I still weep at least once a day. That is okay. I’d rather the body process and release than trap sorrow.
Each day I open my inbox to see her smiling face framed in a halo of red curls. I click the link to read a memory of her life. It is a gift that I sometimes find heart-wrenching, but always soothing. Part of me dreads the day when these posts will disappear. I’m not ready to retrieve the words she wrote for me during our years of correspondence. I am trying not to need them. I am trying to let go of what once was and move into what is.
As my mentor through the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, she taught me about the mysteries of what we call “life.” All those illusions we hold onto that bind the larger truth called “union.” You’d think I’d know better. I stand before my own students and teach union. Together we practice yoga, which translates into “union.” On our individual mats, we move the energy of the body to release what binds, while focusing the breath on what unites. Together, and individually, we create union. Or should I say reunion. Sometimes it is more accessible as a concept than it is to practice.
Knowing that she is now in all things is not enough for me yet to bring a steady state of solace. I search out the essence of her that lingers in the words she wrote, reading each post that appears in my inbox. It matters little that I’ve read most of them before. Each one brings a fresh wave of her magic.
This is what I am missing most these days. The magic that felt uniquely hers. We may be sparks of the same light, but through the process of our individuality, this light morphs into personalities that cannot be replicated or mimicked. I have convinced myself she is irreplaceable, and of course she is. It is now that she might remind me that I should not look for a replacement. That this is both futile and unnecessary. She would tell me that she has not disappeared, but is now in all things.
It is true. When I walk outside she is the woodpecker, calling me home. At night, her love pours out of the curl of the cat nestled into my legs. In all moments of stillness she is the soft dance inside each cell. I am familiar with this transfer of love. I have felt it in other losses. But it is not yet enough.
I imagine anyone who knew Sue is having a tough week. I am no exception. Forgive me for processing my grief so openly. Writing is how I come to terms with struggle and heartache. It is how I come back to myself. I am trying to get there again. Back to the center where peace resides.
Each morning, when I open my inbox, Sue’s name appears. Another post penned in her hand flows her essence onto the screen. For a few moments, she has returned and I find myself wrapped into her landscape. It is with reluctance that I leave the past and move into the day’s reality. Which, basically, has not been great this week.
“I hope you are finding time for self care,” a friend of mine messaged me yesterday.
Grief is a tangle that only the self can unravel. It shuts out the world and one must walk into its darkness alone to explore each knot that binds the path back to light. No one can know these knots, but you. The individual’s own pain body creates them, and thus must set them free.
I am not a master of self-care. I’ve spent the majority of the week caring for others. Tending to my family’s needs, teaching yoga, and covering classrooms in my local middle school. By yesterday afternoon I felt entirely drained. I have only myself to blame. I am not good at asking for help or admitting I need support. I have carried on as usual, and my family has allowed me to. I live with needy beings and balance is upset when “mom” is not okay.
So mostly I pretend that I am okay. I cry when no one is looking. I sink into memories when the house is silent.
It is cold today, as it was yesterday. The sharp bite of the return of winter’s wind reminds me of the Aprils that brought me to Peak District of England. Outside, my frozen fingers pinching laundry onto the line, I remember standing on a hillside exposed to the elements to welcome in the new dawn. I see Sue’s face smiling into mine, her hand pressing the day’s gift into my palm.
Had I known we would only have a brief time together in this lifetime, perhaps I would have altered my role as a caregiver to create more. But, life has a way of creating circumstances that, in hindsight, are more right than they are wrong, even if we would have preferred them to be different. I felt Sue’s hand softly pushing me out of the nest three years ago when I completed my studies with her through the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.
Sue was, as those who knew her are aware, both ready to leave her earthly form, and reluctant to do so. Sometimes, during her illness, I would cope with this impending loss by imagining how Sue would return to me, and others. I’d see her form in the shifting clouds. Her spirit drifting into my dreams. I’d hear her voice guiding me through obstacles. Feel her hand, nudging to find the magic in the wild places.
Now that she has passed, I find mostly doubt and emptiness. I found myself wondering if my fantasies had any value but to deny this inevitable cycle of life and death. Each journey, as Sue taught, must ultimately be walked alone. Teachers can enter our lives for a period of time, but we have no control over how long. They are there to guide, but not take over the journey. When we become too attached to the hand, we become dependent upon it. In turn, we neglect the inner light that persists inside of us. And we doubt that it is all we need to connect to the light that surrounds us.
Maybe by tomorrow, or many not until several tomorrows, I will find my way back to that place. It is here, I know, that she will be. In that soft, quiet place that weaves into unity.
