|A meditation for Samhain
||[Oct. 22nd, 2011|02:02 pm]
The Strong Eye
I invite you now to close your eyes, and take some long, slow breaths. Fill your lungs with the crisp Autumn air, scented with apples and wood smoke and the dying of leaves. Leave behind your everyday cares, your unread emails and unanswered phone calls; leave behind your worries; leave it all laying here. |
You are walking down a long, wooded dirt road this Samhain day. The air is redolent with the sweet smell of pine and glowing with the slight warmth of the afternoon sun. Tall trees surround you on either side as the trail winds deeper into the forest. Small birds twitter and call, and a chickadee follows you, flitting from tree to tree in curiosity. Your gait is steady and strong. Dry fallen leaves crunch under your feet, gold, red, brown, adding a light counterpoint to the sound of shoe on gravel. The road rises slightly, gently, not taxing your legs at all. You make your way up the small hill and there, on the right, you find an old wrought-iron fence. Inside its confines stand gravestones, ages old, some leaning, some fallen, many covered in moss and overgrowth. You step past the open gate and explore within.
The long grasses make swishing noises on your trousers as you pass, heading toward the foremost stones. Some are white, some light gray; all are carved in plain lettering with dates over a century and a half old. This is a forgotten place; there are no flowers, no sign of care for the landscape or the inhabitants of this plot of earth. But it’s not sad, for all its neglect… just waiting, quiet.
You bend before the first stone, brushing away the accumulated debris, and read the names and dates inscribed. A plain name, a brief lifespan. A husband and wife, dead within months of one another, as though they could not bear to be parted. Beside that, another stone with the same surname; children, three of them, all gone before they grew into their teen years. What sadness for loving parents. Your heart goes out to them all, those who went before and those who must carry on. As you examine other stones, you find that most of the people buried beneath did not live overlong.
You move on to a larger stone and recognize a local name, one that adorned street signs and storefronts of years past. Someone of that noble history lies here, here in this small and unregarded gravesite. Did these people parent the more famous ones, or did they somehow lose their glory and were buried here, far from the town where they lived?
Your musing is interrupted by a crow, calling from a tall oak tree just outside the confines of the cemetery. It mantles its wings, looking at you, and calls again. You smile, thinking how appropriate that a speaker for the dead is present at this moment. You straighten up and put your hands to the small of your back, stretching out the kinks from so much bending over. As you look out over the landscape, the crow calls once more, and flies down to mere feet of where you stand. It cocks its head at you, opens its beak… and quite suddenly blooms into a tall woman in a long black cloak. Startled, you step back, drawing in a breath, but as your eyes adjust to the change, you can see there is only kindness in Her dark eyes. She holds out a hand, beckoning you, and you find yourself moving toward Her. Taking the offered hand, you are led to a back corner of the cemetery and without speaking, She gestures toward a stone nearly hidden by the long grass. Looking down, you see your own name inscribed there.
“Impossible!” you say. “How could this be?” Fear stirs within your heart, and you shake your head in denial. The Lady takes your shoulders in Her hands, and gazes into your eyes, and you lose yourself within them. You see only your own self reflected within, your face, your mouth, nose, eyes. And then you see other eyes, brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes, gray; the eyes of an infant, gazing back at you. And you come to realize that you are looking at yourself, at your selves, from deep in the past and far into the future. Never the same eyes, but always recognizably you own self, your same pure spirit.
Slowly you come back to yourself, your eyes meeting Hers once again, and the Lady smiles, squeezes your shoulders gently, and releases you. You look again at the gravestone and see a stranger’s name inscribed, but perhaps it’s not so strange anymore. Bemused, you turn back to the Lady… but She is gone. You hear a crow in the distance, and wonder…