Monday, October 23, 2006
Whatever I Tell You in The Dark
I once saw a woman kissing an urn containing the ashes of her husband, over and over again, saying to anyone who would listen, He's here with me, even now. He knows it's my birthday. The woman looked much younger than forty, the birthday she was celebrating, and the friends who were with her looked a bit haunted by all that was happening. The woman wore a beautiful long old-fashioned cherry red coat, and I could not take my eyes off her. I was in a hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a hotel that is reputed to be crawling with ghosts. In its various incarnations, it's been a mental hospital, a mortuary, and a cancer treatment center. On the other side of the lobby, a couple was about to get married admist a group of gargoyles and in front of a fireplace. I heard the bride said to one of her bridesmaids about her groom, He's not so bad for a second choice. I didn't know which scene depressed me worse -- the authentic grief of someone who had loved deeply and lost that love to death or someone who was settling for marriage with a man who wasn't too bad for second place. I know that the first scene is more rare -- Willie Nelson once claimed that the only reason people play the jukebox is because they are not with the person who they would have chosen, that they have been forced to settle for something else. Willie, despite his habitual pot smoking, has made many a good point in his day.
On the bottom floor of the hotel, there is a day spa where you can get all sorts of things done -- facials, massages, energy work. I got a facial and had my chakras cleansed and balanced (the woman said they were in pretty good shape, which I was surprised to hear) and then went next door to St. Rita's, a gorgeous church that was underground. You had to climb down a flight of stairs to get inside it. Shadows flickered on the walls, giving the saints an unearthly glow. I felt a stillness there, far away from the way I feel most of the time, and for the first time understood why some people choose a life of service to God. Years ago, I had a lovely student who whispered the rosary meditation all through my creative writing class while clasping a black set of beads. I'd collected rosary beads for years, but had never said a novena. My student had been institutionalized in mental hospitals off and on for years, and I believed her to be both brilliantly perceptive and out of her mind. I envied her ability to go deep into the world of the spirit, but understood how much it cost her to see what others did not, the haunted nature of the world. In her early thirties, she'd never had a date, but once she said to me, Jesus is my lover, my life, my husband. She looked in that moment like the woman kissing the urn, someone who proclaimed her love for anyone to see.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light." Matthew 10:27
Drinking movie suggestion: Margarita Happy Hour
Benedictions and Maledictions
Special thanks to my wonderful yoga instructor and dear friend Tim for the Sopranos t-shirt! You can check out his website at www.timothyclarkhealth.com.