Wednesday, June 20, 2012

White Wolf, White Lady

It was the cold pressure of wet snow on my cheek that finally woke me. I was still bundled in Ma’s old patchwork quilt and my red coat and white scarf tucked around my throat but the sleigh was nowhere to be seen. My side was a little tender from a bruise where I must have fallen. Sitting up I looked all around me. Moonight glittered on the soft white snow all around me and evergreens stretched black spear-like sillouettes in the forest all around me. I struggled out of my blanket looking down in both directions of a set of fine sleigh-tracks rutted through the freshly fallen snow. It was a clear calm night and I could see stars shining in the black sky beyond the white puffs of my breath. A gentle breeze blew and cold began creeping in where the blankets had loostened around my shoulders. 

I must have fallen asleep once we’d snuggly been bundled into the sleigh after Uncle Martin’s party and being closest to the door prefering to huddle deep among the hay on the floor of the large sleigh it wasn’t unbelievable that I had tumbled out. My eight-year-old mind figured that out fast enough.
Despite the tracks I knew I was lost. I’d sat very still for a long moment holding my breath in hopes I could hear the faint jingle of bells in the distance but only the rustle of evergreen bows and silence of a great big world did I hear. I had no idea which way the sleigh had come from and therefore no idea which way to follow to reach home. 

It had been a good hour ride to Uncle Martins and I had no idea where we were in the way back. I got to my feet knowing there was nothing for it but try one way or the other. The chill creeping down my throat and into my sleeves already stung in my cheeks.

Pulling the blanket around me tightly I walked in the direction of the moon following the sleigh-tracks. Silence left no marker for the passage of time and I walked for what seemed to be years. Nothing changed except one patch of solider like pines with quirked branches and icicles dripping from long black bows changed to a different patch of equally intimidating branches.

My feet grew numb and my knees ached. Every so often I tugged hard at the quilt to pull it loose from a pile of soft snow. It dragged on the ground behind me and collected the loose fresh snow until it became an added burden to my little endeavor. I struggled over the cold white carpet and tiny beads of sweat formed on my face despite the involuntary shiver that started in my shoulders and went through my mouth.

A howl of wolf sounded near me and I bit my quaking lip to listen. I stood still and listened hard over the rat-a-tat of my heart. I wasn’t afraid exactly though a queasy feeling squirmed through the pit of my stomach and my whole body trembled. If I had known this would happen I could have imagined so many things I probably would have thought but none of them went through my head in that moment.
Was I going to see my first wolf? I wondered. Again the sound pierced the silence and it was—there. Before my eyes in a flash of white and shining silver in the moonlight stood a great white wolf. I was frozen in awe or terror or both and we blinked at each other. I knew that he saw me as clearly as I saw him for his face was turned in my direction. Like the look of a king on peasant’s obtrusion into his court his gaze glanced over me. He appeared at the crest of a small hill  to the left of the sleigh-tracks. The long hair of his winter coat glittered with snow. His wide wild face was dark grey fur outlining a snout and patches around his luminous golden eyes that were white. 

The wolf flicked his tail, swiveled his head to look in the direction he’d come and trotted away into a brush of pines. My weak legs crumpled beneath me and I lay on the wet snow unheading. I had seen a wolf survived! Alone in the great wilderness of my home I could die of happiness even now, despite the misery of my little body.

A lump rose in my throat. I was far away from home, no one knew I was gone and I might die tonight. Frozen like little ice sculpture they would find me— tears blurred my vision and froze on my cheeks. My numb hands were too clumsy to wipe them away and I realized in a panic I had to keep moving. 
Stumbling to my feet I could barely see through my tears and perhaps what happened next was only an illusion of my crazed state. 

A tall white figure appeared where the wolf had just been. A girl garbed in flowing sliver garb billowing gently about her lithe frame in the soft breeze moved towards my in silken movements. In to strides she was at my side and kneeling. I sobbed and hiccupped and tried to blink away more tears so I could better see in her face. Great eyes with long golden lashes; a soft curving cheek dimpled with a softer smile on pale white lips was all I saw. I uttered a cry of relief and joy and flung myself into the beautiful ladies arms. I felt her warmth more suddenly than was possible in such winter night but thought nothing except relief.

 Soft hands and velvet pressed in around me and I my aching feet left the ground. 
Words I didn’t understand floated around me like a lullaby and the voice that sang them softly in my ear was more sweet and ariel than any human tones I’d ever heard. There was a lighter more windy quality to the voice that made it seem capable of greater warmth and coldness than anything from human lungs. 
I yawned into her velvet sleeve and pressed my cheek upon her arm. All the ache and cold and shiver went out of my body and soon a deep drowsyness overcame me.

