Two days later, I made a special pilgrimage down to the River. She is my Grandmother---eternal, ancient, and...very nearby. I knew it would feel good to take rose petals to Her, but I never could have anticipated what She had in store...
I have a "secret" spot on the riverbank...but when I arrived there today, there were 3 young girls there, playing.
One of them said to the other, "Why are you running?" As I leaned my bike on the blackberry vines, I called out in agreement, "Yes, it's true...you don't have to run. I'm not going to bother you." Still, they ran.
I knew why they ran. I had run for the same reasons, from men...and other boys whose intent had been to harm. They had learned early in life to keep clear and keep safe. But I think maybe today, they learned something that perhaps no one else has ever ventured to share...
I was releasing the first handful of rose petals onto the water when I heard a rustling on the bank. I turned to look, carefully keeping my balance by holding to the branches of the leaning tree that I had used to walk out over the surface of the water. There were two of the little girls there, staring at me.
They just stood there, silently, as the first petals fell to the river. And so I said to them, "I'm offering rose petals to the river. I have some more. Do you want to give some to the water?"
"Yes," said the one little girl without hesitation--the same one who had told her friend she didn't have to run when I first appeared.
And so gently, cautiously, carefully keeping our balance, we met at the center of the horizontal tree, and I gave them the rose petals. Then, I retreated to my spot further out on the tree, to give them space, and I watched.
One by one, they released the petals. I told them, "See how they make a pathway down the river?" They nodded. "Can you believe that those rose petals will go all the way to the ocean?" (Their eyes got wider.) "Yeah," I told them, "This river goes to the Mississippi, and then to the Gulf of Mexico, and then to the Atlantic Ocean!"
Next thing I knew, one was saying to the other, "Come on! Let's go run down the river and follow the petals." With that, I was alone again, at my secret spot by the river which sustains me.
I was surprised to hear the trickle of the water along the banks--even all the way from the opposite side. Our river runs alongside an Interstate. I used to be disenchanted to go there because the sounds of Humanity were too dominant, and I couldn't enjoy the river. Now, magically, I had come to learn how to feel and know the Silence amidst the storm.
The Enchantment Ceremony was deeply empowering for those who attended. Remarkably, in spite of the Facebook "premonition" that only 3 men were going, there were about a DOZEN men there--almost as many as there were women! The ceremony was deeply powerful and stirringly beautiful.
Much as I had expected, I was challenged during the ceremony by words such as "gentlemen". My gender role has always been confusing. I was called "sissy" and "faggot" before I even knew what the words meant. In the recent years of my life, I've made friends with beautiful beings who identify as neither "man" nor "woman". I felt a longing for the day when the life-paths of people like us are more fully integrated and understood by our close circles of friends, let alone society as a whole...but I TRANSCENDED all of that, in order to experience what it would be like to fully honor people who identify as WOMAN. I gave my grievances to the Earth and to the river, so that I could forgive the blind spots of human beings, and fully show up here, now.
It was worth it. I so cherished the opportunity, and I feel that what happened Thursday has set something in motion which will deeply influence my life's path. It opened a gateway for the river to flow. Thank you, Monique (the creator and facilitator of this beautiful ceremony), thank you, beautiful women...and thank you, men and androgynous-gender-folk who showed up in such a big way. For those who've read this far--or even quickly scanned--thank you for reading.
Rose-Petal Kisses and Sweet Blessings.