Early in Donald’s and my marriage, we got a couple of pygmy goats, Natalie and Boris. As animals do, they stitched Donald and me into the fabric of our land. Each day we followed these little black psychopomps (yes, they led the way!) along deer trails through the oak and bay forest and into the stretches of oak savanna where we came to build our home. This experience of the Joy of Absolute Presence was the root beginning of my writing Fruits of Eden,
I wrote a series of poems about our experiences. The following is one of my favorites. That first winter with the goats, it rained a lot. Natalie and Boris hated rain. We had a small shed where we kept them at night, secure and warm. They would snuggle into the straw, the grassy scent permeating the air. The pungency of the shed reminded me of the Christmas story: it was here, in this most unlikely of places, that Jesus incarnated.
We are in such a dark time on our planet. The natural cycle of life reminds us that this, too, changes. Spring comes. Winter is emersion in yin, an actively receptive state of being, like a psychic pregnancy. It is now, in the darkest, coldest time of the year, that the turning happens, and Light begins to increase again.
But while we wait, there is so much to be gained by deeply experiencing the dark. Perhaps this is how the seed of new consciousness sprouts.
Grey day and rain, all night, rain.
I bring aromatic oat hay fragrant from July fields
and the goats wait, fat as potatoes from a week
of waiting. Waiting… for sun. The world is damp and sodden.
I smooth the stiff hair along the spine
of each fat black body, each warm earth body,
hunkered down in the darkened barn,
one small window embroidered by Spider.
Pungent from a week of confinement,
steamy from body heat and urine,
they nuzzle the fresh straw I bring, then sink deep into it, tucking stocky legs underneath, to ruminate and to wait…
Now I understand why Christ was born somewhere like this,
in our animalness, almond eyes glistening in the dim light,
sturdy bodies full of vitality, gaining substance
from the wait. I understand
why It happens in the longest darkness, in the whisper
of animal breath and the stinging scent of straw
dampened by days of goats waiting out storms.