It is such a graceful way to recycle death, really. Sitting here, in the warmth of an overstuffed chair, with a cup of tea and a pillow, gazing quietly out on Mt Leconte,I notice their dance. At first two, then four, and as I’m admiring their count-clockwise flowing spirals thirteen more join them in groups of 2 or 3. There must be a roosting site in these tall pines, hidden from view. I imagine they spent the earlier hours of morning drying their wings. It was a damp raw night.

At first I assumed some large beast had died and they were drawn to its scent. Last night as I slept, I was frequently aroused by the scent of the fresh sheets on my bed, such a simple pleasure, but one which I’ve never appreciated like this. Is the scent of death a similar pleasure for those birds, I wonder.

I’m taken in for a moment by the reverie of perspective. I wonder if another, observing these same winged ones would note their counter-clockwise motion? Would it seem to him that he was gazing up upon them or that they were gazing downward upon him when he discerned their motion? Would she position herself at 6 o’clock on the dial, as I do, when orienting herself to their movement, seeing the clock’s face from above or below? These are the things I wonder when I am quiet, at how the quiet itself lends a new perspective.

They feel like a welcome sign to me. Of course, I hope they have come to clean up the remaining remnants of the old, my past life, all that has come before, consumed as nourishment for what is to come next. My years as mother finally over, the years of crone to come.

Later this morning, I will walk rachael’s labyrinth, circling myself, praying over all that has gone before, blessing it, releasing it to its own circular path. Though I want to manage somehow the experience, make the entry circles about the past, the exit ones about the future, I will discover that all of it is present in both halves of the winding, in and out path. My past will always be a part of my future, consumed by me, as by the vultures, to become a part of my very cells. I will forever be a part of my children, too, some mysterious part of their cells if nothing else, though I trust I will somehow also be a part of their lives in other ways too. One cannot just leave things in the past. That is what the vultures teach, after all. There is no such thing as trash, there is simply transformation.

I am NOT by any means trying to say that my role as mother was trash, just that I have lived that life fully, worn it out, and it is passing away. What I am noticing is that the transition from mother to crone is not a sudden one, the changing of clothes does not necessarily change the wearer of them instantly.

I wonder now if the transition from maiden to mothers was not the same. It seemed so sudden at the time. In an instant, I was mother and my life was forever, from that point forward irrevocably altered. But now I wonder, what parts of my previous self were carried forth, transformed from my maiden days to be put to good used in my mothering ones? That is harder to imagine. That break feels so much cleaner, less muddied, though I am certain my experience of being mothered became a part of my mothering……..

As I walked the labyrinth this morning, I noted my ancestor-women with me. There is that unrooted part of me so often, the part that has no connection to the past generations of women/mothers/grandmothers. So often I feel as if I am first woman, learning it all firsthand, without the benefit of wisdom and experience, of modeling and guidance. Of course, they are a part of my cells, as are my own children and grandchildren, it is the tangible ways in which they are not a part of my life. I have no conscious knowledge of them, the lives they led, the hopes they held, the pain they experienced, the loves they cherished or hid. There has to be some richness in them, I feel it in my blood. Would I be the person that I am were they not something of the same? I imagined those old photographs that my grandmother gave to me. There is such a harshness in them, it is difficult to detect their beauty. Their lives feel so distant from my own, and yet, there I was inviting their presence with me on my walk, yearning for a little of their sustenance and warmth, but mostly some bit of their wisdom in knowing how to maneuver this passage.

It was in the center that I realized that I am in the center, holding this point in Indres net, between the past and the future. I recalled once again my place in the 7 generations, those stretching out behind me, those to come before me.

How disorienting it was , when walking at the circle dance a few weeks ago (counter clockwise, I might note) to imagine myself with the future spread out behind me, so counter-intuitive it was for me to imagine my future following me, walking in these footsteps that I was making. At the same time, I was invited to walk in the footsteps of one who has come before me, one whom I admire, to follow her lead.
There I was again, in that place in between, which is in fact, no other place than where I always am of course, right here in the middle, recycling the old into the new. I like that there is movement even here, since the middle so often feels ‘caught’ to me… as in ‘between a rock and a hard place’. Is there a difference then between ‘middle’ and ‘center’? Ah.. perhaps so.
This morning, I began to perceive, for the first time ever perhaps, that there are those… women… who have come before, accompanying me, supporting me. I am not so alone after all. Perhaps I can lean into them, trust that they will lead me through this labyrinthine path, teach me to shed my skin, hold that blue dress for me to step into…

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