Acts of Love

Annah says:

 

“Since first becoming more closely acquainted with human culture, it has puzzled me why there is such a difference in sensitivity to depictions of sex in art, whether written, represented by moving picture, or in still image, as opposed to depictions of violence.

The—movies, Holder says they are called—that I have seen containing images of violence are far greater in length and number than scenes of people engaged in the act of Joining, or even in erotic loveplay apart from intercourse. Holder tells me that as far as he knows, this difference has always existed in human culture.  It is far different among the people of my world.  Sex is not a hidden thing on Evohe; not a shameful thing—and yet if we do tend to seek privacy for lovemaking, it is because it is a sacred thing, to be shared with one’s partner, and we tend to like to focus on one another at such a time.  It is not because the act is ‘dirty’, as humans often describe it to be.

Humans, it seems, cannot even agree on how to refer to it.  It is referred to in pretty, if symbolic, language, as ‘the act of love’, and yet it is also reduced to the ugly, violent-sounding (at least to my non-Earther ears) word ‘fucking’.  I still hate writing or saying that word, but I am trying to be honest.

The traditions of my people hold that the body, its design, and its functions, are sacred.  This is why, for as far back as our shared Memories stretch, we have gone without covering our bodies in the second-skin the humans call ‘clothing’, as they, and the people of some other worlds, often do.  This is why acts of violence that destroy the body and snuff out life horrify me, no matter how many times I see them—and I have seen them far too often.  I do not know why humankind seems more disturbed by many other things than it is by these.

I have heard many humans—and many natives of other worlds as well—say they wish to put an end to war and violence.

If that is true, then I say we must first learn to see the beauty contained in our own flesh, which is the vessel of our spirit—and in the beauty contained in the flesh of others, which is the proof that when the First Ones breathed life into the Sea of Stars and all things that sprung from it, they did not stop at one act of creation.  They found the very act of giving life and light to the world to be a pleasure, and so they continued—and they continue today.  Our own acts of creation are, I think, a reflection of this—and we should honor them as such.  And we should honor each other.   Death comes for all, in time.  None of us may stay on this side of the spirit-river forever.  But, after all I have seen in my relatively young life, I have come to believe we should seek the joy we can bring forth in others—not the pain and grief that come easily enough without our effort.”eternalidol

 

 

 

 

 

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Small Seeds, Strong Roots

Annah says:

“I have been studying the history of Old Earth, before this time in which we live now, and before all the governments of Earth had been bent to the will of one state.  I believe that it is indeed possible for many voices to join in one song, but to do so, one must be careful that no one voice is silenced.

I lived a number of Cycles knowing too well what it was to be the silent one, and I suppose that was the first seed of my wanting to do something for my people; to make sure none of them felt as if they had to be silent.

I fell into the same role on the world called Holdfast.  Much of that is recorded in the second book about my life, so I will not recount the details here.  But, as before, I found that every real change in the universe begins with four small seeds; four small words: “You are not alone.”

These words can be the message a planetary government gets from a first encounter with a civilization they call ‘alien’–a human word I discovered meant only ‘not-us’.  It can be a message of comfort from one who is free to one who is in prison, or from one prisoner to another.

These words can mean an enemy is watching, or that a friend is nearby–and sometimes, the difference lies in the way we choose to receive the message.

But always, these words bring change.  We cannot acknowledge that another is not alone without recognizing that the same is true of ourselves: if you are not alone, then neither am I.

Thinking that we are alone can be peaceful, but it can also be more fearsome than the company of one who hates us.

I began to reach out to others when I realized that I was not alone, and wanted others to know the same.

I did not realize just how much change could come from the simple seeds of four words.

I have been called special by some whom I have talked to and taught; been held above others when that is the last thing I have wanted.  I say to you who read these words: the seeds I have planted, you can plant, in your own life and the lives of others.

You are not alone.  There are those who do not want you to know this, just as there were those who did not want me to know it.  And that is why I tell you.

Do not be afraid to plant your roots in soil shared by others, for in the end, all of it is soil shared by others, whether it be the soil of the worlds we are born on, or the black of the Sea of Stars.

