Heroic Journeys…Flowers for Lia
March 29, 2019
I went to ancient Aptera this morning. Again, I was blessed to be alone in my favorite, sacred spot. I was there to do a ritual of gratitude for the land of Crete. Offering appreciation for holding me, welcoming me, keeping me safe and for the ogres who, with hindsight (and a ton of work) had been transformed, in my heart, into allies. I started with this mission for the day. This was my only agenda. I went with divine intention. I had a plan. I brought things to use for my ceremony. I was ready. And…
Passing through a small village…alone, enjoying the solitude, I heard: “You need to take flowers for Lia.” “I’ll do that another time”, I said to the irritating voice in my head. “I have plenty to do for today”.
“Take flowers for Lia. Today.”
An argument ensued…back and forth as I drove. Because I am 70 and have experienced the results of not listening to that “little voice” inside me…I decided to buy flowers for Lia at the garden center in the village. Besides…the voice really was not all that little.
The women in the garden shop gave me 3 yellow flowers and one white. Yellow was Lia’s favorite. They began wrapping them in plastic with ribbon but stopped when I told them, in my limited Greek, the reason for them and that I would be leaving them on the land. I wasn’t sure they understood me, but they quietly rewrapped them in tissue, taking out the requisite fern, replacing it with something delicate and exotic. The older woman took my hand when she handed them to me and then put her hand on her heart and smiled, nodding sadly. She understood. I was touched.
At Aptera, walking the dirt path through olive groves, I heard nothing but the familiar, tinkle of a goat bell, insects buzzing in the heat between wildflowers and a sigh of gentle breeze. I smelled damp grass, fresh air and dung.
In the distance, up the ridge, an elderly woman was bent in half, picking wild greens…cloth bag hanging from her hip…so far away she seemed tiny. As I watched she stood up and looked my way, hand across brows, blocking the sun. We looked at each other for a bit. No waving. Just seeing. Simply seeing.
I sat for a time on a piece of toppled pillar…still…like the little green lizard sitting next to me on her stone. Silent companions taking in the sun. Each of us respecting the space of the other. Side by side.
In the quiet, under the silence, I heard so much then…birds, all kinds, each singing their individual songs in a lovely lack of harmony; bees humming through their business of collecting nectar; and from far away in the distance the faint sweet sound of children laughing. Crete healing, guiding and helping me. I respectfully, silently completed my ritual of gratitude for this healing place.
And…I had brought flowers for Lia. The one we lost. I brought yellow ranunculus and one white rose. I did a ritual for her then, dropping the flowers into a deep hollow pillar, in gratitude for her life.
I was allowing grief to flow, tears streaming silently down my face, shoulders shaking with loss, when I heard a woman calling for her friend: “Maria! Maria!”, louder and louder, looking all around, until she noticed me. She bent down, stopped calling… gathered more greens into her apron. It was time for me to go then. My lizard had already left for home or hunting.
As I stood, gathering my things, the lady began calling to her friend again. Searching. I pointed her out, up above us and far away, waving in our direction…waving big…whole body bending back and forth with arm extended, high above her head. The woman near me thanked me and I greeted her in the polite Cretan way.
This way of greeting makes me smile. I say: “Hello. How are you doing?” She responds: “I am good. Are you good? Great I am glad.” Person number one never has the chance to respond. It is assumed that you are great. Then she realized I was crying. Her eyes turned questioning.
I told her in my limited Greek that I had lost a daughter. I didn’t explain that Lia was not my biological child. My heart did not know the difference. I could not have loved her more. I was her fairy godmother too…her words. I knew her before she was born. I helped raise her. She was claimed by my mother’s heart which broke into pieces when she left us. She and I had made a serious pact that I would take her to Crete with me. She didn’t make it. I brought her with me today in the way that I could.
All this had been in my heart as I let the lady tell me she was glad I was great…until she saw my tears. Then she stopped. She did not blink. She did not look away. She simply stood in front of me. Close to me.
She said something like: “Yes. Life is brutal and yet here we are. Look now. See where you are. Look at this sky. Look and see these mountains. The White Mountains. They are powerful. Love is powerful. We are together. We are here. Now.”
She spoke simply, in a matter of fact tone and with a bit of a smile. I knew, and she knew that I did, that she had suffered too. And…we stood there silently, looking at each other like dear old friends, with understanding and compassion and …humor…face to face, just smiling at each other…tears falling on two faces. No regrets. Simple truth of living. Raw feelings showing and shared. The lessons we had learned unspoken.
She stepped forward, took my shoulders, pulled me to her and kissed both my cheeks. We turned and walked away from each other.
Me...so glad I had listened to the little voice. Me…grateful, once again, for so many gifts.