Cousin Eddie loved the surprise, of course, and he agreed to do some prying as to how our lovely gatekeeper might most enjoy it painted--though careful not to give away our surprise! He was most enthusiastic, and fired up the remote control patrol jeep immediately and sped away toward the garden gate. I smiled as I watched him shrink into the distance, and I bid good day to the shining sun, the majestic trees, and even the ground that held my feet.
All was peaceful and quiet, and I was ready to get to work, restoring my sacred garden back to its former glory. I put on a record album, moderate volume, picked up the de-disgustinator, and set my sights on clearing a path all the way down to the River's bank. Thanks to Cousin Eddie's efforts the day before, it didn't take much time at all; for there wasn't much left to de-disgustinate in that direction. Having a stereo on the Persian rug was also a great help, I discovered. Having completed my goal with so little effort, I decided to start near the River's bank, widen the path a bit, then direct it southwest toward Freddie's Pond of Fanciness. The pond, which you'll recall was now more scum than pond, was still a great distance from my location. It would be quite some time before I could extend the path that far, but baby steps you know. At least I had my direction.
I played many records as I cleared away foot by disgusting foot of disgusting overgrowth, taking occasional breaks here and there, but ultimately working most efficiently and making more progress than I would have imagined I could have in that span of time. However much time it was. At a point, I suddenly remembered I hadn't checked in with Madeleine at the county clerk's office, and considered breaking off my labors to pay her a visit. Then I decided against it. Not today. No, today was a day for cleansing my sacred garden. Just me, and for me. Whatever urgent matters she might have in wait, could surely wait for another day. I played more records, hummed--and sometimes sang--along, and cleared away more and more disgusting overgrowth.
The sun began to sink, and would soon be slumbering beneath the River, and I saw the first couple of stars emerge from their mangers. I put away the de-disgustinator for the day, shut down the stereo system upon the Persian rug, and decided to visit the garden gate. I was trying to guess what Edwin the Bee and Raven were up to as I approached them slowly on the far western edge of my sacred garden.
As always, Raven was pleasant, and to the point. She filled me in on some recent news she'd been hearing from around the Xanadu Forest (and beyond), and reminded me that Madeleine would be anxiously awaiting my presence at the county clerk's office. To my surprise, Edwin the Bee buzzed and flew out of his little lotus flower, and in my direction. He almost never leaves His lotus flower. Certainly not for me, anyway.
Edwin landed on my shoulder, pushed up His little bee glasses, and said, "Come, Kevin, let's go visit my beautiful daughter; it is always so refreshing to gaze upon her." Then He hopped off my shoulder, buzzing His way toward the River's bank, through the path Cousin Eddie and I had just finished clearing.
Edwin arrived at His daughter Zoe's bank long before me of course, and was already seated with His ankles crossed, gazing into the River, by the time He came into view. As I drew near Him, I noticed how beautifully the moon and Orion were reflecting off of Zoe. "The most beautiful River this existence has ever seen, without a doubt," I thought to myself, and sat down next to Edwin. It was a most pleasant moment...but just for a moment--and perhaps less.
Edwin wasted no time at all piercing my heart of hearts with His sharpened sword. His first words to me as I sat down were, "It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, isn't it?" He never for a microsecond took His gaze off of His daughter as He spoke.
I wanted to cry instantly, but couldn't--the pain was so sharp. I may actually have pressed my hand against my chest. I couldn't speak--there was nothing I could say that moment...not that I needed to, since Edwin knows my deepest thoughts and feelings even before I do. My head fell, and my eyes closed. Scenes from my entire life formed in my mind: all the times I ran away, all the times I left others no choice but to run away from me, all the pain I had caused to those that I loved, and that loved me back. No words were spoken by either of us for many moments. There was nothing but a loud silence.
Edwin still hadn't stop gazing into His daughter, the River. Finally, He spoke, "Don't be taking all the credit for yourself...you humans are all very adept at running away from each other. It's one of the things you do best." Edwin knew well what I was thinking and feeling of course. He continued, "Sooner or later, everyone runs away--for any number of reasons. Sometimes for themselves, sometimes for others, sometimes because it is part of a destiny they don't understand. But separation always brings pain into the world, and into the hearts of the mortals."
