The Tower

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It is a bit of a walk up to the tower
above green-green grass,
past the high school, past
the firehouse, next to the pool.
It’s worth the trip.

Along the way stop signs post
for those who might not see,
those who need to slow down,
those who can’t do it on their own.
Those who probably won’t stop anyway.

Open space along the artery shelters
strays who in daylight hours rest,
under muted twilight hunt,
in sealed darkness feast.
All on the way to the invincible tower.

I course my tack, not straight and flat,
not always on steady pavement –
the approach my father instructed.
I feel curves and hidden wounded.
I leave before sun or wait until dusk.
I cede bright light to those whose
wrinkles tell of their own journey.

It is not the tower itself that tenures
the answer, high above, vista of the whole.
It is disruption of orange cones pushing
me aside, upheaval of sidewalk
buckling under pressure of rooted
tree, sudden movement within
stogie-spiked cattails.

It is revelation along the measure,
epiphany bursting open
as I somehow make my way
to the tower.

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Author’s Note:

My sacred space.

Here I walk with Benny before sun rises. I never thought I could experience sacred space in such a simple way. It seems now the only way.

Here I walk at sunset, again with a dog who is my soul companion taking me into our open space where fox greeted me unseen by Benny. It is where dragon flies flew so thick in spring I stood in awe. They still great me only less in numbers as the season wanes. Snake sprawls across the sidewalk warming itself in sun. I am told there is a bob cat. There are cicadas and crickets and katydids as my choir. And then there are the skies. A glorious backdrop with stars sprinkled across midnight blue and Moon in all her moods.

It is the simplicity of this sacred space, a tower that draws me.

A year ago I discovered another Tower – Magdalene and the root command that drives her – love one another. With that my life changed.

I learned through the simplicity of this command, I must start with myself because I am loved and am Love. It was in stepping back and discovering the infinity of this love that I now understand that I am worthy and I can, no, must give the same.

I learned that Divine revelation is not given only to a few men who hand it to the rest of us if we prove ourselves worthy. Divine revelation comes to each and every one of us directly. We don’t need interpreters.

I learned I am not only fully capable to bless, but must bless. As our Holy One flows from me and from you and from all – this our blessing. We are ordained simply by our creation.

May the simple joy of sky and earth bless you.
May the simple song of night insects bless your journey.
May you bless all those around you each moment,
for you are Love and Light and Joy given for all.

Munay,
Lexanne

Hierophant

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I slipped my harbored feet from shoes contained
for sixty years. Rough earth is ruthless where
calloused barrier was never ordained.
I walked on soles that burned and bled, a dare
to turn retreat. Instead, I asked for help
to bandage cuts. I praised a course fresh of
deliverance. Sores closed. Skin grew. A whelp
now strong and fast. I met cool shade, green grove.

But there I didn’t rest. More called to me,
unfurled a passage to my Beginning.
In confidence I accorded the plea,
Within myself I captured my bidding.

Not one holy man’s word over another
will heal our wounds, the pain we embrace.
Here in Creation we’re bound to each other
as we dance through the veil in grace.

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Author’s Note:

I truly believe it is the journey that is vital, not necessarily the end product. I like to share how I arrive. For those of you who are interested, below is the path of the end sonnet, Hierophant.

On August 13, I participated in the 2016 Poetry Marathon. I signed up for the 24-hour contest knowing that this was the end of the first week of school and I would probably not make it. I didn’t. But I did complete the half-marathon.

Each hour, on the hour for 12 hours straight, we received a new prompt. We had an hour to write to that prompt and post it before the next one showed up in our in-box. It is a wonderful challenge. Learning to let go of that inner editor, that ego who wants everything perfect. It’s a wonderful thing. That is what I also love about my writing group. We write knowing we are not going to be perfect, the importance of letting go, and the ability to chuckle at oneself.

To the prompt from the Poetry Marathon, I added one more piece. I keep a lovely tarot deck on my desk next to my computer. It is the Pentimento Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert. She is an artist, Celtic spiritualist, and goddess who created this deck using the medium of beeswax encaustic – a layering of wax – a pentimento:

“An underlying image in a a painting, especially one that has become visible when the top layer of paint has turned transparent with age, providing evidence of revision of the artist. (American Heritage Dictionary via http://www.gaiansoul.com/.)

She only created the Major Arcana for this deck but it is stunning. It is of our ancestors looking back on us, giving us hope and support and wisdom. Take a look:http://www.gaiansoul.com/shop/pentimento-tarot/

Also, this month I wanted to do a study of sonnets. I did. I completed two. I shared the early one after my visit to Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the sea.

