Why have I not written? I ran out of steam for a bit, or rather, the steam was otherwise engaged.
A big question came my way, demanding an immediate response. I asked for a little bit of time, then dove deep into silence and dreams, and came back up a few days later with my answer. I breathed it out to the closest of friends, and then gave it to the asker: "Regretfully, no."
It was not well-received. Sharp words flew at me for a couple of days.
What a gift!
Gift, because second thoughts that might have arisen were tucked in and laid to rest.
Gift, because I was given the opportunity to decide, several times, how to respond to what was coming at me, and I did not respond in kind. The soft word turneth away wrath, though not as quickly as one might hope. In case you've ever wondered about that.
Still, wow. I was exhausted. But I had the best of care, from my sister, my parents, my dear Mrs. Peel, and my friends, and from trees and birds and the broad rolling river. Even here! In the city!
Not far from where I am living, there is a spectacular old beech tree that has a lot to say about holding firm. Just down the hill, there's a city park that, transected by highways, is incredibly noisy. But I saw a beaver in a bit of wetland there, bold and patient, gnawing on a branch in front of God and everybody. In an old grove in another, quieter park, I saw two Great Horned Owls harassed by a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks. The hawks screeched extravagant flaming insults – better than anything that had come at me! – and flew at the owls, who stayed put, and simply repeated themselves ("Who. Who. Who.") until the hawks flew away.
February has begun gently. These first few days are the season of St. Brigid's Day, Imbolc, Candlemas, a time that probably has other names, too, names I don't know. But it is all about the return of the light, of fertility, of what Hopkins called "the dearest freshness deep down things". Of transformations. Years ago, I recorded a piece I titled Radiant Flame of Gold (on my CD Feather and Bone), invoking the protection of the great Irish Goddess/Saint Brigid. Under her care are poetry, healing, midwifery, metallurgy, and those who practice them; all of these, as Patricia Monaghan has pointed out, involve transformation. Strangely, sometimes one does not realize a transformation has taken place until something tests an old, once-broken place, and finds it fully healed. I have been thinking of Brigid, with gratitude.
And, because I also think of you all with gratitude, here is the CD track (my vocal, with Layne Redmond and Tommy Brunjes on frame drums). May we all be under the shielding of good Brigid.
And if any of you know who made the glorious quilt in the photo, please tell me, so I can give all the credit that is so richly due to the maker.