain sight, invisible to earth.  Once she found a bracelet of baguettes of exquisite clarity the old priest had stolen from her when she was just little. Then, as if he found it useless, he had tucked it into his bedside table drawer.

Yes, it was as if the priest just stole out of jealousy, yet when obtaining what he wanted, could not understand the things he had stolen,  in spite of their brilliance. Or perhaps, jealous of the shape shifters  (who could turn matter into other forms good) he had stolen the power to turn, but could not turn them good.

She hoped it was not that.  For for the first she had pity, but not for the latter.

And sometimes, during the night, Oracion found her real Father here and there in the woods like Aslan the Narnian beast, from a tale told in other demensions, and he drew her to him with more tenderness than ever expressed this side of heaven.

It was those nights Oracion liked the best.

But on one night, when the moon’s fullness made the castle more ominous and dark by comparison, Oracion found herself suddenly standing within its transparent walls in a place she did not wish to be, to view something she did not wish to see.  For Oracion was standing beside the dresser drawer that contained the stolen diamond baguettes she had once worn around her own tiny wrist, laughing, once upon that time.

Only the priest’s drawer had been pulled roughly open and the bracelet was missing – or changed. And, as if in desperate attempt so her kind would never find or want to look for such a priceless bracelet again, a monstrous black snake slithered out, raising its ugly head at Oracion to strike.

Oracion’s Fire

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I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out:
“It tastes sweet doesn’t it?”
“You have caught me”, grief answered,
“And you’ve ruined my business
How can I sell sorrow, when you know its blessing?”  -RUMI

 

He looked at her with undisguised and unapologetic contempt, but not before she caught sight of another expression that played briefly across his features; an expression not very unlike those that are known to depict fear.

This first, fleeting expression was one of being startled, that which a child’s face might possess when caught with a hand in the cookie jar, or the expression of a robber pulled over with stolen goods in the trunk of a car, or a sodomizing priest – facing a child ignorant of society’s standard of politeness and therefore not afraid to scream.

Yes, in that moment the troubled man looked very startled, as if she were some clever nymph that had emerged out of the woods with the purposeful intent to cast her spells upon him, or shed what was referred to in days of old  – as Oracion’s Fire.

This was just before the priest’s expression hardened into one of cold, impenetrable hatred.

It was in the preceding startled expression that the cleric revealed he knew not where to run and hide from such a deluge, and feared should he actually have to come in contact with the tears of the blessed – his skin would become instantaneously charred.

Did the mysterious nymph not know (in her innocence) he had no choice but to attack her then, for if her burning tears did not literally kill him, they would imprint upon him forever the evidence of his own guilt?

No, she had not known, but in retrospect, when thinking about that startled expression he bore her, Oracion knew that was when the wicked priest first devised his plan.  It was a plan to bear false witness against her, dispatch her… and started calculating the attempted murder of her soul.

Valentines

“Be with me”

– someone I love.

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My world is beautiful today.

Outside my window, the snow lightly falling before a gentle, gray background of trees does not appear bleak or desolate, but brilliant and peaceful, a contrast of shadow and light, a panoramic scene, just for me, while I write. I do not know if this is because of the gingerbread Valentine’s Day houses I’ve been making today,  or not.

What I mean is,  creating is a positive action for me –  inducive to pondering things of light.  Creating is a drawing away from the ugly.

Because the world can be so damn ugly at times.

I have found the accelerated hostilities manifested in social media lately as gruesomely fascinating and compelling as noticing an auto accident, in which the bodies have been thrown and strewn up, entangled in electrical wires just above my head. Travelers are reacting not with sympathy, or even comprehension and horror, just defensive reaction –  taking aim to shoot bodies down. I stare at my fellow passengers in disbelief.  It seems to me that they hear no reason. Can it be because my own voice has become unintentionally garbled, and my own understanding – impaired?

Or have all human beings suddenly lost the ability to speak civilly, and to calmly read?

Yes, the world can be so ugly at times that we all embrace cognitive dissonance, at time or another, and choose alternative facts, or an alternative reality.

We just want whatever we perceive as good to be true.

I remember as a little girl loving a pink, stuffed rabbit that my father bought me at the Post Exchange while we were stationed in Heidelburg, Germany.  I say loving, because I mean loving. I even argued this point with my mother.

She insisted that I couldn’t really “love” a stuffed animal, because toys weren’t real.

One day she washed my pink rabbit, but not before removing the straw with which it was stuffed.  I came home from elementary school to find my rabbit gutted and its skin laid out upon her sewing machine to dry.  The fact that she restuffed Bunny later did not mitigate my trauma endured, and it felt like a cruel lesson in reality, my mother wished to impose upon me.

I had a conversation with God too, about this rabbit.

