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“Yeah, go ahead and cut off my brunette hair,” I said, the words skedaddling off my tongue and ending weeks of indecision.

Immediately, I remembered another haircut, one that also ushered significant change. It was 1968. With the superior’s permission to wear secular clothes while studying on the Tulane campus, I sought a beautician at Maison Blanche Department Store in downtown New Orleans. My thick brunette hair, cut with blunt-edge scissors to accommodate my white cap and black veil, smelled, even matted the contours of my head. Shame diced my innards as I secretly glanced at Nicholas in the mirror snipping away at my hair. “The rest will have to grow out,” he had said rolling his eyes and removing the maroon cape from around my neck.

And my haircuts continued for decades, with unblinking regularity, until the emergence of gray hairs threatened to spoil my youthful appearance. A former nun picked up my distress and taught me to color my hair over her kitchen sink. I learned quickly and remained a touched-up brunette, until two weeks ago.

This time, another overcast morning in my kitchen, another maroon cape fastened around my neck, another challenge: shaggy lengths of brunette hair sort of framed my face and fell below my ears, thanks to my dull scissors. Like a full moon illuminating a harvested field, the overhead fixture shone upon the white roots.

“So it’s off with the brunette,” my retired stylist Patty said, laughing, unwrapping the cloth pouch with her well-worn tools. I nodded, in sync with her lightness and expertise. This would work. More snipping, more shared stories, more strands of brunette hair mounting upon the floor—A new me was emerging.

“Now, that does look cute, Liz!” she said, stepping back to take in her work: my initiation into old age with white and soft gray hair, albeit very short, was complete.

 

HE CAME BACK!

MAY YOU ENJOY HIS EASTERING IN YOUR DEPTHS!

I awoke with this dream feathering my awareness:

A dung beetle meanders down the sidewalk, its stout body glistening with moisture, its fan-shaped antennas slanting sideways. Sidling toward it is a monster insect, its mandibles grinding as if anticipating a meal. The moment I try redirecting the beetle, it darts into the arms of the insect that leaves beetle parts strewn upon the ground. It happened that fast.

While I composed this blog, memories of my 1996 Egyptian tour warmed me.

The dung beetle’s intake of excrement from the ground offends most sensibilities, but not so the ancient Egyptians. In their religious imagination, the beetle’s rolling pieces of dung into burrows morphed into their god Khepri: each morning he created the sun, then carried it across the sky to its demise, only to reappear the next morning and nurture plowed fields dependent upon that energy. In time, the dung beetle became likened to transformation, renewal, and resurrection.

 

So what has the dung beetle to teach me in my present circumstances?

In the dream my slowness prevented moving the beetle out of harm’s way and left me frustrated. I did have a plan, but the beetle had another: within the jaws of death.

Perhaps my denial still hides out beneath meticulous self-care, despite subtle diminishments. In no way can I my restore my depleted energy. I’m following a life path designed by Another. Yet, my dung beetle wants out of here and has no fear of monster insects. Would that I felt similarly. Perhaps I will, in time…

 

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