|vernal equinox - 3/96|
last year she lived on a ranch high in the hills. a valley stretched to the east from the house and the sun rose through tall pines on the sheltering ridge in the distance. to the west a mountain rose where lightning often danced and thunder drummed, and rows of rock people stood guard -- and waited.
the woman walked and sat on this land and began to understand it -- to feel it -- as mother, grandmother, nurturer of all life. sky -- sun, rain, lightning and thunder -- she began to know as father, grandfather, sparker of life. and the woman realized -- felt the reality of -- walking and sitting on the bones and bodies of her ancestors -- trees, plants, animals and human. some were so ancient their bodies were stone. she felt their protective awareness.
the woman greeted the old ones and talked with them. sometimes pouring from her heart the joys and agonies of her life. a space formed for listening and the woman began to hear. sometimes a bright greeting as she came upon a new blossom or an acknowledgement of her passing from a tall pine or a message -- an answer -- from birdsong or the eyes of a four-legged. at times a plant or a stone or animal would ask for a drink, a pat from her hand, or words from her heart -- and love was shared.
one day the woman was led to a mare lying in the lower valley. the mare was in great pain from an old barbed-wire wound not treated in time. it had invaded the bone of her leg. her eyes were hard with fright and she held her muscles tight against the pain. as the woman laid hands on the mare she felt much of the pain came from betrayal. she felt betrayed by the humans who left the old fence wire in the field and by those who had not found her to take it off her leg before the infection had gone deep.
as the woman drew in breath and brought it down to her feet, earth breathed out through her. the fire energy of all living things began to flow to her palms and connect with the flow of the mare.
old ones came to circle the two, sharing with them. the woman felt a grandmother's arms around her shoulders. the songs of plants and birds and animals joined to smooth and bring into harmony the flow of woman and mare.
blood and energy returned to the hardened muscles of the mare's leg. her eyes softened and looked around. her spirit joined the circle. the mare nickered and stood, walked slowly to the creek and drank. she nibbled on the lush grass.
the grandmother smiled, and after giving the shoulders a hug and placing a quick kiss on the woman's head, walked with the mare. the woman stood, sharing the circle of joy.
the mare lifted her head, hearing the talk of her horse family a little way down the valley. she started to trot toward them through the meadow of bright grasses and flowers to join them. but her leg would not hold her weight and the pain shot again up her spine. the need to be with the herd was stronger so the mare hobbled slowly on.
the lead mare turned sharply -- her foal jumped and hid behind a cousin. the stallion stamped and sounded a shrill warning. the lead mare swung around and kicked out at her crippled sister. following her cue, the others turned and drove the mare away.
from up the hill the woman heard the noise and turned to see the mare so painfully trying to avoid the kicks and shoving from her family. her heart wept.
the woman knew it was the way of herd to drive away one who could no longer sustain their place in the whole. an injured, lamed member is a danger to the family. still she wanted not to be so and tears flowed.
the next morning the woman walked back down the valley. again she drew up the breath from the earth and energy from the sky and laid her hands on the mare. she massaged the muscles and the tangled mass of pain began to wash away.
this time, though, the song of the bird and plants and insects had changed. the grandmother stood behind the woman, joined by other old ones, but did not embrace her. the woman felt the confusion of the mare. she felt the dis-connectedness of the people who had not noticed the wire until the mare's wound had gone deep into her bone.
the herd came to stand with the old ones. the song came into the woman and she heard the words -- `the purpose of this being has changed. the mare's healing must come in another way. your hands, your will are disrupting the flow of life.'
the woman withdrew her hands and the energy went back to the earth and sky. she thought she had failed.
the song of the meadow brightened and continued on. the mare's family circled her and fed her spirit. grandmother's arms drew the woman close and the old one of the rocks and trees circled them.
because she was lost in thought, the woman didn't hear the song or feel the warm embrace. she walked sadly up to the house.
in the days following, as autumn came, the woman became busy with the chores of her life. she worked to prepare for winter and didn't find time to walk on the land. most days remembered to say a prayer for the mare and give thanks for her life.
the snow came. birds flew to the warm south and the plants and insects of the meadow pulled their energy into the earth to be renewed. the old ones rested too, shared stories and nurtured their inner selves.
the woman walked in the snow's silence. she heard vultures call and saw a pair of coyotes dart below the ridge -- avoiding her in the daylight. at the bottom of the ravine where a small brook danced in spring and early summer, she came upon the body of the mare. her spirit reached out to the mare's but did not find it.
the herd nearby was scattering snow to reach the grass. the lead mare looked up and then returned to grazing. two foals approached for the strokes and soft words the woman always brought and nibbled playfully at her hair. the woman smiled and felt warmed.
the herd took no notice of the mare's body in the snow and the thought came to the woman, `at least the mare's body will feed the vultures and coyotes and her body will return to the soil and become a part of the earth.' sadness ached in her as she walked back to the house. the old ones in the rocks watched her go.
spring returned and in the warmth of the rains the grandmothers and grandfathers turned their spirits outward again. grasses and flowers danced with the breezes. insects and birds returned to dance and sing their parts. baby of all kinds frolicked and explored in the sun.
the breeze and springsong drew the woman to the valley. humming along, turning slowly with arms stretched, her feet drummed with the earth's heartbeat, she joined the dance. her breath drew up through her feet and the earth-sky fire flowed into the rivers of her body.
the woman's feet stopped when she heard a soft nickering greeting. she felt warm breath on her chest and knew it as the mare's greeting. the herd was grazing nearby. the mare was again a part of her family. she watched over the foals, alerted when danger was near or reminded them it was time to move into the shade near the brook.
the mare's breath had warmed the woman's heart. she knew now the mare still lived. it came to her that perhaps she hadn't failed. a need had arisen. had it been the mare's -- or hers? both had given and received -- need was fulfilled somewhere in the middle.
grandmother came up behind the woman and enfolded her in her arms. old ones of the rocks and trees encircled the meadow. the song of the plants and insects and birds joined to bring into harmony mare and woman. the fire energy flowed to the woman's heart and her spirit joined the circle. she saw the joy in the butterflies dance, heard the joy in the song of the brook. the tears were gone from the woman's heart and healing -- wholeness -- was there.
the thought came that it was time to check the mail and make a lunch to take to work. the woman stopped dancing and turned away from the valley. the grandmother shook her head with a patient smile, hugged the shoulders and with a quick kiss on the woman's head, turned back to the circle.
to the west, early lightning flashed on the mountain, thunders rolled and the rock people guarded. and they knew their waiting would not be so long.
--mosa, summer 2001