Saturday, February 18, 2006

February 18, 2006

As I write today’s date, I realize the meaning of it. Today, February 18, 2006 is exactly 50 years since that snowy morning when 13 year old Gail Griffith climbed to the top of a pine tree with her brother. And on the way down stepped on a dead branch and fell, breaking her back and changing the course of her life.

I fell
out of a pine tree in a snowstorm.
I wanted to see
what it was like from up there,
but instead I found the air
was full of snowflakes,
white blur, blotting out my view.

On the way down, there was a branch.
I thought, “Should I step there?”
There was a moment to decide
before the Crack!
the sickening scratching breaking fall.
Just thirteen, I lay on a pile of branches,
snow falling into my eyes.

I thought despairingly, “I can’t go to dancing class tonight!”,
while my belly and my legs
fluttered numb as laundry on a line...
And the searing in my spine.

I learned to walk,
crutches, braces, friends to hold my schoolbooks.
Teachers willing to forgive
my months of absence from the class.
I walked on crutches back among the pines,
found that tree I marked as mine,
and haunted it,
learning to love solitude,
cherishing that tree
as though it were some secret
part of me.

It knew the shame I felt
of being left behind,
when friends, not meaning to be unkind,
walked faster on ahead.

I practiced running in the pines
where no one but the trees
could see me fall and cry.
The needles blotted up my tears.

And now the years
have all quadrupled since that day:
I have grown strong in my own way.
Like a tree pruned back by divine intent,
my soul has bent itself
to filtering the mystery.

To the untrained eye, no more to see
than the white blur of snowflakes
from the top of a tree.
But to me, a child straining
from the highest perch my heart can find,
There is a church, a mystery,
there I find
God walks with me.

I went to college, married, raised a wonderful child. Found work exploring the frontiers of the human heart and mind. Broke through social constraints in the Female Liberation movement, divorced, and continued to explore the furthest edges of love and consciousness. Arriving at last on a true spiritual path. Finding God within, and needing no other majesty.

Even finding real human love, and offering my completeness. Having the joy of seeing my daughter grow to womanhood and motherhood, and now I am a grandmother to four vibrant children. Like a full circle, the eldest is just now thirteen.

So here I am, 63 years along this life, feeling both frisky and wise on the inside. Still eager for the next thing to come, with a heart trained to look for something wonderful. And finding it, in inner joy and outer reflections of the peace and magic and mystery within my own soul.

It seems, as I look at it now, like a steady trajectory into the fullness of being human and the realization of being divine. A human being and a spiritual being, the coincidence of the human and the divine - what we all really are. And still just a child learning to love, with Love itself as my guide.

Gail Griffith Murray