In Sweden there remains an old adage, likely it’s relevance stems from the agrarian roots implanted by the pagan community which ruled until Martin Luther decided to hang his hat here and get messy with religion. It is now March twenty-sixth, spring sprung backwards but our clocks leapt forward an hour. I rose the shade from my bed to see if it just might be a surprise of a sunny day only to see snow falling, the gardening spot blanketed white again. Yesterday was gray and rainy, the highlight of my weekend despite the weather was it being “Våffeldagen”. In keeping with the conflicting Christian and Pagen society that dominates this wildly confusing Viking Jesus mystery lies yet another story that complicates waffle day even more so. The origins in English are the annunciation of our blessed virgin Mary; in Swedish it’s “Jungfru Marie bebådelsedag” which is basically the celebration of the angel Gabriel flying down from the heavens to tell the virtuous and virgin Mary that she had a bun in the oven, a very special bun that would change the world. “Vårfru” means virgin Mary, however in some dialects in Sweden during the 1800’s, someone confused the historical “vaffla” (meaning waffle) with Vårfru (meaning virgin wife literally) and thus began a Swedish custom to eat waffles on this very delicate Christian holy day. Now, I was raised primarily in the “Bible Belt” and forced to church school and bible studies throughout my youth. I know Eve was some naked woman made from a rib and gave her man an apple and a serpent was involved. I know old southern spirituals, the ten commandments and some miniscule remnants of biblical “facts” are embalmed in this sixty year old brain. I know that we pretend to eat flesh and drink blood and what I received was grape juice and a paper thin cracker which felt like chewy notebook paper. Yet nowhere in my first sixteen years of obligatory studies was there any mention of Gabriels significant secret, waffles or more likely in my region a trip to The Cracker Barrel for a full plate of biscuits and gravy. Swedes get more vacation days for obscure Christian holy moments, literally days that evangelical bible belters know nothing about, and if they do know we get waffles, jam, whipped cream and berries for messenger Gabriel’s news I believe they just might start a campaign to close down Walmart and at least expect “Eggos”. Now, not only do we have this manic weather to live with, we also still celebrate the pagan holidays and no Christian complains as long as they don’t have to work. Personally, for my twentieth “7th Winter” and my twentieth “Waffle Day” I think a bloody Mary is more appropriate.
Rock watches from the corner of his eye as Lm takes a long inhale of a pretend cigarette. She is satisfied she is back in her dank quarters, just the two of them without disturbance. Rock has told her she is far from healed and that acceptance of her past eases her presence and will lead to a healthier future. ” Oh yay”, Lm replied, ” a healthy future is so enticing!”. Lm is not believing in Rock or the future full of smiles, love and peace anymore. She is overcooked, baked to a crisp and hard. Rock assures her that if she continues to tell her TRUTH, her story, that she will overcome all of her pain. Lm knows that even if one person saw beyond her soft blue eyes she’d be leary. Everyone, every single person in her world is backing away, and she knows that she has only her pain mentally, physically and emotionally to count on waking her at three a.m. She pulls out a drawer full of photos and sees herself at seven with BadDad and the nice girlfriend at a protest. She’s sad, looking down and he is oblivious. The word of the day, her life and relationships, with her mother and father is oblivious. Obviously oblivious.
Sunlight filters in through Lm’s drawn shades; she can’t sleep and watches as it changes shapes on the ceiling from her bed. None of these studied details will come again, like each diamond, every piece of sea glass and snowflakes the sun continues to provide a different light show everyday. It was a tiny slice at first, narrow and pointy. It widened, lengthening and flickering until it became so engaging going back to sleep was ruled out. Like a deck of cards well shuffled one rarely gets the same hand twice, we never know what we will be dealt and what will happen as the game is played. Life is rarely a royal flush but with curiosity and perhaps hope we continue to play loosely mindful of the whole picture. No one wins more time no matter how many clever tricks they can do. Magical potions, merciful angels, or the great mystery known as God might let us exchange a bad card for a little more time before we finally reach the end of our game. How do we finesse our individual house of cards to spend more time with those we love. How do we prolong our own reflections, our unique light that we project throughout our own lives? The light on the ceiling is no longer visible yet I know another morning design will wake me up, or do I ? The smallest parts of our intricate selves are never fully seen by anyone, yet we continue to try to show our imprint, our colorful feathers and deeply desire understanding with a need for others to believe in us. Will you have lived your life knowing you never cheated yourself or anyone into seeing all that you have to share? How can we take risks, pull out a card from our own hand and use it to justify our dreams. Procrastination is never going to be the winning deal, one must act, take a chance and live as if we all must fold our hands tomorrow. “Someday I want to go on a train to Prague, Croatia, the Adriatic Sea. Someday I want to return to the most northern isles of Norway. Someday I want to see “The Scream” in Oslo. When I turn sixty, I want to be with my best friend anywhere. When I turn sixty I will get a baby piglet and name her Opal or Pearl. When one of my best friends comes to Sweden we will go to Stockholm together and have girl time and catch up eating chocolate croissants and coffee in bed, opening champagne at lunch, see the small galleries and by each other pretty scarves and pretend we are sisters. Someday my siblings will see my Truth, I won’t be the Black sheep but a herder of my flock. When my daughter’s are home together we will take them on a surprise trip to ski again, just like when they were eight and eat pizza and start over again. One day I will sell my ArT work and I will be free from pain, and when that happens I will fly like a strong Canadian goose to see my family far, far away. All will be perfect, we have good genes. Letting Go is a long time away, we don’t need to hurry or be afraid. Our children are safe, they will have good lives and even more good things will come. In the autumn, in the spring, next winter or?
