As of this writing we have progressed into All Souls Day, and Emily has some odd ideas on her mind.
#551, c. 1862
There is a Shame of Nobleness —
Confronting Sudden Pelf —
A finer Shame of Ecstasy —
Convicted of Itself —
A best Disgrace — a Brave Man Feels —
Acknowledged — of the Brave —
One More — “Ye Blessed” — to be told —
But that’s — Behind the Grave —
I wish I knew what she was getting at here. Shame of Nobleness? Shame of Ecstasy? Some mornings, like today, I don’t feel like wrestling with her. Today, following the practice of lectio divina, I will let her words rest in me. Allow the phrase that wants to stick to me, do its work. “A finer Shame of Ecstasy.”
Last night I went to a Day of the Dead ceremony, offered by our Vodou community. I dressed as the Merry Widow, which has been my theme for a couple of Halloweens running now. What can I say? It works for my mood. I wore a long dark purple gown and a black top hat, festooned with yards and yards of black, gray and purple mesh tulle. I also wore one final black mesh veil over the whole thing that fell over my face. My friends didn’t recognize me. I was so well hidden.
For the ceremony last night, we honored and invoked Gede, the Vodou guardian of the dead. He is a trickster and fairly crotch obsessed. No respecter of boundaries, he is attractive and untrustworthy. Typical guy.
At the height of the ceremony, I stood in the circle in a cloud of smoke from the fire crackers and incense. I felt like an island of calm amidst all the shouting and chanting and drumming. Everyone danced. I closed my eyes and floated on my feet. And I began to weep for the dead. I was filled with sadness. My chest expanded with grief. I had dressed as the Merry Widow as a joke. Ha, Ha. Then it flipped on me, and I was the widow, hidden behind my veil, protected from view. In my private space, my tears flowed. I was being private in public, standing precisely on that strange fine line.
The thought that rose to the surface was, “death of the ego.” Breaking down forms and delineations. That includes thoughts about the past, grieve it, and release it. What is any of that discernment but the ego’s effort? When the ego dies, something soft is born, tender and delicate. “A finer shame of ecstasy.” Exposure feels shaming, yet as unstoppable as the tear descending beneath the weight of gravity. Be careful, walk slowly, speak gently. Lift the veil.