The Stranger

 

Night Light

~*~

“There’s a gentleman I’d like you to meet,” announces my dear friend, Sara Bartholomew-McCreedy with a rustle of silk and wink of an eye.

I’m a young, childless widow, thanks to the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, and this outing is a rare treat after a year of mourning. They say “Missing in Action” is as good as dead, and since my William has been missing in action since that dreadful battle, he may as well be dead.

“Crystal Barton-Lane, listen to me!” Now Sara’s most emphatic. “He’s an officer of our age and station recently back from the war. Most pleasing to the eye, in fact. A friend of a friend of a friend. You know how it is. Not my type, but you’d like him. He owns horses and goes to the opera.”

Is she having me on? I roll my eyes. Sara’s at it again, trying to matchmake me out of social purgatory. The war has taken so many men of our age and social rank it’s hard to know where one stands. And those who have come back are often so traumatized I’ve all but given up any idea of finding a man to fill my dear husband’s shoes. Sara knows this, and still she persists.

We alight from the shiny motor carriage owned by Sara’s wealthy uncle who has offered both of us refuge in his sumptuous Bartholomew Hall until we find our feet, and make our way through the thickening London fog to the Savoy entrance. It’s 4 p.m. of a late fall afternoon. Darkness is setting in and we’re meeting this man ~ and one of these friend’s of which Sara has spoken ~ for tea at the Palm Court.

“Really, Sara, I wish you wouldn’t meddle in my affairs,” I turn to her, my annoyance on my sleeve. “I’m not quite at your level of joie de vivre yet. It’s only been a year and I still miss my William.”

Sara sends me a disarming smile.

“Crystal, darling,” she stops me before we enter the fine hotel and looks me straight in the eye, “it’s time to lift that dreary veil of tears and live. Live now! I don’t think William would want you to be moping around for him. You know how he loved life ~ the next adventure. I’m sure he’d want that for you.”

A vision of my handsome husband all decked out in top hat and tails that last night at Covent Garden and enjoying a fine performance of La Bohème makes me shiver. How excited he was about soldiering and leading a troop of his own to battle victory.

“Crystal! Snap out of it!” Sara’s voice brings me back to the present. “There he is …”

Through the amber vapours of a flickering gas light and beneath the lamppost a stranger emerges.

But he’s not a stranger at all … he’s my husband.

~*~

1477384_696513200380722_443439577_nMy response to Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday

This is the word bank prompt:

Fog – Lamp post – Veil – Top hat – Carriage

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

Peace Rose

 

Peace Rose

~*~

“The world is bent on destruction at the hands of those who would themselves destroy …”

Grandma Rose raised her tea cup to her lips and sipped. She seemed unperturbed by her words, while I sensed my rose-coloured glasses slipping.

“Fighting for peace is not the wise course, but those who know not how to love themselves can never demonstrate love, or offer true peace, to others. It is not possible.”

I felt hopeless. She’d lived her life while most of mine was still ahead of me. The world seemingly falling apart around me. Still, I could see her point. How many times had I witnessed the mask of love a-kilter on the faces of those who felt nothing but self-loathing? Their acts of redemption couched in resentment and frosted with anger. The glass half empty with a cracked smile on its face.

Fighting for peace ~ the greatest oxymoron of all.

“What is to be done?” I asked.

Grandma Rose raised herself up, replaced her tea cup to the coffee table, and focused her attention on me.

“Love yourself. Genuinely love yourself ~ warts and all. Look inside your soul. Whatever troubles you, address it, embrace it and love it away. Even those we consider unworthy just want to be loved. They act out for attention. They act out because they don’t understand the source of their pain. If people would just look inside to find, address and love away their suffering they would feel no need to cause suffering in others. Only when the people can find this place of peace in themselves will there be peace in the world.”

A sigh rose from the depths of my own suffering; a tear pooled in my eye. I knew she was right. I had learned a long time before that love begins at home ~ the home of my soul ~ and that it resonates and colours the lives of others according to my intention. Love begins with the inner journey ~ a painful journey I understood all too well. A journey that creates empathy and a liberating knowledge of self that disengages the power of pain and sets us on a course of love in its purest sense.

Grandma Rose, ever the philosopher, noted my discomfort and offered this consolation:

“When you ask the meaningful questions, my dear, it is my privilege to give you the meaningful answers. As my wisdom is born of the inner journey so will yours be. It is a hard road but one worth travelling. Remember, the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have have them do unto you.’ As long as you live by this treatise you will not go wrong … as long as you understand how you would like to be treated … and why.”

