The Cave Song

I found myself poised at the mouth of a cave that emitted a low, beckoning song. I looked behind me at the mess of harvested fields and tangled forests, and the chill of solitude swept through my bones. Craving warmth, craving respite from slaying my own dragons, I stepped inside the cave and measured my footsteps by the rhythm of the cave’s welcoming song.

What struck me most about the cave song was how closely it resembled the song of my heart. As my fingers sought the cool, damp stone of the cave’s walls and the song ribboned around me, I was gripped with creeping recollection. There had been times when the pain of betrayal, the sting of rejection, or the abrupt brush of dismissal had forced me under blankets or flinging arms wide to the sea, to draw in and out of myself and let salt air or quilted comfort rock me with the steady thrumming of my very own dear soul.

And now this song, a crescendoing lure that began at the roots of my heart and its memories of oneness, brought me down deeper and darker into the cave’s serpentine throat.

My body responded to them before my head could comprehend that I wasn’t alone. Goosebumps prickled my skin and the hair on my arms rose as if blown on by cold air. I knew then, as my hand met flesh instead of stone wall that there were others like me, groping in darkness for something other than our own existence, our minuscule perceptions. As we walked in silence, I wondered if they could hear the same song, if the beating drum mimicked their hearts, if the chords struck and otherworldly undulations mirrored their hidden souls.

Crackling light spilled suddenly covering black with gold and the twisting tunnels broke open to reveal a hive of rooms electric, pulsing, living. There were all manner of people and creatures glimmering like stars, winged, glowing, dipped in fluorescent light. Once my eyes adjusted to this new brilliance, I explored room after room, feet advancing as if possessed. These people, this species of cave dwellers, roamed and danced and played instruments individually, but moved as if one to a cacophony of sounds.

golden cave man

I was approached then, by a man so beautiful I nearly doubled over with the sudden sharp acknowledgment of loneliness. His eyes burnt with fire and promise and his bare, burnished torso gleamed like the future. Before all logic and consideration we were interlocked, dancing to private unheard symphonies and there was gold dust in my hair, between my fingers, on my eyelashes and resting on my tongue. It tasted like stolen sweetness and my heart song quickened its tempo into a crashing riot of thunder and lightning.

Those eyes, his hands knotted with mine, held me for eternities. In those arms I imagined a warrior and myself a hero’s beauty, my body’s pleasure and relief of handing the sword to someone who would fight for me. He swept me into inner rooms and hidden chambers and showed me secret things and I could see it so clearly: life’s companion threshing wheat and overgrown weeds, making me beautiful and bold and wonderfully, exquisitely held. Held when blankets wore too thin and held when teetering too close to the cliff’s edge. Songs sung in harmony.

Eve’s kingdom for Adam’s kiss.

Lower and lower into the cave’s depths, my hand in his. So deep was I, so drunk on this feeling I rode like a wave, that I didn’t realize until seconds later that he was gone with as little logic and consideration as he had approached me.

His absence left me hollowed and hasty to leave the cave; in that moment of sharp desperation I saw there was no escape. I trudged like a wounded animal seeking my golden man. Flashes and glimpses danced on the walls, and I flung myself at them, only to crash headlong into stone and choke on gold dust lodged in my throat. It was then I heard the sliver of a new song, thin as violin strings and delicate as moth’s wing from the bowels of this new wretchedness. But I was like a lost child, a kitten, easily diverted by baubles and tricks of light.

I followed the shadow dancers and joined the mass of people and creatures like me transfixed by the cave’s seductive song. It was a party like none I had ever seen, a celebration of ourselves and our enjoyment of each other. All around me, those with severed limbs and giant gaping holes like mine flirted, fanned flames, posed in beguiling shapes. I saw then that it was a feast and we were feasting on each other’s souls. And the hole inside me gaped open, vulnerable, grotesque, and demanded instant filling. The cave people found solace in other arms, found ecstasy and delight in mutual mastication.

