Sunday, January 17, 2010

36 In my father’s line

Sunday January 17, 2010:

Three years ago today, my father died. At 10:30am, the time of his passing, I light a candle and set up sacred space. Here I sit all day and write. Words flow, crafted sweet words, not over frilly but just right. I revel in my enjoyment of my word craft.

Night falls. I go out into the garden and sit down where I always sit when I want to connect or to journey. In the road, the occasional car hisses by. High up on the Parkland Walk, a small child converses with an adult as she walks along. A plain grumbles overhead and is gone.

Last night at this time, I heard an owl. I am half hoping to hear one again. I wait but the skies are empty of birds right now. Perhaps it is too early. Perhaps the owl has something better to do. Perhaps I don’t need him right now.


Here on the anniversary of my father’s death I sit and remember. I ask to know what wisdom my father’s line might bring me. I ask to know something of benefit to me, something of healing to me perhaps, something that will help settle my connection with my father and the male line of the family in some way.

Only the little egg rattle’s swishing can be heard, dancing with the sound of the tiny frosty wind touching my cheek. I breathe and smell the odour of damp old clothes, something musty, slightly unpleasant yet familiar. I rattle on, listening to the soft voice of the egg in the quiet garden.

I walk briskly uphill through the woods. The terrain is rough and I am surprised that I am really quite sure footed. The dog rubs her soft honey coloured flank warmly against me as I move. Together we place foot and paw on the uncertain path.

We reach the crest of the hill and stand amongst the trees looking down. The wood continues and we descend. For a moment, I fear I will fall but the dog places herself in such a way to best guide my feet. I allow her to lead me down.

We walk through the woods. I see a fire dancing between the trees and stand on the edge of a clearing. I see a group of figures sitting around a fire. I recognise them, but this is not my destination. I walk on.

The woods stretch on for a long way. In time, we emerge and are on a frosty snowy cliff top. The black cliff falls sheer to the wild fermenting sea. It dashes and tosses itself frenziedly on the jagged dark rocks below. Beyond, the water is grey and tormented as far as the eye can see.

There is a small boat. We climb aboard and are Bourne away on the frantic sea. The land behind us disappears. The ocean spreads out on all sides. The dog and I huddle in the boat. In time, hours, days, weeks later, the horizon becomes dark with land.

We float through the open mouth of a wide river, through a sprawling settlement and out the other side. The river snakes through the plain and begins to rise as it grows smaller. In time, we can no longer use the boat. We get out and begin to climb along beside the small stream.

We climb through mountains. Down in the valley bottom spreads wide green pastures, with another river winding through it. We follow the water until it is lost as a spring amongst the rocks of other mountains.

Beyond, in a great flat plain lies a huge circle of stones. Inside is another and as we approach, inside that, a cairn or burial chamber.

The dog leads me forward and I follow her, scrambling on my hands and knees into the burial chamber. Inside it is warm and dark. The floor is covered with thick skins. I lie down with the dog and we sleep.

I dream. I dream I spin and weave tales. I sing songs, tell stories, use words to persuade and encourage. My tongue is silver with the beauty of my words.

I walk through the ages and I am a story teller, a minstrel, a singer, a convincer, a spinner and weaver of words. And it is so easy. It is my birth right, the gift from my father’s line. I talk, I sing, I persuade and in time I write.

The soft warm touch of a low golden beam of light wakes me as sunshine pierces the dark chamber. A memory stirs and I know that it is the winter solstice and this is the sun’s return come to wake the year.

We climb from the burial chamber out onto a winter scene. Virginal snow lies on the ground; Snow covers the tops of all the dark standing stones. Snow crowns the mountains and bows the trees on their foothills.

But we must go home. The journey is long. Still, we walk on through the mountains, the green pastures and then more mountains. We follow a dribble of a spring as it widens and becomes the great river making its way to the sea. We float through the sprawling settlement and out of the river’s wide mouth. The great grey sea rears and falls eagerly but bears us safely back to the jagged dark rocks below the lowering black cliff. Our path through the woods feels easier. We pass the fathers gathered by their fire. We strike through the trees and before it seems possible, arrive back in the garden beyond the fence.

I am sitting amongst the castor oil plant. My hands are cold. The dog is gone. Momentarily I feel bereft then remember I don’t have need of a dog in this part of my life. Still, I blow a kiss towards the trees and bow to them. Is that the sound of a vigorously wagging tail whacking undergrowth I can hear amongst the trees or is it the hum of the Sunday city?

“Woof-woof”, I bark playfully, getting up to go indoors.

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