Dark night of the mystic soul

Aside

As she wandered back to her cabin, searching for any fond memories she might have buried from her childhood, light faded everywhere around her.

How about the coloring? Children enjoy coloring, how about that? She’d spent so many hours and days on her art. It was as close as she could remember to having her Mamma stand over her with anything even remotely resembling approval. Her books and comics could be tales of Jesus, but coloring books had to be Old Testament because “No child’s impure hand could touch a crayon to the sweet beautiful face of our lord and savior Jesus Christ.”

So the little girl had scrunched down over Daniel in the lion’s den. Samson, screaming, being blinded with daggers and torches. The redder she made the flowing wounds of a man of God shot full of arrows, or stoned to death, the richer the flames of three men being burned in a box, the longer mamma let her stay out of that closet.

But the men still came. Mamma had no say over that. The Cleansers from the church had to step in as her father, since women were weak and needed men to set them straight. Mamma had done the unmentionable, and that sin must be cleansed from the girl child.

Paulette had fought so hard not to hum while she colored, since music was sinful. Now she fought to lock that vision back into its box. It was as close as she came to a happy childhood memory, but even this one gnawed away at her insides.

As that long night of deepening terrors took hold, her room grew colder. The trees outside began to quiver, then wail. The winds rose up, gathering the darkness in around them.

She heard rivers running everywhere, whitewater roaring far off.

But it was only those ominous winds, scraping and clawing through long-dried leaves that should have been left to lie still, and die quietly.

– From today’s chapter of “The Gardens of Ailana”

Aside

I have to describe “The Mourning After” in 300 words or less, emphasizing protagonist, setting, and theme. This is 273. What do you think? Any suggestions?:
Nightmares of war and death from lost centuries torment a young boy. He can’t separate fantasy from reality. Denis meets a child he calls M. She knows his dreams intimately. Telling him they’re more than imagination, she asks, “Do you … remember?”
They tear at him with devastating force and detail. Driven by a need for answers, the adult Denis searches America, finding only more questions.
Amid the storms and whispers of a haunted forest with intentions of its own, he finds a decrepit cabin, where his terrors start coming real. Beside its old barn someone has been tending the grave of at least one of his “imaginary” childhood playmates, Enoch.
Nothing makes sense if he can’t let himself believe that he and M lived there long ago. That they’ve loved each other for lifetimes, with increasing desperation, as he keeps dying young, leaving her grieving into lonely old age.
Enoch, always in the background, somehow holds the key to ending this cycle of suffering.
Denis searches for M, as she fights her own haunting mysteries back to him.
He meets a quiet, mysterious man in the forest.
In a world where death is just another beginning, they must trust in what they cannot believe.
M arrives too late. She finds Denis’s journal, his grave, and this deeply hurting stranger. To smash this ancient chain of tragedy, she must follow Denis into death.
From the other side, he has to find a way to stop her.
Then she falls in love with the stranger.
That which can’t possibly be true weaves through wonders that can’t be denied, until love makes everything real.

“The Gardens of Ailana”

Aside

Sylva was holding her hand up in awe. A child of four, she was hardly even talking yet, but there was a good possibility this was intentional. Garden creatures understood her well enough.

She was watching a fat, fuzzy bee with golden stripes saunter across her upturned hand, trailing pollen along her palm, to the delight of her tiny companion, Renn.

Renn, all of six years of age, was Syl’s older brother, though it didn’t always feel that way. He trailed her through adventures into bright, spirited loveliness and sheer joy, asking questions, and hearing answers that often neither of them actually said aloud. In the world they inhabited, most beings didn’t speak. In that world, it wasn’t really necessary.

“Does he tickle, Syl?” he asked, though, because sometimes feelings have to be expressed.

He probably could have coaxed a bee of his own onto his own hand, but he loved watching his little sister’s eyes, sharing her delight.

“Petelmeyer,” she told him, answering the next question he was getting ready to ask. “We have decided to name this bee, Petelmeyer,” and it sounded like she was getting ready to knight it.

The tiny thing couldn’t kneel, since its legs hadn’t been assembled that way, but Petelmeyer he became then, and Petelmeyer he stayed.

