Sacred Fire —Prequel to “He Was Just Checking In.” August 18, 2014 — Edited August 24, 2015 I wrote it then; now it is time to publish it:
I have dreaded the coming of this day from the day my husband died in 2008. This day would mark the day that he would be dead longer that we were married.
I knew I would need to honor it in some way and resisted its arrival. To my astonishment, life has gone on for me after Vernon died.
I have a new grandson, got a wonderful job which turned sour. I found I had the courage to walk away.
I matched up with a unique and beautiful man named Steve. I wrote two books and got to go to Hawaii twice. Among just a few things!
Life is good. And yet, something small and very strong has lived within me, always holding me back. Just a little.
I have felt it, under the surface, wanting me to stay in the past. Especially as I am with my new man.
I had made a “bundle” after Vernon died; a beautiful blanket wrapping up memories. In it were the things of his that had no function, that no one else could make sense of, and that I couldn’t bear to part with: his tattered Black Belt, his Irish Tam, his flutes–one wooden, one brass. Sweet grass. His Wand–such a powerful piece!— Who wants a bundle?
The bundle has rested under his alter. Sometimes it would glow at me. From time to time, I would hold it and weep.
There is no one to pass it to when I die. It was time to let it go. I decided upon a sacred fire. I would make one that would be big and fierce enough to send all those things back to the earth and sky.
I arrived early to the fire pit on the beach in Mukilteo. On this beach Vernon and I had gathered with friends for many years. We blessed the beach each year with a great fire ceremony.
Today I went alone.
The sky was clear and blue, the air pure. A few strong souls were already on the beach. I caught bits and pieces of their world as I built my space. I heard a man say to someone, “You know you are old when your baby is a grandmother!”
Further down the beach, a man sat in his own world by the charcoal of his dying fire. Had he been there all night?
The gulls were still hunkering on the ground for warmth.
I built my fire, blessing each log. I sprinkled the logs with flowers and sage. I laid out some of my favorite things, as witnesses. Finally, I sat to smudge myself.
A staff member from the park, bedecked in his shiny yellow stripes, drove up on his open 4X4. My heart sank, but he spoke to me gently, “I see your feathers and your sage–are you going to bless the beach?” I said, “No, although I have done that in the past. This is a more personal day.”
He nodded and said, “Blessed be” and drove away. Interesting…
I finished my set-up, called the directions for blessings and protection and cast the Circle. Feeling heavy, I bent over to light the fire. Looking up, I saw two Tall Ships, the old Wooden Square Riggers of movie fame.
They moved silently. The Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain both, gently flowing by in the Sound. They moved evenly, and in perfect harmony. Vernon loved Washington, and Steve’s heart is in Hawaii, where he had lived for years.
The two ships moved along, side by side, into the far south, until they disappeared from my sight. I watched them go. They were like two old friends, having come by to to say to me, “All is well, all is well.”
The fire caught easily, and I watched as it burned. Two cranes flew overhead. The number two became the number of the day. Birds flew in pairs. Couples walked up and down the beach; two kayakers paddled by.
I sat motionless for so long that pigeons came into the circle to check it for goodies. Had I moved, I could have stroked them. I looked up once again to see the Mukilteo-Clinton Ferry, having lost its motor perhaps, floating sideways with the tide, facing me.
Was it, too, honoring this fire? It started up again after it passed me, and got back on its route to the north.
My friend had wanted me to put Vernon’s heavy wand into the river to let it flow to the Sound, but that didn’t seem to fit. I knew it had to be burned, but not just sure why. As the fire took his wand, I released his magic and his energy from it, sending it to his beloveds who are still living, here.
The day, just like that other day six years ago, progressed without me. Quiet voices of others, seagulls calling, and occasional laughter of children, all added to the immensity of this day. This vast, magnificent, liberating, soul-healing day.
Slowly, all was burned. I sat and sat, letting the rising smoke lift me, clean me, lighten me, En-lighten me. And then I was done. As I stirred the blackened remains of Vernon’s bundle, his brass flute rose from the ashes. Of course it hadn’t burned–metal doesn’t burn!
That was the item that needed to go into the water! I took it from the fire, cooled it, and flung it as far as I could into the water! May his music play forever!
Gathering my things, I looked up again to see the same yellow-striped staff member approaching. He told me this: “You have been blessed today. I am named Raven, and a Raven flew over my head at the end of the beach. A door has closed for you, and another opens.”
We hugged, for, knowing no details, he had spoken the truth. I thanked him for being my witness. I feel good; clean and new. Sometimes the signs and omens are good. Kate