“Mera! Oh dear God have mercy!” a woman’s piercing cry woke me. Flickering light from several lanterns and the call of men to each other surrounded me.

“Mama?” I said, yawning and looking up around me to see where she was.

“She’s safe.” The sonorous voice of my father said and it sounded like he’d just heaved a mountain off his shoulders.

I was sleepy and cold was once again creeping in under the quilt where I lay on the wet snow by the sleigh tracks. The sleigh was nowhere to be seen but my house was a dark shadow with lit windows not a dozen yards away. Five men gathered around us each carrying a lantern as my mother knelt by my side and drew me up into her arms. 

“Oh Mera,” she said, rocking back onto her heels, “I thought—we thought—” I felt her sobs shake us both as she held me close.

“What a lass, asleep under a birch while we’ve all been searching high an low for her.” My father sounded amused and relieved.

I was carried into the house and the men gathered around the fire with mugs of coffee to talk in hushed voices while they warmed themselves by our kitchen stove. 

Mother helped me undress behind the privacy of the great quilt hung across one corner of the two room cabin where I slept in a bed shared with my sister. Into bed I went and mother tucked me in with special care and an extra little prayer of thanks. She kissed my forehead stroking my with an extra gentle hand and then slipped behind the quilt.

Sister was already asleep with her little pressed into the big white pillow we shared and her thumb slipping idly out of her parted lips. The low murmur of the men’s voices and clatter of cups made me drowsy again. When I was almost asleep I heard a sound so faint it could only be heard at a lull in the conversation beyond the quilt. It was the high moan of a wolf in the distance.
I was wide awake, my heart pounding again. I stared at the log wall and wondered. In the warmth of my own bed, my toes still thawing from the cold it all seemed like a dream. Had I really seen the beautiful lady?

Again the wolf bayed and I smiled to myself. Questions could wait till the morning, but beyond all doubt I knew one thing for certain. I was lost in the woods and someone had saved me from certain death. Most of all, somehow I knew without knowning how, that that somone wanted no one but myself to know what she did. My eyes drifted closed and I hugged my pillow close. I was fine with that.

Monday, June 4, 2012

One-O-Clock Rambles

The world has it all backwards. It's not who you are. It's not what surrounds you, shapes you, tests you. It's not what you can drag out from inside of yourself. It's not even who you desire to become.

It's who you are called.

It's all centralized on the one who created you. When a trumpet was made, it wasn't anything but a piece of brass shaped in a funnel with buttons on it until the creator took it up, set lips to it and breathed the life of meaning into it. Purpose and destiny cannot be derived from within ourselves any more than a clay pot can know the purpose it was shaped.

I ask the question, "What's the purpose? What's the drive? Why..."

Looking at fantasy, fiction, writing, life it brings me back to this fundamental question. It quivers at the edge of my brain like a droplet forms on the edge of a cliff before the beginning of a waterfall. Like an illusive itch beneath the surface of brain that needs the perfect though to reveal it.

How intricately we were formed, that I could even try to grapple with grand scheme ideas. This is what sets us apart from the animals and this is what sets us apart to look up into the heavens and face God in our sinfulness to his holiness so only redemption can bridge the gap and return us to a destiny filled purpose.

Why are we so drawn to fantasy? Why does Thor, Spiderman, Narnia, and Lord of the Rings tug at our soul strings so irresistibly? Because deep down inside us is a desire that lies untouched. Like a sleeping dragon, a caged tiger unready to be unleashed yet straining at the bars and snarling for freedom is our yearning. The yearning to do what we were created to do.

We have an enemy who constantly tries to distract us from our goal by all the bells and whistles of the circus but still we know that steel bars await us once the show is over and in the silence of the pre-dawn hour the longing like a wanderlust is stirred in our wild hearts again. A silent breeze steels in through the open windows of our souls and we breathe deeply. Inhaling the wild intoxicating scents of destiny that lies beyond the locked door of our subliminal caged life. Deep down inside we all know that caged tigers are unnatural and we were born to be greater than what we are.

Yet all of this is not derived from ourselves as if we had some innate goodness that only needed to be tapped to find the inner paradise for which we seek. No indeed! It is from an outward source we can find all goodness and truth, love and hope, virtue and destiny. It's not even that this source is limited like a well in a parched desert-land or the soup kitchens of an angular bustling city. There is no privileged. No cut-off point where they say, "One more and no further. That's all there is for today."

