The first time I ascended I was not ready to fly.
I tied an anchor to my ankle and felt my body torn between two worlds–
one was pulling me violently back to Earth while the other kept me floating aimless outside of myself.
I held on tight to rope and rings and to all those outstretched hands but still my soul defied gravity and I almost lifted off.
You say, “you still have lessons to learn, questions that need answers, love to give, and deep knowledge to share.”
But I already gave away my heart and mind and they are no longer part of me.
You offer to rebuild me from the ground up and I promise I will listen.
First, I need my mind so you shape it out of water one drip and drop at a time.
You collect every tear and the runoff from every drainpipe, every glass and chalice filled to the brim with ice-cold water, every cup and bottle, costrel, and vessel overflows with abundance.
You say, “drink deep and may you never thirst, fill up your jug and share it with others.”
Like a monsoon, my mind comes flooding back, but words are like a sea yet to meet the beach – an unseen storm of chaos.
Still not ready to float in cosmic radiation, I ask you for a body.
You lend me the finger bone from the Famen Temple and tell me to gather earth with it.
I dig the dirt around me, and with trickles of water, I turn dirt into mud and mud into clay and as time and pressure pass, coal and crystals form.
Out of calcite, I make a ribcage to protect a smoldering heart.
I take the clay and ochre and form a solid shape, one that feels like me, and with infinite time, stalactites formed from calcium weave my brittle bones.
My legs are strong enough to hold me and I remember how to walk but I’m still floating as I have no sense to guide me.
I am blind and deaf and can feel nothing with my fingers.
I breathe in the air you lent me, so deep it’s all there is to focus on.
You breathe in unison with me and when we exhale we’ll guide every ship safely home and make every windmill turn.
Leaves will shudder off their branches as hot air rises to the stratosphere.
As we breathed out, I could see my hands again and could hear the world trumpet in my ears.
Ethereal sounds fill up cathedral eardrums,
as if every orchestra was playing in unison, as if every choir, singer, chant and prayer lifted their voices and were singing together as one–
birds gossip sweet music and water droplets splash onto snare drums.
A sight of wonder beholds me!
Life and color, beauty and art, as if the flickering sunlight is a phenakisticope, projecting the shadows of a fire.
The coarse dirt feels like sand from million-year-old beaches and the smell of decay is like perfume – patchouli, lime, and cedarwood.
From darkness there is light and from solitude comes comfort.
I have my body, my mind, and my senses, but I do not feel complete.
Trapped in a cave, locked behind bars, I pray to the witness of my existence and ask them for my fire.
I hear no reply, so I wait.
I wait with no idea how long it might take so I pace and I pray.
Water falling from my face, covered in dirt, hungry and tired, with heavy breath and time, I pray.
I watch my chest rise and fall and watch the sunrise fall over and over again till all I have is patience and determination.
One day I see a climbing clematis, its purple flowers creeping through the rusted window.
I don’t break off its arms, I just collect fallen twigs and dry moss and wait until its vines are longer.
With everything collected, I envision bonfires, bright candles, and eternal flames to flicker in the dark.
When the branches are stronger, I take two sticks and rub them together, but no matter how hard I try, or how much I swear or cry no sparks ignite the tinder.
At the point of giving up, after splinters and through calloused fingers, I see smoke and a tiny fire combusts.
I take the embers to my lips and join them with my aching heart.
A smoldering coal is whole again and I am finally free.
I rattle the lock and it opens. I shake the bars on the door and it opens.
I step out into the day and upon seeing the light I thank you for this lesson.
Although my feet are weak, and my eyes not quite used to the brightness ,
I walk with an open heart, an awoken mind and hands stretched out to others.