In 1908, when Emily Carr painted the First Nation totem poles in British Columbia, she heard their strong talk roaring across the wild beaches. They were still speaking their truth even though they’d been wind beaten and faded, even though many were abandoned. This was forever strong talk.
Emily Carr was alone in the sweltering heat with the relentless mosquitoes when she talked to the ghosts and inhaled the strong talk of the ancestors. She could have wished for comfort and gone home, instead she kept on painting and that old talk spoke again through her determined paintbrush.
Sometimes you want to tell the world your story. Or maybe tell one person, just one truth.
I was scared when I was little, there were voices in the dark and they were sneaking in the window, mean and ugly. They told me that my voice was insignificant, told me I must be quiet to survive and I believed them.
What if I became a totem and told my own story? What if I was thirty-feet tall and blue, yellow, red and green and carved with the strength of my voice? Could there be strong talk in me? Would someone like Emily hear it? I’d like to think she would paint me with riots of color, thick coats of bright paint and layers of voice.
I want to be an instrument like that and make my own strong talk, spitting my words like wind on a reed. My breath would travel upwards from my roots to my heart, over my chords and out of my mouth, gaining power as it flowed over the wood to your ears, then strong talk would roar out of me.
More on Emily Carr
photo credit: Ancient Totem pole of Gitanyow via photopin (license)
photo credit: Kenting Roar via photopin (license)
Her songs are earth deep mantras calling names of constellations into being.
Her light soaked in, released the magic pine and herbs.
All those folded flowers lifted up their sacred prayers – water, light, dirt, love.
Her gifts – who could forget them?
Did you see her gentle curves?
The way her spine supports her children?
It’s impossible to live without her heaven/earth transcendence.
Aren’t we all turning, turning with the planet that she raised?
photo credit: 172/365 I Want to See the World via photopin (license)
Had I been adequately prepared for your visit,
I would have…
Plucked the weeds from my garden
And replaced them with budding beauties,
Invited you to sit on a soft carpet of moss,
Shaded by growing greenery,
Planned a picnic of your favorite delicacies from distant lands.
I could not arrange an appropriate setting,
Yet you made yourself at home among weeds and unpainted boards.
You refused refreshment and placed my needs ahead of your own.
Like our Lord, you came to serve.
Long after sunglow, I’ll savor your sensitivity.
~Nancy J. Ressler
photo credit: Grant MacDonald via photopin cc
There was a day each year
when baby ducks were led
from the nest behind the school
through crowds of teachers, students, praise
Waddling over smooth, linoleum floors
through the lobby where the crowd
beheld the sacred, duckling footsteps to the door
They would leave the nest
smooth, round tables
long days of numbers and words
for dreams of water songs and wings
© Angela Bigler 2013
photo credit: stevehdc via photopin cc
Yesterday, my friend and I were out hiking around a nearby lake and she pointed out two bumps on a log in the shallow water. We rushed to a better vantage point and confirmed that it was two turtles, one big and one little. Their long necks were stretched out of their dark shells. We could not make out their expressions, but I imagine they were happy to be together warming in the sunlight.
Right now I feel like a turtle taking small steps in the writing of my book. This is a time of cautious reflection. I, like the turtle, need my four feet on the ground. Inside my womb-like shell I can wade through the pages and ask myself the big questions. What is the goal of this book? What scenes matter most? What can be left behind? How do I balance the heart of what I have to share with an adventure that engages the reader?
What I know for certain is that it is a book about finding light in dark places. It is about our roots, the ones we are born with and the ones we create. It is about the magical point of light that can save you on the darkest journey. The kind of spark you see in lucid dreams. This tiny, spinning orb hums as it pulses and shines. You reach out to touch it and it radiates through you as a warm, inner blanket. I want to take you with me into this forest, transform and fire you with the elements and send you home polished and new. I want you to feel what it is like in the mysterious rabbit hole and guide you back to life.
I’ll venture back out when I’m done.
© Angela Bigler 2013
photo credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region via photopin cc
Last March I was in Kauai, worshiping sunshine, ocean and coastlines with my husband. We did that thing where you date for 7 years, get married at the JP, have a wedding celebration the next year and go on your honeymoon the year after that. So there we were, basking in the rewards of all our efforts. All those blessings we enjoyed were gained with sweat.
In the beginning, when the immediate pheromones are wearing off, the maniacal chemistry cools and allows you to return to things like sleep and food and laundry and yourself. And this is the worst because you recognize that the other person will now see you as you are and that means you have to hide or run or surrender. I liken the ravaging burn of surrender to that of re-entry, when the space shuttle is hurtling back into the atmosphere and it absolutely has to go through this fiery quake to get back down to earth.
Ack! That’s what it was like. I was doing cartwheels in the atmosphere and now here’s the terrible fear of being seen and known and loved. I was an exposed mess, my tiny ship in flames. You know he stayed, this man. He saw me and he stayed and we learned how to swim together. All those tides in all those different oceans, we kept going. I kept shedding layers as we went. It became safe to let this person share my raft.
I imagine that any relationship takes a course like that – and care. You can’t just let it lay there, you must laugh and hug and talk and listen. Such a delicate respect. I hope there soon comes a day when everyone who has done this work can celebrate and say, “Look at us, we’ve come this far and now we’ve gotten married. We’re sharing this commitment and this promise with you all!” I hope that everyone who bravely loves can swim along the coastline hand in hand regardless of their gender. Because really, a marriage is a sacred bond we cherish and to say we cannot share that based on gender is the blinding, selfish, hate that separates.
May we all have the right to fly to space with whom we choose, to re-enter and cool and swim and cry and float with our dear loves, and then have equal rights to marry and commit in a public, legal space.
© Angela Bigler 2013
Sometimes, when my mind is busy and spinning and sparking a notch too fiery, I tell it to be quiet. When that doesn’t work (that never works), I try to ignore it and find myself reading (but not quite retaining) self-help or reminders on post-its with advice for myself from myself.
If my mind is still reeling, unable to settle, I will write a list of the pulls fragmenting my attention. What books I want to read or research that needs to be done. There are scenes to be fleshed out. A page of displaced sentences impatiently awaiting adoption. Phone calls to suffer, people to connect with and appointments to schedule (the dentist – you must!). Not to mention the numerous life changes necessary for perfection.
The list expands into a fury of unrelated obligations and reminders about posture, forgiveness and potential dog behaviorists. I write a list of things to list on separate lists, and now I’ve really (totally) lost it, for underneath lies the compulsion to achieve it all instantaneously. It is the habitual inner crusade that drives all thoughts together into an impossible tangle of immediate demands. Now I am caught (again).
What I long for then, is to reset the mess and get clean. I seek out my haiku book. The white one with the fresh, spring green pear on the cover and open to any page. I carefully read one three-line set and float into simplicity and calm, thankful for respite and peace.
The time it takes –
For snowflakes to whiten
The distant pines
by Lorraine Ellis Harr
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