It takes a long time to understand why she left. She'd arrived one day with a burst of rain, a glint of sunlight on wilting ice. She'd come with mud and wind and trampled dogwood petals pressed into the cracks of the sidewalk, with quickened breath and light, with the smell of cheap wax candles burning well past midnight... And then one day, just as quickly, she was gone again.
"She didn't say it in so many words, but I got the distinct impression that she thought we should 'see other people...'" My voice trailed away. Folks sitting nearby in the restaurant who didn't know we were husband and wife probably thought Jeff was helping me through a break-up with my girlfriend. I found myself sobbing. I felt cut off and vulnerable. Even if I'd wanted to honor her, I didn't know how. What ritual forms to use, what offerings to make, what actions to take. The strong intuitive connection that I felt pulling me forward didn't seem to be so tame in any case. She didn't want scripted prayer or the right kind of incense or historically accurate idols on the altar. She wanted me out in the wilds, she wanted me raw and free and dancing with devotion. I was going to have to change my life...
What is She? Who is She? Celestial, ephemeral, pristine and pure, delicate, new, grace itself, fresh and bright. Earthy, dark and grounded, sweat and dirt and hot breath, the hard flex and tension of muscle, the rough power of fire and stone, the burning fluidity of molten ore. Primal, deep and ageless, utter stillness and distance, utter light in the darkness, spun out, flung out, fragmented, holographic, the whispering wholeness buried within each disparate glint of limit and form.
There's a lot of navel-gazing and turning inward in the Pagan and New Age communities, as people seek an antidote to the self-sacrifice and self-denial found in so many Christian traditions. But this focus on the self can so easily become an excuse to withdraw, to flinch away from the difficult work of putting down roots and reaching out to find nourishment and connection in others. Connecting with others always means an ebb and flow of energy, a willingness to give as well as receive. Establishing healthy, porous boundaries takes work — and when a person already feels drained and powerless, it can seem like too monumental a task to face. But by turning away from that task, by refusing that connection in order to "take care of ourselves first," we so often discover that we've cut ourselves off from our own deeper power. Instead of feeling rested and revived, we only end up feeling weak and even more vulnerable. Our roots are too shallow to feed our hungering souls.