~*~

A free-writing exercise …

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

 

Lost and Found … Part III

gypsy

~*~

The gentle gypsy gestures for me to stand beside her. I move over yet keep my distance, still feeling my uncertainty.

“Good,” Erzebet’s voice is comforting. “Just a few things I would say before you enter the Sacred Circle of Hidden Wisdom.” She smiles reassuringly, noting my discomfiture. “Don’t worry, you are perfectly safe as long as you follow my instruction.”

I offer a loose smile, my thoughts wandering to wondering what on earth I’m doing here.

“Grace, please … your attention.”

I bring myself back, embarrassed.

“Good … thank you,” Erzebet says without the least bit of impatience or reprimand in her voice. She shows me a long twig the end of which is held firmly in her hand. “With this wand you have the power to establish a protective boundary through which Chiron may not pass.” She demonstrates how to use it by forcefully drawing an arc in the dirt in front of her. “You stand your ground, creating a space for Chiron to respect. Only when you invite him may he enter. You understand?”

I nod my head. She gives me the twig. “You try.”

With the end of the wand firmly in my grasp I sweep the tip of it through the dirt to make an impressive arc. It feels good. Empowering. I sigh and smile. Erzebet smiles back and shares more.

“The safest spot for you is in the centre ~ the heart ~ of the Circle. From here you can see wherever Chiron moves. You can follow him simply by turning your body wherever he goes. You hold this space. Move if you wish but return here for grounding. Do not get trapped between him and the edge of the Circle where there is no escape. There is danger there. You understand?”

I nod my head again. She hasn’t finished.

“When you feel secure, place the wand on the ground beside you. It will be there if you need it. Time slows in this reflective space; it is on your side. From the heart of the Circle, and when you feel ready, grounded, you express your heart’s desire to Chiron. The same desire you expressed to me. Through your breathing seek a heart connection. He is waiting for it. When the connection is made … and you will sense it … you may begin your dialogue.”

I nod my head in understanding, sort of. Even though I have spent a life time with horses this is all so new; so unfamiliar. Still, I am here, drawn into this moment by something I know not. When the student is ready the teacher will appear, comes to mind. Something my mother used to say. Regardless, somehow I am unworried. It feels right. And besides, I don’t want to leave.

“Oh, and another thing,” notes Erzebet firmly, “No judgement; no agenda. Be in the moment and allow it to unfold. The ego has no place here. It will sabotage the true nature of your experience, your true Self. Do you understand?”

Turn off my tornado thoughts? Wow! There’s a notion. Still, I nod my head, and sigh.

“And lastly,” she adds with utmost importance, “thank Chiron before you leave the Circle, which you may do at any time.” She smiles a broad, comforting smile. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.” The word comes out choked. “Yes.” I repeat more firmly.

The beautiful gypsy ushers me into the Sacred Circle of Hidden Wisdom and, taking a deep breath, I walk alone to the heart of it. Chiron stands at the far edge, quiet and attentive. For a moment I close my eyes; take a deep cleansing breath remembering the odd pressure in my jaw. Finally, I place the wand on the ground beside me and wait. After several minutes Chiron has still made no attempt to acknowledge my presence.

I feel sad. Still, I continue to breathe into what I believe to be a heart connection and without speaking make a misguided attempt to convey my heart’s desire by some weird sense of osmosis ~ as if Chiron should be able to read my mind. Erzebet hovers quietly in the background, observing.

Chiron ignores me and ambles over to the spot where I entered the Circle. He paws at the ground, the sound of crackling twigs and sticks and leaves shredding the air. I don’t understand. Not knowing what else to do, I walk over to him and stop a few feet away. His pawing stops but beyond that he doesn’t acknowledge my presence.

The judge in me brings down the hammer of disappointment. Confused, I start to walk around the Circle away from Chiron, hoping he’ll follow. I clutch at my lucky labradorite pendant, an intuitive stone, hanging on a white gold chain around my neck and wonder what the heck I’m doing.

When my walk around the Sacred Circle is complete I return to its heart and wait, wishing, hoping for something, some sign of acknowledgment from Chiron. But he has not moved. I feel numb; a verdict of failure delivered by that inner, unwelcome judge.

Dejected, I collect the wand from the ground and walk over to Chiron again. When I reach out a hand to touch his silken mane he walks away. I thank him anyway and leave the Sacred Circle with a singular feeling of unworthiness. A nearby fallen tree trunk invites me to sit.

Erzebet takes a seat beside me. “When you are ready, tell me of your experience,” she says plainly.

For a moment I have no words. That lump in my throat is back, my jaw tighter than ever. The beautiful gypsy waits patiently for a few moments and then asks a question.

“Why did you not speak openly with Chiron?”

