I wrote this a long time ago as a gift to someone else. Over time it has become more of a gift to myself.
Legend has it, that we were once a species with four arms, four legs and two faces peering out of one giant head. And when we became too powerful Zeus cut us in half, cursing us for eternity to wander the world searching, blinded, for the other that would make our souls whole. We call these soulmates.
Once upon a two there were two women. Each was strong and brave and beautiful, and had long been the protector for countless others who did not have the strength to see themselves clearly.
One, the smaller of the two, had long mahogany curls down to her waist and deep open eyes that were blue and green and when they awoke would stir liveness in you. She was an artist; a vessel for the muse that would pour through her and into the souls of those who had the good fortune to see her speak. She had practiced the arts of healing souls, and could reach in to your mind and gently and lovingly untangle all the knots so you could see clearly. Her name was Life, and when she graced you with her full presence you were being graced with the presence of Life itself; none other than the full essence of creation.
The other, bigger, stronger, was a creator of a more practical sort. She had mastered both the art of loving beings and the art of knowing things; a combination rarely able to flourish inside one person. She could dance with, around and inside systems of all kinds; so complex that they wrapped you up and threatened to strangle you, but she could. She had full lips and a heart shaped face with bright blue full deep eyes, a rare mix of strong and softly open. She was a Gift, a Gift from God, as was her name, and the gifts that arose in her were not hers but merely manifestations of some deeper presence.
Both women had been wounded early by the one who should have been their strongest ally. Their mothers, whole and fragile humans as they were, could not see out of themselves clearly enough to see the damage they were causing their daughters. Their mothers had been wounded themselves, and, thus, trapped inside the remnants of ancient accidents, would become unpredictable demons; alternating between anger and sadness, shining and isolation. Their hid themselves from their daughters, and their daughters felt the clammy absence of the one who should have loved them the most deeply, protected them the most fiercely. Each girl, as a young girl, in her own way had found a way to clean and tend the wounds that had been wrought by their mothers’ illness; quietly moving away to a corner so as not to disturb anyone with their screams. They were careful not to frighten anyone else as they themselves had been so frightened when their mothers’ pain became too much to bear.
And in this way they had begun the process of healing themselves; of finding the strength that had been borne to them as children and uncovering it from underneath the false resilience forced upon them in difficult childhoods as their mothers’ keepers and family saviours. They learned a real form of strength; the strength that allows to show itself in vulnerability and softness, in the arms of others that let you feel truly safe and loved. And each girl, as the girl became a woman, had found what she had never had as a child in the people she assembled around her – promising to that young girl inside that never again would she be made to feel so weak and alone.
And it was in this moment, having already been the subjects of their own healing, that Life and Gift met. They had been in similar places at similar times, known the others’ names and seen a quiet sparkle of intellect from across a crowded room, but had never thought of the other as anything other than a kind soul and potential good friend.
But on the day when they truly met, they were much closer in physical space than ever before, and the sparks that existed in each one were able to make the jump across the small chasm to swarm with the energy of the other. Each recognised a light that was there but previously unseen, and once the light was shown, it could not be turned off.
Often, falling in love is a process that is fraught and has its fits and starts; certainly Love finds it difficult to navigate around the rocky duet of each lover’s insecurities. But in this case, the women had each already carefully picked out the rocks and left the chasm clear, so much so that when the dam was gently pried open, Love immediately flooded in. Time became a series of cascading moments in which one offered a new, terrifyingly raw glimpse of herself and the other responded eagerly with a new trembling glimpse of her own. They immediately recognised each other, a twin soul spiraling around itself in its eagerness to become one again. They had been separated for centuries, and in realising this their hearts ached for the young ones they had been who had not known how cut off they had been from their true nature.
For this duet, these twin souls rapidly merging back in to one, was a mirrored instantiation of the same warrior goddess, Athena. Each had seen the resemblance in her early lives, but had not had the hope that they could fully become her unless they were able to build up the strength to put on that cloak and crown alone. Neither ever imagined that the energy to hold her head high as the goddess would come merely from being in the presence of her own true and vivid reflection. But it was so, and for each woman, for Gift and for Life, they realised they must put down and put away their fearful selves that didn’t allow them to be this, that listened to the world when it told them to be small and told them to take on unyielding struggles with no respite. They realised more fully, as both had realised much earlier but much more tentatively, that the twin soul that had been unlocked when they fell into each others’ gravity was not theirs to own; it was merely a way in which the universe perceived itself flowing through the vessels of two human forms.
Over time, for both of the beings now held in this gravitational spin, the crusty shells and casings of the smaller, fearful selves fell away and they became used to their big, awakened presence. They learned how to shield others who weren’t ready for it from themselves, without pulling their souls back into a dark cold box. Unshackled by fears of not being enough (for they were both, always and forever enough, so clearly in the eyes of each other), they began to open their mouths and to speak. They spoke into being the loving reality that could be so if only the fears were not the ruling class; they woke up their hands and used them to heal the others who were needed to do the work and to carry the pieces of the future into being that were not yet where they needed to be.