I saw how easily it was to replace one golden man for another, how with each dance and touch of hand the connection was more shallow, each split less severe. Bees to flowers, all of us were bees and flowers both, the honey and the beast.

All the while we caroused in perfect entrancement, a new song spun itself around me softly, approaching and retreating like a rolling tide. It was just sweet and pure enough, small teaspoons of honey, to give me pause. For brief moments I’d see myself as if from afar and perceive that we were a hurting lot with holes too big and ugly to fill. But the cave song was louder, it was catchy and quick and we were all singing it raucously. And the cave people, the golden men, were easier to see and touch than intangible threads of solitary songs.

How intoxicated I was then, high on the fraternity of cave people, blinded by light so fantastic, by a sense of belonging so exquisite I could scarcely recall what it was like as a lone heroine in a world beyond the cave. How powerful, how cozy, the labyrinthine walls of the cave! How simple it was to join in the song that everyone sings, to pretend I was nothing before singeing moments, incendiary connections with other cave dwellers.

oh to be an illuminated one

The new song told me other things, whispered to me secrets whilst I reeled from one golden man to another. It persisted. I hid and it found me. In a particularly dark moment of gasping recklessness it blasted my eardrums until I could hear nothing else, and the cave dwellers moved as if through water. My eyes were opened and I saw:

The glittering cave world for what it was. Emptiness inhabited by empty people. Chains shackling even the most graceful dancers. A place of shadows and illusions and artificial light. A deep and dark sadness masked in grand robes of idle celebration.

And I fought it, as the dancers coaxed and pleaded for me to return, as hands clasped mine and my heart responded, as I remembered how cold, how gut-punching and lonely it could be outside the cave. But the new song now sung my name like an urgent mantra and my eyes could not help but see the fear and falsity driving every gesture and embrace. I saw a tiny pinprick of light, dimmer but more honest than the cave’s bulbs and flares and my soul leapt before I did and I followed it, the hollow cave song growing less and less enticing.

I emerged from the cave and morning broke, tumbling over me like rain, like rebirth.

… And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! –Matthew 6: 23b

So come out of your cave walking on your hands

And see the world hanging upside down

You can understand dependence

When you know the maker’s hand.

So make your siren’s call

And sing all you want

I will not hear what you have to say.

Because I need freedom now

And I need to know how

To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I’ll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways

I’ll know my name as it’s called again.

— “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons

Your Precious Heart

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her" -- Maya Angelou

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life — Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Lovely,

Your heart is so precious, so soft and so valuable. Protect it from harm. Keep it safe. Matters of the heart are not for the weak, so keep it strong by remembering it is priceless.

This doesn’t necessarily mean going into hiding, making yourself scarce and cold and unavailable. If that’s not your true nature, then you don’t have to assume an unapproachable demeanor to prevent a sick and broken heart.

It just means realizing that you are precious and beautiful beyond measure, and that your heart is full of bright and lovely things. It means your heart is not a freebie, a giveaway, a sold-to-the-highest-bidder (or any bidder–how often is our criteria for getting involved with someone simply that they like and accept us?) You’re infinitely stronger and better than that. Tell yourself this every morning as you wake up and every night as you go to sleep.

Blessed am I among women.

Eat Proverbs for breakfast. Wear your armour. Speak blessing and gratitude.

"Where you invest your love, you invest your life" -- Mumford & Sons

Make no apologies for who you are, for desiring true love and pure romance. Don’t downplay it or hide it or bite your tongue for fear of scaring someone away. The right person will treasure and value these things and will be drawn to them.

Make no apologies for your femininity, for the desires of your heart, for reveling in your softness and sensitivity and genuine tears, for your gold and your shine. These things are precious and should only be treated like the finest of diamonds.