A Trickle A Tad A Smidgen A Sliver A Pinch A Drop A Bit, Not More. ROCK is slaying the morning with a scathe, a sharp cut through Lm’s fog of anxiety. “Why did you open that can of worms?”. ROCK is now covering my tracks, pushing me down into the stairwell for letting wild ramblings outside of the confines of my safe place. “You will get in trouble again with that caustic spewing, you dig?” Rock is locking up my mind without worries and vows to shield Lm from the light under the door. He is watching for the footmen, the cowards and protests that will brew from Lm diving into the deep end of the pool. The stream of words that made tremors and cracks in the middle of nowhere are still felt. Lm crosses her fingers behind her back and rests against the cold cement walls. She is not afraid now. She is determined.
It’s key is hidden, I misplaced it among my own feelings again. I am alone inside a body that lets me down, hurts me and I can’t get out. I see me walking like Jesus across the sea and then sink without a fight, drowning in my mysterious mind. I am so grateful yet undeserving of salvation. Sanctuaries for Love should be everywhere, not just for those seeking redemption from our earthly delights that were indulgent or a sinful play that some grand Creator would frown upon. The gates are always open to love more, release ourselves from our own arrogant beliefs. I am burdened by carrying me through life; how then can I carry some one else? I see a white wooden columned southern USA colonial home with a long drive and weeping willows, a big porch and spinning ceiling fans. I am the youngest broken one there and I try to cheer my southern company with kind regards and smiles. I am in a sanctuary where I no longer feel like a worthless woman. I make a difference because I am not in the agony that I rise and face each morning. I can quit because I will no longer ruin other’s good times or my own. I can be quiet. I can be kept and have tea and maybe sometimes I will wonder about Jesus and God and bad and good but I will be my own judge as my heart is pure.
Soon he would say goodbye, doubtful his first taste of love would wait; boarding on the longship would begin at sunrise after two more nightfalls. He was not at ease nor feeling dutiful to set sail, his rough, calloused hands had been assigned to row, his grey eyes already set on defeat. In the chilly night he and his lover kept warm under a sheath of tanned hide; a warm fire encircled with stones lit up their faces. His lover was cold, she had been sweating earlier and she shared with him that perhaps she was carrying his baby. It had been two moons since her last cleansing. He held her close and rubbed her hands in his own. All night he stayed up, keeping the fire crackling and he called for a wise woman to look at his betrothed. He was given garlic for his neck and a tonic that tasted bitter as nettles to sip. He must prepare to board the longship and not fall ill. The woman wiped carefully with cool cloths the forehead and the nape of his lady’s neck and said she should be moved to the women’s tent so he too might rest. He was reluctant yet never questioned this miracle of her gifts from the God’s and believed in the sunrise of his departure his love would encircle him with the other strong women and sing a prayer to the heavens. At last he fell asleep and the fire dwindled. He was a large man, of long height with a wooly red beard; for years he had been called to help others lift heavy logs, roll stones and fell trees for boat building. His stomach grumbled and his dreams brought him no peace. His eyes closed, his mouth agape, a gurgling snore erupted. Deep within his dream state he saw his own mother, her pale white face, her eyes weary yet loving; she spoke. “Son of Gudrun, son of Ove, lift your spirit up to see. It’s been eighteen moons since we saw you. Your sister Ulla is here, too. Their faces were like a portrait in beautiful pastel inks. The heavens were soft as the first spring day when the sight of white and purple forest flowers burst through the edges of the footpath, gay as the laughter of friends when the sun was long in the sky, days were easier, their heart’s lightened by the dark winter’s end. Time for merriment and the smell of baking bread, the homecoming of the longship, strong fermented ales and hearty stews and loaves of bread with berries he could taste so sweet; stirred he woke with a gasp. One sunrise had come. He stood and walked to the women’s healing tent and the flaps were sewn shut with thick leather. “Naaaaay”, he screamed and he ran to the morning fire keepers boiling coffee and sharing porridge. Breathless, he asked if his lady was in the tent still. Blue eyes looked at one another and down. He knew the