Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mama Says Om - Legacy

The theme for this week at Mama Says Om was legacy, a word which hies all the way back to the Old French legacie and thence the Latin legare meaning "to appoint by a last will and testament" or to "send as a legate".

In old Rome, a legate was an appointed officer reporting to a consul or magistrate, the commander of a military legion, a provincial governor and/or senator, an envoy or emissary of the rightful emperor to whom specific powers of that selfsame emperor had been bequeathed. The divisions of the Roman army known as legions owe their designation to the same origin. In Scotland, the interpretation of
"property bequeathed by will, testament or official document" appeared around 1460, and I'm sure there must have been MacLeods and Sinclairs involved in that scholarly undertaking, for lovers of clan and lore and interpretation are we, although our enthusiasm for conventional order and nomenclature waxes and wanes thanks to an equal (but thankfully only occasional) enthusiasm for chance, chaos and unpredictability.

So, here we have notions of things passed to, bequeathed or handed on to kin and friends when we shuffle off the mortal coil this time round, usually all neatly tied up in a will or testamentary document of some sort.

Before sunrise this morning I went out into the garden in my robe, shawl and ballet flats to look up at the region of the winter stars and the bright waning moon suspended in the branches of the old ash tree. In this darkling season, such forays into my cold garden are how the day begins, and usually how it ends too. As I mused on the matter of legacies out there this morning,on family silver, china, crystal and old quarter-sawn oak furniture, was I mentally culling the ever expanding library which threatens to engulf our other fixed assets and
to take over the house? No, I wasn't - not for a minute.

If I have a deepest wish, it is that I wish I could leave to those who follow me a profound appreciation of the grandeur of life and the incomparable beauty of the natural things great and small which lie all around us.
In the words of the late Rachel Carson, one of my favorite environmental thinkers, we can call such a legacy simply, "the sense of wonder". Here too belongs profound respect for the natural orders, the cosmos and the turning year, a commitment to the Old Wild Mother and the good dark earth on which we dwell and a real desire to tread that hallowed earth with as light a footprint as possible, to heal the damage we have already done to our world.

I suspect that one does not really remember the precise moment when a table, a platter or an antique ewer arrived in one's home for the first time. I do know (however) that magical moments spent looking at the winter stars and learning the names of the constellations with my father will remain forever - so will perfect summer hours spent listening to the wind in the trees with my grandmother and quiet intervals plumbing the depths of tide pools and puddles with a favorite maiden aunt. If I could find a way to put all that stuff in a will, my descendants would be be rich indeed, but such a litany would make for a long, winding and rather nebulous document.

I particularly wish I could share what I felt in the garden this morning before sunrise, the wonder and the grandeur of it all, the sense of a great shining mystery beckoning and breathing and dancing all around me ...


Anonymous said...

what a wonderful legacy Cate to leave behind for your family...although i'm sure you've instilled such appreciation in them already.

thank you for your empathetic words on my blog...would that i could join you for some wild soothing your invite sounds...

peace in,

ps. songs of mass destruction was one of the cd's i listened to on my JUST FOR ME night (written about on my blog of course)...she inspires me so to be authentic and to help others find theirs. and how do you like it??

nandas said...

oh cate, just by leaving your words as a record of what is truely important to you seals your wish.
thank you for sharing and thus reminding us all.