Sunday, August 29, 2010

oya and sophia

People often ask me how I happened to choose the pen name OyaSophia. I was actually pretty deliberate about it. I wanted to be inspired by the stories and images of Goddesses. Since I knew nothing about Goddesses, I did some research.

Oya is the Yoruban Goddess of storms (or fierce winds or tempests). She is often depicted handling a tornado or some lightning. She is all about change and transformation. She is a Warrior Queen. What a wonderful muse for a writer! Oya is also a nurturing, protective mother. Anyone who has been a mother knows the overwhelming power you feel when you believe that your child is in danger. We would do anything to protect our babies. This is the power of Oya. But by herself, she was a bit too fierce. So I added Sophia.

Sophia is the Gnostic Goddess of wisdom. She is often presented as the most grounded of the divine. In the Gnostic Gospels found in Nag Hammadi, she was presented as the third manifestation of God, but was later altered to remove her feminine identification and transformed into what we now think of as "The Holy Spirit". (She also appears in many other religions, but is most powerful and wise in the Gnostic tradition.) Some people believe that Leonardo Da Vinci painted her just to the right of God in that famous Sistine Chapel painting that shows God reaching out his hand to Jesus. Go take a look!

Together, Oya and Sophia represent wisdom that comes from going through a storm. I often write to try to make sense of situations that I have weathered. I'm eager to learn.

Goddesses are symbols of the divine aspects of the feminine. Too often, women disappear from religious stories, or are regulated to minor roles. Any woman who has made it past childhood can tell story after story after story of women who have transformed situations, who have persevered, who have held each other up, who have swiftly and fairly meted out justice, who have stood tall in the face of danger, fear, the unknown or simply in the face of change. We know, instinctively, that women are powerful. I love the Goddesses because they represent our feminine power.

When I see the name OyaSophia on my blog title, it inspires me and humbles me. I am more careful about what I say. I am more aware of the responsibility I have as a woman and as a writer. It can't just be about me. My writing has to also be about how the reader may or may not be transformed. I hope that I am inspired by Oya and Sophia. I also hope that the inspiration will reach through my words and inspire others to be in touch with their creative side!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

the pantry

The pantry in my Memphis home was huge. As a result, I could never find anything. Now, in my off hours, I am unpacking the boxes packed by the moving company and I'm finding many duplications of goods. I count five cans of diced tomatoes, three cans of tomato paste, four cans of cream of chicken soup and so on.

Not only does my tiny new home in Eagleville, PA lack a pantry, there is very little cabinet space in the kitchen. I have far too many things to fit in the space!

In my preparation to move from 4000 square feet to 950+ square feet, I was so busy paring down my furniture and accessories and clothes, that I failed to consider all of the stuff in that pantry. But all of these duplications makes me consider whether this isn't a good lesson for my life.

Is it possible that I have so much that I fail to see what I have? Are diced tomatoes symbolic of some other blessing that I have in abundance that I fail to be thankful for on any given day? Am I, in fact, seeking what I already have?

This is not the first time I have been faced with this lesson. When my son was six years old, I was running late one wintry morning and raced out to the car, only to find it covered with ice. I wanted to cry and silently complained to God as I scraped the ice from the passenger side of the car, "Could you not send me an angel who would do this for me?" I meant a partner in life, of course, a man who would scrape the ice from my car and do so many of the other tasks that husbands traditionally do. As I felt the full force of my bitterness flowing from me into that ice scraper, I glanced through the hole I was creating and noticed my son's sweet face smiling brightly at me through the hole he was creating in the ice on the other side of the car. I already had an angel. I smiled back and felt ashamed. Count your blessings, my grandfather used to tell us, count them - every one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Then, there they are. The letters from his time in Iraq staring back at me from the cardboard box where they have been stored for these many years. I look at them, debating whether to open and read them again. I know that re-reading the letters, and, oh look, there are some greeting cards too from after he got back, will bring a huge sadness because ... well, because Jamie isn't walking on this Earth anymore. And I missed time with him, so busy with my own life.

I decide to open and read one card and pick one up at random. It is a Christmas card, no envelope, so I don't even know the year. But the content tells me it is after Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is in the Golden Knights and he is headed to Arizona for off-season training. He is 8 months with his current girlfriend and things are looking promising for this relationship. His phone is changed because he was getting collections calls for two people he didn't even know. And he loves me and misses me.

And then I cry, mourning the loss of my friend again, wishing I had known that he needed a friend, needed me, towards the end of his life, wishing I could have been there for him. My mind goes through our long friendship. In college, when he longed for me, I was in love with someone else. Then, years later, after my divorce, when I was ready to love him back, he spiraled away from me. Then we just settled into a friendship. We were pen pals through Desert Shield and Storm. He wrote some of the most amazing letters ever. I can't read them right now. Maybe in a few years.

I hold him in a special place in my heart. He was my precious friend. Desperado. Jamie. I love you, sweetheart. Rest in peace.