The Mysteries are never in danger of being revealed imprudently, because They are, by Their nature, incapable of being discussed in a way that makes any sense except to those who have already experienced Them. My goodness, the Goddess is wise. And that is why we say, “Guard the Mysteries; constantly reveal them.” And, my goodness, I am foolish because, once again, I am going to try to write about that which cannot be described.
Such prosaic things can lead to the Mysteries! A chicken, a pot of parsley, sunlight.
At the end of a pretty insane week at work, I stopped Friday at the local Lebanese grocery and got a roasted chicken, some cous-cous, and some salad for dinner on my porch with a friend. A bottle of Sancerre from the fridge and a long talk were the only necessary additions.
This morning, in between doing laundry, drinking coffee, and reading briefs, I cut up carrots, celery, onions, and garlic and threw them into an old blue soup pot with the remains of the chicken. Salt and peppercorns, and, from the herb bed, lots of thyme and a few leaves of sage. The thyme and the sage are beginning to bloom, so I was careful to pick around the flowers, which the bees adore. The early morning was cloudy and cool and the kitchen windows were fogged with steam from the soup.
Boring. Prosaic. A Sunday morning that has been, with minor variations, repeated by generations of women.
Once the broth was done, I decided to make chicken and dumplings for lunch. Standard Southern Sunday fare. By then, the sun had burned away the clouds.
I love parsley in my dumplings and I walked out the kitchen door to pick parsley from the pots just outside. The parsley overwinters, but it goes a bit dormant; it’s there and you can pick it, but it’s less than fully “wick.” But here we are on the fifth of May and the parsley is exuberant — as full of wick as wick can be.
Bending over the pot, picking parsley with my right hand and holding the picked leaves in my left, and giving my usual thanks to the green things that let me pick them, I could suddenly feel in the curve of my back how many of my ancestresses had done this very same thing. I began to move into the river of time, flowing along on the brook of my blood, feeling my great-great-many-times-great grandmothers standing over the pot with me. I thought to “myself”*: “How many hundreds of my grandmothers have done this very same, very prosaic thing! How many have bent over a pot in the sun and picked herbs for soup!” From a spot along my back, just between my shoulder blades, I could hear a chorus of some subset of my ancestresses: “Well some of us have. And some of us would have thought ourselves privileged beyond measure to have a kitchen, and a door, and sun (those were the Swedish ones, I’m sure of it), and pots full of parsley.”
While I am considering that, I turn, cup my hands around the emerald leaves that I’ve picked, lift them to my nose for a hit of that incredible scent, and then, and then, and then it happens.
Then the sunlight hits the parsley and the flesh of my hands and I suddenly see how blessed are both the leaves and my hands. I suddenly see that my hands are made, directly and indirectly, of sunlight on chlorophyll and Mystery. Whatever I’ve done with my hands throughout my life — crawled on the floor with them, grabbed toys with them, held pencils and books with them, wiped my tears with them, washed dishes with them, pleasured myself with them, dressed my baby with them, typed briefs with them, knitted caps with them, waved to friends with them, scrubbed floors with them, polished silver with them, lit incense with them, planted seeds with them, chopped celery with them, carried signs with them, lifted chalices with them — I’ve been doing with and in and through and by the sunlight, the chlorophyll, and the Mystery. I suddenly “see” into the deepest Mystery of this planet: sunlight on chlorophyll. I suddenly feel through my third eye how I have always been a part of that and how that has always been Everything. And then, “I” just “AM.”
I want to write that I “came to” about ten minutes later, but that’s not right, because I was present and aware for the full time, but it is right, because it was about ten minutes before I took a deep breath, made myself hear the birds and the breeze, and walked into the kitchen to mince the parsley for my dumplings. As Salinger explained, it’s just all God pouring God into God. And mincing parsley is not different from standing in the sun and Being sunlight and chlorophyll and Mystery.
And I think that that is all that there is to say about that. Except: May it be so for you.
* “Myself” is such a funny concept when I am with my mother’s mother’s mothers. And yet, it is the right word and it does describe something that I can kind of see out of the corner of my eye when I float on the brook of my blood. Ditto for “I” and “AM.”
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