…cuz his hands are now full, with a gal made to grasp the horns of the bull.
A woman of spirit, ahead of her time, she cut her curls short 60 years before mine.
To Christ she came laughing, handed over her debt, said “He took the cussin, gamblin, drinkin, but never the cigarette.”
To Aunt Natalie… God’s own spitfire.
That last night as I stood looking over the night sky a sense that this moment would be special came to me. There are defining moments in life that we do not recognize at the outset, so cloaked are they in the veil of the ordinary. But their flavour lingers and their perfume settles on your soul to become a part of you, an enrichment of you, and a turning point for you. This time with Nena sat out over the rain-washed garden and looking up into the stars of La Ceiba with un tragito is one of the memories I treasure most from my short time in Honduras.
We spoke of life, of the love of country, of the power of womanhood. She asked me what was happening in my life and sat waiting as I spoke of my love of work. I do love my job and throw myself in. When that topic was exhausted she sat waiting some more, looking at me gently. Sensing no escape I went on, told her of my troubles, my struggle to recover from a few heavy blows in swift succession. I didn’t belabour or expand and in a few short sentences cut to the core. There was no need to embellish – Nena feels it as I do. “Trraicionera” she swore under her breath and as I finished she spat out “Mentiroso!”
“Aiii m’hija…” her advice to me was priceless and matter of fact. No need for dramatics. The power of her feelings came across without the theatre of flowery words. “Mejor soltera que mal acompañada, m’hija. Hay mujeres tracioneras en esta vida… y hombres mentirosos… interesadas en cada calle… ” She advised me for some time on the management of my friendships, the balance of my personal life and my work, and the part I can play in my family life.
She went on to tell me of her life, of her own deep love and the devastation of betrayal. She told me of her suffering, of her passion for her family and her city. I listened to the beautiful melody of her spanish and felt my own battery recharging as she continued on, great peace in her voice together with the quick-blood of life.
In life there are defining moments brought about by powerful colourful people. Not for my Nena the essence of insipid pastel yellow and baby blue. She is a woman of pulsing blood-red like her ginger lilies, the lush green of the life of her mountains, and the sharp, clear lightning of her intelligent mind.
Across Latin America there are peaks and valleys, love and pain, people of dominance and people of passion. My Nena is a mountain, plain as day. Never again will I apologise for feeling deeply, for speaking powerfully, for being all of me at full intensity. Never will I feel shame at being too much or too scary or too bold or too strong. There is a whole continent of people who feel as deeply as I do and do not fear to show it. It makes us dangerous when we want to be, strong when we need to be, and an ocean-depth full of love when the time comes for us to be.
This is who I am. And thank you Nena for encouraging me to be. To be me.
It is a part of the nature of power to be subtle. Power need not announce itself. The sleek beauty of a finned bomb falling from the sky, the unseen buzz of electricity dangerous and wholesome, the still small voice of God to Elijah. Power is not in the whirlwind and not in the fire. It is, today, in the tiny pebble dropped into a still pool.
And so she falls, out of the womb and into the stream as a pebble. As smoothe, hard rock cuts the water’s glassy surface rings instantly form, encircling the point of entry. The tiny rings are surrounded by little rings and little rings by bigger rings and bigger rings by large rings. The power of her birth and then her being reverberates until the rings reach the sides of the pool. The closer rings are clearly visible, well defined, despite being small. The large rings fade as they move out until only the eye of science follows them to shore.
It is in these rings encircling the woman that we find the beneficiaries of her love.
The closest circle to the pebble is small. It is intimate, timeless. In childhood they are her family, her parents and siblings and ever-present nurturers like God-mothers and aunts. In adulthood they are still her family but others with no blood connection may have joined along the way. A husband perhaps. A best friend. Members of this circle she loves as she loves herself.
Just outside are the friends that know her best. Sandbox friends, college friends, girly friends, platonic husbands. She may add a fiance. Or a mentor. This circle changes but infrequently. One may come, one may go and the tone may change throughout her maturing. But these are the friends she keeps few secrets from and loves with abandon.
Just outside is a wider circle of friends with a specialty. No less a friend but in a specific context. The friend from the gym she shares all things exercise with. The friend from church she shares with on a spiritual level. The friend from work. The friend from the coffee shop. The friend she goes out dancing with. In a healthy woman boyfriends start here, fiances move into the second circle, and husbands are family.
Then there is the circle of her acquaintances. Not people deep in her heart but occasional beneficiaries of her love.
The circles go on forever out to her work, her country, her world, the future.
