My Story: this walnut tree, this ladder
It all started with a walnut tree.
My parents were newly divorced and I was nine. My sister and I traveled to our grandparent’s house in Browns Summit, North Carolina to see my Dad for the first time since the divorce.
The house was one hundred years old.
My family farmed tobacco and every last one of them smoked it in that house for one hundred years before my baby self arrived, shocked straight in the lungs by the loss of my parent’s monumental love.
In Chinese Medicine, the lungs hold grief.
One morning just before sunrise, I awoke out of deep sleep because I could not breathe. One hundred years of smoke and one hundred years of familial grief dragged me from my slumber and into the pasture
where I arrived at a towering walnut tree
one hundred feet tall - due East - and branching in all directions. here, I watched the Sun rise and here
I met God
Astrology is my ladder to God
a walnut tree I climb into the sun
where, free from doctrine
the mystical realms persist
Crystal City, DC, USA
A year later we visited my Dad and he took us to work with him every day. We rose before dawn and drove on the HOV lane, his cigarette smoke trailing into the back seat on the frigid air as we watched the office buildings and sky scrappers loom into sight on the long, congested voyage into the city.
Every morning we walked through the underground mall and stopped at the coffee shop for his black brew and plain bagel with cream cheese.
The smells of these plants - Nicotiana Tabacum, Coffea Arabica - awoke me into childhood and remain with me now as I forge into my life alone, the aroma of his vices leading me ever onward into my own interpretations on what this life is and what I will do with it.
My Father gave his life to the United States Navy and my Mother gave her life to God, and to this day they walk out their mission alone on the earth.
Both married to meaning, to their reason for being here, in this time and in this place. They choose mission over love and here I find myself carrying their mantle as they will one day inevitably, lay it down.
Their singular missions - disparate, driving them in opposite directions even unto forever - united inside of me.
My Dad used to show us Carl Sagan’s, The Cosmos, enflaming my imagination, satiating and famishing my intellect, enlivening my spirit, warming my heart,
my Christianity. Carl Sagan was a Theistic Evolutionist. He did not know if there was a god but he knew there was something mysterious and elegant and that the Cosmos were the very face of that thing.
his greatest personal contentment; ever satiated, eternally famished.
My Mother spoke in tongues every night and everywhere she was, God was. I felt it, I didn’t need proof
Why would a child care about proof?
Proof is an idea and spirit is real; real like the trees and the sky and the stars.
It is music to run over the hills, to lick dew from the leaves, to nose along the edges of the ponds, to smell the fat ducks in their bright feathers but far out, safe in their rafts of sleep. It is like music to visit the orchard, to find the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the rabbit with his fast beating heart.
Death itself is a music.
Nobody has ever come close to writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot be told, it is flesh and bones changing shape and with good cause, mercy is a little child beside such an invention.
It is music to wander the black back roads outside of town, no one awake or wondering if anything miraculous is ever going to happen, totally dumb to the fact of every moment’s miracle.
Don’t think I haven’t peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons, making love, arguing, talking about God as if he were an idea, instead of the grass, instead of the stars, the rabbit caught in one good teeth-wacking hit and brought home to the den.
What I am
and I know it
is responsible, joyful, thankful.
I would not give my life for a thousand of yours.”