Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Walhydra says farewell

No. Not to you, Dear Readers.

To all those millions of souls who have left us during the past year.

As Walhydra predicted earlier this month, she and hubby Jim did have four gay friends over for a Dumb Supper two nights ago.

Jim did his usual, marvelous "natural-born chef" routine, with butternut squash bisque, beef bourguignon and rice, broccoli polonaise and his own "secret recipe" maple walnut gingerbread, washed down with a Burgundy pinot noir and coffee. They set extra places for the Dear Departed—including a dish of "dessert" for Miso the Cat.

They spoke of Floyd (aka Mother), of Jim's Dad, of Miso. Of other family and friends, dead or parted by the years. They didn't dwell on death, but they recognized it.

Today, Walhydra wore to work her traditional Samhain garb: the black cotton crinkle cloth shirt, the labradorite pendant carving of a native Labradorite. She left the raven-headed walking stick at home, for fear of misplacing it.

She chuckled that all her librarian colleagues spontaneously chose plain black as well—though she wasn't sure about the one with the clerical collar or other in the nun's habit.

Walhydra recognizes that this Eve of All Hallows has indeed become a high holy day for her. As the days shorten, her body's attunement with the seasons reminds her of her own mortality. She watches her garden plants retreat. She watches her parents shrinking into their eighties. She notes the shimmering thinness of the world at twilight.

And she realizes—sans her usually sardonic humor—how seriously she takes the reality of death.

Walhydra doesn't mind the children's playfulness of trick-or-treat and silly costumes—or even the silly playfulness of the adults. But it troubles her a bit that the play has come to mask so completely the reality of death in our sanitary 21st century America.

We entertain our selves with death: comic death, action movie death, crime show death.

But we don't want to know about real death, war death, genocidal death, infant and child death.

Walhydra has become horrified at the way the media and political powers-that-be distract and titillate their audiences with Puritanical rants against "Halloween Vixens," while ignoring the thousands of global AIDS deaths which could have been prevented by informed condom use.

She knows what this dodge is all about, though. We are a people who really fear death. We fear it so much we don't even want to acknowledge that it exists.

Except as a Hollywood fantasy, in which heroes rebound from backbreaking falls to run and fight some more. Except as something that happens in the news (is it real or just “reality TV”?) to images of people in other countries...or of other sexualities, other religions, classes, races.

Except as something we can count—or refuse to count—and can weigh as a quantity to avenge or to exact in vengeance.

Walhydra doesn't feel like joking tonight, because she knows too much.

Because we, the so-called human race, have killed too many people this past year through violence or neglect.

In every case, she knows, we have killed because we have decided that our illusory safety is more important than those lives. Our illusory comfort and prosperity, our illusory religious and political superiority.

Because of our illusion that there is not enough to go around, which means we have the right to take and protect what we claim as ours.

Walhydra doesn't know how many people she herself has killed this past year with her careless comfort, but she knows the blood is on her hands.

However, Walhydra knows something else.

She knows that Mother Earth does not bring a soul into incarnation which She cannot feed and clothe and house and keep whole and loved. The only way one child goes without is that another has taken more than her share. The only reason one child leaves another in lack or loss or suffering is that she fears losing something of what she has.

Better still, Walhydra knows what her master, Jesus, taught her: That death is just something that happens to everyone.

Not a punishment for sin or fallenness. Not a separation either from loved ones or from Mother-Father God. Just a part of being a living creature.

That means dying—even just dying to something she wants, or to something she doesn’t want to share or to give up—is merely something that happens. Not a tragedy, a loss, a doom. It may be unpleasant, even extremely unpleasant. But merely something that happens.

And trying to avoid death—even if it’s just turning aside from a street person because she fears sharing that person’s lostness—is killing.

Walhydra definitely knows what Jesus meant by “being a slave to death.”

She also knows that the “freedom from death” Jesus shared and shares with his friends isn’t about not dying. It’s about not fearing.

So, tonight, Walhydra can chuckle at the trick-or-treat and costumes, the play-acting scariness, and so on.

But she directs her real laughter—her deep, sardonic witchy cackle—at the foolish, human way we make death into some ghoulish Other which will try to steal us. Worse, the way we make death into a barrier, a weapon, to hold up between ourselves and those others whom we fear will steal from us.

The only real death is the separation we impose between ourselves and others when we fear losing out to them.

Yet when we welcome them to our table, there is always enough.

And so it is. Bless├Ęd Be.


Free said...


Holloween is a time to honor the dead. And to remember that we will be joining them, no matter what our politics or faith practices.

Thanks for a connecting the dots so clearly about the smoke and mirrors world we live in.

When people ask me what my favorite horror show is, I say "The Evening News".

Anonymous said...

A boy was crying and shouting before his father's coffin, saying: "Father! They are taking you to a place where nothing covers the floors. There is no light, no food; no door nor helpful neighbour ..." Joha, alarmed since the description seemed to fit, called out to his own father: "Respected Parent, by Allah, they are taking him to our house!"
Rumi in The Way of the Sufi

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite pieces yet!

Anonymous said...

When did Waltrot & Hydrant merge? They're a good combination!
Profound and funny...... loved it.

Anonymous said...

Waltrot & Hydrant birthed Walhydra--by parthenogenesis, of course--back in 1995, when they wanted a single voice to do comic ranting for the Crone Thread Digest.

She's been ranting ever since.