Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.”

11 November 2011

 Letters from the Outside, #52

I used to want to know the names of the constellations. And then I realized that thats not who, or what, they are. Theyre what someone else saw, and thought enough of himself to want other people to see the same. I think they are more wild and lovely without our cultural imprints or mystical Arabic names. Now I want to know: which one do I come from?

And the next night a wide swath of western sky clothed in magenta, a freeze-frame of tone-negative northern lights, as if some great city over the hill was burning. It stretches in scraps toward the east, where I first spied it, thinking it the late moon rising in its wane. I stand out there and ogle, waiting for some arrival of a sign; the lonesome pilgrim standing in the dark and the cold of an intergalactic bus stop shelter. I find out later that, in fact, “Earths magnetic field was hit by a coronal mass ejection, enabling the Northern Lights to be seen.” 
Well Blessed Be.

I get a Hail Mary phone call from Sister Mothers older daughter, because who else do you call at ten o'clock on a monday night for foreign films on dvd (to summarize and submit as a power-point presentation the next day) in this town? Happy to walk in the late october night under the far-burning stars, Jupiter huge and heartening in the east, then come home to the wee warm hoosie and work away at the pair of fingerless mitts im crafting for Tamlin (from lovely stuff made of recycled plastic bottles in “Forest Floor” green). Impromptu pilgrimage to our Lady of the Waters and up the hill in all the wrong shoes, bees and butterflies, shale altars and sunlight in the meadow.

Working all week, driving east into the newborn morning, the sky is salmon colored, a pale, smoked pink shot with impossible rose and the cloud-shrouded blue sky of day. But the nights are clear, the stars are close and bright, and at dusk the waxing half-moon rides low and level, traveling west. An odd warmth for november after late octobers date with snow. I can still peg laundry up in the evening and have it dry by the next afternoon.

Im faring better this year than last, I think. Working helps, filling the day with someone elses business, being useful, and contributing to general funds. Standing in the glorious chill of nine p.m. November, I look up, as I am wont to do, at the Stars and the Moon and now Jupiter, which always cheers me, and I think, as I am wont to do, “I am alone.” a sudden and crowding presence like having a ream of paper made of charged Light let loose over your head, this fluttering, comforting, reassuring clairsentience of Presence. And then a kind of exorcism, retching into the forsythia for awhile and afterward, a clear, clean feeling, and the return of my sense of smell. An unusual calm, and the words, “I am arrayed with angels.”

I know more now about what I need to do, even though last nights dreams went unrecorded and gone. A hard frost this morning, but theyre still talking in terms of sixty degrees around noon. The houseplants are crowded for adequate light. I am thinking of giving aloe as a gift to whoever would accept one. Seven daughters all in one pot, spotted and stunted and doing their best.

I roast a squash, bake an apple crisp, finish letters long overdue. What a change in the way I feel, this serenity, spaciousness. It may not last, but ill be grateful for however long it stays, pages of Light, messengers of my Belonging. I feed the woodstove, throw a frisbee for the blue dog, take photos of the garden in her ravaged beauty, and pull seven fine beets from the ground.

The Lavender and Parsley still spry, the Calendula still sporting fine flowers (whose last petals need plucking), the Mugwort green, but everything else a black and skeletal remain bearing seedheads for the birds and next springs resurrection. Full Taurus Moon and I cant sleep, so I go outside and sit in the last of this long stretch of fine weather, the light of which, even obscured by clouds, is bright and the bare cuneiform branches of the Oak trees speak of coming rain, and then, if the voice on the radio is to be believed, of snow
which comes a few days later for one fleeting moment, thin dry bits of frozen dust that spangle the dogs back and arent enough to merit a shaking off.. I bring the old wooden chair in, whose resurrection is a winter goal.

Too many losses and regrets like the dead leaves rustling and whipping around except there is no joy in this pile I rake inside my head, and jump into. Next day the sky is an old grey batting but I get away with another load of laundry for little sails on the line. The green leaves of the lilac tree seem to spoil winters quiet dignity, obstruct the script of twigs against distant hills. For it being the grim season I am doing alright, and am ultimately grateful for the struggle I am allowed. In my dreams I cannot find my sword, and I am tempted to think it will take another few lifetimes for me to earn it. We love you.

"And if the question were asked: What is more real, the mundane or the sublime? most would hesitate before they gave an answer. On the one side, details: say, the aftermath of a breakfast, dirty chipped plates in the sink, their rims encrusted with egg yolk. Against this, the unnameable: small aching heart with boasts, what can you know? Outside the cage of everything we ever heard or saw, beyond, outside, above, there lies the real, hiding as long as we shall live, there stretch and trail the millions of names of God burning across the eons. When all through this our end will come before we even know the names of us.

For many the egg yolk prevails." -L.M.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

"The perfection of the Absolute where all Becoming stops and pure Being, immutable, timeless, unchanging, hangs forever like a ripe peach upon the bough." -E.A.

"...and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-rod and filled almost a whole mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psycho-skeletal outline." -D.F.W.

"At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." -H.S.T.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." -D.T.
"Cometh a voice: My children, hear; From the crowded street and the close-packed mart I call you back with my message clear, back to my lap and my loving heart. Long have ye left me, journeying on by range and river and grassy plain, to the teeming towns where the rest have gone - come back, come back to my arms again. So shall ye lose the foolish needs that gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve to heal the fretted nerve. Treading the turf that ye once loved well, instead of the stones of the city's street, ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell, but the wind that croons in the ripening wheat. I that am old have seen long since ruin of palaces made with hands for the soldier-king and the priest and prince whose cities crumble in desert sands. But still the furrow in many a clime yields softly under the ploughman's feet; still there is seeding and harvest time, and the wind still croons in the ripening wheat. The works of man are but little worth; for a time they stand, for a space endure; but turn once more to your mother - Earth, my gifts are gracious, my works are sure. Instead of the strife and pain I give you peace, with its blessing sweet. Come back, come back to my arms again, for the wind still croons in the ripening wheat."
-John Sandes, The Earth-Mother (excerpt, 1918)