Shared roots are deep roots, and will not easily be moved or torn.  This is what I learned on Evohe; this is what I taught on Holdfast.

These may be small seeds, but I hope that the roots that have sprung from them will prove deep.

It is my hope that these simple words–whose meaning is much more than simple–will be seeds for change.

We are not alone–but how we act toward the others with whom we share the garden of our lives is up to us.”in-the-grove1.jpg

 

 

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Firstwarmth

evohesky2

 

Annah says:

“It is rarely cold here on Evohe–a fact for which Holder and I are both very glad, though him more than me at times, I think, since Earth has more variance in temperatures than this world does.  Still, there are changes in seasons here–the fireblossoms lose their color and wither for a time, and the spicegrasses in the fields seem to taste more bland than they do in the early part of a Cycle.

But the Cycle is new again–it is the early part of Firstwarmth, our season similar to what the humans call Spring–and it feels to me as though there is much to be done, and much that can be done.

That is the nature of time, and of life’s tides, I think–there are times when we feel that everything is new, and the course of our action seems clear, because there are so very many things we have never done.

There was a time when I had never seen or spoken to anyone outside my world, and when I had little to do with even those of my own kind.  All of that has changed. I am working on setting down the second book of my life’s story.  I never thought I would compose–or help to compose–anything beyond music.  And this second telling seems to be taking longer than the first.  Part of that, I cannot change. I am working with a translator–we of Evohe would say can-kiri, which literally means ‘song-partner’–and he has his own life, as I have mine.  The second story is moving along; perhaps like a slow stream, but its current is alive, and it will find its way–in time.

Patience, and waiting for life to move in its own time, and to feel the tides of that time, are skills of Knowing, which is a part of the Craft of Shaping.  And I try to teach it to those of my Circle.  But I am still learning it, myself.  There is a rhythm and a melody in all things: in breathing, in walking,  in storytelling, in learning, in teaching, and in singing.

Sometimes, the pulse of the rhythm, and the melody that moves with it, are easy to find.  In a season of renewal, like Firstwarmth, this is very true.  At such a time, it is as if all the world is one song, a tapestry of harmony woven from many voices lifted all at once.  Not all perfect, but perfect in the parts they play.

At other times, the song is faint, and the rhythm like that of a fading heartbeat.  In those times, we must have faith that the melody will return, and the pulse of life will grow strong again.

Those of my Circle call me “Elder” and “Teacher”, and look to me for answers I do not always feel I have.  Sometimes, I too feel like a song that has lost its melody; as if my own heart were sleeping soil with only the promise of new colors beneath its surface, and none yet to be seen.

In those times, I think of the First Ones–for even the Sea of Stars was once a broad field of black, its stars unlit; the seeds of its songs only thoughts in the minds of that great Power that would someday sing all things into being.

And then, I do not feel so lost anymore–for Life itself is an endless song, that waits when we ourselves fall out of step or feel out of breath, until we again raise our voices.  There is a rest in every rhythm, and yet the song goes on.  I am still here–and I wish those who read this a happy renewal of warmth and song–and the new life they bring–in the fertile fields of your own lives.”

 

 

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Amazing Grace

doves

Annah says:

There are many words in the language of the humans, and I still stumble over some of them, the way I sometimes stumble over my feet–or Holder’s–when I dance.   The words are sounds, but one sound, one word, can have so many meanings.  One word like this is ‘grace.’  It can mean a skill and smoothness of movement, like the beauty in Chelries’ motions when she dances, or the smooth flight of a sleek spacecraft through the Sea of Stars.   It can mean a certain way of dealing with people, with manners, consideration and compassion, as my mother and father tried to teach me when I was growing up.  Holder says that a blessing to the First Ones–or whatever term one uses–said over a meal is sometimes called ‘saying grace.’

My friend Jason Treader–who is also one of the students in my Circle–taught me another meaning of the word, one evening by the campfire at the housing quarters we all shared on Holdfast, some time now in the past.  Holder and I had come up from bathing in the stream, and I saw the glow of the fire and heard Jason’s voice, singing a song I did not recognize.  I sat, listening to him in silence, until he was done.

