05 Nov At Chalice Well
I’ve been visiting (it must be something in the Glastonbury air):
At Chalice Well
It was her shoes I noticed first, jagged with rhinestones sparkling red across her sad toes, incongruous beneath her care-worn blue dress. She had something of the past about her, something defeated, bowed and humble. Yet she held a quiet beauty, it was there in her eyes, the compassion that is left when all hope has drained away, at once nothing and everything.
I knew she had loved fully and well, nothing held back, such gorgeous risk. I heard the laughter of her youth on the tender afternoon breeze. Her loss was there like a cloak around her. No, more so, like the air she breathed, inside of her, outside of her.
She gazed into the shallow well with a longing that brought tears to my eyes. I know that longing too. Don’t we all? No edifice, no hiding, the naked longing of life for itself, for the veils to fall and for love…oh for love. She held her hands together, clasped, delicate, skin upon skin. And she dreamt, I know she dreamt, of what could have been and what once was, perhaps long ago, perhaps not so long ago.
She stood up and left me alone, the sunset of her over-thick red cardigan a sad farewell. There are times we know will never be repeated. I watched her walking off along the stone path, leaving her dreams behind her, at the well, and a quietness too.
It was only then that I heard the well, its voice, singing to me, quietly of the earth, of beauty, as much as I could bear. I shut my eyes to listen more intently and I felt the lush-green plants of the well all crowded around me, and they sang to me too, words that I was free.
After some time, I do not know how long, I opened my eyes and I saw all of the words, the song, the singing, rising to the sky and becoming rainbows in the soft so soft light, and I felt a love that I had only dreamt of before, a love that was left behind just for me, just for me.
Then I knew. And I felt my gratitude as fresh as the sun that broke through the late afternoon clouds. She had been there for me, all my sorrow, all that was defeated, she had been there for me, a gift, and she had gone, left me alone, let go, and I was there, only me left, nothing else, me alone with the pure waters of the well, the ancient flow, water from the earth, strong with iron, with a love I have longed for all my life.
How beautiful, how simple, is a miracle. I smiled, and my heart called after her: ‘thank you for all you have given me, thank you…and even more so for what you have now taken away.’
I walked to where the well became a flow and I lay down and let the water run over me, cold on my skin. I felt myself cleansed, opened, free. I know now what the chalice well holds, I know, and it is a secret. A secret that we share, you and I, all of us…a secret we all share.