Vigil by Sara Wright

The third day
dawns under a cloud.
 Mourning doves
spread their wings
across leaden skies.
I am walking on air.
Two restless
nights – a huge
truck in the yard –
Blocked,
my stomach lurches.
I read Tributes
 in a daze.
Fierce Little Flower
Warrior Woman
fights
 a torrent of waves.
She is bridging
 raging waters
forging a New Story.

“Weaving the Visions.”
Oh, now I remember
where it all
began.

She hugged a tree.
 I plant a seed.
Listening to rounds of
 “light and darkness”
 I let my body lead.

 A serpentine path
guides me
 back to
Her Garden.
Cradled by Ancestors
Rooted in Body
I shed another
  patriarchal skin.

 Carol Christ died recently. She was a remarkable woman, a feminist scholar who understood that female embodiment was as necessary to women as breathing. Carol taught us that there is no separation between body, soul, mind and spirit. Immanence is divine. Life, death, renewal – Light and Darkness – round and round.  We are part of All There Is. I have been learning those lessons since the 80’s.

Trying to inhabit a body – becoming embodied – is no small task for any woman because we are taught from infancy that our bodies are the enemy. Our bodies carry our feelings, and embody our sexuality (for which we are shamed and blamed – we are never ‘good enough’). Our bodies carry Truth – helping us to navigate the dangerous waters of a patriarchal system of unequal power that is presently devouring women, men and nature.

 In my case it was the combination of reading feminist writings and my relationships with animals, plants, and trees that eventually led me back to a body I had abandoned, probably at birth. It took most of my life and I am still learning…. As you will see from the following story my dogs have helped me the most.

 One of my Chihuahuas has historically displayed aggressive behavior towards the other for apparently inexplicable reasons, a trait that has both baffled and angered me because the other Chihuahua is so sweet and gentle.

After these incidents occur Hope always seeks direct eye contact with me for reassurance and tries to climb in my lap/arms as if to say “I didn’t mean to upset you.” Because I love her, she is always forgiven… but it has driven me crazy because although she is normally cooperative, I have never been able to stop this particular behavior.

 Last night I got a call from my neighbor. I have been caring for her two little dogs for over a year as a ‘friend’ – whenever she goes away – which is often. Franklin, Phoebe’s soul mate just died, and now this woman is planning another trip, this one for three plus days. 16 year old Phoebe will be left alone for the first time since Franklin’s death with a permanently open dog door that allows her access to fields, forest and coyote country any time she chooses.

Betsey remarked “I know you won’t mind coming over a couple of times a day to feed Phoebe.” Not a query – an assumption. I had barely absorbed these words before my stomach erupted violently. Seconds later my dog Hope attacked Lucy. At that moment I finally got it.  

Hope embodies my aggression. When I am angry and can’t express it, or worse, don’t know that I’m angry, Hope acts out my feelings while I become anxiety ridden. Bizzare head, or stomach aches are other instant symptoms.

  After this shocking ah ha moment I had a clear vision of a whole series of these hostile outbreaks (never lethal) and was able to correlate them with my own feelings, which from lack of awareness or an inability to express my anger appropriately resulted in Hope’s destructive behavior. I shed years of confusion in seconds as I peeled away an old skin…

 As I separated the two dogs I told my neighbor that I did not agree with what she was doing, suggested a kennel stay as an alternative, and told her I could not be responsible for Phoebe being left in such a vulnerable state for that length of time. Relief flooded me. After I hung up when I acknowledged that I had allowed myself to be used I experienced deep humiliation. Not again, I thought. In my defense, all I can say is that in the process of caring for Franklin and Phoebe I came to love them. Later I began to feel as if I had betrayed Phoebe. These feelings are still with me.

Bio

Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.

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Categories: animals, Ecofeminism, Feminist Awakenings, interspecies relationality, Nature, Relationality, Relationships, Women's Spirituality, Women's Voices

Tags: , , ,

22 replies

  1. There’s a postscript to this story… neighbor left yesterday morning for mini -vacation and when I go over to see the dog Phoebe is in shock – hiding out in a closet and is not responsive except for shaking when (although I have refused to care for the dog I agree to visit because I am too worried – my choice)…I stay a long while… leave and decide to return later in day… I am SO angry because I was right. Phoebe should not have been left. Up until now there have always been two dogs and together they survived their master’s death last year (with my help) When I return Phoebe has recovered and is so happy to see me rolling over on her belly… my mistake was to get caught in my own anger – I needed to have focused on dog – not people who aren’t responsible – at least for now…

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    • Oh Sara, I so feel for you. So glad you were able to connect with Phoebe in spite of Betsey’s “vacation.” So very often, I find it difficult to be in the world where injustice abounds. How does one be true to one’s self while still living with so much injustice?

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      • Thank Esther so much – in this case I had to make a decision between allowing myself to be used by choice to help an old dog or refuse. In the end I chose to help. After spending a second day with a dog who is so depressed she’s hiding in a closet I don’t regret what I did. And because it was my choice I feel like I was true to myself. Thanks Judith for addressing the issue.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a moving story about affinity between a four-legged and a two-legged.

    I, too, love Light and Darkness, which I learned from Carol. Unfortunately, I can’t quite remember the tune and I haven’t been able to find it on-line. Do you know of a recording somewhere (or if I send you my phone number could you sing it to my vice mail)?

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  3. Thank you…. I think it was more of a chant that Carol used on her pilgrimages – I know that sometime in the last year Carol wrote about that chant – If you find more words I would like to see them here – Carol always honored the darkness and I so appreciated her perspective… I wish I could have gone on one of her pilgrimages…. well I still might but it would have to be soon – I am getting too old and have emphysema so thats an issue too…

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  4. Apparently it can be heard on youtube under pilgrimages

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  5. It can be heard on the video “Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete with Carol Christ” which is available on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fljhKcbt-K4). That video is also available as the first video on this Goddess Tour page: https://www.goddessariadne.org/videos

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  6. Hi Sara, That looks like my text. I tried to post it as a reply to you. Perhaps I don’t understand how replies work on this site…. I’m very glad that the link gives you the tune you wanted. I find myself chanting it on walks. But in the days after Carol died, I found myself replacing the eight syllable “light-and-dark-ness-light-and-dark-ness” with “birth-and-death-re-gen-er-a-tion”.

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  7. thank you for the lovely poem…. of Carol teachings ……… of your teachings ….. embodiment …….. yes that’s me ………… that is us ………………. love your post Sara

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  8. Thank you for sharing your journey once again Sara. I love that you chose love with Phoebe and along the route peeled off old skin and sought your own center. It is so hard to be authentic to ourselves sometimes when so much gets in the way, eg: other behaving badly or expecting what we can’t or don’t want to give. You are quite a beacon for us to follow on this road.

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