If you get this, if you really get this and truly know who you are, then perhaps you wouldn’t treat your heart like a chipped and stained ceramic mug donated to goodwill to be purchased by those with dirty hands and greedy lips. Perhaps then you wouldn’t ask, “Do you think I’m pretty?” to anyone who walks by and base your worth on their answers or silence. And maybe then clumsy kisses with frogs just wouldn’t seem fit for a queen. And maybe then you’d derail the train (or jump!) before the wreck.

You are gold and diamonds and pearls. Your heart is a handcrafted, lovingly designed and masterfully painted china teacup, a precious gem set behind glass at Tiffany’s and only you have the key.

“How much?” he asks.

“Priceless,” you answer with a wink.

And someday, perhaps you’ll find someone suitable enough to be entrusted with the key. Listen to your heart. It will tell you.

In the meantime, you’re a queen. It’s time to start treating yourself as such.

"Only do what your heart tells you" -- Princess Diana

Beauty of Love

“there is a design, an alignment, a cry of my heart to see the beauty of love as it was made to be”

The purpose of Love is to find a partner we can grow with, through the barriers that keep love at bay, to the centre of the universe that exists inside of us all […] We must work to find God, not to find men. Women must stop trying to be good enough, except for God […] We learn from God that we’re absolutely glorious–in his image, for his sake.

Ultimately, we learn to stop trying so hard. We no longer try to get a guy when we remember we’re only here to bless him. There is a difference between getting a partner and attracting a partner. Getting implies that our hooks work; attracting means that our light is bright and appears like a beacon to one who is meant to see it. When we try to get a partner, we increase our chances of getting the wrong one. Yes, we can hook one perhaps, but a hook in him is a hook in us. We either end up neurotically obsessed, or he figures out it’s a hook and does his own casting off.

[…] Surrender of the partner obsession is a great release and allows much greater room for real love to enter. Be friends with a person. Don’t underestimate the grace of true friendship.

–from A Woman’s Worth, Marianne Williamson. Random House Publishing Group, 1993.

Awake My Soul

Long have you timidly waded

Holding a plank by the shore,

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,

To jump off in the midst of the sea,

Rise again, nod to me, shout,

And laughingly dash with your hair.

–Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer ...

Darling,

Who stole your passion? Who extinguished the light in your eyes? What accumulation of tragic events and dreary circumstances have led to the fire being doused from your soul?

Knees to pavement, you’re shuffling along. Pebbles, sharp gravel, hardened gum stick to your hands and feet. Inhale dust. You smile gratefully, dog-like, when someone throws you a bone. Greedily you scavenge, bury it in dirt. Miser’s glint. Empty shell. Walking dead.

But my dear, you were born with a song. Out of the darkness of the womb you came singing it, eyes flooded with light. As a child your song was your rhythm. Hopscotch jump, twirls in front of mommy’s mirror, bathtime boogies. The song that breathed you into being pumped blood into your soul. Every tiny step, from the trembling first, was a note. Shadow puppet theatre, construction paper jungles, Crayola landscapes. You were all aglow, colourful, glistening with the joy and passion of life.

But life … it got to you, as it does us all. Somewhere in your history, someone told you to please shut up, I’m busy. Sit still. Be quiet. Settle down. An elder’s reprimand or any degree of abuse or the weighty sadness and injustice of the world told you your song was too loud or different or not good enough and you learned to curb it, hide it, change it, destroy it.

Of course you grew up and matured and let go of certain things and became tall and capable and beautiful. But your song dulled into a whisper only sung in the privacy of the shower or scarcely heard above the clink of dishes in the sink. You learned to bow. Acquiesce. Pull your pretty petals back into yourself closer and tighter.

You wake up dreading the day. You wake up to grey skies: is this all there is? and pull the covers over your head. You wake up to blinding sunlight and resent the bouncy step and cheery hellos of everyone around you. You eat and eat but are never full. Exercise is a form of torture. Work is a punch-in, punch-out process. People are a nuisance, traffic is a nightmare, finding joy in anything is not as easy as finding the trouble.

Afraid to make waves, you timidly hold your plank by the shore, mouth zipped shut. Zombie slumber.