But they start with the pebble. The circles are formed around the shape of her love, her care, herself. The pebble is the first circle. For her to reach the shore of her stream first she must fall into the stream. She must fall in love. With herself.
There is a power that is often forgotten and underestimated. A source of energy that has been fought over, written about, struggled against for centuries. The fear of it has driven some of the most brutal social systems of the human story into being. The desire to own it has sparked some of the most memorable battles since time began. The power has been used to conquer, to tear down walls, and to burst through carefully constructed ceilings. But the battles rage on as long as it remains undiminished. No man can stand against it.
It is the power inside every woman – the power of a woman’s love.
It is not a wishy-washy romantic notion, this Love of a Woman. It goes beyond the object and into the character and purpose of woman in the scheme of all existence. In the posts to come this power will be explored. It will take several days to cover it fully. But be sure to stay tuned to the stream as we dive deeper into just how powerful this energy is, where we as people lose sight of it and take it for granted, and what we can do to nurture and grow it even more, closer and closer to its fullest capacity.
To my lady readers, I invite you to examine yourselves as this series begins and feel free to jump in with your insights.
To my reading gents, please follow along. Perhaps it will guide you not only to the power inside you but help you find it for yourself and embrace it without fear in the woman you seek or the woman you now love.
To all… swim awhile with me in the Singlestream on the current of power…
I used to think that the most pervasive and consuming sin was lust. It was the main thing that got between me and peace, between me and faith, between me and God. But moments of celibacy and abstinence, like any other form of fasting, will reveal things inside you that you didn’t know.
Like the fact that I have a temper of Hiroshima proportions. The sin called WRATH.
This is what I have learned. My fuse is a long fuse with little warning snaps along the way. There are little tiny explosions every few steps into Piss-Off-Bushlings territory. Then there is a keg of gunpowder of a reasonable size. It’s probably what an average person would call big. But that is not the end of the fuse. Once that explosion kicks off that is only the beginning. There is silence for a while as the fallout subsides. Any surviving antagonist that continues past this point is now in no-man’s land. Here the fuse is its longest. Probably because what waits at the end is a monster that scares even me. It could take a few years to get there, hundreds of tiny infractions, but when the H-Bomb blows nothing survives. And when it blows, even I bleed.
The Nuclear Temper of Bushlings
Bushlings is a loving, giving, understanding person in pursuit of wisdom and peace. She does yoga to flush her mind, goes to church for divine inspiration, never sinks to physical fighting, does her “WooooSahhhhs” and has never been one to start an argument.
But tread thee past her warning keg and Bushlings sheds her personality entirely, leaving behind only a fiery core hotter than the sun, a splinter of her personality, that is in the business of destroying thy life.
She leaves Jane behind and becomes the Phoenix. Destruction becomes an obssession – unless she can head it off with yoga, church, prayer and other invitations to the Divine Above to intervene. She imagines not thy death but thy repeated and total humiliation. She struggles with her character and her powerful sense of justice through decisions on how to destroy thy life. Should she reveal thine bitter and ugly truths to a judging world? The right word in the right place? Or should she nudge thee with her superior tactics of manipulation to reveal thine truths thyself? She is likely to choose the one that causes the most harm, the one more true to the subtle and deadly nature of her Phoenix – the nature that comes alive with the H-Bomb.
The only thought that does not cross her mind is to do nothing. Even in this fractured part of her personality is she a “doer“.
This is the animal I seek to harness. The creature that loses all sense of good and sees only a target, the one that refers to herself in the third person and the antagnoist-about-to-turn-victim in old english. And boy do I have my hands full. My hands are often blistered by the pull of these reigns. So caught am I between the fiery latin blood of my mother and the self-destructive terror of my father’s Irish history that it takes a system override and all of my energy to bring the temperature down. I have to tell myself, every morning for about a month, the gruesome details of what the fallout of my full-powered explosion would look like – the collateral damage, innocent civilians with torn limbs and broken spirits. Is it worth it all to me?
So far the self-control has worked. I have never gotten physical. The warning keg blows probably once a month, but this nuclear explosion has probably gone off four times in my whole life. I shake, my face goes red, and things come out of my mouth and off my fingers that I myself stand in awe of. But the self-control is a band-aid, not a cure. To not let the temperature get so hot would be the cure.
It is the family illness. Every one of the women in my family have it. I am the eldest of six girls and all six of us labour under the same temperament. From these six collectively, tyres have been slashed and lives forever changed. And I am the eldest, the shining example.
Time to turn that into a reality.
I invite you to help me as I reasearch this disease, its causes and its cures. What are your insights on the subject? What is your advice?