Angels And Truth

I have been drawing angels. After months of wrestling winged beings out of wire, I assembled a stack of cotton-based typing paper and went to my drawing table with brush in hand and angels on my mind. It had been some time and the weight of the ink-dipped brush was unfamiliar. My initial strokes barely marked the page at first, then the line was too heavy – too glaring a black to evoke a spiritual being. In the beginning was the wing. Wing followed wing onto the waiting page. In the air around my seated form the angelic voice of Susan Boyle provided a rhythmic accompaniment, and my hand danced the dance that my body was too still to dance. I prayed as I drew and the pages  gathered in drifts upon the floor.  Susan’s song had slipped into silence by the time the angel I sought flowed forth from my brush. As I gazed at the effortless lines, I gave thanks for the gift, then woke to the ache of my protesting knees and thought about lunch.

Later in the day, I sifted through the discarded pages and found a few that came close to pleasing my more relaxed perceptions. On several, the angel was joined by a child, and she appeared to be teaching, guiding, or protecting the child.  The angel seemed less other-worldly than my first choice; there was something almost human about the connection between the two, and something mysterious about my own participation in this dance.

I find myself thinking of my mother – and the dance we danced in one another’s company for nearly fiftly years. I sometimes think that my mother was an essential ingredient in my life as a dancer. When she died, some part of me died with her. I felt lost upon the huge stage that we had envisioned together. When I danced it seemed that I danced with half of a heart, and that half was far too fragile to brave the world I had dreamed of braving. As often as not, when I faced my daily practice, tears flowed on the breath that should have brought movement. With my mama gone, where was the dancer?

Oh, I still danced. With an audience present, the dancer came forth like magic and pleased the expectant ones. The teacher, too, inspired and guided the ones who still felt the effect of an earlier momentum. She carried on for several years, until menopause made pretending nearly impossible. Teachers should never weep in front of their students, nor should they reveal their vulnerability to those who stay after class wanting more. Needless to say, I couldn’t carry on forever with half a heart and that half broken and childishly seeking comfort in all the wrong  places. It was time to withdraw and remember who I was.

Not surprisingly, I began to write down my story. I wrote in the present as I had always danced, and through words relived the first fifty years of my life. The process may or may not have been healing in effect, but it certainly gave me an excuse to set up the boundaries I needed in order to grieve my mother’s passing out of my life. I learned to live with myself – to become my own partner, so to speak, and perhaps my heart grew into a wholeness of its own. I may be confused at times by the shifting desires of my newly made heart. It’s longings are far more modest than the heart I shared with Mama. No big dreams of fame and fortune, and certainly no obligation to save the world – except for the microcosmus within myself. Oh sure… The child my mother guided onto the path called dance still reaches out at times for the hand that isn’t there. She looks around and wonders where the old life went. The word “Mama” slips involuntarily from my lips like a tiny wail. But these days I know that I am the child’s best comforter, and, possibly, I manage a much more thorough embrace of my small sad self than my weary, overtaxed mother ever managed. And the child doesn’t have to dance to win anybody’s love. I love her as she is – exactly as she is…


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7 Responses to “Angels And Truth”

  1. Kendall Says:

    You are drawing/dancing with ink again. How wonderful. As you cry and mourn and cheer and embrace yourself, I follow. My only word of argument is that the hand you reach for IS there. Look at the second picture. There it is. And although the hand is invisible in the first, transcendent picture, it is there. The first angel’s posture reminds me of you, dancing Manfred so many years ago–when the organ music starts, that moment. You. Soaring. And I, transfixed and enraptured, watching you soar.

  2. Leif Says:

    Thank you, Kendall. Of course, the hand is there. The drawings show what is real. The words were simply a free exploration of the moment. Just let them go where they would, as the drawings did yesterday. I love it that the first angel’s posture took you back to the studio over Turci’s and my dancing of Manfred. Talk about audacious. I remember wanting to look the part of the young man on his quest for redemption. I rolled my long hair under to look like a pageboy and wore a short white tunic. Back then I had
    no reservations about dancing to long symphonic music. I simply did it. I am so thankful that you recall my soaring.

  3. Christopher Says:

    I am listening contentedly, Leif, as you remember your mother. I came late, too late to have met her, and just listened to her writing, including her letters to you. But just about any scrap at all, even a diary entry, was enough to kindle my love and admiration: both for her, and for the life around her. Few have ever been so good at turning pain into joy. I know that both you and Kendall, in different ways, helped her do that.

  4. Leif Says:

    Oh, Christopher… I am glad that you get something from my ponderings. I could do better justice to Mama if I simply wrote a tribute. Perhaps I shall.

  5. brian Says:

    thank you for this piece of your inner world, Leif… with all the immersion i was allowed – privileged and honored for the view – this only adds to the beautiful farrago of lives i have come to love intertwined in all ways human. hope you are well. ~ brian

    P. S. – please do write a tribute to her 🙂

  6. leiflife Says:

    Dear Brian, how lovely to hear from you again. Your words are so you – so deeply expressed. Makes me glad to have been brave in sharing my inner world. Thank you…

    I think the tribute is coming…

  7. brian Says:

    If you do a tribute toward the goal of publishing (or not), allow me the glimpses of what you do as they come – and to maybe help add my perceptions to it all for your personal consumption. Please email me as I do not have your email address. I would like to directly correspond. Best of my heart to you, Mary, Billy, and Johnny. ~ brian

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