It is God who holds this all! This infinite goodness! It is our goal (those of us gifted with delightful revelation and entrance into this marvelous all too wonderful truth) to portray exactly that: This is a great commodity that will not only last but it is the only thing in the entire universe that is not too good to be true.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Little Bird, Fly for Me.

I’ve always believed when a wing gets crippled the best thing for it is to be stretched and exercised. I once had a little blue bird because I found it laying on my window seal with a broken wing. I gave a small cry. The poor thing was so still I was certain it was dead, but as I lifted it tenderly in my small hands it fluttered it’s one good wing slightly. I pressed my fingers to it’s white speckled breast and felt the faint swift flutter of its heartbeat.

My father, Adi, is king of a great land I have never really seen. It stretches far beyond the palace windows and I can never journey far because of my lame foot. I don't know if I could perhaps travel much more if I weren't a princess, but certainly I could if I didn't have a weak twisted ankle.

Eli, my bold sister, scoffed when I bandaged it’s wound and fed it.  She didn’t think it was worth saving but then she is free to go wherever she likes with an entourage of only one soldier. It took several weeks and Adi brought me a beautiful gilded cage with gemstones in the door and silver perch. One wall was solid silver with several perches of various sizes and at different heights. The silver was carved with bluejays and peacocks. It was a beautiful little home,with plenty of food and water, but the bluejay was hopping around restlessly the moment it was strong enough to be on it’s feet. It sang all day long, chattering at the air and to me. Sometimes I thought it sounded bold and cheerful as if it was determined to be grateful. On other days, however, I could hear the pleading in it’s voice and it broke my heart. 

It was on it’s feet in a couple days but it was nearly two weeks before I was able to take the bandage off. That day it started flying about it’s cage. First it flew softly, testing the strength of its wing, then with more speed, twisting and plunging to keep from striking against the silver bars. 

That night I lay in bed staring at the shadowed corner where the cage was. My heart beat like the wings of my little blu jay. I could hear the gentle rustle and thrum of his flight around the large cage. For hours Iay still in my bed, wide awake, my heart as restless as my little bird. I couldn’t let him go! He was my one delight and link to the world beyond my window! Perhaps the gods had sent him to me to be my companion.

Then another thought struck. Perhaps the gods had sent him to me as a test. The stories did say they tested mortals in all manner of disquises. Perhaps, it was a test to see if I was willing to sacrifice my joy for another’s freedom and then maybe, perhaps…I didn’t let my mind turn there. I looked hard at the shadowed corner. Then tossing my head away I rolled away from it and stared at the curtain and open window. 

The moon hung high in the sky like the glowing silver fingernail of some great god pointing to the south. Stars winked all around it like plotting diamonds in the skies murky depths. A cool breeze slid in over the windowsill and wound it’s way over my bead and through my black hair. I caught the sticky sweet smell of hyssop and chrysanthemum from the gardens below. 

A nightingale’s song came with that breeze. So soft it most have been a long ways away, at the end of the gardens or beyond in the forest. These reminders of the great world softened my aching heart. No, I thought, If I let my blue jay go it would not be for any fear of the gods or hope of what they might give me. It would be for my sake alone. I would send a little piece of my heart with him, charging him to carry it far, far away to somewhere wonderful and breathtaking.

In a moment I had slipped out of my bed and tiptoed, as best I could dragging my foot a little, over to the shadowed corner. 

“Come my little bird,” I cooed through the bars in a gentle whisper. “I won’t keep you caged any longer than you must. I suppose you can make it alright out there. Now that you’re well. ”

 My throat constricted as I busied myself with lifting the large cage off it’s hook hanging from the ceiling. Adi had had it hung at a perfect height for me to stand or sit by it and watch my little blue jay but the whole cage was only a little smaller than I was and I couldn’t reach the latch. My lame foot began to hurt and I gave up that idea. I fumbled with the little door’s latch and it swung silently open on well oiled hinges. 

In a rush the bird was perched on the hand I stretched into the cage as he always had been when he wasn’t able to fly. I cupped a hand over his wings to prevent him from flying before I got to the window. I couldn’t stand the thought of him getting lost in my big room or flying further into the palace and never finding his way to the wide world. I knew every inch of this palace. For a little bird to wander through it was far too dangerous for him.

There was no way I wanted him taking a part of me anywhere in here, trapped in his terrified little body. What if he had a family in the forest? His wings fluttered under my hands. I wanted to get him to the window before he struggled out of my grasp.

