UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Spirit shines through

Epiphany is the season to contemplate the piercing of the ordinary

By Carolyn Pogue


A few days after the first anniversary of my daughter Kathryn’s death, I still felt stripped of my skin. I had no protection against the pain of her bewildering life and loss. Thank God for Bill, always steady, always there, not saying much, but listening, listening. Sometimes, he listened to words, sometimes to weeping, and other times to the silence. I was wide open to the Spirit during that period. Being stripped, of course, is when Spirit can get through. Not when we’re all busy being important, plugging in and rushing around. No. There needs to be a crack for the light to shine through.

We were camping. We had lingered at Ghost Ranch near Abiqiui, New Mexico because we loved it so. Loved the quiet, the light, the colours of Earth. It seemed to be a holy place. One morning, we hiked up a box canyon, climbed a great hill and wandered around on the top, which was relatively flat. Ravens circled overhead. I had been so surprised to find them there, and delighted. I love ravens, having met them living in Yellowknife. I admire their beauty, their humour, their resilience and ability to cooperate. This morning, I was simply looking around. In the distance, I could see The Pedernal Mountain, which is painted by every artist who visits the area, it seems. It certainly catches your attention. Bill had wandered off, looking for dinosaur gizzard stones most likely (he did find one), so he wasn’t beside me when I saw what I saw.

As the sun rose higher, it suddenly lit up a rock formation — a hoodoo, I suppose. It took my breath away. It looked like a woman. Maybe Mother Mary. Maybe Mother Earth. Maybe they are one and the same, I don’t know. But there she was as clear as anything bending slightly and cradling someone very tenderly. I assumed it was a baby, but maybe it was a planet. Was it Earth? Was she Gaia or the Great Mother Goddess? The sun continued to climb, of course, and I saw this in a twinkling — the shapes and shadows were changing fast.

In those days, I still smoked, so I dumped the cigarettes on the ground, lit matches frantically and drew with the blackened match head on the cigarette paper. I wanted to remember seeing this amazing sight. The sun continued its morning climb, and soon the rock formation looked like, well, a pretty rock formation. I couldn’t see Mother Mary anymore. Whoever she was, she had slid back into the landscape. Try as I might, I could not see her.

The next morning, I took my sketch book and pencil crayons, and we set out walking up the same path. This time, Bill stayed with me to watch. And lo and behold, she appeared again. Beautiful. I sketched her and gave thanks for the wonder of it all. The painting that resulted is now in a silver frame. It hangs above the place where I pray in the morning. The Pedernal Mountain is in the background; She is in the foreground. It's called, “The Earth as I saw Her ~ July 25, 1994 9:15 a.m.”  

I believe that there are seasons when the veil is thin between worlds. I have learned this from Celts, Maritimers, Mexicans, First Nations Elders and Christians who follow the ancient church calendar. And, I have also seen this in the birthing room and at the death bed. For me, Epiphany is the season to contemplate the piercing of the ordinary — when light shines through the cracks.


Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

A perfect send-off

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: My Year of Living Spiritually

by Observer Staff

Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.

Promotional Image

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

October 2017

A tale of two cancers

by Catherine Gordon

One year after the writer discovered she had breast cancer, her sister in California received the same diagnosis. They both recovered, but their experiences were worlds apart.

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

November 2017

Grey matter

by Trisha Elliott

Is consciousness just a function of the brain — or something more?

Promotional Image