It is said, by some, that when we think of the beloved who have departed from their earthly forms, their energy rushes through dimensions to embrace us. I am not the only one who has noticed the soft cocoon of her light.
“All is light.”
I keep thinking of her words before and after, as I imagine what she would say to me each time the labored hand of grief seizes reality.
Sometimes we laugh at my absurdity.
While chopping vegetables for dinner, I tell her I am “not happy.”
“I know,” I imagine her saying, but she is also smiling. We both know better.
“Well,” I tell her, “It’s simply not very fair. We had lots more adventures to go on.”
“Who says they’ve stopped?”
We laugh before I cry, again.
And there she is sitting beside my left shoulder, wrapped in her feathers. She is not alone.
On the other side is Bratha, but she is less defined. A haze of energy to show me that Sue has returned to her, and the others. I think of the crow, kin to raven, who flew across my path after I learned of Sue’s passing.
“I know,” I tell them. “I know, and I am glad. Don’t get me wrong, but I am also a little envious. You left the rest of us behind.”
We’ve made some sort of deal, I think. I tell her I don’t want to be needy. That I don’t expect to take her away from other “places” and “people,” which simply means I am trying my best not be needy. On the other hand, I promise to be open. To whatever is offered.
Reluctantly I accept that it may not be what I want, but what I need.
She seems to have established the realm. For the second morning I wake to what I know are her words, even though the voice has already changed.
I begin to wonder when the form will too as I think of the photos that are disappearing from my computer. She wouldn’t want us to hold onto the temporary.
“All is bright [light].”
Still infused with clever mischief, asking for the mind to be stretched.
“Don’t expect to see me as me. Be open to seeing me in everything.”
When I went to the grocery store after dinner, the bill came to $77.77.
Magic comes in many forms.
“Open your eyes.
I am still here.
I am everywhere.”
Thursdays were days when Sue Vincent would post a photograph writing prompt challenge. In honor of this ritual, I have posted one of my favorite photographs of Sue, which I took two years ago during a shared trip to Wayland’s Smithy. It’s a photograph I hold dear. Filled with memory, magic and love.
I’m not sure if Sue knew I was taking this photo, but Ani sure did. The presence of these two beings made this afternoon extra special for me. Although I can count on my two hands the number of days I have spent with Sue, they rank among the very best of my life thus far. Sometimes you are lucky in life to encounter a teacher/mentor/friend who takes you under her wings and guides you in that gentle way to open your awareness to the magic that exists, but is not always acknowledged. I consider myself one of those lucky individuals.
I can’t tell you exactly when I first met Sue, or exactly how. But, I can tell you she entered my life just when I needed her presence. That is often the way these types of relationships occur. The teacher mysteriously finding the student, the student, the teacher, just when the moment is right…
If it were not for the internet, perhaps we would not have met, but I believe when there’s a will, there’s away. If you had told me twenty years ago that I would meet a woman named Sue who would lead me into the magical landscape of the soul and also the living lands of ancient Albion, I would probably not believe you. Yet somehow, one day, our paths intersected through our blogs, and the rest is our brief history in this lifetime together.
A lifetime that, I believe, stretches well beyond this one, to a far distant past when magic was not so extraordinary…
The photo featured in this post was taken just over two years ago. It almost didn’t happen, but somehow Sue managed to arrange an afternoon, packed full of magic, to take myself and a friend to Uffington. Here, Sue sits with her beloved dog Ani on the chamber of Wayland’s Smithy. It is, for me, a precious photo. The winged soul and her guardian canine in a place the bridges the realms of corporeal and spirit.
It is, most likely, our last day together in this lifetime. And somehow even though I’d like to have more days with Sue, it was fitting and perfect. As much as we may wish to, we cannot control the length of time we have with those we love and hold dear, yet when we review it, we often find that its length was perfect in its essence.
When I first learned of Sue’s illness, I cycled through the emotions of impending loss. There were moments when I decided it was wholly unfair, for Sue, for her family, for all those who love her, and for, selfishly, myself. Our adventures have only just begun.
But who am I to say how long a lifetime should be and when it should end? It is, instead, a choice to accept what one has been given and to realize the fullness of the gift wrapped in this temporary form. Knowing, at the same time, that infinity lies beyond the temporary form. For me there is peace in this knowing. When I look at this photograph, uncertainty disappears and faith takes its place. Although I may resist a plan that is beyond my control, with the surrender there is a doorway to the beauty of truth.
You can see it here. In the place of stillness, it opens. The winged soul bending down to touch the Earth, never truly leaves.
