The Appearance of Tests in the Sky

This morning the aroma of plants and earth after rain saturates and refreshes me. I feel like a plant who was in need of rain, and it came. Yesterday was a long day, a short night in a series of long days and short nights. I knew the owls to the right of the car Saturday night as we drove down, after the film showing from Tucson to Patagonia, were a message, a warning. I felt death. Then, almost immediately after, a bright light fell straight to the earth in front of us. It was not the elegant arc of a star or heavenly body following a circular trajectory. It was sure fall. Later, after we unpacked and discovered the new home of my beloved friend, we gathered under the stars. The last time I had been so present with the stars, moved with them, as the earth moved was at ceremonies mid-summer. The vision of them rekindled that fire. I carry it with me wherever I go.

It’s sort of like freeze-dried vision.

I have a friend who is physically present, beautiful even in her physicality. She has taken good care of her body all of her life. She shines with vitality while she walks the earth. Yet, when she dives into the ocean and swims she transforms into a water being. She has left the earth and concerns and thoughts of earthliness behind. Her earthly self pales, just as a wet rock that is shiny brilliant with color when wet is not recognizable in the same way when dry. I become myself when I am with the stars. I dive and fly. In that night sky is an exquisite loneliness. The beginning and the end live there. Eternity is described there. Our human roots may extend into the earth but it is the sky that defines our spirit.

That night, as death nudged my heart, friendly bats swooped joyously around us, happy for the companionship, and the three dog spirits who took care of my friend and the house joined us beneath the stunning sky. I hadn’t seen the Milky Way in such detail in a long time, not since the Amazon River in Peru. I accepted the warning as a gift as we quietly communed there.

Yesterday the fulfillment of the prophecy came in the sudden death of a relatively young Creek cousin who grew up in Okemah but lived in the Sacramento area most of her life. Her life made a rough path. Her last stint in prison, for something stupid and not worthy of a prison term: drugs and the need for vision in her painful world--she’d emerged with a resolve to be transformed. She was writing her story just as she was attempting to rewrite her life from a story of soap opera to one of shining purpose. We all gathered around her to sustain her, just as we gathered around her spirit last night. Strange how life is, or should I say strange how death is—it was her mother who was in the hospital struggling for healing. It was her daughter who left first.

I embrace this day for what it will bring. It appears easy to make such a statement, as easy as tapping out the words on the keyboard, but what does that really mean? Do I embrace hurricane devastation? Do I embrace the other natural and unnatural disasters that characterize these times, the foul governments, the roving evil ones who scoop up our children? I am once again reminded of the Mvskoke word, onvkckv, which is more than a word, it makes a deep image of meaning that provides the resonance of culture and is why we are still here despite the gifts of terrible tests. It’s a word that means compassion, an over arcing compassion, a compassion that provides a vision of meaning that is the size of the sky filled with stars. When we are there, in that word, in that sky, we can see the sense of it all, and keep going.

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