Night Owl

Cara turned left into the back entrance of the subdivision. Her usual route home after meditation class allowed her to slip almost unnoticed among the neighbors who didn’t understand the need for silence.

It was late March and the sun was setting just a bit later, leaving the sky draped in a deep violet gauze that didn’t allow for clean outlines or crystal colors. Just muted hues and suggestions of shapes filled her vision.

The full moon would rise later in the evening and would clear everything up. She would lay in her bed bathed in the glow through the clear arch above her curtained bedroom windows. It was yet still too cold to crack them open welcoming the sounds of the night circus. Cara would have to be satisfied with only Luna setting her halo first on her face. Then moving down her arms and over her husband’s hips, finally slipping over the edge of the bed and onto the floor.

But that was for later. Cara took a deep breath. She did crack open the window of her car on her way home. After meditation it seemed as though she couldn’t breathe deeply enough to fill her lungs. It was as if her body relaxed and opened so wide there was enough room to inhale all the air ever allowed for all living beings.

It caught her eye immediately, but as quickly as her brain asked why a bird with such a large wingspan would be flying so late into the evening, it answered immediately, “Owl, silly.”

Cara watch the wings blur across her windshield then swoop down to the sidewalk almost landing. Almost. Then immediately arching up and away from her.

Drawing her eyes back to the road in front of her, she made a cursory stop at the sign. A right turn would take her home to the mouth of her suburban castle. Gliding inside safely, the portal door would roll down to protect her from unknown beasts of the night. But she didn’t turn right.

She turned left. Moving away from the streetlight, her eyes adjusted to the hazy browns and tans of the late winter. A small tree, leafless, guarded the shape. Cara smiled. The shape bloomed as she moved past. With it’s back turned towards her, the image took its form.

Two pointy ears topped a body perched on the edge of a wooden fence. The great horned ignored the lights of Cara’s car. She understood his pretense. He ignored her demanding even more attention from her.

Cara continued down the street until there was room for a u-turn. Pickup trucks and SUVs lined both sides of the road. It always surprised her how many vehicles were needed for each family in her neighborhood. Every teen demanded his or her own. Mom needed one and Dad, too. Then weekend projects called for something big enough for hauling. And soon, with the summer exodus, the boats and RVs would make their appearances. Revving motors and country music blaring from open car doors was the neighborhood concert series to which Cara never bought tickets.

The neighbors shook their heads at her hybrid when they saw her passing. It made her feel good that they never heard her coming.

Just as Cara returned to the scene, the owl lifted off the fence and made a graceful but accelerated curve directly towards her. Again, a swoop down to the ground and then up over her car and into the now blackened night.

Cara smiled, again. She had once been advised by an owl during a difficult situation in a forested area to leave those woods, and the people, and never return. She took its presage and left. It was a good thing.

As she readied for bed later in the evening, she examined her past days. It was a suggestion made in a quick text message from her friend. C.J., a wise woman who lived in Bellingham, WA and prescribed herbs and totems for cures, said silence was the key. The wisdom of the owl was to sit and to discover the dishonesty of someone near. Many in the south see death in the calling of the owl. Others take it a step further and say an owl is a sign of rebirth.

Cara pulled on her satin pjs. She loved that she could slide and turn over without a fuss under the covers. She relaxed in the softness and silky wrapping around her body and waited.

Luna peeked above the arch. A thin veil of clouds moved across the face of the moon as if a hag racing home had dropped her shawl swirling it across the sky. Within minutes the clouds fell away and Cara closed her eyes to the glare. Her husband once burned his iris looking too long through his telescope at a new moon. She heeded that warning, too. She could still see the bright light through her eyelids. Soon it moved from her face, just like she knew it would. Down her arms making the satin shimmer. Aware of Jake’s rhythmic breathing, she held her breath.

Would she hear them, too, this night? It would be perfect.

Cara grew up in the city. The suburban life called when her father became too old to care for himself and the need to be close to work and home demanded a move. In the old city house, and even in her childhood home, Cara could lay awake at night and hear the trains. It was a soothing sound. As a child she was close enough to hear the clicking on the tracks. Later, when she and Jake slept in the basement of the tiny 1920’s bungalow with the rich soil and three sister’s garden, she could hear the drone of the coal cars. It would lull her to sleep.

