Monday, March 16, 2009
Los cisnes: The Story of the Swans
There is a story in this week's NCR (National Catholic Reporter) by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of, among other books, "Women Who Run with the Wolves", entitled: "Fallen-away Catholics: The Story of the Swans."
You can read it all here.
The Story of the Swans is a beautiful tale, a modern parable of sorts, which Clarissa uses to talk about those Roman Catholics who have 'fallen away' or have been 'pushed away' or 'pushed out'.
She writes: "For most, the common denominators seem that they were flayed needlessly; or hounded sadistically as children; or else shunned for imperfect knowing; or shamed for finding their ways in a manner that was more of a mythic journey than the rote one laid out by mere mortals.
Or else only offered the food of ferrets when they, in fact, were swans needing the food of swans. Nothing wrong with ferret food for ferrets (meat), but ferret food for swans (grains and underwater grasses), makes the swans slowly die from starvation.
Most of all, many of the pushed away, by their telling of their own stories, came to rest, torn and bewildered, in a hollow. This occurred because for years, for decades, no one with wisdom and clear vision that they could understand without crippling themselves further, came to their rescue. These souls were not fallen from the nest, they were pushed."
I think it is a beautiful parable, one that we would do well to remember in the days and weeks and months before General Convention.
Will the shift to the progressive left be enough to have LGBT people return to the church? It's interesting to me that we worry and wail and gnash teeth about "the orthodox" who have left, but does ANYONE say ANYTHING about LGBT people who have left? If they have, I haven't heard it.
I know two really wonderful men who used to be leaders in TEC who are now members of MCC. Not that there's a thing in the world wrong with MCC. I just miss them terribly in TEC.
Indeed, what should be done about our conservative friends for whom TEC becomes 'too progressive'? How do we get them to return?
What is our response to the prayer of Jesus "that we all be one"?
Here's Clarissa's parable. Enjoy:
A story is not something we tell. A story is a living being that shows up in answer to our questions about the mysteries of life ... Often enough, a story comes forward on its own, having traveled a long distance to be with us, often hoping to remember us back into some layer of the mysterium, the parts that most nourish our souls ... and the souls of others.
In my Latino heritage, the following story is one spun together during a time with La señora Maria Elena, a member of my spirit family -- she, a muñecadora, a marionette maker, who lived in a fronterizo, border village near Nogales long ago.
As a young woman, the questions I had asked Maria Elena were these:
Why do we have deep in our souls such a longing to be reunited with our own ... whether in my case, a lost brother, siblings and parents ... or in the case of others ... a lost mother, a lost father, sister, grandparent, a lost child, a lost friend, lover, a lost soul?
Why do we yearn so hard to find the desaparecidos, the missing ones, on this earth? -- those who even if we have never met them -- we know they are 'out there' ... and they are so dear to us that we pray for them everyday ... not even knowing their names, not even knowing where they lay their heads? We know them because we know, that's all.
So together, as Maria Elena danced her "puppet-os" across the floor, we listened to a greater Soul, and out came this story.
"Los cisnes, The Swans..."
Once long ago, the swans, great gorgeous birds of soft plumage, were created in many colors. There were red swans, black swans, white swans, and blue swans.
The swans of all colors lived together, and chose their mates for life. They showed each other how to weave their nests with grasses and sedges, human hair, and sometimes red threads or blue threads they'd found along the way.
The elder swans showed the younger how to care for their children together; how to shelter and protect each other; how to fly out in wing-to-wing formations together; how to sing and sing to raise the sun at dawn and to bring the night at dusk.
Thus the swans were at peace for eons until one dark day when came a terrible tempest rolling across the land. Creator flew down to warn them: 'To be saved, all swans must, under great duress, fly to the four distant points of the world.'
Creator foretold that the tempest would reach all points of the earth and destroy much ... but for the swans, their being separated from one another -- rather than being together in one place -- would ensure the survival of more, rather than less, of God's great creature called Swan.
And so the swans, with their small bindle bags of underwater grasses, and their little children and lifelong mates, flew as refugees.
They rose into the air in a flurry, heart-frightened, leaving most everything behind, not knowing where they were going ... only knowing they were fleeing mayhem ... only knowing that as long as their feathers held out, they would fly through rain storms, lightning strikes, and over mountains ...
they would fly over the wires that kill, over the waters poisoned ... they would fly through hails of bullets, they would fly over wastelands with nowhere to land or rest ... they would fly and fly as far in every direction as possible ... to preserve that which Creator calls Swan.
It is said the red swans flew as far as they could to the west where, in the color of the setting sun, they would be given camouflage and refuge.
The black swans flew as far as they could to the north where, in the darkness of long winters, they would be camouflaged, and thereby be as safe from harm as possible.
The white swans flew to the south where they took refuge among the spinners and weavers of white cotton, and there they were camouflaged and kept as safe as could be.
And the blue swans flew as far as they could to the east where there was a great ocean. On this ocean, the swans could barely be seen so blue were the swans, so blue were the waters. And there they made their homes as safely as possible.
Yet in the swans' cross migrations to the South once a year -- the most dangerous of times, for their camouflages were not intact then -- the old swans of every color were ever seeking the swans descended from their first home place, which now numbered many generations.
And, finding so many, the old ones especially would tell the stories of their most immaculate place of origin before the mayhem had separated them.
And this joy of reunion belonged to all the swans, together; their souls were fastened together by that one incorruptible place of origin.
And how did they find one another after so long separated, for there are millions of birds in any sky? Before the tempest came, the swans could speak, just as you and I do. But when mayhem came over the land, Creator took pity on the swans and said, 'I will give into your hearts the one thing that will set your pace and save your lives and the lives of others forever.
Thus, Creator gave the swans but one cry. The original cry the swans trumpeted sounded like this...
¿Dónde está usted?
But, over time, to give them more breath to fly farther, and since all the swans knew the full cry by heart, Creator shorted the cry to one you can hear the swans cry today. They fly overhead, trumpeting, ¿Dónde? ¿Dónde? ¿Dónde?
Where are you?
Where are you?
Where are you?
¿Dónde?, this the Creator gave specifically ... not ¡Alto!, Stop right there!; not ¡Dejame solo!, Leave me alone ... but rather, ¿Dónde? ... the short version of Creator's long lesson about Love on earth.
¿Dónde? -- the only words Creator tenderly placed into the souls of the swans ... the cry granted so they would never, ever, completely lose one another.