Monthly Archives: July 2015

Amazing Grace


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…”





Leave a comment

Filed under The Trilogy


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.”



Leave a comment

Filed under The Trilogy

Open Hands




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.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Trilogy