A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
∞ Oscar Wilde
The moon casts light by slight of celestial hand. It is nothing more than a reflection, a promise that the dawn will return. Alone, it cannot brighten the night.
In the moon's unruly light, a vast landscape of shifting shadows haunt the night.
Sometimes the moon's silvery light invites us to dream and and sometimes to despair, and so often, to both.
Honestly, I am certain the moon is made of equal parts madness and magic.
I know how the moon feels!
Maybe that is why I have become like the fabled wolf baying at the moon:
I am mostly an old wives tale.
That's right. I am just an old superstition now; an old urban legend passed down from moment to moment. I hardly exist at all.
The woman who walked upright just a few moons ago is gone now. I have blown apart. I am surprised I can even write these words on this electronic page. I have all but swallowed my actual voice, preferring a dreadful silence to the pressure it takes to hold a conversation (though I do sometimes still make idle chit-chat in some sort of self-soothing pretense that I am still here).
I also do crazy things. I am full and spilling over with grief and a perilous sense of being lost in this dastardly, ill-intentioned, moonstruck cavern. So, I keep writing Facebook messages that start out cerebral enough, with the very best of intentions to stick to the script and not bother a single soul with my unwelcome pain. But accidentally, before I know what happened, my words turn into a tearful plea for someone, anyone, to really understand this loss of self, this blowing apart.
But mostly, I think I want something more than to be heard and to be witnessed in this perilous moment. I want someone to KNOW what the fuck you do when a novel plague (a bodily illness) and an old one (a soul malady) tag team us with death and devastation.
My mind's best intentions to perform social niceties cannot contain the cry of my emotions. They are screaming in agony, bursting with burning questions.
What do you do when a deadly illness and and equally deadly outbreak of injustice team up, one demanding we be still and quiet as we shelter to wait for the storm to pass, while the other insists that we rise, that we run into the raging fire of transformation on a mass scale? What do you do when you know that each of these two imperatives, if obeyed, will make the other more deadly?
What do you do when the money is drying up and the aid check never came (or was woefully inadequate) and illness is closing in, running through your intimate circles, drawing nearer and nearer to your masked hiding place?
What do you do when you know this reckoning is long overdue and that without it the future will keep looking like the past until the earth bursts into an unquenchable, raging heat because we refuse to understand and obey the limits of nature? What do you do when you know this confrontation with injustice is necessary, that without it, white supremacy and patriarchy will ultimately kill us all in its bid for self gratification?
I want someone to have these answers.
I want someone to say something that will carry me beyond the trembling of my own knowing. My hard won wisdom honed in hardship and hope feels worthless as hell some days. It feels feeble in the face of challenges that have me swimming in my own tears and frozen like a mouse in a tiger's mouth.
I can't outrun the virus. I can't fight fast and furious enough to tear down all the isms before the cupboards run bare. So, I just sit, blankly staring at the spectacle, hoping it won't notice me hiding in the shadows it casts under the moon's ambiguous light; hoping it won't snatch me up in its monstrous grip and snuff out the last embers of me.
I also can't reconcile the tension between my white skin and my Native blood (anymore than I can resolve the tension between injustice and the virus). I can't let go of what I know and I can't overcome what I don't know fast enough. So, I sit silently (save for the occasional bouts of idle chit chat and those embarrassing messenger moments).
Because, RIGHT NOW, I am nothing more and nothing less than the smoldering remains of a woman cast into the pile of rubble left behind by a truth as inescapable as the two plagues:
White supremacy formed me as solidly as genocide.
And I don't know what to do with the truth or the rubble (which, of course is every North American's truth now, White or Indigenous, American or Canadian, Black or Brown, because everything we are as nations was born of this travesty).
So, what do I do?
Do I pray for the wind to catch the fading fire light in my eyes and burn out the rubble hoping I will be like the phoenix rising as the moon's elusive promise?
Or do I quietly slumber until the lingering light of my soul simply fizzles out?