“Wait,” I whispered, “Wait! You’ll be free in a minute.”

I had to walk slowly both because of my leg and the focus it took to keep hold of him without crushing him or injuring his wing again. He was still a very small bird but my tiny hands were almost too small for him. 

To console myself of my loss I began to talk to him.“Go for me my little bird. Go far away somewhere. Take me with you through my dreams. Go safely, get there. Make sure it’s somewhere wonderful, where you will be happy to fly about among the trees and flowers and whatever else the world may hold.”

By this time I had reached the window sill and stood staring out over the fields. I raised my hands into the wind and hesitated. The lonely bay of wolf came from the direction of the setting moon and I shivered. Would my little bird even be safe out there? The wild came with it’s dangerous perils and many a sacrifice and price to pay for such freedom. No food except what he could hunt up for himself. The wet and the cold and the heat all came and went with seasons. Winter was coming. How could he survive all alone? 

I felt his tiny beak pressing between my fingers. He pecked at my finger gently. This bird knew the price he had to pay and was willing to die for it once. There is no life in a gilded cage. I only gave him a second chance to live and freedom was the only way for a bird.

I shut my eyes and opened my hands. A soft flutter, a sudden jubilent birdsong and the bracing chill of an autumnal wind.

“Be free,” I whispered.

I thought of my little bird many times that winter. Any time I looked out of my bedroom window or saw the empty hook in the corner. Adi had the cage moved into the palace gardens awaiting a special occupant and I was glad not to see it any more. It was only a reminder of my own condition. My heart was the bird and this body was my gilded cage. But I still have hope from my little bird. Maybe he outwitted that wolf and found his home in a glen by a mighty waterfall. That is where I would live if I were free. Among the trees always surrounded by the thundering sound of the water. There power courted beauty and time married sound and life is a living melody. That is where I dream my little bird is.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Jesse, come here, I want to show you something." A father beckoned for his son to come over to where he knelt in the freshly plowed soil. The tawny haired five-year-old with dimpled elbows and a round, yet babyish face ran to his father's side and stared at his dad's open hand with blue-eyed amazement.
 "Yes, daddy?"
"Do you see this seed?" The father drew his hand up for closer inspection for his son. It was a large brown seed smooth and glossy in the spring sunlight.
The boy bobbed his head seriously.
"And you remember when you told me you wanted to have your own pears?"
The boy grew excited. "Yes, Daddy!"
"I'm giving you this pear seed and this plot of ground. If you take care of it and help it grow, doing everything I tell you to, one day you will have many pears and they will all be your own."
"oh..."Jesse's face fell a little he looked confused. "How long until I have my own pears?"
"It'll take time. A couple years, but until then you can have some of my pears." The father added to encourage his young son.
"Ok, Daddy."
"First thing you must do is plant this seed."
With his father's help the little boy planted and covered the seed. Then his father instructed him on how to properly water the patch and when to do it. He remembered as well as he could and his father promised to help him.

Every day after breakfast the little boy would follow his father to their orchard and take out the little watering pale to the pump, fill it up and water the marked plot where his seed was. When he was done he would play among the trees and watch the birds fly among the branches helping his father with little things like scaring the birds away from ripe pears and finding deadly caterpillars among the  leaves of the bushes.

His tree started out as a tiny shoot and he was very excited when it first began to poke it's green tendrils above the ground.

He didn't notice but every time there were weeds around his plot his father would root them up and fertilize the ground with a skilled hand.
After several weeks his father called him over to the plot after he had finished watering the ground.
"It's time you learn to do a little more," he said, "Let me show you how to weed from around your tree."

With this pattern the son learned all the different aspects necessary to make a flourishing tree. Years passed and there were days the son forgot or was too tired to take care of his tree properly and it didn't grow as well as it did at first. His father told him, he could always ask for help and he would be there, but the son didn't think his father had enough time to look after his one tree when there were so many he was always working on.

So he grew a little lazy and discouraged by the state of his sorry looking tree. His father saw it and was sad also, knowing the first harvest of pears would be a poor one for the boy. Yet he left him to do the work and waited for his son to ask for his help.

One day a caterpillar started eating all the leaves and the boy went at his old job of finding them and pulling them from the branches but it wasn't enough! There were to many. He was almost dispairing his tree would die when he realized he should ask his father. Going to the man he asked for help with his tree...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Happy Birthday!"

My roommate just made my day and blessed my socks off! As I pound away on my homework for tomorrow she shifts from her sleep at 11:59 and wishes me a Happy Birthday!