I sigh. I don’t know.

“I see it is difficult for you. Have courage. Feel the heart connection; express your heart’s desire,” she says with a firm kindness that buoys me a little. “Chiron reads your body, not your mind. Speak. He hears your words and reads your intent. As you are closed so he too closes. It is up to you.”

A tear springs to my eye. Erzebet continues:

“When Chiron was standing at the entrance and pawing at the ground making all that noise he was inviting you to a new way of being. To me he was telling you to ‘make noise.’ And yet the entire time you spent with him you said nothing.” She admonishes me gently, “If you want to be able to speak freely and without judgement you must first speak. Yes?”

I nod my head, acutely aware of the fact that even now I am afraid to share how I feel and what I am thinking.

“Grace, would you be willing to visit with Chiron again and speak to him?”

I smile weakly and manage a “Yes …” and, with a deep breath, draw myself up from the tree trunk and walk once again to the edge of the Sacred Circle.

“Enter when you are ready. Remember what I have told you. Speak your heart, freely and without judgement. Where’s your wand?”

I retrieve it from the ground where I’m standing and wave it at her.

“Good … now proceed.”

Taking a deep, cleansing breath I move to the heart of the Circle. As I ground I notice Chiron is standing where he was the last time I entered, however this time he moves to the entrance almost immediately, and waits. A second chance. I drop the wand at my feet. Gather myself. Here goes …

“Chiron …” His name comes out garbled. I clear my throat, say it again and continue, “Chiron … you are such a beautiful boy … It is such an honour to stand in this Circle with you today.” He begins to chew.

“A good sign,” calls the gypsy gently. “He is acknowledging your authenticity. Continue … ”

“Chiron,” I continue, “You are named after the Wounded Healer. I don’t know what your wounds are but I’m here to ask for your help with mine.” I hesitate. “My heart’s desire, Chiron, is … ” I struggle with the words ” … is to be able to express myself freely and without judgement.” I take a breath, a knot in my stomach seems to release as I forget I’m being watched. My throat clears. “The problem is really old and I’m weary with it.”

A tear of weariness masks my vision. With the back of a hand I wipe it away and then focus my eyes on the gleaming black and white of his beautiful piebald colouring for a moment. “The dark patches of your coat remind me of the shadow I’ve been dwelling in all my life and how so desperately I wish to move into the light; to shine … to be heard.”

There is movement in the noble one. From his position by the entrance where he has been standing so quietly licking and chewing affirmations of peace, he turns to face me, as if to acknowledge some kind of understanding. My heart leaps. Has it been heard? He starts lumbering calmly toward me. The sobs of my soul begin to rise from deep within until I can contain them no longer. I double over in the most exquisite emotional pain as the tension of my self-enforced silence is finally released.

Chiron stands still beside me, his head lowered, his body relaxed, as if to honour this moment with me. His quiet manner soon calms me.

“Be the light you are,” he seems to say to me. “Speak and be heard by those who would listen.”

A profound feeling of peace fills me. Somehow in this quiet place, in these quiet but intense moments, something has changed. I seek his permission to stroke his neck. He stands quietly, waiting. Gently I run my hand along the smooth white hair that runs almost the full length of his muscled neck before it turns dark at his shoulder. It is soft and warm, glistening in the last light of the day’s dying sun. We stand like this for a couple of minutes, basking in an open exchange of heart and soul and then, as if to signal his work is done, Chiron walks away quietly, leaving me to stand alone and strong in this healed emotional space we have created together.

In awe of the gentle power of this moment, I turn to thank him as he rests once again at the edge of the Sacred Circle. I leave feeling lighter and somehow more present. My tears dried. The pressure in my jaw gone. My lost voice found; my heart heard.

Erzebet joins me at the tree trunk and we sit quietly for a moment.

“You are okay?” she asks.

“I feel marvellous,” I answer.

Erzebet smiles. “Tea?”

“Yes, please,” I respond, and then stop, overwhelmed by her generosity of spirit. “How can I ever repay you for how you have helped me today?”

“You must remember first that is it I who repaid you for bringing home my wandering Chiron,” she reminds me, smiling and patting the handsome horse. “You have the soul of the Wounded Healer also. Now your voice is free use it wisely and to good purpose. It is a great gift.”

Chiron snorts in agreement.

“Extra carrots for you, my darling boy.”

THE END

~*~

The final instalment of Lost and Found ~ my response to a free writing exercise prompted by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday two weeks ago. If you’re interested in reading the first two parts, click on the links below.

Part I

Part II

Your comments are welcome. This last part became a bit of a marathon.

Thank you for visiting,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014