family homestead story

Tadg brought home an egg from his visit to the aquarium – a synthetic specimen that cracks open to reveal a critter after soaking overnight. He poked it hourly with anticipation – jazzed to be participating in the miracle of (pseudo) life!


His sister True turns two years old tomorrow – I’ve been feeling her life journey in my heart tenderly, almost painfully. Terry and I are still pulling ourselves out of the time when we were foster parents, walking on razors, passing our beloved daugher-to-be silently across canyons and crevices, as we navigated the many days that stood between us and the final adoption moment. I find myself still claiming her – reminding myself she has arrived in our home for good.

The crucible of the alchemist, the container for his life opus, is symbolized by the egg. It is out of this crucible the true self, radiant self, finally emerges after the struggle of transformation. Tonight I’m stricken by the transformation of my daughter, considering the last two years and nine months – the world that made the crucible that fosters her emergence.

Her brightness is so improbable, given the stress of her earliest days – the stress of todays world. She seems to make all of womanhood an impossibility, how is it any woman can come into being today? We make living unkind for those who shine so. How can a being so creative, intelligent, innovative, emotional, attached, ferocious, gentle and durable be here at all? Our culture looks so stale when she stands before it.

She is an opera
made from a few handfuls of straw
some mud
and the embers
of a family burned to the ground.

She and Tadg wrestle, becoming a tangled bundle of kin that rocks and laughs and cries. There are times when we have to weed one out from the other. We try to disentangle but its impossible. They are a tangle, long live the tangle!

People love telling me that kids are resilient, they outgrow amazing things, she’ll be fine. I think its more than that: the young are masters of alchemy because nothing has interrupted their intimacy with life. She is not outgrowing anything, she is remaking life in herself over and over again. She consumes the crucible as she outgrows it, all the while giving birth to another. All of that darkness is part of her, woven in more deeply, turning to grace and dry leather threads.

He has magician hands
strong and smart
with hers nested there
fat joy growing.

For Tadgs part, he cannot stop running – like a wildfire he must consume everything he touches before dancing on to light more ablaze. He never really walked, went straight to running. I can still see his tiny feet moving so fast down the hill you wouldn’t believe they touched once.  I have to stop him, grab him and hold him close so he can feel the earth again – just for a moment. I feel his heart racing.

Stout Fire Brother

I can see the ways he starts to hold his sister inside that heart. He is not easy on her, not always nice, but he has made a home for her there, I can feel it. He has become a new part of her crucible, as we all have. She’ll always have a home there too.

In the mornings he’s still tired when he first wakes up. He lets us hold and stroke him while he works to bring his spirit back to the world, he’s been off setting fire to the universe. By the time he’s out the door for school he’s already forgotten the wonderment of a fish hatching in an egg on the counter. The world remakes itself around him every day.

We are all nested within each other, our womb-cocoon, our opus-egg. I am as much remade by them as I am a part of their remaking.

The darkness of winter approaches and I feel their lights more brightly. Terry and I sometimes hold each other and revel in that warmth, exhausted, maddened by the ruckus, but deeply grateful. I’m sure the moment we feel that we’ve fully arrived something new will arise, and our crucible will begin its rebirthing process.

We make a circle
my ancestors and I
into the darkness
and back again
around Brigid’s fire
with you in the center.

It seems I’m becoming student of crucibles – how they transform not only our hearts and minds but our very souls. I think the young are always weaving crucibles with their spirits, we’re just blind to the process because we’ve lost that essential sight. I hope to become a better student as the years roll by, I have some extraordinary teachers.

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