Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sweetness and Light

Last night (in a parallel life), I was having pleasant dreams of sleeping with an angel, when an unfamiliar sound pulled me into reluctant wakefulness.

I followed the sound and emerged into a time of day long past my normal early-to-rise. From my front porch, I heard a distant rumbling. I smelled an encroaching desert that surely had not been present before...and there was the white mare, pacing.

She brought me an urgent message from her brother, the dark horse currently penned comfortably (or so I thought) in luxurious equine quarters on my land. Release me now, said the dark horse, whom I called Sweetness, as he was anything but.

I followed the mare in the direction of my beautiful stables, shaking my head and dragging my feet in protest, in spite of the fact that I knew she was God, and that what she says, goes.

"Listen!" I insisted to her twitching ears. "Sweetness is mine, he's legitimately adopted! I know he's stubborn and sort of crazy--he must have had a hard start--but he has a good life, with me. You can't expect me to just...just let him go!"

No reply. A wind was bounding across the land, a vast chunk of acreage I had both inherited and earned with blood, sweat and tears, having built everything on it with my own two hands, giving a home to all kinds of beings--animal, vegetable and mineral. I may as well have grown the wood and stone that these structures were made of. My whole heart, my place in the world, was here. And Sweetness...was a challenge, was a triumph, was a wild horse that I had gentled, an enigma that I thought I had come to understand. I had been on his back, without being thrown, without a saddle, flying across some plain. I had gained his trust and a sense of power, that way.

I could see him now, running across the confines of the corral, tossing his magnificent head. And the angel I had been sleeping with leaned against the gate, looking at me in a reproachful fashion. The mare joined him as he pointed to a place which was broken and splintered--again, as I had mended it many, many times. I sighed, embarrassed. I never realized the fastidious repair jobs were so obvious.

I watched Sweetness dancing from side to side, watching me intently. I saw burgeoning volcanoes, shifting earth and tidal waves in his eyes. Looking past him, I could see these same events just on the horizon of the one spot on Earth I thought was safe from change. My heart broke, and I admitted, maybe out loud, that I had seen these things in the beginning, but thought I could "adapt and overcome" with the right structure, the right attitude, the right words. The right feelings.

But Sweetness said, with just a look, I am finished here, with you. I knew he could have gone long ago, without any permission--that he could easily have turned to my destruction, any one of those times I was busy picking myself up from wherever it was he had tossed me. I was to open the gate, although it was now undeniable that nothing could hold the dark horse.

In obvious relief and approval, the white mare and my winged lover moved aside as I unlocked the symbolic barrier. I felt as if my fingers were numb, fumbling with the latch, fumbling with my own humility. The sky was beginning to match the color of my captive's hide, and muscular clouds rippled in anticipation. At last the thing swung open, and Sweetness bolted for the wild, without even an iota of hesitation or gratitude or recrimination. He was gone so fast that I wondered if I had imagined him.

I stood there, bereft. God and her angel watched me in silence. Hail fell, briefly.

I began a walking survey of my holdings with a heart that had somehow changed careers to become a vital pumping station for the ravaged mind, which had become a wasteland in some natural cycle, formerly denied. Ah, hell. The rabbits were dreaming of long tunnels and snug burrows with soft piles of their own kind. I let them go.

A pair of doves had already escaped through a tear in the wire of their aviary--gentle doves with gentle voices I had loved. The goat didn't seem to care whether he was untethered or not. Nothing bothered the goat. He was a Zen master. The cat had become feral, and the dog was howling in a rusty wolf-voice at the storm.

Nothing was fastened down. Nothing was the same. I had believed my outpost to be unique, protected and worthy of continuity. My founding fathers, my hard work, my attending to the reparation of mistakes, my contributions to charity, my long hours spent with the screaming banshees of my own emotions...did nothing count?

"God doesn't count," said my angel, after he shut the door against the din outside and the rushing sounds of grief. "Horses don't spend much time with numbers." His tone, as he shook drops of water from his wings to the wooden floor, was patient and kind and smiling. My heart held each drop, suddenly, like vast lakes, with room left over for lack of fencing.

One and one

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