Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rain Dance

Living on the prairie my whole life, there is nothing as ominous as the black clouds that begin to billow on the horizon. In the far off distance, thunder echoes in the sky, as though a voice to announce the coming of something powerful. Lightning streaks from cloud to cloud, as though it is clearing the way for this powerful force of nature. The air becomes dense, permeated with moisture before the first drops of rain ever fall. The once gentle breeze is pushed across the plains, gaining force and speed. The sun seems to no longer shine, hidden behind the immense shadow of impending - change. The only thing we are left with is the sound of the beating of our own hearts.

Often change has been compared to the impending thunderstorm. We don't know what change holds, we only know that we don't know. In that storm there could be the unpredictable tornado that will wreak havoc on our lives; or perhaps there will be baseball-sized hail that will punch holes in our best built plans. We hold our breath until the only thing we can hear is the sound of the beating of our own hearts.

In the silence of those moments before the storm, something begins to take shape and form within ourselves. Electricity streaks from synapses to synapses. Blood begins to rush, coursing through veins and arteries. And, somewhere in the midst of the defense line that forms, the heart becomes the drum by whose beat we dance.

As the rain is unleashed from the skies above, our feet begin to pound in unison with the beat of our drum. Water splashes, as our faces are illuminated by the lightning in the sky above. We turn around and around, spreading our arms wide to greet the coming change. The beat begins to increase with pace and intensity, and our mouths stretch open to taste the droplets as they bounce on our tongue. Hair glistens, drenched in the water as it washes over us.

The thunder roars, melding with our voices as the ancestral cry surges into the atmosphere. The wind howls, in submission to the breath of ascendancy. The beads of change intermingle with tears of joy sliding down our cheeks, creating the interwoven mandala of spirit and creation. We have become the masters of our own storm.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it is about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Vivian Greene

"The mandala is one of the most powerful American Indian items, being a descendant of the plains Indian dance shield and medicine wheel. Prayers for survival, spiritual blessings, powerful visions, physical protection, and long life go into the making of the traditional mandala as it represents the interwoven threads of creation, and the wonder of diversity in Mother Earth."

Triquetra Celtic Symbol Mandala: 

"The Latin meaning for triquetra is "three-cornered." It's also the symbol for the holy trinity. Being a holy sign, this Celtic symbol is perfect for mandala meditation. It stills the chattering as our focus is funneled to the center of the triquetra. Once centered, we are able to feel the connection with the spiritual trinity, and thus become one with the source of power."

We are not so different after all.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Love Does Not Always Need Words

When I was five, I wasn't sure what was going to become of me. I wasn't sure where my life would lead me, or if I would have a life at all. I didn't think about death or dying all that much, although I knew it was a very real possibility. I didn't know what would come after - I was only five.

By the hushed tones of the countless conversations that included the occasional glance in my direction, I knew that death couldn't be a good thing. If it was a good thing, then why was everyone whispering? I knew that death had to be one of those big things that mothers and fathers would always say to their children, "We'll talk about it later when you're old enough to understand." I wasn't sure we were going to have the chance to talk about it. I wasn't sure there was going to be a later.

I remember walking into those sterile rooms where needles waited to poke me, scalpels waited to cut me, and the nurses and doctors would whisper with my mother. Sometimes, there were pictures on the walls of teddy bears, or beautiful landscapes, or mothers with their children. They didn't make me feel any less scared. They just gave me something to focus on while I was poked, prodded, sliced into, or I heard the whispered words between the medical staff and my mother.

I don't recall the times I would slip away from my mother, my grandparents, and a few times my Kindergarten teacher at school. I only remember, waking up to faces of strength that masked grave concern. Inside I was a jumbled mess of not knowing - not understanding; not being old enough to understand.

When I was nearly six, I waved goodbye to my best and only friend, my sister, out the back window of my grandparents Grand Marquis. We began the trip to St. Paul, from which I was not certain I would return. My mother sat next to me, staring straight ahead as my grandfather drove. It was a six hundred mile trip in silence. My grandmother read her book. My mother stared ahead or out the window. I often wonder what it was she thought about that day. When I grew tired, I laid my head in her lap and slept. I was safe in the moment and that was all that mattered.

I remember being awakened in the early morning hours of the following day by my mother. She hugged me that morning in the privacy of our room in the home of my grandfather's relatives. That hug lasted a bit longer than most, and I heard her exhale. I will never forget that exhale. It was the kind of exhale that comes before the moment of truth.

The last thing I remembered as I was wheeled down the hall to the operating room was my mother's face. Her eyes glistened, like mine did when I cried. I never saw my mother cry before. The last thing I heard was my mother's whispered voice saying, "I love you."

Hours later, my eyes fluttered opened to the sight of my mother sitting next to my bed. She was still weeping softly as she waited; waited for the answer of life or death. Would I, or would I not awaken? As I murmured in my waking, I saw a smile instill itself on my mother's face. A single tear slid down her cheek while she slipped her fingers into mine and squeezed. She needn't have said a single word. All she had to say was already enclosed between our hands.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom - 40 years later.