Sarah breathed in the night air and glanced around her.
It was here, in the woods behind her home, she felt most true. She positioned herself against the mossy undergrowth and sank her fingers deep into the damp soil. When she was little, her mom used to take her on walks through the mountains in Idaho. She hated those walks. Hated the heat, hated the crickets coating the trees, hated the coyotes howling at the moon. She always counted the seconds before she would be able to go back to camp - a one room cabin where she’d stay the summer with her family.
During one walk, her mother stopped in the middle of a gathering of tall sycamore trees, towering over her and swaying in the breeze.
“Do you hear that?” her mother whispered.
Sarah looked around and widened her eyes, indignant. “Are you serious right now?” She’d cocked her teenage hip and snorted with disgust. “Mom, you are so weird.”
Her mom opened her eyes and looked at Sarah with no judgment, only sadness. “One day soon you will hear it. The voices will start calling to you on the wind and you won’t be able to ignore. You’ll know.” She walked over to her then, cupping her face with her hands and planting a kiss on her forehead. “Go on back to camp if you’d like. I’m going to stay out here and rest a bit.” And she’d turned away from Sarah, walking into the trees with a gait so graceful she sat and watched her until she disappeared.
She smiled at the memory, her fingers growing cold. Staring at the stars, she found the big dipper and traced the line to Orion.
Her mom always was more of a mystic than anyone wanted to believe.
I hear it now, mom. She thought. I know what you were saying. About nature speaking of the deep? About the wind against the leaves, whispering secrets of darkness and light...
A tear escaped her then, rolling down her cheek before she had a chance to wipe it away.
She needed to understand. Needed to know how to grab hold of the mystery her mother possessed.
Her hands went to her belly, feeling the growing bulge and the fear of what comes next. She wasn’t ready to be a mother. She failed as a daughter and was a horrible sister. She barely knew what it meant to be a wife.
No, she wasn’t ready. But that didn’t stop the love. It pressed against her ribs at times, almost threatening to take her heart out with its force. In those moments, she’d just sit and lean into the pain, closing her eyes and thinking of the joy to come.
“Tell me your secrets” she whispered to the wind, “tell me what it means to hold the world in my hands.”
She pressed her hands against her eyes and shook her head. Certifiable. That’s what she was - absolutely crazy. She could see into the future - could see her own daughter cocking her hip and looking at her incredulously through insect ridden fields and hikes through mountains. Wasn’t there another way? She sat there for awhile, breathing steady, the crickets echoing her own cadence. If she concentrated hard enough, she could feel herself fall deeper into the soil around her.
What was that phrase from childhood? Ashes to ashes, dust to dust? She knew a little more of what that meant now. Life went by so quickly.
When she opened her eyes she gasped. Light illuminated the sky, falling like tiny pieces of glass. Star after star, exploding in on itself, falling in waves around her. She spread her arms and laughed, the musky air filling her lungs. All this time, she thought she knew. All this time, she thought she understood the secrets whispered on the wind.
And she had no idea.
The twinkling show continued, and she knew what was happening. What always happens when something experiences a rebirth - a crashing, a shattering, a piecing back together.
Because in those moments, Sarah knew her mother was sending her a message.
What’s whispered on the wind isn’t the secrets of the deep. It isn’t the knowledge of darkness and light and how to hold the world in your hands.
It’s the women who’ve gone before - who’ve experienced the shattering and know the joy. It’s their tears raining down on us and it’s their lullabies we hear in the melody of wind against leaf.
Breathing life once more into those who need it most. Mothering. Comforting. Holding. Whispering.