Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Spirit Whispers

I BOUGHT A TIPI a few months ago—a big one—22ft in diameter with 30’ poles. I could tell you I bought it because I’ve always wanted one, or because I needed a place to put on the property for meditation, or for an escape. I could tell you I bought it because I thought it would make a good guest quarter, or a neat place to stay on a warm summer night. I could tell you a lot of things but the truth is I bought a tipi because one morning in mediation, I listened to a still small voice within and I followed it.

That voice led me to the top of a mountain on a road my 4x4 truck barely could manage and when there I saw a hillside filled with tipis and I felt my heart sing. I would then have to tell you about the feeling that came over me when I first pulled back the canvas door and stepped inside, but perhaps that feeling is best told in a quiet circle with a selected few…

I met two lovely people on the top of that mountain and witnessed a miracle that day that reminded me that dreams do come true, that life is worth living, and that there is still magic within those who dare to dream.

I bought a tipi. It sits, still, in the packing box it came in. I tried pulling it out once, with the help of a strong Native American man. With both of us we barely managed to get it out on the floor and were overwhelmed at the size of it. Both of us together could hardly open it so we decided to wait… wait until another day, when the time was right.

That was three months ago. I still touch it when I walk by the office… still look at the long poles stacked neatly beside the garden fence… still dream of hoisting it up one day and building a fire within… of making love in the firelight under a blanket of stars and of waking in the morning with sun’s light glowing through the canvas.

I bought a tipi. A big one. Big enough for family to stay over or for guests to enjoy. I drew a design to paint on it this spring. I gathered Red Tail Hawk feathers and owl, and raven for the top of the poles and for the inside. I have two rugs a friend loomed for me that will adorn the inside and I’m always on the look out for more. I have a hide, a big one, to lie on the floor for warmth and some Native art by a local artist.

When I listened to that voice inside that directed me to a mountain I previously didn’t know existed, I didn’t realize then, or even in the months that followed, that this tipi would actually be my home… now I do.

I bought a tipi one Sunday afternoon because I listened, and followed and in four months, when the spring flowers have bloomed and summer sun is knocking on spring’s door I will put my tipi upright between tall pine trees at the south garden gate and watch as the sun sets behind my other house… the one I hope to rebuild one day.

I bought a tipi. And I am glad.

© Cynthia Stewart

Sticks and Stuff

I STOOD AT THE KITCHEN sink this afternoon; hands plunged deep in warm soapy water and the smell of chicken soup bubbling on the stove wafting through the house. I stood there after the dishes were finished and watched through the large window that faces the pasture, the snow falling. Silver-dollar-sized flakes whirling in every direction one minute and then floating gently down in another and the two big chestnut trees are cloaked in white, their dark bark barely peeking under the white of winter.

I’ve watched summer come and go from this window. Watched autumn in blazing glory. Watched 375 thousand leaves fall from the trees. And now as the soft whiteness surrounds me it occurs to me that I have been living here longer than I’d imagined already and with no change in sight.

A week from tomorrow, the 28th, of February, will mark exactly eight months since my house was destroyed by fire. Eight months! Is that possible? Standing at this kitchen window it is an anomalous feeling. It’s been so long now that sometimes it seems as if it didn’t really happen at all. I could almost forget for a minute but that my days are consumed with insurance receipts, engineers, contractors, and county building departments… my nights too. Besides, all I really have to do is drive ten minutes down the tree lined winding road, turn the corner, drive up the hill and there it sits—a gapping hole of a house—a mere shell perched precariously at the top, empty. Charred trees still standing like sentinels over an open roof and new wood framing reaching up in the sky like fingers reaching… reaching for what? For help? For a roof? For the family that once resided here? For the love? Do the trees miss the laughter? I know the garden misses my hands.

I know every rock stack on the property, every daffodil planted by little hands over the past six winters and where the red-tail hawk perches watching for his catch. I know the trail cut through the Manzanita by deer and where they lay on hot summer days in tall cool grass under the oaks. I know the time of day by the way the light filters through my window and when winter bids adieu to spring. I know better than to be attached to such things for I know that everything is temporary, but one… and that is love.

I love that place I called home. It's not the sticks and stuff, or even the stones I've placed in a large circle in the garden or the stacks that stand tall around the skirts of the property… it's the feeling I have when my hands are deep in the dirt at planting time or the smell of ripe tomatoes in the summer. It's the screech of the hawk and the coo of the doves I miss most, and light of the full moon as it dances across the back of the house to taunt me awake. It's the sense of belonging and the feeling of utter peace.

Tragedy happens, everyday. People manage to keep going. It’s just a house… wood and walls. Stuff really. In the scheme of life this is but a trifle… a hiccup. I know this yet sometimes I forget.

© Cynthia Stewart