As though she had commanded him to rise and assume his new duties in the Kingdom of Nature, he lifted up into soft garden breezes, touched her fingertip, and bowed away.

His realm called to him. He had duties to attend to in a nearby patch of strawberries.

The children giggled.

For some people, gardens come alive with the sunrise, with that first kiss of color, and warmth.

For others, they’re at their best in the darkness, when true magic is everywhere.

For these two, Ailana’s Gardens were always miraculous; they carried the magic around with them.

Sylvie was a wind-tossed child with scrambled hair. She would never wear a hat because there was no way she could keep it on, and just couldn’t be bothered. She had similar problems with shoes that tied, so she went everywhere barefoot or in boots. One couldn’t imagine her without a smudge on her face. Ailana called her Flitter.

She was a child born with wide open eyes who didn’t need to be told what she saw. Sometimes she played Peekaboo in the middle of a field, when there didn’t appear to be anyone with her, but no one really questioned her on it; few even chalked it off to imagination; they knew she saw deeper than they could.

Some thought she was late starting to speak because she was a slow learner, but those who knew her well suspected she’d been born with very little left to learn.

Visitors to the garden heard rumors that she wasn’t a normal human child at all. That she may have been more of a nature spirit, taking on human form for only this one lifetime.

What others thought and said about her, though, didn’t stir any interest at all. She didn’t think about people much. They were mere passing curiosities; just as they were to most fairies, tree spirits, and forest sylphs.

Her hippy parents may have sensed some of this from the beginning. This may have been why they’d named her Sylva.

As Petelmeyer plied the short green fields of berries, Sylva shared the gift of the pollen he’d left behind with her brother. Delicately pressing the fingertip the bee had kissed into a spot of golden powder on her palm, she touched that to the center of Renn’s forehead, just above his eyebrows.

She repeated that ceremony on her own.

Neither spoke.

One tree very near them whispered a quiet, contented croak. Sylv croaked back.

Sunbeams glistened off the wings of a dragonfly in subdued hints of purple, then green, or maybe red. Renn wondered just how many colors there were.

“God sings through the flowers, you know,” Sylva said, “Only you don’t hear him with any part of your head.”

Renn sort of knew what she was saying.

When Ailana came by later, she found the little girl standing over a dead rabbit. Her brother had wandered away. A child down the street had just died. He didn’t know how to process that, and didn’t think he really wanted to, so he just left her alone with the still form of the bunny.

Ailana said nothing. She just stood there with Sylvie, offering blessings of her own.

It was a while before Sylva spoke. She quite often didn’t, but when she did have something to say, it was worth fully listening to.

Now she told Ailana, “It is sad some things die, but it isn’t. The part we see with our outside eyes just stops moving is all. But the shiny part can play better then, because it doesn’t have to stay close to the ground anymore.”

Ailana smiled, and said nothing.

Sylvie much preferred people stay silent when there was so obviously nothing more to say.

– A character I’m creating within my new novel, “The Gardens of Ailana.”

Ailana’s Gardens.

Aside

New opening lines for the book?: “I hurt so badly to connect with something.” She didn’t know how many times she’d awakened with those words in her head; that ache in her heart. She wasn’t completely sure what they meant, or what she could do to change anything. She only knew that feeling rode her somehow. Like a horse wearing blinders, she always felt something unseen, controlling each step, yanking at her reins, pulling her up short when she wanted to run free across vast fields she probably only imagined. Or maybe in some strange way remembered.

Dedication: This book is for those who hurt for something more in their everyday lives. Who desperately need to feel connected to something. Something Higher, richer, more meaningful. No matter how much they give to others, no matter how productive, over-stuffed, and generous their lives, they always feel they’re pulling up short.

It’s for those who need to feel what it’s like to heal, and be healed.

For those who need to FEEL again.

To feel something far beyond life’s daily drudgeries.

Don’t just parrot the philosophers

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Ancient philosophers were explorers and wanted us to be. They wanted to understand this physical world, but not get stuck there. They didn’t share their insights so we would over-analyze and repeat them in endless loops through forever ad nauseum. Their goals never included being quoted and re-translated until they lost all meaning. They sought to be jumping off points, not stalling out points. They wanted to be doorways, not doorstops.