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Inspirations Articles

Old Songs and the Whispers of Angels
Circle of Women
Joyce Wakefield

I hold my granddaughter in my arms and watch her through half-closed eyes. The music of the organ swells around us and she listens intently with baby ears only three months old. My children are both sons and this little female nestled in next to my heart is astonishing to me. She stares at me and there is a sense of knowing in her deep water eyes; a feeling that she is holding me in her arms.

The song is over and we rise and wait for our turn to join the procession to the altar for communion. I tuck her blanket close to her sides and step out into the aisle. My genuflection is awkward and, for a moment, she tenses then settles in once more with a sigh. We kneel together at the rail and wait for Canon Susan to come to us.

Looking through misted eyes, I see wondrous things in those baby eyes ... I see my own grandmother on a warm spring day, taking us to her Nazarene church one Easter morning some forty years ago. My own age settles at my knees as I remember. She was a tall woman, a nurse in one of the "Wars", red-headed, and she made her grandchildren milk toast when they were sick, or tired, or just lonely as children are sometimes. This morning, her rough, large hands hold mine and we hurry down Manvel Avenue to the small brick church. She smiles at me and squeezes my hand.

The scene fades as the priest moves closer and another slides in front of my inside eyes. My other grandmother, a half Cherokee lady that had a long gray braid wound around her head like an iron halo. She has lifted me up onto a chair and is teaching me to make biscuits. I am engulfed in a clean, pressed flour sack apron and I concentrate on the art unfolding on the worn wooden table. Out of a pan of flour, a handful of lard, and several shakes of this and that, round snowy dough becomes bread for our breakfast. Her hands are brown and white now with the flour and her ancestry and she touches my cheek and smiles. Hers are small hands and patient and soft.

Anael & Dirachiel, by Derek Palmer I blink and shift my granddaughter as another scene comes to mind. I am almost seven and my mother has been gone for a time ... to my child's mind, a long time. My brothers and I are in a strangers house and we have been told of the fire and that mother will be away a while. She is in a hospital far away and is being healed from the burns. One night, the doorbell rings and the lady we are living with answers the door. It is a woman in a pink coat with black curly hair. The coat has large white buttons and hangs loose on her frame. We, my brothers and I, are frightened. Too much has happened since our house burned, too much time has passed since we saw our mother. The boys both are crying, but I am silent. I wait. Mother enters the house and reaches for me. Her right hand is almost the same shade of pink as the coat she wears. It is scarred and has funny white lines across it. After one forever moment, I reach for her hand and feel the lumpy, cool skin. I am not afraid now, and she rests her hand on my shoulder and smiles.

This picture dissolves and I am in the cathedral and Canon Susan is giving me communion. In this moment, I celebrate my life, my grandmother's lives, and my mother's life. I feel the tears rise from my breast and I hold my granddaughter for Canon Susan to bless. I hear the words, but more - my soul shouts the blessings to the very stars light years away and deep inside. My hand closes around Delana's head and I do not try to stop the tears. We are surrounded by all of these women, past and present and future merging into one holy circle.

It is a circle of this woman priest, a fairy faced woman child, and a newborn grandmother. It is no longer strange to find that the grandmother is me - it is a pride I have no words for, a humility and gratitude that courses through my spirit. We are all here at this instant - the woman I have become, the woman who will one day be, the women who have gone before us, and the woman who stands shining before us. Canon Susan blesses us - the two of us - but, she blesses us all. The circle of women goes on and she is all of us.

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Artwork "Anael & Dirachiel" by Derek Palmer
Visit his web site at
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