answer. He kicked the first iron pot and it swung from it’s iron chains molted flawlessly by the black smith and his apprentice. Hot scalding water splashed and the men jumped back. An old man who laid on sheep skin by the fire called for him to sit by him. His heart rapid, his cheeks red with rage, he succumbed to his elder. ” What can you say to comfort me?” The man, thin and weak voiced motioned for the giant, frightened man to sit beside him. “Are you the son of Gudrun and the sister of Ulla?” The old man already knew but asked even so. “Ya, I am.” Do you think, son of Ove that your father created such acts of arrogance when the God’s called his wife and daughter up?” Silence. “What name did they leave you?” “I am Per Ove’s son.”Well Per Ovesson do you dare to guess the will of the heavens? Are you in fear of the sea and hunger? Are you a messenger or do you serve?” ” I serve.” The so very big man, Per, son of Gudrun and Ove, brother of Ulla wept. The elderly man handed Per a smooth stone to rub and called for porridge. The big man, the thin elder and the fire keepers stood close. One by one they placed a hand on his shoulder and walked on. Night fell again and he laid by his fire alone sipping the bitter nettle tea. He did not want to dream and the silence soothed him. It had been nine cut logs when a woman he’d never seen came to stand before him. “You may see your lady now”. His lips felt numb, his eyes ashamed and he said, “Why do you want me to feel more pain?” The woman outstretched her hand and he stood. When they came closer to the tent the woman lifted the flap and there lay a clump of deep red flesh upon his lover’s abdomen. He moved closer and felt confused. Take the flesh and all of it’s blood and bury it deep in the forest. His lady did not breathe and small stones were on each eye. He did as told by the healer. Without sleep and it being soon the second sunrise he fought to keep focused on his task. Big tears from a big man with the heart of a child fell steadily down his face. When he returned he went to his fire to sleep and there sat the woman again with a white bundle of heavy fur. She stood and handed him a baby. “How can this be? My lady only missed two moons.” The woman smiled and said, “the God’s were good” and asked him to bestow a name before he sat sail. In a state of both sorrow and beauty he said, ” this is the son of Per, the son of Lea. He shall be blessed with the name of Liam.” The woman promised him the babe would be well fed and when he returned the baby would be his comfort. Per kissed his son’s forehead and slept with him in his arms until sunrise. The healers had prepared Lea’s body to be sent to sea where she would be taken up to the God’s quickly. He held one side of his love’s canvas and birch sewn raft. He did not weep for she had left him reason to believe that more would come to be good. The women sang as the longship prepared to launch. The sky was yellow and afire with sunrise. The horns blew and he pulled in unison with his mates. By sunset they placed Lea on her raft and she floated away from the boat, away from the father of Liam, the son of Ove, the son of Gudrun and the brother of Ulla. In the night the high waves plunged over the stern and wailed upon the starboard, the longship albeit strong rocked with brutal fervour. Per was the lead, each pull he thought of Liam, each horn he heard his mother calling. The God’s were trying his strength in a way he never had experienced, he was not only strong in his body now but also in his soul. The storm settled and he was sent to rest. A cool wind soothed his sweaty bruised hands and his lips cracked from the salty winds from the North Sea leaked sweet bits of blood. His thirst was mighty and he was given water with herbs to keep him quiet. His cough came on fast, deep and he heard other’s coughing, too. He spat green, thick phlegm into the sea. He hung his head over, the winds cooling his dizzying state. The head of the ship was also spewing a sickness from his body over board. Few men could guide the longship, and one by one they fell, coughing, wailing in pain, and now hope had no place for them. Another night would come, a morning with many deaths and each one was set free to float amongst the creatures that both fed on them and nourished their loved ones. Per Ovesson would be the last man to go. He ensured all were met by the God’s who knew better than he the true meaning. He would fall into a deep, long sleep, he would dream of Lea, mother of Liam and he would die proud as his father had bravely done before him. He drifted off further to sea and the sky above would open it’s arms and his soul would rise up, up, up into the arms of Ulla.
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