Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dry Ground Planting: Before Easter

Harold R. Wilkins
For Karis - Happy Birthday my friend!

When I was little
we stepped down hard
on our dark iron spades
previously sharpened by hand
with whetstone and well water
til the shovels’ edges
shined a silver hem all around
their cutting aprons...

all in order to turn the dry person,
I mean, the dry earth
over for the new outlook to be
forced into the dead ground
of the mind and heart,
I mean, the seed, of course,
the seed to be forced
into the winter weary ground...
and all this
in the time before Easter...

far down in the bodies of humans,
the river Esperanza, Hope
is buried in the unconscious,
but has kept the human heart alive
even through deadened life, I mean
of course, the land, I meant
the dry land of the Midwest contained
this secret miracle
that the spade brought to light...
Though a mile away, the St. Joe river
had kept the earth deep down
moist, a little mucky even,
and ready to clasp
the seed just right
til it could break through to the Light.

Sometimes, hitting a stretch
of fine, dry topsoil
our grandmothers,
in a display of strength
enough for nine men
and nine horses,
would throw shovelfulls
of the black dust up
into the air,
grab our little hands,
and we would rush forward...
eyes clamped closed and
holding our breath...
we would rush
through the cloud of
airborn earth,
coughing after,
but feeling holy

And our grandmothers
over so many years,
telling these ways of
living more
and freshly every time,
would aver that no matter
what week it fell
or falls upon in this year,
This opening of the earth
and turning it over
from its dry side
to its wet side
was our Ash Wednesday
the original sacramental...

that is...
the original remembering
of the battering
the New Child of Light
both receives and takes,
and that this Child of Light,
regardless of the 40 days
of suffering the hail of fists
or like our fields, the hail
of ice; the starvation of
no water but gall given,
or like our fields,
the gasping for lack of water...
that the Holy One, even if in
retreat, like our fields
in fallow or draught,
seeming with green song dead,
will nonetheless Live
again, come back to life, again,
no matter what.

Thus in all these years
when I am as old now
as my grandmothers were
back then, and
my silver lipped spade
has become my pen,
and the earth that has
wintered so hard in the field,
is now my body and my mind,
my heart and spirit,
my soul ...

and my thoughts
‘that once were’--
are the dry dust now.
And the thoughts
raining into me now,
sucking for ‘new life’-
are the wet side of the earth,
now cut into me,
spaded down deep in me,
hefted and turned upward
with great effort, slammed
down hard
to break the clods

This spading will go on,
cutting, hefting, slamming
and breaking
as all are readied to receive
the hand-chosen seeds
kept safe over winter.

When the flower is greater
than the weather, we will
be done for now.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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