I said,  my love for it feels so real. You and I God, know my love for my stuffed animal is real.  So please God, wink, wink,  if Mommy is right and my rabbit isn’t real, could you please make it real one day, anyway?

And I hadn’t read yet, the story of the Velveteen Rabbit.

But almost half a life time later I was to discover that God had indeed granted my childhood wish.

For one of my very alive dogs, Cookie, has all the personality traits I imagined, and snuggling capabilities of my little pink rabbit, and not only that, my other very alive dog Kiwi, I swear is the reincarnation of a favorite stuffed squirrel.

I’m referring to the squirrel my Uncle Frank had given me, the squirrel that got lost on a long train ride through Germany, that I had dropped and slid down and back beneath the seats.

God is so cool that way.

But isn’t it funny how we long for things we do not yet possess, and sometimes cannot even see, as if we know in our hearts they are out there somewhere?  I think the very fact that humans desire there to be a God, and we desire Him to be good, proves that there is a God all along, and guess what, that God is Good.

The conceiving in the mind, for a mere human, does not necessarily create a reality, but it comes before reality, foreshadows it, like God conceiving our souls in His mind before He wills them into existence.

We as mere humans can see (in a sense) what is meant to be, and what was always meant to be, if our desires are good.

I struggled with doubt in this notion with regard to my dating life, in the search for my potential husband. This “search”  felt like a penitential journey across a barren desert with no sign of water, consolation, or relief.

Melodramatic?

Not.

I think the view o’ meter on Match.com flipped over at 15,000 views before I finally realized that there was no way I matched with any one of those 15,000 “viewers”.  And 15,000, I had to accept,  was only a tiny slice of all the people in the world, where my true love could be hiding.

Just about anywhere, hiding from me, like a cowardly, disgrace of a ne’re will show up, or a long since dead.

Do you hear me, boy?

Now, I had long since evolved from the cognitive dissonance and naivety that preventing me from seeing the red flags of a potentially abusive relationship. And (I’ll slap you silly if you think otherwise)  I did not evolve into an angry woman, or one in possession of a knee jerk post traumatic rejection of all men.

But I did grow into a woman, who at fifty, had earned and learned the hard way the ability to discern what social, emotional or mental disorders and scars my admirers might possess, or what traits made us incompatible, all before the second date.

No dating site could provide the man who fit me like a puzzle piece to mend old wounds, or create a beautiful, new picture of life –  with me.

But I longed for him.

Sometimes the desire was like a dull throbbing, an inner ache, or a subconscious dissatisfaction with what was and what is. Sometimes my desire manifested into blatant loneliness, a sorrow of tossing and turning in the middle of way too many dark nights of the soul. Sometimes I reached out in my dreams for him and he wasn’t there lying next to me when I awoke, although I thought I had caught the scent of his essence, like a rare cologne that was there, but not there, at the same time.  And sometimes I imagined my desire for him as painfully sharp as a razor’s edge, tearing through my flesh right around the heart somewhere.

And yet all the time I was aware I was desiring, and needing, that whom I did not even yet know.

This reminds me of when I was pregnant with my son and with my daughter. Pregnant women love the child to which they cannot yet connect a face, but when they behold that face they say “yes.”  They say “oh”.  They recognize that whom they loved all along (of course, I should have known!)  We instinctively pre know who is missing from our lives, and whom God intended to create or has conceived of from before the beginning of time.

But it doesn’t come as any surprise when I first spoke to him (the man I was meant to love from all eternity) by phone –  I didn’t recognize him as The One. Even though I had heard quite clearly in half sleep silent words “You will meet him in the midst of battle.”

What?

Hello?

Who?

Not on Match.com, a wine glass in hand, looking lovely?

My life at the time had indeed become a battlefield, a raging fight with powers indifferent or intent to abandon or harm my mentally ill mother, whose life I was simply trying to save. I had discovered that broken systems are designed to hide that they are broken, not help their innocent clients –  particularly those most in need. And I felt like I was the only one in the world who had stumbled upon this dark truth, this knowledge like an invisible but very real and suffocating burden, that I alone possessed.

So when I read his email, his words, his kindness, when I heard a voice that sounded in a strange way very much like a reflection of my own, when I noticed that this man actually listened to what I said and shared my own insights, it’s as if I didn’t believe that he existed at all.

He was an enigma to me, an anomaly to everything else with which I had always been presented.

And when I first met him in person close to a year later, when the man God meant for me laid eyes upon me in person for the very first time, he too reacted like he had been a doubting Thomas, who had to all but put his hands through my side,  before believing I was real.

Jonathan said something to me which I will never forget. He said:

“Thank you for being real.”

The love of my life had foreseen me in a dream.

I think those of us who have trained ourselves to stay in touch with the real world, so often hideously unpleasant or cruel (because someone’s got to stay awake for God’s sake) often have trouble comprehending life – when it is good.

When it is miraculously good.

