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Honey in Your Heart

There is a fair bit of ritual wrapped up around the work of a shaman.  I imagine that the bits and pieces of that may be very different from person to person, so what "our shaman" does and says may not be typical.  It is, however, what we know at this point.  One part of working with her is an opening set of prayers and chants that are intended to set up the space and invite the help and support of the spirits from all four directions.  East, South, West, and North, she chants and prays and shakes rattles to invite spirits to guide and help, while sealing off intrusion from those who would harm or hurt.  At the end of that, she shakes a rattle four times around the "client," finishing by touching her rattle to the chest and blessing with the words, "May you walk with honey in your heart."  The client then repeats the action, shaking a rattle around her four times and offering the same blessing.  Well and good.  Ritual observed, we went on with the "real work" of our various soul retrievals, and I suspect that not one of us gave that blessing much thought.

Our weekend has, however, made me consider more deeply...

The youngest of our children graduated yesterday morning from The University of Cincinnati.  He actually finished his courses in March, and is well underway working with a prestigious IT consulting firm.  In these times of economic uncertainty (especially for young people just entering the work force), he seems to be making the transition to full adulthood with remarkable aplomb.  He has a seemingly good, strong relationship with a delightful young woman.  He owns his own house.  He has a nice car.  He is handsome, self-aware, self-assured, good hearted, and wise beyond his years.  He will be quite spectacular, I imagine.

The university graduated some 7000 students; conferring bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in three ceremonies over two days.  The festivities were held in the arena on the campus where graduates completely filled the floor level of the arena, and one whole section in the stands.  Each of the three separate commencement exercises lasted some three hours.  Being there was an interesting experience, including all of the expected pomp and circumstance (literally), with interminable speeches by an array of student and faculty, culminating with the commencement address -- offered by Nick Clooney (it IS Cincinnati, after all).  Crammed into the huge arena space with thousand and thousands of other proud family members, we watched the pagentry, straining to catch a recognizable glimpse of our young man -- marching like a tiny 2-inch toy in the endless line snaking across the arena floor so far below.  We knew we were supposed to be awash in pride at this remarkable moment, but it was far flatter feeling -- too big to really feel like it involved us or ours.  We drove home shaking our heads, wondering if there might not be some more human scaled way to acknowledge the accomplishment of such a milestone -- and the passage it marks...

At home, we had time to eat some lunch and even catch a bit of a nap, and then we were off to an open house style "reception" for the new grad at his mother's house.  We had just one small concern about that event ... His older sister was, of course, invited -- along with her husband.  The sister is the same young woman who dis-invited us to her wedding a couple of years ago... resulting in a deep silence between her and us that has endured through all these months.  How, we wondered, would we navigate a gathering under the same roof with her, and keep things civil so that THE DAY wouldn't be ruined for our young graduate?  What might we expect?  What were our options should things turn ugly in the event?  We didn't really discuss it much, but it weighed on our minds.

Arriving at the house, about 20 minutes after the appointed time, we found our guy, his lovely girlfriend, his mom, and one other guest.  We said our greetings, and found our way, fairly quickly, to the dining area -- the one sunny spot in the house, and settled in to watch the goings on.  It was a small gathering; a few friends of "our ex-wife," the graduate and his lady, the three of us, and in time, Big Sister and her hubby.  They were the last to arrive, and they quickly scoped out the territory.  The "great room" style layout of the house makes it impossible to completely avoid someone, but they opted for the kitchen, and we continued our occupation of the dining area.  It was awkward, but workable.  We stayed a couple of hours, and then said our goodbyes and headed home -- potential ugliness avoided.  T wasn't feeling well by the time we got home, and elected to rest.  Tom realized He'd left his hat hanging on the hook in the hallway of the ex-wife's house, so we turned around and headed back to retrieve the chapeau.  All in all, it was a weird but successful day.

I spent the evening feeling oddly wired up, and captured by the wisps of the day.  I was fussy and out of sorts.  He seemed pretty much fine.  By the time we'd slept, things were just the reverse.  This morning, I felt fine, but He was caught up in the web of weirdness from yesterday.

We talked, lying side by side in our bed.  About the graduation, about the wonderment of this boy turned to man before our eyes, about his shining future, about his resemblance (in temperament) to his Dad, about the uncomfortable, House Beautiful feel of the ex-wife's home, about the preoccupation with money and things, about the alcohol-centric focus of the gathering (we were offered champagne, beer, or wine, but nothing else -- not even water), about the contrast between Tom's two grown children, and about how very sad it is that "daughter's" life bears such a burden of bitterness.  We talked about what we've learned, so far, about soul loss -- and speculated about what benefit might accrue if only...

And then we got up, and I made French Toast for breakfast.  It was yummy :-)  We got ourselves together and headed off to spend the afternoon at a celebration and gathering of Native American peoples at Fort Ancient, just north and east of where we live.  We arrived in time for the Grand Entry, and had the pleasure of watching the dances and listening to the drumming and singing.  It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon.  Soothing and healing.  It is always a little bit surprising, how comfortable and at ease we tend to feel in the company of our first nation peoples.  We wandered through the various vendor booths, and bought a lovely bamboo drum, and several handmade rattles.  As the temperature climbed and the humidity began to feel oppressive, we returned to the car and headed home.  We had dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and Tom and I settled in to watch the baseball game (which goes very, very badly tonight, unfortunately).

It has been a very full weekend, our last before Tom's knee replacement surgery next Friday.  It has also been a weekend where we've seen for ourselves what it might mean to "walk with honey in your heart;" noticing the sweet things as they occur, and finding compassion where there had been hurt and anger.  Yet another set of changes for which we have no explanations...



  1. Anonymous7:45 AM

    Congratulations! Happy to know a pleasant time was had at son's party. Experienced many of the same feelings you mentioned, when we attended each graduation ceremony of our daughters: Walk across the stage, shake hand of college president, all done in the huge impersonal sports arena. The joy came after, seeing their happiness at the successful conclusion of studies.

    Hopefully some day his daughter will come to terms with her bitterness and learn to 'walk with honey in your heart.' A simple phrase that resonants with deep meaning.

    Hope Tom's knee surgery goes well.
    Take care

  2. Impish111:58 AM

    Sounds as though you navigated the festivities well. We went to a high school graduation and party for a young friend this weekend. Such a range of emotion for all these young graduates: pride, fear, and such enjoyment of all their youthful promise.

    Will be thinking of you all next week. I will be away, but will keep you close with me.


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