Life on this cliff in the Salish Sea can get weird. Because Whidbey Island is so beautiful, there are a lot of very wealthy people who live here and many live on Edgecliff Road near me and this park. There are CEO’s and retired CEO’s and ladies who “divorced well” and kids with trust funds. And then there are the rest of us.
What I notice about the rest of us and indeed all of us – people who want to live on an island I mean – is that many here are, well, kinda hippies. Yup. Hippies. They were in their 20’s in the 60’s. Now, they are in their 70’s and they are A LOT OF FUN! Back then, they were “flower children.” And now they are “flower grannies.” And we have a blast. The recent film about mushrooms was sold out.
Kai-the-dog likes them too. Flower Grannies I mean. He loves to lick their hands and they like the sensations of his warm fir and kind eyes.
This circle of greens on the grass near my home caught my attention last week. Was it a Labyrinth? Was it a Solstice Circle? Was it a Druid Circle?
I asked a little old lady on a bench a few feet away. “What is that?”
She smiled. She looked at her feet. She had her shoes and socks off and she was wiggling her toes. She smiled again and looked up at me and placed her fingertips on her mouth like a little girl with a secret. I started to giggle and then she did too. I began a belly laugh and she did too. I doubled over laughing so hard it was difficult to breathe and she did too. We had tears running down our faces.
As we recovered and Kai-the-dog stopped circling us to be sure we were ok, she took some deep breaths in an attempt to answer my question. She sat very still, head down, and looked up at me out of the tops of her eyes. For a moment, just a moment, she reminded me of the fairies in the Celtic tradition. She was small. She was thin. She had a crazy red hat and her socks were striped with lots of colors and stars. No wand. Well, not one I could see.
She said, in answer to my question: “What do YOU think it is?” She smiled again. A softer, more compassionate smile.
Not knowing if she was an Episcopalian or a Flower Granny I remained diplomatic and said: “It looks to me to be a place to wander by the sea.”
She rose slowly and walked over in her bare feet on the wet grass. She held my face in both her hands and beamed into my face with the kind of smile I would expect from God. Well, a female God. Then she kissed my forehead, took up her shoes and socks and wandered down the grass into the village.
The experience has stayed with me these last few days. As a member of the clergy, I was taught to explain things. “This is the Trinity.” “This is eternal life.” “This is salvation.” “This is how God lives.” “This is what happens to wine.” “This is how sin is carried through generations.” “This is why we call men-clergy ‘Father.’ ”
As I age on this weird island I am learning that things do not always need to be labeled. Names are important but they can also define and confine a mystery.
This morning, on my walk with Kai-the-dog to the pottery studio I passed the same park. A mother and child were in the park and asked me what the greens on the grass were. I smiled and looked at Kai-the-dog who looked back at me. We smiled.
“Whatever you need them to be,” I said
It was a huge relief not having to explain a mystery.