“My name is E_____. I have just over three years of service…I want to work with the Society for Creative Anachronism.”
“Creative what?” I said.
I pulled out my iPhone in front of the class and typed myself a note. I did not want to forget what she said.
This scene occurred just two days ago. I was at an Army base – working with about 50 soldiers, all of whom are within months, if not weeks, of separating from the military and stepping into the oh-so-daunting world of civilian employment. I always start by asking each to tell me their first name, how many years of service they have, and what they want to be when they grow up. For all the answers I’ve heard, this was the first time I’ve ever written one down.
As soon as I got home, I looked it up. But the Society’s website alone wasn’t sufficient to appease my curiosity and fascination. On to the Dictionary:
anachronism: something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time.
Ahhh, no wonder: I am one. Not all the time, but certainly often. And truth-be-told, not often enough.
Let me get lost in stories. It is where I find myself…and just possibly, the Divine.
A few days back, in a pretty dark place, I knew I needed guidance, wisdom, and encouragement. The incessant voices in my brain had long since run out of anything interesting or even remotely helpful to say and now were only spouting rash conjecture that deepened my sadness further. I needed the voice of another. I needed respite. I needed companionship and comfort and sanity. So I spent a couple hours crafting words to myself from someone else.
Yes, hearing voices. On purpose.
I put myself in a story – one that I deeply love – and then began to imagine what its protagonist would say to me. I typed and typed and typed. I wept. I smiled. I was consoled. I knew, somehow, that she knew, that she understood, that we were connected.
No time travel. No alternative universe. No alter ego or altar. Just me – needing to hear the voice of another woman who knew my pain because of her own; who understood my circumstances because of her own; who could offer me companionship, comfort, and sanity in a difficult place; who would remind me I am not alone.
No. This, at times, is my only sanity. And it might just be yours.
Whether we know it or not, we are in search of stories that will make sense of our own.
When we find them, when we immerse ourselves in them, and when we let them speak to us (sometimes even literally) we are able to hold on. We are tied back together. We are wrapped and spun and stitched together by a thread that binds us to others and to ourselves. This is the work and heart of the Divine.
Her story begins in Eden – a perfect place with perfect relationship. I ask her, “Is relational ‘perfection’ just an illusion, a myth, the set-up for a Fall.”
It continues when she meets up with the serpent, takes a bite of the apple, and pain crashes in. We commiserate over the pain of different and divisive takes on that one, fateful story; on my story. We cry together. And then she smiles and reminds me of Danielle‘s card: ‘The serpent was the best thing that ever happened to Eve’ it says. I smile too.
Most of the time this is where Eve’s story ends – Paradise Lost. “I know,” she says. “You feel the lure to assume the same; to spin in the pain of all that’s been lost. I get it.”
My friend Eve sits beside me and tells me I’m not crazy, offers me her perspective, and reminds me that stories aren’t always what they seem. She knows of what she speaks.
Her story has only begun where most think it ends. She reminds me to hold on to hope.
Did you know that the first words spoken outside of Eden (as recorded in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures) were those of a woman, those of my friend Eve? We laugh out loud together. We celebrate and clink our wine glasses over this little-acknowledged fact. I begin to feel the fog lift. “I spoke, Ronna. You can, too. You will, just like me. We cannot be silenced.”
She bears the weight of a story that has been mixed up and twisted yet emerges – full of life, bearing life, using her voice. “You will do the same,” she tells me. “Tell your story as you know it – full of life, hope, and volume.”
East of Eden. No longer perfect. Life goes on. I get it.
Thanks, my friend Eve. ‘Needed you today. “You’re more than welcome” she says. “Now go on. Acknowledge that your desire is good and eat some more fruit!”
The above was a post I wrote last January, but our conversation far precedes it and most certainly continues. My story is bound to hers – and hers to mine. I feel and rely on the thread that connects us. Divine.
It’s possible that you’re slightly worried for me; that this idea of having conversations with long-since-gone or even fictional characters is yet another sign that I’m tipping right over the edge.
I’ll let you wonder. I do not.
I am increasingly certain that this is the most profound and intimate experience possible of the Divine. Not something outside of me. Not the oft’ envisioned, bearded old man in the sky. Not something feared or to which I must conform. And not a singular, culturally-defined, forever-and-ever-amen system of beliefs that falter in the absence of exclusive allegiance.
Anachronisms. Placing and then finding myself in a larger story. Seeking for, recognizing, and trusting a connective thread that binds, empowers, encourages, and enlivens. In story we are found, recognized, seen, named, and healed. In story we realize we are never alone. In story we discover a mysterious, but no less real thread of conversation, even conversion, that invites us to ourselves.
There’s more to it than this, of course: talk of belief, of god, of story. (Believe me, I’m working on it.) But for now, the idea that anachronisms could offer me a taste of such? Could quell my hunger? Could soothe my aching heart? That is more than enough. And yes, that is (the) Divine.
Thanks, E. I want to belong to this Society when I grow up, as well.