The body, subject to the mind,
reaches for more, grabbing at an illusion
never realized. It seeks to be sustained by want
collecting treasures to adorn it.
False garments of the self dim the light inside.
The body, subject to the heart,
becomes a vessel of love.
Its hands, stilled from grasping,
hold only peace, and its face
reflects the light of the sun
free to move through its skin
igniting the world around it
like a beacon of hope
For Sue Vincent’s weekly #writephoto prompt, #still.
The rift began long before the stones
held our memories
You might say it began before time
when light divided darkness. Or
did darkness divide light?
There is a rift that runs through the human brain
creating the left v. the right
logical v. illogical, perhaps
yet one cannot exist without the other
The rift is our own illusion
eyes forgetting how to see
the lines that weave
through life, stronger than our DNA
perfect cohesion defying density
if we could only see beyond
the rift, again
Created for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt #rift.
Note: I started writing this post and then came across the #writephoto prompt post by Sue Vincent and opened it up to this image. Therefore, the blog post has now become my response to her weekly photo prompt.
In April of 2017 I played the role of “The Feathered Seer” during the Silent Eye School of Consciousness’s annual ritual workshop weekend. Although acting is not my element, this role that I was asked to undertake did not feel like acting. It felt like home. Yesterday, I wrote about the concept of home and how I feel most aligned with that state of being when I am in England, walking the ancient lands. I have no doubt I have walked these lands, perhaps many times, in former lives. It’s a knowing so deep it goes beyond the visceral and straight to the heart of the soul.
The Feathered Seer is a part of me, woven into my being. She is my guide, but she is also me. Through the ancient lands she follows me, and I follow her. She takes my hand and leads me so I will remember. And, I believe, so that others will remember too.
In physical form, she adopts the form of the pileated woodpecker. That other-worldly creature who flies through the woods with her red head, calling the soul home to the roots of being, and drumming the language of the ancients back into the heart.
Last night she came to me during dreamtime as I stood atop a sacred Native American hillside. Flying her feathers of darkness before my face to peer into my eyes. Weeks prior, she had arrived in physical form. Flying before my path before the Silent Eye group gathered at Castlerigg.
Do not be afraid to see… she tells me
I went as far as the hills in dreamtime while they gathered to greet the dawn below. Disappointment comes in many forms and sometimes it reaches out to hold the hand of acceptance. I’m not going to lie. This has not been an easy one to come by. The land at Castlerigg calls to me in a language the predates words. It speaks to the very heart of my being and fills me with the irrepressible longing for home. Yet, it is not my time to return here, and I know when it is, this body I wear must accompany my spirit. Sometimes the cells need to remember wholly and completely. And, Casterligg has called my whole being to be present someday. But not yet.
I didn’t know you wanted to go so badly, my husband told me afterwards. After he overhear words spoken with my dear friend who was there. I had, though, already chosen the hand of acceptance months ago, although sometimes I held only its finger tips. What do you do for yourself. I mean, only for yourself. You know, just for you? A friend had asked me a week before while the tears called despair rained from my eyes.
England, I told her. I go to England.
Yet, I was born here in New England. A cruel irony it can seem at times when one feels like she belongs in another land. This, though, is where I am, right now, and I have chosen to take that hand called “acceptance,” along with the belief that there is a purpose for me being here, and not there, for most of my time. This past weekend, instead of visiting a landscape that feels like home, I was home with my family. And, that was okay. More than okay. Love is limitless, even when it feels as though it is being pulled apart by longing.
I was here, but also there. You were never not with us, my friend assured me. I called your name as I walked up to the circle, you must have heard me.
I was hovering in the hills, though. The stones below obscured by the body of giants. They called me back home before the stones did. Opening the body of the goddess to enfold. I can stay here for awhile longer. I can wait. Even though the head of the dragon beckons in stone.
My lower body has been vibrating all week. Kundalini. The roots healing before the rise. We are often called to tend to the roots first. Healing the core of stability. Of origin. Our roots that bind us to one family, before we can return to another.
Acceptance holds my hand. I have taken her grasp in a firm embrace and she is becoming a part of me. I can wait. You asked for patience, did you not? I am reminded.
How lucky I am, that I can return to this place that feels like home. That I can allow myself to become lost only to become found, over and over again, filling each cell of my being with the memory of home. Until we meet in this lifetime, Castlerigg, I will hold the hand of acceptance.
A special thanks to Lara Wilson for lending me the use of her gorgeous photographs, and to her, as well as the others who were at the Silent Eye School of Consciousness event this past weekend for taking me with them in spirit.