Once every six months or so, I am required at my job to spend a day polishing silver. I rather like this duty–it’s meditative, and I enjoy spending so much time focusing on the details of jewelry. It affords me an opportunity to spend hours with Freyja.
Yesterday was silver polishing day, and I learned much. The first thing, which is always the major lesson I come away from silver polishing, is just how much tarnish can come off of a piece of silver that appears to be clean. I can polish the same spot for quite some time, leaving black stain after black stain on my piece of cloth, and yet, all the while, the silver appears to be clean.
And then when it really is clean–my gods the Beauty! The sparkly beauty of my lady shining forth from the precious metals! Of course she would have loved jewelry. It sparkles with the passion of the earth who forged the silver and the care of craftsman who poured himself into creating beauty. Jewelry is the meeting of the Beauty of Earth and the glory of her creations and the Beauty of Man and his practice. Jewelry and dance are the honing by people of some perfectly organized bit of the earth to create a dancing, sparkling beauty that is a joy to behold.
That the silver tarnishes so quickly, and so thoroughly reminds me of a lesson I often forget in dance. As I said before, dance and jewelry are really the same craft in some sense. I haven’t been stretching enough lately, and in only a few weeks I have lost quite a bit of my flexibility. In only a short while of not attending classes, I have lost some of my technique, some of that exquisite control of my body that I experience when I am at the top of my game, so to speak. It is easy to forget how much the silver of my muscles and bones can tarnish, and how they can be endlessly polished if I choose to work on them. If I were to stretch every day, exercise every day, attend class as much as I would like, imagine the sparkle of my bones’ jewelry, the dancing of my limbs, the sparkle of the tarnish-free silver! Imagine how I could see myself in its shine!
The same is true of spirituality, of course. But in so much less physical of a way. I haven’t much felt my Lady this summer–I’ve been a bit distracted by Davin’s moving in. I haven’t taken as much time to speak with her. Part of the problem is that I have felt a bit guilty. For so long, I have related to Freyja mainly as Mourning Lover, living a life apart from her Beloved, and seeking him. But now I have Gent living with me, and a part of me feels bad. I am no more a Mourning Lover, yet Freyja is the Eternal Mourning Lover. Eternally far from Odh.
But here was the second lesson of Polishing. I learned, while polishing, that someone I know has recently entered a long-distance relationship with someone in England, who she has known for many years. I was excited by the news, and thinking of that distance, England to America. Which reminded me of the intensity of my longing when Davin was in Rome and I was in America. The endless ocean of distance between us. And then I remembered the poem that got me through it: “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne. He wrote it for his wife when he had to leave for the France and Germany. And I realized something: I was doing Freyja a disservice by making her mythology about me. The gods are huge, and powerful throughout the worlds, not just my own little universe. The world doesn’t revolve around me, of course, but it is so easy to forget and become selfish.
No, Freyja’s lessons as Mourning Lover are not just for while I am also in Mourning. There has always in history been that longing, and there always will be. And don’t the gods live in Mythological time, that time outside of time which has always and will always be Now? And so that reach across the Heavens and the waters was not just for me, or for John Donne. That reach is the reach of Love, the intensity of Passion, the neverendingness of Want, the endless search for Connection, the joy of Reunion. Always and forever will Love have that power. Always and forever will Freyja search, polishing the Earth in Beauty, and seeking her Love.
As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“The break goes now!” and some say, “No,”
So let us melt, and make no noise.
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.
Moving of the Earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did an meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers’ love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.
But we, by a love so much refined
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two
So as stiff, twin compasses are two:
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’other do.
And though it in the center sit,
Whilst the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
and grows erect, as that comes home.
So wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like the other foot, obliquely run.
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.