The Lady’s Canticle
In this time of schism, rent as it is with bitterness, sorrow, and grief, what I want to write about often seems irrelevant. I’m a dinosaur. An anachronism.
But write I will, and for the sheer joy of it. Sometimes it’s the most fragile thing, a fragment of memory, a shard of insight, that throws a life preserver into the ocean of sorrow in my head and around me, and bears witness that I’m still standing submerged, chest deep, in the river of love.
I’m an internationally recognized teacher of a spiritual understanding that conceives of God as a formless energy.
But, with the world a cacophony of chaos, I reach for forms, images of the Divine that comforted me as a child. Great Mary, the most Blessed Mother. Mary Magdalene, the beloved of Jesus. I won’t have any of that penitent prostitute bullshit.
In recent months, I’ve excavated beautiful images of the Divine Feminine, scraping away the patriarchal excrement that buried them and stripping off the whitewash that diminished their ancient wisdom and transcendent power.
“Can I please hear the Lady?” I said to Aunt Mary. This request was a ritual whenever I visited my aunt’s Tudor-style bungalow on the tree-lined boulevard near Detroit.
Aunt Mary and her husband, Uncle Joe, smelled old. Their house smelled old. The air was stale with the signature stinky cigars that hung from the corner of Uncle Joe’s bluish-red lips, clamped in his perpetual grimace. They did not have children and as an eight-year-old, I didn’t fit easily into the spick and span, formal energy of their home.
The Lady rested high atop a mahogany credenza, out of the reach of children’s hands. The hutch held Aunt Mary’s wedding gift china and her best crystal glassware.
About ten inches tall, the Lady was plated gold. Delicate and filigreed, she sat on a throne and a halo of spiked rays and stars radiated from behind her crown, typical of many images of Our Lady of Mercy. I believed she emigrated from Poland with my grandmother. That alone made her special. My grandmother was devoted to the Blessed Mother, especially the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Aunt Mary, a petite woman with a cap of short, pin-curled salt and pepper hair, stretched her full length on tiptoes, reached, and, with reverence, lifted the lady off the tall cabinet. Her manner left no doubt that the Lady was special. She tipped her over and twisted the gold crank of the music box hidden underneath her skirts. I held my breath as Aunt Mary righted the Lady and placed her on the gleaming dining room table.
The next millisecond was pregnant. Expectant. Like that moment in the concert hall when the lights dim, the audience hushes, the conductor raises her baton and the instruments rise up in the hands of their musician lovers, poised to give themselves over to song. The first note sounds and the world collapses.
The Lady’s Ave Maria twinkled. I don’t know if it was the version by Schubert or Bach. It doesn’t matter.
As the pins of the music box vibrated, I was transfixed, raptured into a world of love and devotion. A place of wild feeling, it was earthy like a river tumbling over rocks, mystical like the fine mists shrouding a lake, and deep like the echoing of water in a holy well.
Prim-faced and kind-eyed, Aunt Mary stood guard as I listened, watching me from behind wire-rimmed glasses. Indulgent and patient, she seemed to respect the intense nature of these moments.
She smiled and wagged her finger. “You can look at her, but don’t touch,” she said. When she left the room, I disobeyed and traced the fine, thin spikes that formed the Lady’s halo. I liked the way they pinged against my fingers.
The Lost Lady
As Aunt Mary grew older, was divorced, and moved to a senior community, I completed degrees, got married, had a child, and moved to West Virginia. When I could, I visited her. I longed to ask if she would please leave me the Lady when she died. I didn’t.
I had cousins who lived close to Aunt Mary and tended to her needs as she grew older. Because of their attentiveness to her, I thought that they deserved the gift of the Lady more than I did. I don’t know what happened to her.
Recently, I heard a writing expert counsel that it’s important to “notice what you notice” and to tell the story about it, because it’s your soul speaking.
Some of our souls may speak of a formless spiritual intelligence at the source of the universe. Some may speak of the Lord of the Worlds. Some may speak of the Creator, Lawgiver and Judge. Some may speak of the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Some may speak of the Great Spirit and the Beauty Way. There are many languages.
The Lady’s Language
If the soul’s language drops us to our knees and compels us, requires us to sing of love, mercy, compassion, and kindness, it is on pitch.
Mine sings of she who animates. She who shoots the blade of grass from the dirt. She who towers over me in the erect phallic palm tree that splays her fanned fronds into a naked sky. She who inhabits my body, conscious of and in wonder of, her world, her creation, in all its beautiful forms.
I wonder what will happen if I tell the truth as my soul hears it – that the Lady, the Divine Feminine, the embodiment of wisdom forming our bodies and her body, our planet, can comfort and light the way out of the mess we’re in. The Great Mother would not leave us without comfort and answers.
Copyright 2020, Linda Sandel Pettit, Ed.D.
Photo: Courtesy of iStockPhoto
Dr. Linda Sandel Pettit, a priestess-at-heart and retired counseling psychologist, can be found at www.thedrspettit.com. Linda loves putting her intuitive nature, spiritual understanding and clinical experience in service to others. She is available for both short and longer-term on-line consultations. For information about fees and packages, visit BOOK NOW. For more information or fee assistance, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.