“What is that song called?”  I asked him.

“It’s called ‘Amazing Grace.’  It’s one I learned in my church.  It’s about God’s love, and how it changes people.”

Jason talks about his God–who, as far as I can tell, is like the First Ones, but with one face instead of many–quite a lot.  I did not quite understand the word ‘god’ when Holder first said it to me a long time ago,  and I still do not, fully–but I understand what is meant by the word, if not the word itself.  It made me smile, when he said that.  Jason tries to be close to his God, the way I try to be close to the First Ones.  Holder does, just as much–but he rarely talks about it.  Instead, he expresses that closeness merely through the way he acts–although it will no doubt embarrass him if he reads that I have said so.

“What does love have to do with grace?” I asked Jason, having seen nothing in any dictionary of Galactic Standard that linked the two ideas.

“Everything,” Jason said, and I know I must have looked confused, because he laughed.  Not a mean laugh, of course–but the kind of laughter that comes from joy.  In this case, the joy of knowing you are about to teach someone something new.  “Annah, one of the things ‘grace’ means is ‘the freely given love and forgiveness of God.’  I guess it could mean anybody’s freely given love and forgiveness, but I guess you know most people–at least most of us humans–don’t really give love freely without expecting something.”

“Hmm.”  I thought about it.  He was right–most people I knew did not.  And it is still mostly the case.  My parents love me without any expectations; Holder loves me in the same way–as does Kale, and I must be honest and say so.   Chelries and Liara do as well–and Lilliane.  All the others I can think of–it is not that their love is unappreciated, but it is contained by boundaries, as water is held by a vessel so that we may drink it.

How wonderful is a love that knows no boundaries.   The First Ones’ love is like this–and it is the model for all other love, at least I believe so.   What a blessing to have even a few in our lives who love this way–and what a greater blessing if the day one day comes when all love is of this kind.

“I see what you mean, friend Jason,” I said at last.   He smiled.

Holder, sitting beside me, smiled at me and squeezed my hand.  He had been silent the whole time, but I knew the things I had said were what he would have said.  We are like that, a lot.  I leaned up to his face and kissed him.

By then, a crowd of others had begun to join us around the fire–the rest of our Circle, both those from my world, and those from among the people of Holdfast.   “I know that song,” Catherine Castle,  a young woman who is quickly becoming one of my best students of Shaping, said then.   Her mate–boyfriend, I think, is the human term–whose name is Peter Holloway, said that he did too.

“Sing it again, Elder Annah,” Peter said.

I am not usually embarrassed to sing in public, but I have to confess, I tried to refuse with a smile–not because I do not like the song, or its sentiment.  But the song and its meaning were, at that point, a thing newly learned, and I wanted to be quiet, and see if the First Ones had anything more to tell me about this mystery called grace.

In the end, I found the answer in the voices that rose to meet mine, as I sang the song that Jason had only just taught me.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”

 

 

 

 

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Heroes

supermansymbolAnnah says:

“One thing I learned in the days when Holder and I were virtually alone on my world, when we were first discovering each other–and had more time to do so–is that my mate is somewhat of a historian.  He is particularly fascinated by the history of his world before the rise of the planetary government called Homesec.   I have written before of Holder’s fascination with Old Earth music, and this entry too, touches on that, but also another element of Old Earth’s popular culture–a thing called ‘comic books’; small magazines with pictures–drawn pictures, not photographs–put together to tell stories, often about extraordinary beings called “super heroes”, who wear specific second-skins–what is the word–“costumes”–to set them apart and illustrate their super-hero-ness the way the pictures in the comics illustrate their deeds.

