There is only Now.
I know this, and yet, every so often, the memories surface and pain dominates my experience in life. What is it on this occasion that wants out, that wants to become known? Oh yes, there that smokey smell, yes I remember now. It summons something from childhood, an innocence which wants out, wants to breathe in this Now now, wants to be with me, the adult me.
When a child, for my bones have thinned, my skin wrinkled, there was a farm in Africa where the family would gather once a year. Each year they celebrated the life they had lived in between those times of last meeting. I experienced so much loving, so much loving among family members while, encompassing us, was Africa’s unfussiness, its vast minimalism.
The farmhouse nestled in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Cows grazed the grass, chickens pecked, turkeys gobbled and freedom swelled the winds that roved over and through everything – human, animal and nature.
A young child walked into the farmhouse kitchen, staggering under the weight of a bucket filled with fresh cow’s milk, so fresh it was still warm. Surreptitious, she dipped her fingers in and sucked the rich, yellow-white milk which frothed her lip.
With this old boned flesh, it is the feeling of the smell given off that I recall Now. The milk, the kitchen smells of warmth, fresh bread baking, companionship, of African’s whose skin had absorbed sun rays so that they shone from inside out.
The child’s eyes in the boney body, innocent once more, see the smell and she realises she wears this particular past experience like a second skin. Assuredly, she takes into herself Now the smell of safety and family surround that kept the walls of love intact in those way-past days. In other words, Love’s swell burned that horrid smell of fear and hate and dissonance.
It is this Love I reclaim in this Now. Once gained, nothing is forever lost. Can I recapture the innocence, the safety in myself, right now as the older version of that child? The answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” For, Love is our fundamental make-up, our spiritual make-up.
I look into my heart and stir up the memory, “We are made in the image and likeness of God …” This phrase was thundered down from a heightened pulpit. As a child, it was frightening because the Preacher spoke the words with such fury while his finger waggled down at us, his black, thick rimmed spectacles bouncing.
And yet, he spoke a truth. The Truth as I understand it Now.
I know this Now. I have come into the knowing that every breath taken, memories may well come visiting but I can, and do, craft them into the smell of safety and innocence the child knew making my adult self whole; holy.
As there is only Now, it is innate in human beings’ DNA, runs in vein, in bone and sinew, in heart and mind and limb, the image and likeness of God whom we are; the Love that we are.
I sing Now in celebration of smell and remembered seeing. Now I know because I have lived with it and in it. I found a family, while not genetic, people who share a dream, the dream become every day reality – We are divine. It is this genuine family which has allowed me to find the innocence, the safety, the sheer length and breadth of who I truly am.
And celebrate divinity with one another each day; even as the memories hurt.
I let my throat open. A song springs forth and I sing in the Now, celebrating smell and remembered seeing. You know – I believe even these old bones are become unsullied too.