My sister departed from us one week ago today. She left us on this earth to continue this long, arduous, beautiful search through which her heart led her hands and her hands led her heart. She now knows the answers.
But I still don’t. My fingers are frantically fumbling for any tools nearby because that’s what they know to do when things are unclear and unknown. We are seekers who know that the work will faithfully reveal the answers to us. And sometimes, the answer is the path itself, and the work leads us up to resting points where we can sit quietly with our breath. But at times, the chest expands far too wide with the Whys and the Hows and it's too broad to contain. And the words get lost in this cavernous chamber. And these eyes were not made to see in the dark all of the time. But these hands were. So I extend my arms until my fingertips scrape against some rough, gritty, perceived boundary so that I can feel where I am again.
I sit with heavy shoulders and a weakened spine that cradles these saturated lungs while I taste the savory tears caught between my lips. The birds squawk articulately. We know they mourn with us. They unfurl our sorrows toward the firmament, but I'm not sure why. This grief won't dissolve. But I do trust those ravens. They know her well.
Clusters of words wrap hastily around loose sketches. Knotted thoughts. Entangled writings that will take order in some form, at some time, hopefully in this life. Emotions that have been given names that can't nearly encompass the density of what they truly are. Remembering the umber mourning doves who nested on our terrace last spring, whose fledglings realized power in their wings and left us. I wish they would have stayed longer so that we could continue watch them grow and build. They still visit us from time to time.
Oh, Belle. I can still feel you here. Since your passing, the your wings have been hanging freely from my ears, their comforting weight sinking my heels a little deeper into earth wherein we so often found our balance. Or something close to balance. I waited for them to whisper verse to me, and they did.
You laughed easily and loved life fully. You revered your time here. You honored the breathing, heaving world around you. And the earth loved you as it would latch onto your heels when you’d wander into the cathedrals that have been built with confident gesture and ever unfolding limbs, continually reaching for light. We’ve learned so much from them, haven’t we?
These wings. And the birds that they carry.
Their grace, their reverence for the sun, their humble homes and their diligence in building and rebuilding their sanctuaries. From season to season, putting to use the gifts that they have been given as one of nature’s most magnificent architects. We have strived to be like them—putting in that wholehearted work to construct that thing that will shelter our loved ones. That thing that will quicken our hearts. Those things that keep us optimistic… because what is more optimistic than believing that something can be made from a something that does not yet exist, and believing in that which brings them forth into the light so that we can see them? Those things that help us shed the detritus of life from our souls. Our life’s work-- to gather it all up, and reintroduce them with our hands and mouths in ways that brings more meaning, light, and understanding to our world.
My hands remember your studio. The puddles of silver and hue. The stones that have travelled from all over this earth to find its way to your palms. Seeing your fluid hand in those intimate paintings made me want to reintroduce myself to them again. It had been months, maybe even years. (It’s difficult to gauge time these days. It might have always been that way for us. “I’ll just finish up this bird’s wing” turns into gessoing a fresh canvas because the palette we’ve mixed for that single wing surely needs its own canvas!)
This word has been wafting toward me consistently over the past week:
It’s been presenting itself in moments unexpected, and I’ve managed to capture it. I have kept it pressed up against my sternum so that it can stand face to face with Heart to prepare for the search. I’ve purchased four gold pens and my stack of gold leaf eagerly sits on the corner of the drawing table.
[Some things I learned about gold: Gold is pure. It cannot be mixed with other metals. In its purest form, it is dense and soft. It’s elemental symbol, Au, derives from the Latin word aurum, which means “shining dawn”, whose ancestor is the Proto-Indo-European*h₂é-h₂us-o-, meaning "glow".] Oh, Belle, you are the shining dawn. Your light glows still in the things and people that you've left behind, as does the density to your words and the softness of your heart.
I wish you would have stayed longer last night.
She came to me in a dream, and only stayed long enough to declare her new name. Phi. (Spelled Phi, but pronounced to rhyme with “free”.)
The Golden Ratio.
Phi. The Fibonacci sequence. This proportion that appears in countless patterns in nature, reminding us that in her elegant imperfections, she is indeed perfect. This sequence that was and is believed by artists to attend to that which is aesthetically pleasing. Some know it as universal law.
You will ever be a part of this ephemeral sequence that we must still tread through. But we will have our dreams. Meet us there. Tell us the secrets of eternity. Tell us about these things you now know.
Hand in hand, we shall come forth as gold.