Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Early Praise for Faery Tale

I'm so delighted to share these truly sweet and lovely quotes from three ladies whose writing I admire and respect above all else.

Truly, I think I've had some help from the faeries:

"An honest, funny, and deeply moving story of a dreamy realist who eventually discovers that there is magic in the simple act of believing. Anyone who's ever seen something curious out of the corner of their eye, heard the million whispers of trees, or checked under their bed looking for more than dust bunnies will thrill to Signe Pike's FAERY TALE. She not only embarks on a mythic globetrot; she navigates the rocky shoals of love and loss in her own life as well."
- Cathy Alter, author of Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Loss, and Starting Over

“Faery Tale is more than just a refreshing romp among waterfalls, searching for that shining, hidden race of spirit-people. It’s Signe Pike’s answer to a grief-sick heart. Whether you use the words faith or faeries, God or magic, Pike’s thirst for belief is both moving and inspiring. She has a wild willingness to reach through her grief and abandon herself to life’s adventures, and I felt so lucky to be along on her journey. Reading this book is like remembering that elusive magic of childhood. Pike went looking for enchantment; well she found it, and she left its light and gracious footprints across every page of this delightful book.”
- Jeanine Cummins, bestselling author of A Rip in Heaven and The Outside Boy

"A beautiful book, wide open and shimmering, full of enchantment, pain and sweetness. Signe Pike is warm, open, funny, thoughtful, vulnerable, wise -- reading her is like sitting over tea or around a fire with your best girlfriend, listening to her wildest tales. Faery Tale transports the reader to mist-covered mountains and magical, sun-filled glens scattered with faery offerings. But more than that: it makes the world seem better, fresher, and lovelier than it was before." - Carolyn Turgeon, author of Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Seder on the Fourth Floor of an Old House in Charleston

Last night Eric and I attended a Seder to commence Passover, the first that I've been to as an adult. Jeff and Lis are fellow former New York City dwellers, though Jeff, much like Eric, grew up calling Charleston home. Located only a few blocks from Colonial Lake, I could see the gray blue waters of the harbor glinting in the early evening light as we pulled up in front of a massive historical home. There's something about downtown Charleston that steals my breath in any light, rain or shine, and last night, buffeted under the dark threat of storm clouds, the colors were even more vivid: deep pink red buds, lush green grass, and the towering teal house with black shutters that Lis and Jeff call home. Bottle of Chianti in hand, we wound our way along the old wooden porch to a set of stairs that headed up on the outside of the house, climbing the steep and narrow steps to the fourth floor. I wondered how many apartments the old beauty had been carved into -- given its sheer size and domination of the block, there was of course no doubt that this home was once a bustling, single-family home, complete with cooks, maids, slaves.

Inside the kitchen was warm with the smell of short-ribs and matzah ball soup, Lis moving about the apartment in a green party dress with orange heels and their new dog, Einstein, a shaggy white and brown mop, trotting around at her feet.
"People tell us that our apartment used to be the slave quarters," Jeff explained as he poured us two glasses of red wine. More guests arrived and at last when we settled, elbow to elbow around the table, Liz passed around stapled pamphlets she'd made - the Haggadah - which contained all the readings for the night and doubled as a nice "how-to" for guests like us, attending their first real Seder.

Honoring the Jews flight from slavery out of Egypt and into freedom, the meal itself tells their tale. In the Haggadah I read that Egypt in Hebrew is "Mitzrayim," which literally translates to "places of constriction and limitation." In this way, Mitzrayim comes to represent not just a geographic location, but also a metaphor for all the enslavements we meet in life. And so Passover becomes a time to awaken to places in our lives where we are stuck, so we might release ourselves from the slavery of old patterns, beliefs, and ways of being that hold us back from personal growth. It was beautiful, unexpected, and imbued the night with a new meaning for me: I have not always found religion to be so easily relatable.

As we sipped wine and took turns reading from the Haggadah, I was captivated by the concept again and again:

"Like the Jews in Egypt, we are not simply enslaved by others. It is not only a Pharaoh outside who keeps us in bondage. We carry Pharaoh within ourselves. We seek to remember that we hold the keys to our slavery and our freedom. We keep ourselves stuck with limiting thoughts like, 'I can't,' 'I'm not ready yet,' and 'I don't deserve better.' We are the slaves and we are the enslavers. Only we can set ourselves free."

Sitting there under the sloped roof of the dining room, lightning flashed over the churches and steeples of the Holy City, and a table filled with people from all faiths cracked Matzah between their fingers even as we ate in the slave quarters of an early 19th century home. These are the things that I love about Charleston. These are the things that I love about our friends.

That night was a full moon, and I woke after 3 am to the sound of a dog barking. Looking out the bedroom window I saw two dogs, a black one and a white one, lit in the moonlight. The fat black dog was only about eight feet from the house, and they were both facing me, looking inside almost, as his bark echoed through the dark early morning. They must have stayed there for nearly an hour, facing our bedroom window and barking, and it was an eerie ending to a magical evening. What their connection could have been, if any, baffles me. But then again, maybe it was, in its own way, a call to freedom as well.

Two dogs, half wild, running in the night, baying their freedom under the light of the moon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

"I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

With thanks to Lea Beresford, for sending me a poem on a Monday.