I raised my head just a little, and gazed into Zoe. "I shouldn't have run away. I feel that," I spoke softly.
Edwin spoke again, "By my definitions of 'right' and 'wrong', nearly everything you humans do is wrong. That said, running away from one's self is never a good thing. That kind of running away is an endless cycle; pain repeated and multiplied over time." Still not taking His gaze off of Zoe, Edwin went on, "Somewhere along the way, you learned to love yourself as a mistress rather than a spouse--which is a most tragic thing. You will never be at peace so long as you tread that path."
I looked up at the night sky just for a second, then back down into the River again. I fidgeted with a twig as I struggled to process and understand Edwin's words. I had begun to envision myself marrying myself--wedding gown and all (not for me, but for the other me) but I pushed it out of my mind quickly, thinking it might be mistaken for untimely humor. I sincerely wondered what it would mean to love myself as a spouse rather than a mistress--and just how to do that.
Edwin responded cryptically, "My daughter Zoe is so very beautiful. So precious. So refreshing." I could feel Edwin giving her a huge hug, though He never moved from His seated position or even twitched in the least--His gaze into her unbroken. Then He asked me, "Do you know why my daughter is so beautiful?"
This seemed like one of the simpler questions Edwin had ever asked me, so I quickly answered, "Because she is Your daughter."
Edwin closed his eyes, but didn't tilt or twist His head in the least as He replied, "Yes, she certainly is that. She is also eternal. Long after every human and critter you've ever known has left this existence, my daughter will still be here, flowing faithfully. For she is Life...and she is your sister."
A tear formed in the corner of my eye that very instant--the very best kind of tear. I had long gazed into Zoe's beauty, and adored her. She had spoken to me in my dreams. I had written a song about her once. A beautiful song, that now, suddenly, I suspected was given to me by another. But never once had I thought of Zoe as my sister. That was an incredible revelation to me.
Edwin interrupted my train of thought, "Yes, Andrew gave you that song. He was trying very hard to help you realize she was your sister, but you had shut him out too, as you were running from yourself, and the message never reached your secret place." With that, Edwin stood up, stretched His wings, stepped to the River's edge, sat down, and dipped His little bee feet into the water. Then He turned toward me and asked, "Do you suppose my daughter works so very hard to be beautiful?"
I looked deeper into Zoe, my sister, and noticed that Orion's reflection still adorned her, but had moved further to the south. "Of course not," I said, "she is beautiful because she flows...she just IS. And she's eternal, as you said." I realized, as the words slipped off my tongue, just what Edwin had done there. I felt like a pompous ass for just a moment, but that was likely His point. I do believe I saw Edwin smile, though I was certain he wasn't going to admit it.
Edwin pulled His little bee feet out of my sister the River, stood up, then hopped onto my shoulder quite playfully. And He pushed His little bee glasses up once more. "Give me a lift to the Persian rug, and I'll take it from there." Of course I stood and obliged, and I blew a kiss to my beautiful sister Zoe, as we turned and walked away.
Once we reached the Persian rug, Edwin left my shoulder and hovered above me. In such a soft and tender voice, He said to me, "Have faith, my son...for you are indeed MY son. No despair--not for a second. Now play a sweet record--not too loudly, because I'm going to be sleeping--and enjoy the majesty of your cousins, the moon and stars. And don't look for comfort tonight as you drift off to sleep tonight, my son...just look for your SELF, and marry that self, and never let him go. Comfort will find you when you need it most."
In this instance I was happy that Edwin knew my thoughts and feelings before I did, otherwise I would have felt foolish when I asked Him, "So do I have to call you 'Dad' now?" He laughed that time, I know He did.
But He hid it well, and sneered, "Umm...please don't. 'Edwin' will do just fine." And Edwin shrunk as He flew off to his little lotus flower next to the garden gate.
"Goodnight, Edwin," I shouted just enough to feel that I wasn't shouting. He didn't respond, of course. I played a soft and sweet record--at a low volume--as I lie down upon the Persian rug, and watch my cousin Orion dip his toes into the River. "Goodnight, cousins, and goodnight, sister," I whispered as my eyes fell shut and my breath became gratitude.
Goodnight all lovelies. And thank you, always.