Thursday, September 16, 2010

Private Journal at Lindisfarne

Private Journal

I’m here—on the “Holy Island” of Lindisfarne staying at the room Sophie reserved for herself at the Christian Retreat Center, while she’s at the hospital on the main-land. This is too strange. There’s a Celtic Cross-Mandala hanging above the wooden writing table in my little monk's cell here, and I can e see the white-capped waves of the ocean through the diamond leaded glass windows. But— it all feels like some lovely yet horrid dream. This is not the way I would have wanted to visit this mystical place…I should have been traveling with Sophie, not alone, not this way—and not with Alistair in the next room.

The plane from Boston landed early this morning, and I didn’t get to the hospital till noon. Sophie was conscious although looking exhausted—who wouldn’t be after a concussion? And her right arm was hurting her— the monk from the abbey who pulled her out of the water twisted it slightly—he must have been very strong to be able to carry her to the mainland, and then—what a dear-- he carried her on foot, straight-way to the hospital! They say he’s been living here on Lindisfarne for thirty years.

Sophie managed a shy smile when I entered her room. As I hugged her body my eyes filled with tears…tears of the fear and guilt of a mother who hadn’t saved her daughter. Instead, Sophie had to console me, telling me she was fine, really fine, but she didn’t look fine. And I didn’t even notice at first that Alistair was already sitting there, leaning over with his head in his hands, a slight distance from her bed. Talk about strange…what a way for Sophie to see her parents together again after five years! Alistair’s hair looked wispier and grayer, and he didn’t seem as put-together as he used to look, but he still had the Irish cap in his lap…the one I gave to him the year before we separated. My heart went out to him—and then pulled back as I struggled to find words to normalize this painful reunion.

Alistair had always been good with quick words, with his Gemini Moon and Sagittarius Rising, but all his Gemini “airiness” and Sagittarian self-confidence was overshadowed by the detached coolness often expressed by his Aquarius Sun. When I was ill, and going through menopause, he hadn’t known how to be there for me. The day I told him I had to drive to Boston to find out definitively whether I had breast cancer or not, he said he didn't want to "support me in my fear" as this was my drama, not his. A friend went with me instead, as I found out I was not a victim of cancer, but of a broken heart. I left Alistair soon after that day, and it's now been five years. No divorce, but little connection, except through Sophie. He moved to Ojai, California, to the Krishnamurti Center there, and I opened my astrology office in the historic section of Newport, Rhode Island.

We hadn’t been able to listen to each other,but now here we were again, feeling everything, and neither of us had any words. My Libra nature couldn’t balance or harmonize anything, in fact, it felt like the weirdness factor had just gone off the charts. There was no way to make this look normal. Here we were: Isabelle, the astrologer meets again with Alistair, the Buddhist-Krishnamurti-ite, over the bedside of their Christian fundamentalist daughter who’s apparently had a near-death experience.

“Anyone for tea?” the nurse sprightly asked as she rushed into the room with her request for the tradition of British civility--we all burst into laughter. It felt so sweet for a moment, and I swear the caffeine in the pot of Earl Gray tea felt like a small miracle.

As we fumbled around talking as “normal” as possible it seemed as if Sophie was becoming more and more pleased that we were both there. She had hated our separation, never understood it, and—for a moment I imagined this as a grand strategy to reunite us. Sophie was a bright, moody, and sometimes manipulative Scorpio—I’d never say that to her or to my Scorpio student, dear Kendra! But after our tea and awkward conversation of "basic facts that made no sense"-- Sophie convinced us that she was doing well enough, and that Alistair and I should go and get some rest—and that we should both stay out on the island for a few days since we had come so far! It made about as much sense as everything else, so we agreed and left together.

As if traveling 4000 miles to see your near-drowned daughter and ex-husband wasn’t weird enough, here’s where I lost my mind! When we got back to the place where we could have driven out to the island, we found we had missed the opportunity to get there as the tides had covered the road and were coming in fast, so we were told we were going to have to wait till the next morning.

 "Well,"I said to Alistair, "Let’s walk out together and see what Sophie was trying to do…on her pilgrimage and all that...." So we began walking around in the cold inlet with our pants rolled up, and we could feel the powerful surge of the waters rushing around our legs and the pebbly sands trying to bury our feet. What were we doing? Trying to relive her experience?

Suddenly I felt Alistair's hand in mine--"Isabelle, I don't think our story is over, yet." His voice was a whisper, tentative, almost questioning. I didn't know what he was talking about at first, but as I looked up I could see tears in his eyes. I squeezed his hand, and stared down at the swirling waters around my feet. I wondered: how does one let go of five years of separation? Does forgiveness happen in an instant? And so we stood there looking like a distant portrait of two children holding hands in the ocean-- till finally someone started yelling at us and summoned us back to shore. We pleaded with them till they took us by a small boat to our shelter on the island….. and now I sit at this desk, writing in my journal, trying to make sense of things…with Alistair in the next room to me….each in our own monk’s cell.

I am shocked that we are all “feeling together” again. When Alistair and I separated, we used to talk about his inability to know what he was feeling and express it—or even to listen with his heart instead of his head. Alistair’s South Node in the pragmatic sign of Capricorn and North Node in Cancer, would have had a hard time embracing the emotionality/sensitivity in the sign Cancer. He was very much a left-brain man, as a craftsman and arm-chair philosopher, but me? Since when is a Libra woman with an Aries Moon, such a “feeler” anyway? —I’m more of a spiritual warrior if anything. Even if my Sun in Libra conjuncts Neptune, it doesn’t mean I’m so empathic or freed from my own illusions. Hmph! And my South Node in Scorpio would get sucked into dark dramas at times, and forget the healing pull and serentiy of my Taurus North Node.

Well, writing seems to help sort it all out…. or does it? I feel dizzy with shifting sands, silence…fear. How can I write Kendra about this? How do I keep up my Wise Woman persona with her when my world is dissolving and shifting too rapidly for words? I’m exhausted. Sleep calls....

1 comment:

Adria said...

Am liking Isabelle's analysis of folks' feelings and behaviors through the lens of astrology. Also appreciate this latest turn of plot.