Over time, the twin souls came to be recognised as dual queens, a pair so fierce and loving because of the infinity mirror that continually reflected energy from each one back into the heart and soul of the other. Far from the once helpless girls without big enough arms to hold all those who were suffering, the pair of queens had gradually and steadily expanding strength, strength that not only allowed them to protect the ones in need of protection, but to draw in the others who could see the glimmers of themselves reflected in the queens’ awakened presence. Many found the strength to leave their bindings and come be servants of Goodness at the radiant pair’s feet; knowing that what emerged from them was not selfish or fearful but the pure energy of compassion – great-heartedness – that the world needed to be drenched in.
Gift and Life ruled as queens for many years; their power constantly opening up and reorienting in service of the true desires of the universe. Gradually their lands came to be known for their strength and compassion; for their clear-eyed nature and their gentle rigour in knowing both what was True and how to use the Truth in service of what was Good. Over the years Gift and Life bore many children; each developing into a cherished facet of their mothers, raised enveloped in the warmth and cool safety of their mothers’ protection. As the years went on these children grew into the gravitational centres of the awakened community that was growing in the loving shade of Gift and Life, and some scattered to the far winds to plant the seeds of clear-eyed compassion in lands that were strangers to it.
Gift and Life also had many apprentices; the eager students who had first come sat at their feet even when the pair didn’t know how or what they could teach. In time their apprentices became a broader instrument of goodness than even Gift or Life could be on their own; their ministry and apprenticeship serving as a beacon for many, many others who otherwise may have spent their lives asleep. The strength of the apprentices (many of whom later became masters in their own right) allowed the kingdom of Gift and Life to begin to challenge, small as it was, the bigger kingdoms that built their livelihood on the domination and extraction of life’s finite resources. Much of their challenge came from simply offering another path forward; many refugees appeared on the castle’s doorstep and the academy and the kingdom of Gift and Life patiently but gently learned how to take them in.
Some of the converts were the biggest zealots, but also the greatest trouble. For they had come from faraway lands without a detailed understanding of how this new way of seeing the world worked – all they had heard were stories. And so Gift and Life and their apprentices and children needed to learn how to prune and reason, how to push some away in order not to poison that which was so good for others; how to exile some when it was needed without breaking their own hearts. This was difficult, but it was work to do in the land of the living. Every day before they had met Gift and Life had each wondered whether they would continue to live their lives in puzzled fantasy, and puzzled fantasy this was not. There were real, wrestling decisions to be made in each moment, and the only way to truly make them with integrity was to truly be aligned with the orienting desire of all beings.
As time went on, Gift and Life started to become weary. They had brought so much energy into the world and become such bright, strong flames in the process. But living beings do not last forever, and they were never meant to either. By this time it had been many decades and the flame that had ignited with their love had since been spread out many, many times over into the souls and minds of many, many people. Their love, which in each case had started as simply as the love of a little girl for her mother who could not be saved, had grown into a force that rivalled and outnourished the hungry ghosts of the competitive realm that had their stranglehold on the neighbouring kingdoms. And yet neither woman was infinitely young, nor infinitely protected from sickness.
One night Gift returned to her bed, ancient bones falling softly across the floor as she walked, and discovered Life lying in it, all life gone.
In her grief, she was sent mad, spiralling away from the centre of gravity that had held her so tightly for so much of her life, that was now shattered in an instant. All the castle heard her wails and the ripples of grief spread out from their central chamber into the courtyards and the streets of the kingdom.
By morning, Gift was gone too.
Once their spirit was awoken, neither was meant to exist when the other did not for very long. They, in their limited but enlarged time on earth, had tipped a balance so imperceptible, so unknowable, that the momentum of history was forever changed. All the kingdoms of the world had felt their presence through the ministry of their apprentices and their apprentices’ students. Their kingdom’s gifts and trade had altered the balance of a world economy formerly ruled by anger and coercion, and the cogs continued to shift even as the two were laid to rest surrounded by those whose lives they had touched. Those who had seen them and what they had built, or heard the stories and they traversed the many kingdoms, now knew what kind of life was possible and the ways in which they could truly be awake. The total future of the world would forever be unknown, and it was not for Life nor Gift to know in their compact human lifetimes, but the push towards Goodness had been made.
And, in many subtle and unknowable ways, the world had been forever changed.
One thought on “The Gift of Life”
hi 🥺 I ran into your pieces on twitter and I ended up here. my fav part was “they woke up their hands and used them to heal the others who were needed to do the work”- it reminded me of an acupuncturist I met who, I feel, does something similar. thank you sm for sharing your work with us ♡