But here in the burbs she never found the night sounds as satisfying. They lessened as the cars returned from the movies or basketball games. The late night skateboarder rolling and clicking down the middle of the street and the pick up roaring to a stop blocks away punctuated the night as lights clicked off and bedroom windows closed their eyes.

Cara listened. The first time she heard them, she was alone in the bedroom, Jake being away at a rehearsal. The windows were wide open, so it must have been summer. Dogs were barking and she could hear muted laughter coming from a backyard party somewhere close.

When the first sound came it was solitary. She thought it was a young child crying, or maybe a cat in heat. But the dogs stopped barking. Soon she heard it again. One. Then two. And a chorus. She would later describe it to Jake as a sort of a chortle. “Coyotes,” was his reply.

The coyotes visited all summer long that year. Many times she heard a screeching of a cat and wondered if they could be that close and that hungry. Cara would wait in bed with the windows wide open, again holding her breath, when she heard them. It made her sad to think of the bunnies, and maybe the cats, that would be the evening’s repast. But there was a wildness in Cara that longed to join the coyotes.

Cara’s eyes closed as Luna rose and curved out of view. The room darkened and she couldn’t stay awake any longer. If the coyotes did come, they would be silent visitors to Cara. But she knew they would. Someday. Just not tonight.

As her mantram floated into her head, she pushed the image of the owl out. It was time for the deep night to pass. Cara knew that before her alarm would call out a new day’s business, even with the widows closed, she would soon be gently nudged by the first birdsong of the day as the sun glowed apricot and creamsicle kissing the horizon.

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Author’s Note:

It was almost a year ago to the day I wrote this. I’m not sure why I never posted it.

This month I am taking part in a project on Facebook. It is called
Earth Magic – Creativity Challenges 2015- The Owl. I collect owls.

The group uses Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way and delves into one chapter each month. This is my first month with the group and the chapter title is Recovering A Sense of Identity.

Again, as my recent journey has shown me, I find myself being handed exactly what I need. My sense of creativity and who I am is exploding this year. With my chosen word of “release” for the year, I am finding a richness and passionate creativity in myself I have never known. Or, rather should I say, have never acknowledged in myself.

I am preparing a monologue called The Magdalene to perform at the end of April based on work I’ve done studying the Gospels of John and Mary. I am learning to create prayer collages through a course taught by Joanna Powell Colbert. I am beginning to take piano lessons. I continue my Passage Meditation practice. I am collaborating with my pastor, Fr. Scott Jenkins from A Church of the Holy Family ECC, in designing space and writing liturgy for our monthly Celtic Mass celebrations. Even though I’ve never considered myself a singer, I recently recorded with Stefan Andre Waligur and Marcy Baruch a new CD of Celtic Kirtan chants that will be available very soon.  And I hope to have my first book of poetry out at the end of this year.

Did I mention I will be turning 59 in May? My ninety-five year old father just passed through the veil a month ago. He lived with us these last nine years. I am an only child and am finding a new freedom and joy and passion in living. Sometimes it takes longer for some of us to land here.

And the shift began with an owl on my way home from my mediation class almost a year ago.

Shift

It starts with wind, a slight move
every storm has its warning signs
small almost imperceptible
it’s always there
even if I don’t acknowledge it
allow myself to see it

Shift
a storm brings change

I move to grasp keys
as I lift them they tumble
to the floor
I wonder why my grasp
didn’t hold

Shift
a tight grasp isn’t absolute

Around my heart a tightness binds
afraid to release
make myself vulnerable
fear of fracture
a letting go, a loss

Shift
letting go leaves room for more

I take a breath and let cold winter air
crackle down my throat
warming itself with my being

I shift
You make me bigger
You soften my willfulness
my heart grows tender not brittle
I lose control

You wrap me in your arms
You whisper my name
I am yours, I am perfect
I am your creation

The Good Girl

1.

Did you know when you die
the Social Security Administration
takes away your Social Security Number
You are no longer a person
needing to prove your existence,
someone else soon to be issued your number
Now when you are referred to,
from the moment of your death,
you are no longer a person but an azoic entity,
a Tax Payer Identification Number
The IRS takes over
No one cares about your missing smile,
they just want to track your money, your
house, your car, all the things you
worked to gather over your lifetime

2.