An apparition – not?

Sometimes I still feel like I need to put my hand through Jonathan’s side, for he is too good to be true, but he is good, he is true, and he is real.

So this is my heartfelt Valentine’s blog of the day.

It is an entreaty to all the lonely, the weary, those who long for, something – or someone –  they cannot yet see.  If God in his brilliant generosity of design has really created a man for me, a man whom I desire with all my heart (because I would not settle for less) there must be a he or she is really out there, waiting for every one of us, who will not settle for less, whether we meet them in this life, or the next.

Don’t give up, folks.

We desire what’s good, because goodness is true.

It’s real.

Though there exists the wicked, there also exists the good in life, and though there exists dark, there also exists light, like a panoramic view outside my window, a very study in contrasts.

Even the dangerously mentally ill, even psychotics who try to kill us in our sleep, really can be good deep down inside.

Life is like a fairy tale, in which only darkness, evil and sorrow will be undone, and our heart’s desires (if they are good) will really all come true. So if we could take away the human stumbling block of time we would say, oh, now I see Lord, love was real all along.

We would see that love and relationships are the only things that are really “real” – after all –  because Love came first, always was, and always will be, and it is through this Love that all good things exist, and therefore will never end.

In fact, love stories are the only stories that never end…

so I say, we would all do well to live them.

The Death of the Church

“The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus means that one day everything sad will come untrue…”
– J.R.R. Tolkien

paris-image-for-blog-ancient-mourners

My Lord was kind to me this morning.

He let me linger in that state of blissful soul suspension, halfway between what I call the “golden realm” of dreams and visions (that I sometimes can’t remember when awake) and the world of current existence, which is sometimes not so nice, and occasionally cruel.

Next to my bed sits an end table upon which I have placed a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who holds the Creator of the world in her arms.

Mary gazes upon me serenely, as if compelling my own eyes to explore the face of her Son. As I do this in my half asleep state,  I hear the continuation of silent conversation in my head:

removing staples that are not there
[Your Father] left steps that are illegal
for you to drown in
Why do professionals have to say
“investigation”

She and I
we have serenaded a village
Now it was a bad part of a town

I’m emotionally [Hamilton] (?)
See red (blood?)
Tell me what you see
(I see Mary, kind, loving, holding my Lord)
There was no despair in her face

The blessed come across as miracles
of God’s Grace
Amazing how you like it
in fragments of time
See the book
is not written yet
Soliloquies [not withstanding]
(Traditionalists)
“An order has to be established”
“their position on the pope”
(but they really)
[have to chose between God and man]

The chair’s not filled

(Are You talking about masons now?)

“Water under the bridge”
“Don’t be left behind
in the rain”
“The bank’s closed”

(This is what Pope Francis said to the masons.. Then to whom were you referring, my Lord?)

When I’m in prison
let Me out

I shift in my bed.

Full consciousness beckons.

It is getting hard to hear (I am concerned I might not be getting something right. Ah – my poor mere humanity)  hard not to awaken fully, each time I scribble down what I have just heard.  I gaze at my picture of Jesus and Mary again, and find them still close to me, speaking.

I’ll just trust, and write.

Trump[‘s]
sweaty eyes know no pain
Distant drummers will shoot him dead
his horse

We’ve reached a breach in the system
It’s always in the breach
It’s always in the rain
Her blouse (Mary’s?)
was not made out of gold, or fine silk threads
I can assure you that’s right, My child

Run it in the press
A column of light
hurts like ice
shrapnels under the skin
in December

My joy is not of this world
but you have it in your heart
you possess Him there
understand like Black Jack
It takes  two
(I understand this to refer to the man I love)
Now, run

(Were her hands soft?)
As always
(May I have her too?)
You may
your desire among the ruins
maternal love
Now go
(Amen)

And as I will myself to awaken fully,  knowing sadly this will severe for the time being, this intimacy – I hear:

Clerics don’t remember the time I died either.

our-lady-of-perpetual-help
I get up, and out of bed.

I like my french press.

It is my morning indulgence, a consolation self-granted, before embracing daily crosses I find particularly distasteful.

But this morning as I patter through my lonely (save for the dogs, flanking my side) kitchen,  my thoughts still swim deeply, somewhere in that other realm.  I ponder it: “Clerics don’t remember the time I died either.”

As usual, what I heard in the night (or in the early morning) makes even more sense in the broad light of day.

The meanings are not always what I first assumed. “Distant drummers” may not mean musical drummers, or prophesize a literal, pending assassination.  But the words I hear inevitably confirm what I have always thought, or sensed in analogy format running through the back of my mind, as if from eternity. Safety is in the breach, that gush of water, or blood, which like grace, escapes in torrents only through a divided gorge.

Christ died, to end death. Thus His church would also have to do,  in time.

The bride is not greater than the bridegroom.