barn’s burnt down
now I can see the moon
The image of fiery destruction did not faze the group of six sitting around my dining room table.
For several years my husband and I have had four dear friends over for a turkey dinner potluck the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. As we are finishing up our feast, after we’ve had time to chat with each other and discuss world events, I usually ask a question of the group. I like to pose a question that will elicit stories, questions such as “tell us what you harvested this year,” or “tell us a story of a time when—.”
This year I decided to let the Universe pose the question. So I chose to pull a card from the Major Arcana in the Gaian Tarot deck. The Major Arcana cards in every tarot deck express themes (and suggest questions) that are universal and are bound to occur at least once during a lifetime.
That afternoon when I pulled #16, Lightning, I took a deep breath. Amidst a background of fierce lighting bolts against red, trees flame up, lit by lightning in a thunderstorm, and three people fall from the air. The #16 card card disturbs most people, especially as The Tower in the traditional Rider-Waite deck, where the image shows people falling or leaping from a tower that’s been struck and destroyed by lightning.
This should be interesting, I thought, a bit nervously.
Later at our gathering I passed the card around and proposed some questions it suggested:
When were you forced by circumstances to change your life?
When has a sudden “bad,” unpleasant, or dreaded experience turned out to be fortunate in the end?
When have you been forced by circumstances to wise up or get real?
When has a bolt from the blue, of insight or circumstances, moved your life forward?
When you thought all was lost, what remained?
Well, this group was game. We told stories about how we met people crucial to our life while working a bad job or through suffering serious injuries in a car accident. One person told about how not finding a job in a tight market, then failing an important test, led to discovering her true vocation. Another spoke of how a particularly difficult experience of disillusionment at work finally forced a decision to change careers. We heard a story about a time when death and rebirth were woven together, and one about how experiencing deep despair finally led to opening to the wisdom and healing of an inner voice.
I sensed a palpable calm and peace in the room after we finished telling these stories. Most of them we had not heard before, despite our long friendship. Our respect for each other and for the wisdom of Life deepened.
I think we were calmed by the stories themselves, reminded that things aren’t always what they seem, and that sometimes what is unexpected and feels terrible can ultimately be a godsend.
Of course we knew that already. In our heads.
But to hear these stories, all at once, experienced by those we love all around the table, strengthened our knowing, made it more visceral.
The day I pulled that Lightning card, I couldn’t help but think of our country right now, too. In many ways our new administration is a bolt from the blue. In the weeks and months to come, I imagine much will be destroyed and dismantled. While the going may well be agonizing and dark at times, I trust that, just as in our stories, at least some of that destruction will clear the way for new life. May it be so!
When in your life have you been led, kicking and screaming, to a true blooming?
Just got around to reading this. I can’t think of a specific incident like these in my life (I’m sure there are some), but I am very aware that the difficulties I have experienced are the catalyst for the most growth I’ve experienced as well. Difficulties I would certainly not have chosen, and resulting growth I would therefore not have had either.
I certainly hope this latest national ‘backslide’ will lead to eventual positive growth. Thanks for sharing your beautiful tradition.
Yes, Wendy, let’s hope so!
Love the tradition and what it brought forward. The light in the dark, the reason behind life’s downsides.
Yes, this is it. The destruction before the new can be rebuilt. Already amidst all the unrest and expression of fear, we see the seeds of seeds to come. Everyday people standing strong, strong voices from many who are usually quiet. Indigenous people from all over the world joining together in hardship while bring up the importance of sacred space and protecting our precious water. People visually showing support for all people. If these are truly the signs of what’s to come, we could look forward to a human race with the beauty of the heavens. This I will hold on to when the dark days show its face. That’s ANNE, this is helping me to process the past few months and providing a place to speak it.
May it be so, Nancy!
Great food for thought. One of the lowest points in my life led to a whole new career!
It’s heartening to hear a story like yours. Thanks.
What a great tradition, Anne. I am already feeling how this “bolt from the blue” will change me, irrevocably, in the years ahead. It’s hard to articulate, but I have a sense that everything in my life, from my vocation to my community ties to my skills, have all suddenly turned so they all face the same direction – heart, head, feet all pointing toward a fierce, joyful new level of engagement ahead of me. It’s exhilarating, scary, satisfying. Love your posts!
Ah, delicious scariness–the best kind! Love to you as you dance into that new focus.
Your blog has opened a few closets in my life. I’m not ready to face the clutter of emotions secreted there, but the questions you posed will allow me a “peek.”
Love to you as you clear out those closets Janet….
I love this tradition you are sharing, especially how people shared deep life stories. Thank you for posting this, Anne!!
Yes, it’s become an important part of our celebration. I think sometimes we forget that even people we have known a long time carry stories we do not know.