And it is costing you everything.

the sun is out, the sky is blue, it's beautiful and so are you

Darling, I will you to wake up and dive in to the big sea of life. Find your song and sing it like a songbird waiting for morning. It will come. It will come. I urge you to open yourself up to the grand orchestra and let it strike a chord right down to your core.

Prophesy to yourself: Dry bones, I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

You have no excuse. Circumstances may have hurt you, events may have beaten you down, people may have crushed your spirit but I say you are still alive. You breathe, you live, and thus, you have a song just waiting to be sung. Your dragging feet can dance. Your shy whispering voice can sing glorious melodies. Your heart can beat and feel excitement and love and joy.

You know this. There are moments, tiny moments, that make your eyes shine and your soul leap within itself and the world slightly shimmers for a second. Extend those seconds into a lifetime of awareness. Let love unveil your passion in abundance, let it illuminate your way through the dredge and darkness like glowing lamps in a forest.

And sing, baby, the song that has always been in your heart.

Animal Crackers (Or, Are All Indie Bands Animal Lovers?)

with the wild wolves around you, in the morning i'll call you

Remember how I observed that wives and daughters are hot in the titles of fiction (a trend that shows no sign of stopping)? Well, whilst on a downloading frenzy on Vuze, I couldn’t help but noticing how many (particularly) indie bands feature animals.

It’s ridiculous. Just take a look at this list I compiled without much research and the help of my bro (and if some of these bands aren’t indie per se, consider it a technicality. Most of them are):

  • Fleet Foxes
  • The Antlers
  • Said the Whale
  • Or, the Whale
  • Noah & the Whale
  • Freelance Whales (that’s four whale names in a row! Save the whales!)
  • Patrick Wolf
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Peter and the Wolf
  • Horse Feathers
  • Band of Horses
  • Modest Mouse
  • Le Tigre
  • Danger Mouse
  • Pedro the Lion
  • Bear VS Shark
  • Animal Collective
  • Caribou
  • Andrew Bird
  • Owl City
  • Animals as Leaders
  • Frightened Rabbit
  • The Unicorns
  • Plants & Animals
  • Deerhunter
  • Gorillaz
  • Sea Bear
  • Follow that Bird!

And that’s just the band names themselves. When it comes to song names or album titles, the list goes on. From the top of my head: Alligator — third album by The National; “Alligator” — song by Grizzly Bear; “The Wolves (Acts I and II)” — song by Bon Iver; “Orca” — song by Wintersleep (that whole song is about being a vicious animal, actually); “Tiger Mountain Pleasant Song” — song by Fleet Foxes; “Little Lion Man” — song by Mumford & Songs (extremely popular right now, especially among Christians); “Orion & the Dog” and “Lion Face Boy” — songs by Sea Wolf; etc., etc., etc.

i'll be a monster, clenching my jagged jaws over the capture

Naturally, I’m searching for connections and meanings because I don’t believe in coincidences. Is it a trend because indie bands seek an authentic musical experience distinct from major commercial record labels and thus connect with the natural world, ie. animals? Is it because hipsters and indie kids (the largest consumers of indie music) dig kitschy symbols of animals on everything from winter sweaters, jewelry, and ironic needle-point art?

Or am I, as always, reading too much into everything? Or, are there any bands or songs/albums I’ve missed? I love the feedback, yo.

Sigh No More

and my heart told my head, "let love grow"

 

And there will come a time, you see, with no more tears

And love will not break your heart but dismiss your fears.

Get over your hill and see what you find there

with grace in your heart

and flowers in your hair.

“After the Storm” by Mumford and Sons

Mumford and Sons is awesome. Friends that leave special handmade books with song lyrics and scriptures that speak directly to your heart in your mailbox for you to find after work … are also awesome.

When it comes to incredible, life-giving friendships with kindred spirits, I struck gold. You know who you are, and I’m so happy God brought us together.