Saturday, August 17, 2013

ANCIENT INJURY


(excerpt from Soul Biography)

In the evenings, he would read to her or they would tell stories about when they were children, living in towns not far from the one another.  They were usually funny stories, but some involved moments wherein the soul of the other was revealed in sacred exchanges.
  
As a boy, he had made and played with bows and arrows, aiming at targets of all kinds.   Once, he saw a small owl, was able to sneak up on it and snap an arrow off the bow at close range.  He wasn’t prepared for what happened next.  The arrow went into the bird, and a drop of blood appeared on the white breast feathers.  The bird’s bright eyes fixed on him, and blinked once before it fell over.  His boy’s heart pounded, as a feeling came over him he had never experienced.  He and the beautiful living creature had been so close they breathed the same air, and then it was gone, but not the image of fixed eyes nor the memory of awakening his conscience as sharply and unexpectedly as a deadly arrow.

There was another story he told once, and only once—of an experience leaving an even deeper imprint.  As a marine in Vietnam, where one was always in danger, vigilant for snipers and hiding places from which anyone could and did spring at any moment (for such is the nature of war), he noticed a strange area on the ground ahead, and a heard a movement.   A part of the terrain had been disturbed, and a dug out spot covered over. Not taking any chances, he fired his rifle into the opening.  As the other members of the detail gathered round, they looked in and saw bodies.  They helped him pull them out by their ankles—two women, whose weight he feels still. His fellow marines thanked him for saving their lives, and later he received a medal for his deed; he never showed it to anyone, except once to her, then hid it away, like he had the faces of the dead women, whose images became a blood red stain on the pure white of his heart.

Nothing could ever change what happened that day he had set out a young man and returned that night as something else he could never again quite recognize, so he didn’t look. But some images never fade; we all have our precious store of sorrow to stare into, and the ways we learn to blot them out, avoid them, tuck them safely away, or bear them only inwardly—thorns piercing us with shame and regret, even when we aren’t looking.  Then, at 
unexpected times without warning, those images loom up before us.  If we are lucky, we have someone to hold us in silence. 

That is what true lovers have ever done when a sacred exchange has taken place. They silently give over to the others’ innermost being.  Even if unaware of, or unfamiliar with that innermost part, each asking the other to protect and nurture it throughout all time.

Willy is my child; he is my father
I would be his lady all my life.
He said he’d love to live with me
But for an ancient injury which has not healed (Joni Mitchell)

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