There was a chicken at my feet pecking yummy crumbs from between the loose dirt and the pale pea gravel. The group of us, who were for the greater part
strangers, sat around a row of plastic tables having just finished our simple
meal. It was a beautiful warm evening at a pousada in the community that
embraces the healing center of the Casa de Dom Inácio in Abadiania, Brazil. The sun, from its acute vantage point on the horizon, picked out the fine details of the mandalas on the walls and the rusty defects on the tin doors to our rooms.
On that evening, a gentleman, who’d been there for a while, was plying the evening air with a richly detailed story of his healing journey before seeking healing at the Casa. It was a story of great pain entwined with phantasmagorical dreams, demons and even a vertical burial in sand. Whether it was a story of delusion, hyperbole or bizarre truth was not important to me. It was the story and the quality of its telling that was intriguing. In any case, it is my wont to listen to everything as if it were fiction. It helps me to keep my mind open and allows me to winnow the wheat from the chaff as it were. The world speaks to each of us differently. Who knows what I might learn. At the very least, I’ve got a new story to tell.
The next day, having heard that the gentleman had written a book about his journey, I borrowed a copy from the pousada’s modest library and sat down to read it. Though slight, the book was a slow and difficult read. I stuck with it, however, for surely it would morph at some point into the same amazing tale that I’d heard. True, the book touched on all the salient points; however, it was bereft of organization, filled with redundancy and failed to effectively capture his voice. I was never more acutely aware of the value of an editor. Still, I was sensitive to the gentleman’s plight both as a human and as a writer. I struggle, as well, in my expression. What is my story, the proper sequence and pace? Is it time for subtlety or spot light? Have I identified my character? What is my voice? Is it serving any purpose other than self-amusement? Self-editing, I hunt and peck.
It was evening again and, having sat peacefully in meditation in one of the current rooms for many hours that afternoon, I leaned back and let my mind wander as everyone chatted. In doing so, my mind drifted to the previous week. On our way to the Casa, we had stopped to visit the Cathedral of Brasília with its sixteen white hyperbolic ribs polished clean, bare and exposed under the sun. Inside, the cathedral’s ceiling was a vast expanse of stained glass a primordial sea of convergent
blues in the midst of which floated a cosmic egg. I liked the effect of disparate ideas held in juxtaposition: birth and death, secular and nonsecular, modern and traditional. I loved that someone took the time to shape that story, a story that was broad and inclusive though its presentation was simple and concise.
Once again, the chicken had wandered over from the adjacent farm. I liked him being there poking about, picking up scraps along with odd bits of gravel and crushed shells. My grandparents had
raised chickens. I remembered that chickens consumed those bits of gravel to assist their gizzards in grinding food
thus aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption including the calcium from the shells which would be recycled to create new shells for future eggs. All those
disparate bits mashed together, then
sorted and reformed into a simple, purposeful creation.