Here is the process of Hierophant:

The prompt from the Poetry Marathon in Hour 11:
Write a persona poem from the point of view of a person without a home. You can have a specific person in mind, or they can be entirely imagined. This person can be a homeless beggar, or someone who drifts from town to town, or someone who just can’t imagine settling in one place, so they don’t.

The Pentimento Hierophant card:
Of this archetype, Joanna asks questions such as “What do you have to teach?” “What do you have to learn.” “What is the place of religious tradition or lineage in your life? “Who do you trust as a spiritual teacher?”

Below is the poem as it appeared as I wrote it for the marathon. Above is the transformation of it into a somewhat sonnet form.

The Hierophant

I took off my shoes.
The ground was rough and poked.
I wore those shoes for almost sixty years.

I walked on feet that burned and bled.
I asked for help to bandage raw cuts,
was offered new ways of treatment.

Sores closed, thick skin grew and
my feet held me strong and steady.

I walked on legs that swelled and
I asked for help to ease the pain.
Good remedies followed and I
moved on.

In time

I took off my shoes to feel the earth
I knew the ground was rough
they burned and bled but I walked
to find soft grass and cool of shade

No roof above, I left it behind
No friends to share my sorrows
I looked for answers from voices
just shadows merging in darkness

But when I sat down, stopped
searching for the right way,
I stilled myself  and found
your voice inside.

We come to this place, a stop over
to ponder, to rejoice in each other,
and dance with abandon.

Not one holy man’s words over
another can heal the wounds
we bear, the pain we embrace.

We’ll move on, through the veil,
but for now we must play in
Creation and unmask one another.

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.

I have news for you

I have news for you

A keen wind yaws branches,
a reel stepped under icy breath
Buds burgeon on slender fingers
in ready for spring’s nativity

The red-berried tree almost empty
of its frosted wintered feast
glistens in sun’s morning glow

We are of deep winter here
our snows still come fierce and heavy
our earth solid with glacial glaze
our spring tarries elsewhere
while patience makes merry
with wintertide’s feile

This is my news

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Author’s Note:

I am preparing to celebrate the feast of St. Brigid and Imbolc. It is a journey into spring, although our spring here in Colorado will be some time in arriving.

To celebrate, I am participating in 30 Days of Brigid, a luscious on-line retreat offered by Joanna Powell Colbert. Take a look. It would be wonderful to have you walk with me this month.

Today, Joanna welcomed us to try our hand at describing our sacred space through the form of a 9th century Irish poem. Some sources say it was found scribbled on a monk’s manuscript.

“I have news for you:
The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
cold has seized the birds’ wings;
season of ice.

This is my news.”

— 9th Century Irish Poem

 

Blessings to you this day of wind and cold and ever-hopeful spring.

 

 

Brigid of Kildare

In the eye of fire your swirl of spirit burns,
heats my soul, blazes with love. I step to the

threshold, move out of my own way to watch
geese soar into the early eve’s welkin purpled

in cold that is not yet spring ready. In your
fire-flamed breath I watch my rise, a waltz in

sky’s opening. You called a whispered welcome,
a generous invitation. I step aside, my fear

grounded. I answer, bare feet push
against earth’s grip to join in your dance.

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Author’s note:

I had the pleasure of meeting a saint, a goddess, unknown to me only a few weeks ago. Fr. Scott Jenkins asked me to do the homily for our monthly Celtic mass as St. Brigid of Kildare. The mass would take place on February 1, Brigid’s feast day and Imbolc.

It was a whirlwind three weeks. Research, writing a script, addition of a baptism at the mass (oh, so appropriate!), making a costume, rehearsing, and regular life chores of a first grade teacher, wife, and caregiver.

It was well worth it.

The homily was a transforming experience for me. My church, A Church of the Holy Family, is a place of loving and wonderful people who accept all. We are part of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC). I am only a member for slightly over a year, but have been embraced and my gift of writing and acting has been encouraged and honored. I cannot have found a more welcoming home.

Also, I found Brigid, a saint and goddess I will treasure.  I was lucky to have gone on a private silent retreat during this time at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House allowing me time to explore Brigid and Celtic spirituality in some depth.  I find that Brigid is leading me in a discernment process right now. I wake to her blessings each day.

And I not only discovered Brigid, but was also connected to an artist through a dear friend, C.J. Prince, a writer who lives in Bellingham, Washington. The artist, Joanna Powell Colbert, was creating this new portrait of Brigid at the same time I was creating the homily. A print of Ms. Powell Colbert’s Brigid’s Fire now resides on my mediation altar. Please visit her site to see Brigid’s Fire, other beautiful work, and a blessing for Imbolc, the beginning of spring.

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It is hard to believe all of this  happened in a few short weeks. It is the beginning of what I hope to be a good journey.