"You didn't have to wake up to tell me! You could have waited till morning." I said, but it made me so warm and comfortable inside.

She said, "It's my family tradition." Her Sister in Japan had done it on her birthday while she was here, and that's what they do. They set an alarm for the minute before midnight and send a happy birthday message exactly on the hour.

I love traditions. 

Homework successfully done. 
Birthday successfully begun. 
God is good and I'm off to bed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Man

I met the man. The eyes he had have seen the unseeable and looked into me. He never spoke a word of greeting but I saw his every word written across his face--etched there in lines I know are more ancient than my own handiwork. A well written story I had no desire to read.

"Abirl," he said to me, "You will never live. Not this way."

He meant, "Pride will be your death. In life you have nothing to gain."

It wasn't even a fact. If it was a fact I could have refuted it. I could have descried it. Understood it. Unraveled it to a nothingness where it would not have power to sting the immortal. My heart--if I have one--was outraged. It thundered within me like a horse on cobbled streets. {These things have nothing to do with me, yet I make use of them for your understanding.} It was a question.

I hate that man. If I can hate. If I can feel at all he is the only thing I feel anything about. No, I won't explain how I knew--knew what he meant; it's painful enough to just put this into words. I have never met someone who can see me. I often wondered what it would be like to be seen. (Now I know. It is the worst terror in creation.)

Not ordinarily seen like a sunbeam or scarlet thread against white cotton. That is only glimpsed, observed. I observe very little now, it is so--so uninteresting. I look. When a man passes me on the street he sees merely what I am--a boy with two eyes, a nose, a pair of arms and lanky legs studded with brown feet jutting far out from my rough jean pants. Even all this he will not really notice, though he might think he knows much more about me.

He, of course, knows nothing. For I see him. I see not what covers him and keeps him himself and obscure but the very depths and complexities of his inner existence. His soul, as people say.

The man saw me and I could not see him. He stood from his lofty purpose with every grain of pretense and power hanging over my impudent little head and I knew he could crush me if he wanted. He knew I knew. Still, he stared on, unfolding his power around us but never touching me. Not even a flake of the snow he shot around us in white torrents.

I wanted him to crush me. I wanted it to be over--this torture of my untouchable being, but he wouldn't relent nor would he release me to return to my existence. He looked at me with that disgusting weakness in his eyes that I scorn beyond any other weakness of the world and would find thousands of weak men who follow me in contempt. Some of your kind call it beneficence, others call it pity, and yet the closest your pitiable words get to it's reality is mercy.

Kill me! I growled without opening my mouth. it would be better if you did. I was defying him. I would grind his words into the ground.

He shook his head slowly lowering his head. My revulsion for him grew by the parsec. I couldn't see his terrible eyes but not seeing them, I dreaded what they might be withholding from me. I, who knew everything. Me. And for the first time since the beginning I had no thought for understanding--no comprehension of what he might be thinking.

"Abril." The very sound of his voice was grading enough to make me vibrate and shrink back. "There is still room for you in this universe. I have time to wait."

"Time to waste." I spat. It was the first time I had spoken. In that moment I vowed I would never hear my voice next to his. The unmeasurable distance between the two shocked even me. I had the greatest voice of all and it sounded like withered apples in a dry riverbed next to his. He deserved every minute of my unending loathing.

I know my words are incompetent--don't even try to reconcile these fragmented thoughts to each other--and I cannot have you understand. I am in the greatest--the only--upheaval I have felt in an age and an age.

Scratched on a ripped and burned parchment by ink pen in candle-light. I couldn't bring myself to the 21 age this hour.


Night-time Words

I'm weak. Weaker, perhaps, than I used to be, or perhaps, only knowing more about myself now than I did then. It flip-flopped in my mind as I lay on my bed. The whir of air-con and fan brushing against my senses unconsciously.

I'm thoroughly addicted to media. I tried going on a semi-fast and was too weak to manage it very well. Now that it's over I've gone at it like a child knowing his mother's upstairs hits the cookie jar. I take one bite, nibbling a gooey chocolate chip and chewy cookie, then it's all up with me. I want more and more and more. More until I forget my better intentions to have a productive, light and joy filled evening writing and dreaming.

It's a terrible thing.

I want my peace! I want to be that Christ-like girly without gulping down luke-warm indulgence, and gnawing at stale bread-of-idleness. God help me, (and I mean that very literally) I want to be a joyful thing. I want to cook and clean with all the viggor I sometimes feel.

I need you God.

I want you. I want your help.

Make me willing, make me humble, help this disease.

Break my addictions.

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