When my father died after my mother was gone
and my husband’s mother and father
I, an only child, was now what I guess
could be considered an orphan
There was a moment,
it wasn’t such a bad feeling,
when a freedom opened its door
I could do anything I wanted to do
and I didn’t need to worry
whether or not I was being the good girl
doing the right thing
I could drive to Frederick in the middle of the night,
come home in the wee hours of the morning
and not worry that my ninety-five year old father,
who still called me girlie, waited up for my return
There is some freedom in death

3.

I walk by your cane left hanging near the sink
the place you installed it to appease us
You rarely used it even though you needed to
The mattress and box springs lean against
the bedroom wall where the hospital bed once parked
Boxes fill the room waiting for Goodwill to call
Two crucifixes, one next to the mirror from her funeral,
the other from yours placed gently on the dresser
beneath it, rest on hold for their final destination
The house no longer rings from a too loud TV
running simply for the noise
Your shuffling slippers moving deliberately
across wood floors ring only in memory
The scraping of the kitchen chair
waiting to hold your feather weight as
you watch the neighborhood live its life, now empty
There will be no cracking bats or home runs
this baseball season, our house is mute

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.

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Author’s Note:

My father, Leo J. Arko, died January 25, 2015. I miss him.

My Lenten Prayer

On this eve of Lent what makes me beautiful

I no longer long for rules
I listen from within

I am beautiful as I see mirrored in me
an image of the Divine

I hear the call of those who have gone before
shrouded, voices dimmed

I dance the song of me
joyous, beautiful, open

I awaken to Beauty that lights the morning sky
and darkens night

I see through new eyes
I Am

Sophia Needs Room To Spread Her Wings

I wake to wisdom within

No longer hear the cry of fear
desperate grabbing for
rules and doctrine

No more outrage, tunnel vision
a demand for qualifications
proof acceptable

No more will I walk the path
laid in stone and steel
for conformity, safety’s sake

Wisdom lies in my heart
where we are One

Where DNA spirals back
into our history linking
our Story, just one,
the same One
regardless of
interpretation

Where deep breath opens my lungs
wide to possibility of being One
to Existence bigger than I can hold

I allow a wide birth
to accept more than
imaginable
Sophia needs room
to spread her wings

I soar on Grace
lifted by Wonder
One with Creation

.

.

.

Author’s Note:

We just completed a study of Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Wisdom Jesus. To say it rocked my world is an understatement. However, I must say that it also spoke deep into my being, that place where I kept saying, “Yes!”

I like discussion groups because I enjoy hearing others’ viewpoints, especially those who say the words I would have said in the past, or no so very long ago. I get puzzled when people completely block ideas as incorrect or wrong, not leaving room for possibility. It helps me grow and remember to always leave room, even for them.

I am so thankful to my friends, mentors, and spiritual guides, especially our padre, Fr. Scott Jenkins, at A Church of the Holy Family, ECC. Not so very long ago I passed through their doors for the first time. My learning curve has skyrocketed and I can’t stop now.

And I must also come back to share my gratitude of my meditation practice, Passage Meditation. Bourgeault delves into the importance of this ancient practice through several other ways. The practice I follow was developed by Eknath Easwaran at the blue Mountain Center for Mediation and it has changed my life.

You Spoke To Me Today

You spoke to me today
morning crescent moon alight at
the foot of my bed welcoming me awake

Your voice gentle rising steam
cupped within, held in my hand
warming the early chill

I heard your laughter today
my heart beats strong and faithful
for those who make me laugh

When I listen, you are there
whispering my name
holding me near

.

.

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Author’s Note:

Little poems of love – to the Creator, the Goddess, to my love, and all those I love and who love me.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

A Funeral of Crows

A funeral of crows arrived
under February mournful skies,
not all at once, a few at a time,

until all were present. They marched,
waivered back and forth, an acrobat’s
balance on bony branches.

They came to pay their last respects,
feathers scattered, broken neck,
our neighbor’s cat’s memento.

A murder of crows, how appropriate,
a dance of homage as they marched
along the limbs, bobbing gently.

Or did they come for a lesson learned,
seeing is believing under weeping clouds.
Furious wings thrashed morning calm,

withdrawal, their ceremony complete
as the neighbor’s cat lingers
behind a gazed kitchen window.