Many of us from the Americas have met, befriended, been cared about, read about, learned with in school, persons who are from Egypt. Sometimes we were adults when we met. Like myself, some of us were children when we met a soul from Egypt.
I was in San Jose; there was a tiny wayside museum. I was 12, there were other car-vacation families there, hot, sweating, rumpled, grumpy, hungry. It was the 1950s, another girl near my age came to stand beside me in the museum –the way child-strangers seek each other of like-age out oin the middle of nowhere/everywhere, without asking, as though we knew each other from some other planet and just now were happy to find each other again.
Together we looked at the exhibits of Egyptian tombs and knotted cords and headresses. The stelae there, beautifully carved in ways I could not consider my blocky hands could ever do, hands that could not crochet nor weave tack nor knit nor make lace like the other women, the elders of my family. And this beautiful dark haired girl smiled shyly to me about the carved stelae: “That stone is from my country.”
I dont know what happened, something, a whoosh of mind and time and wing of spirit– and I realized that this child belonged to this beautifully carved stone and this stone was from real people, living and dead, Egyptian people. It was a moment. Me from a town of 600, that day, met a soul from the ‘far away ancient land’ called Egypt, a girl who was alive and here with me, and together we gazed, one in wonder, one with pride, at the story in this stone from another time and place.
Today, there is news here, devastating to the heart, mind, spirit and soul news about hundreds and hundreds of deaths of Egyptians in the streets, and mosques overflowing with the dead who have yet to be claimed, and it is hot and it is, as I understand, screaming-grieving and what I call at disaster sites where I serve, “silent horror.’ This I understand. And can hardly bear to know, once again, such strife and grief sweeps through a land of such good people.
And I thought, everyone and their mother has writ about what has happened in Egypt across the internet and in papers and magazines. What can I write, what can I say? And all I could say, aloud, as I looked long at the pictures of the now blessed dead, not knowing which side anyone is on, and not caring, is “I am so sorry, I am so so sorry to see this come to pass”.
But too, tears at seeing the youth and the beauty and the feminine palms, and the thickened fingers of men who work with their backs, seeing these many kinds of hands peeking from under the white shrouds. And in sickness of my heart, I know that regardless of all else, it is not mine to sort or to decide with such little insight of the millenia and modern times in Egypt, not mine to define –but rather making the sensate picture of this time, belongs to the Egyptian people to draw– in their paintings, their poems, making the stories of, in theatre, in dance, in the cartoons, the music of, the books about, the graffiti about… in ways that are soul-sensible to each Egyptian person. Yes, the spirit of Egypty too, belongs to those who can see/say the biggest picture.
Then I thought, maybe there is one thing I can write that might be only my small voice of offering to the Egyptian people, as a lifelong cantadora, that is a keeper of the old stories, an old fashioned way I have of speaking about carrying stories. I’d put what I strive to do in stories to you this way: by my learning and remembering and carrying the strengths of the ancient past in stories into the often needful future, those strengths can be recalled and might be put to good use to be enacted again by many souls, who hear the story… and remember ‘the still small voice.’
This story from Egyptian mythos and religion I learned and put in poetic/prayer form, because long ago at age 12 I met the living child also age 12 I told you about earlier. Something awakened in me regarding the far and middle and near East as it was then called, particularly of the people, the beautiful people. My young ‘new-friend-I-never-saw-again and I long ago stood with the spirits of the ancients still invested in the beautiful works we beheld: we somehow saw the hands of those who chiseled the stone carvers, the scroll inkers, the gold gilders, the ones who worked in the dirt to mine the metals, the ones who knew how to build so high… We two souls, one an Egyptian child, one a Latino-American child, both standing far from home, in a place of shelter, a tiny museum, where Egypt and her very taproot of ‘death and regeneration’ –were held and that taproot of which all Egyptians come from, was and is still kept as sacred.
The story is this. I will put it here crafted tiny in words,
but it is huge in medicine for the soul,
for those who have the eyes to see,
the ears to hear
the heart to continue in goodness:
Osiris associated to the Sun God Ra
and sometimes called The Night Sun,
was torn apart by his brother Seth every cycle of day.
Seth scatted Osiris’s limbs and body parts all over the earth.
The people were reeling aghast
for without every aspect of the Sun,
there was no life, no fields, no warmth, no regeneration.
But in an act of continual Love, Osiris’s sister, Isis,
went out in the night with her ever young arms
wrapped around a woven basket, seeking,
seeking the parts of her brother,
and lifting them tenderly into the basket…
and she sought all night into the cold of the desert
and onto the high ledges and into the crevices so deep,
until she had found all the parts of Osiris so torn apart.
And by means of her Love, of her prayers spoken over
Osiris’s poor body, his wounds were mended,
his body parts sought one another and each
sutured itself to the next, until all limbs, all body
of Osiris was completely whole again…
and he rose
he rose again
into the sky in concert
with the Day Sun,
burning and flaming
and giving such light,
of what had gone before,
in order to shine
Some will say this is just a story
and go away.
Some will say no, the Night Sun
only walked in the night or in the underworld,
forgetting Osiris was the beacon
of Truth, weighing each man’s heart
in his light, and on a scale,
against a feather
that represented the True truths
that cannot be diminished,
Truths like, Love is the final answer.
But many others will know what this story is.
It is an ancient oiled map
back to home,
kept in the ravaged heart
of every devastated soul
who has been torn apart …
The instructions are all there;
the point, the only point:
is not who did or
who did not,
rather resurrection of innocent spirit,
resurrection of the ancient soul
who serves All.
I’ve friends and students who are in Egypt. And we know not most souls there. But be assured people of Egypt, the grandmothers and grandfathers of this world, the good souls of this world know of your suffering and are praying for you, sending the goodness of thoughts for the best ways through for you. We know you are alive and striving. We don’t forget the people of our world who walk through such fire. Not ever.
May all be protected,
all be offered and give calm,
and all be given meaningful comfort
that restores faith in humanity,
others’, one’s own.
May it be so for thee.
May it be so for me.
May it be so for us all.
Aymen, Aymen, Aymen.