Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Darkness and Shadow

When I first came to Iowa in my mid-twenties, I struggled with the dark aspects of life. I refused to thin the seedlings in my garden, and so they grew gangly and choked each other out. I was incapable of pruning the plants that did result, so they grew tall and lean instead of bushing out properly. When my then-boyfriend smashed his head and spent a week in a coma, I was way over my head.

I had recurrent visions in which I saw myself, only much younger (everyone saw me as younger than I was then), watching aghast as Atropos went about her work. I tried to deflect her, tried to force her hand away from those who were precious to me.

I knew it was vanity, but I couldn't help it.

That was just about ten years ago now, and a lot has changed for me since then. This January K. came to me and asked my help in ending a pregnancy. I concocted a witch's brew for her of plants that would help her towards her intention. When that didn't work, I took the day off work and went to the clinic with her. Two days later, I sat with her while she took the second dose. When she stood in the doorway of the bathroom and said, "I can't ask you to look at this." I said, "Yes, you can." I looked with her, then told her, "Yes, that's it. It's done."

Finally, instead of futilely fighting the unescapable truth -- death happens -- I was able to embrace it. I was reminded yet again how right it feels when I'm able to work with the current, rather than against it. And this time, I felt Her hand over mine, guiding me, showing me where to make the cut, showing me how to make it clean and as painless as possible.

Last month I sat in circle and S. invoked our inner divinity. She spoke of how, as women, we hold the power of life, of death and of rebirth.

This is common liturgy where I practice. This was not intended to be revelation. But for the first time in my few years, I could hear more of that statement not as potential or as metaphor, but as literal truth. I have held the power of life. And now I have held the power of death. And that night I cried tears of joy, hoping for the rebirth that will come in its time.