Because I honestly don't want to live in this world. If I am to be reborn into yet another mockery of decency...well, I won't even give voice to that. My words are too powerful. There is hope in this unwillingness to speak it. My hesitation betrays the reality that I am not quite out of fight and feistiness yet. I am not quite willing to lay down and die, no matter what this world looks like! And with this teardrop of hope comes the voice of my ancestors who survived the Trail of Tears:
You are alive today because we did not choose to pass on in the aftermath of our challenges with injustice and novel plagues.
You are alive because one of us lived on and insistently passed the torch of life to the next generation and the next.
I am strengthened if only a bit!
Yet they have surely spoken into a fractured place.
I have dreams.
But I am broken.
I have hope.
But I am shattered.
I have desire.
But I do not know if I can rouse myself from this desperate place with enough force to fight for it.
And I want someone to have an answer about what accepting my ancestors' challenge to LIVE will look like. Even if it is only an answer projected with false pride and bravado. I want a leader. I want someone to comfort me with certainty, to tell me where we can go that is away from this tug of war between death and death because I do not want to face another truth:
At this intersection between brokenness and dreams, there is no one to lead us. No one alive has the answers. No one living in our fragile, once (just a few weeks ago) frivolous world has the answers. Even in tragedy-struck corners of the earth, like Syria, where there have been so many practice runs with death and devastation, there are no answers for this moment. Because even in Syria there existed the hope of escape, the possibility of arriving at the border of a safe zone.
Now there is nowhere on this earth to run!
So, we have to either face ourselves or die trying. We have to take a good long look in the mirror and realize that we are not simply at an intersection where two things have come together. We are at a crossroads. We can continue on in our brokenness (which has only been revealed in the shadowy light of this despicable, wondrous moon).
Or we can dream a new dream and fight for it with every breath we are granted the grace to draw.
We can fight for it in honor of those who have fallen, each of whom, whether on the street with a knee to his nick or in the hospital bed with a ventilator in her lungs, have uttered the words, "I can't breathe."
No one is coming to save us. No one can summon the wind for us. No one can decide between letting the embers die and calling down the breath of Spirit to dance among the smoldering remains of who we have been.
If we are ever to arrive, safe and sound, at the border of a tomorrow that looks vastly different than the yesterdays that produced this tragic moment, we must rise and we must shine as the collective lantern of hope. Each of us, in our own way, must light the path forward.
But not with the false light of a "love" that cannot meet another's pain in this moment! We cannot enter this new place while denying the anguish and favoring the hope that walk hand in hand on the streets and in lonely hospital wards. We must meet it and greet it all with hands intertwined as each other's keepers, not favoring one and denying the other.
You see, there's a deeper truth in my badly crafted pleas to be heard (and even in my idle chit chat).
The wolves were baying, just not at the moon.
Wolves bay in the night to find other wolves. The howling wolves are calling other wolves to the hunt. Those cries in the night are also, very often, the sound of a lost wolf trying to reunite with its pack and the sound of the pack searching out the beloved.
A wolf separated from its pack uses a 'lonesome howl' — a shortened call that rises in pitch. If answered, the wolf then responds with deep, even howls to inform the pack of its location. ∞ National Zoo
Those awkward, tearful messages are my lonesome howl. I am looking for my pack and I am racked with grief because I cannot be well without them.
These messages are also my rallying cry to those who are ready to hunt down hope and break open the passageway to a place worthy of destiny fire.
Because though there are no leaders in this place of shifting shadows, no elders to tell us what they did the last time, one thing is certain: we also cannot be reborn alone. Alone belongs to the brokenness of the world we MUST find the courage to leave behind.
TOGETHERNESS belongs to the world destroyed by genocide and to the hope of the future carried in my ancestors' bold choice to live on and to live into me.
Deep breath in, and out. In and out.
Suddenly, the warm breath of Spirit takes over the night and the fire still dancing in my eyes catches the wind.
The rubble burns away.
I am the phoenix rising from the ashes to the sound of my ancestors' prayers.
I am delivered.
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