I was particularly fascinated by one of these heroes—Superman–who looks like a human but was born, like I was, on another planet.  The gravity of his birth world was different from that of Earth, and this gave him extraordinary strength and other heightened abilities—some of you reading this may already know these things, but they were, as Holder might say, ‘news to me.’  I come from another world too, but I look so different from the people of Earth that I still cannot walk about among humans without attracting stares, and it is particularly bad when Holder and I walk together.  People stare at the children too, for they look neither completely human nor completely like the folk of my world.   I do not have any super-strength, and I certainly cannot fly.  But I have tried to help the people of Earth when I could–back on Holdfast, and briefly on Earth itself–and those few Earthers, like Holder and Kale, who have come to my world.

What was amazing to me about Superman was that his similarity to the people of Earth was only skin-deep–and many still feared his abilities–and yet he took upon himself the responsibility of defending this world, because two of its people had raised him as their own.  And it made me think–love is the greatest power.  Kindness is the greatest gift that we can give.  And, like the sun of Earth changed Superman’s strength, the light of love and kindness can give us abilities to help others–strengths we did not realize we had.

Holder also played for me a song from Old Earth about Superman.  It spoke to my own heart, about the things I had been considering about this ‘superhero’ from a story, and how similar he was to me–even though I am not a character from a book of pictures.

 

I will leave it here for you to hear.  I hope you will like it as much as I do.”

 

 

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Open Hands

two_hands_joined_by_heidia

 

 

Annah says:

“All around me, all my life, I have seen people struggle with the issue of control.  It is at the root of life from its beginnings–as bloomlings, we learn to control our bowels and bladder, to control the movements of our arms and legs; we bend beneath the gentle control of our parents, and we learn to control our own actions.

I have seen many seek to control others–to sad and sometimes fatal and destructive ends.  There was even a young male of my own kind, whose name was Jonan, who once tried to force his will upon me, with results that were ultimately more unfortunate for him.

The government of Earth, called Homesec, has for hundreds of Cycles tried to impose its will on the people of that world and others–to similar effect.

And now, both as a mother and as a leader of my people, I find myself placed in what some might consider a position of control.  And this is why I find myself considering these things today, watching Linnah and Laren play in the stream with Holder, their father, my mate, and the man I love.  I can only control myself, in the end.   I can guide my children, I can guide the students of Shaping and followers who look to me, and I can offer the advice of love and companionship to my mate.  But that is co-existence, not control.

We must walk in life and love with an open hand, so that others may join theirs with ours, if they so choose.  A fist cannot hold anything–it can only smash and crush.

A fist can ultimately hold nothing.

But one day, the open hand–or a hand joined with others– may be a foundation for a whole world to stand on.

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Brothers and Sisters

 

 

branches

Annah says

“The idea of family is something that is very important to me.  This may seem strange to you,  if you have read what I have written of my life, and know that I was my parents’ only bloomling, and that I grew up mostly alone.  But I think this has allowed me to treasure the bonds of family even more.  I think it allowed me to love my parents even more deeply when they returned from their Cycles of rest in the Elder Grove.  And not all family is blood-bound.  I  love Chelries and Liara as surely as I would if my parents were theirs as well, and those of my Circle are family as well.  And there is Holder, and that is yet another kind of family-bond–and Kale is a part of my family as well, which I have never been able to deny, even when the guilt over our brief partnership made me want to.

I believe that on many worlds, among many races and life-kinds, the idea of family is what preserves peace and Balance.  The idea of family is, at its roots, the idea of connection.  It is too often twisted into a notion of separation.  We are all part of the great family of Life; whether we grow in separate gardens or not, we are branches of one Tree; though we grow from seeds scattered in a space as wide as the Sea of Stars itself, we intertwine, because it is the nature of life to reach out for life.   Even the borders within ourselves–the tiny walls of our own cells, or organs–they are nonetheless part of a greater whole.  It is a truth we cannot escape, even if we try.  And when we do try, when we pull away from the union in which the First Ones created us to live, we only bring pain to ourselves–and we are not meant to live in pain and grief.

If my life so far has taught me anything–and if there is something I want to teach any of those who will listen to me–it is this: we are all one family.  On every world, in every hearth and homeground–we are different, but we are a part of one another.  I may have been my mother and father’s only bloomling–their only child, as Holder would say–but my brothers and sisters are everywhere.”

 

 

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