Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Gathering for Digby

Digby Henry
This past Sunday, October 20, some fifty to seventy friends, family, and colleagues of Digby Henry met to celebrate his life. My blog of August 15 told of his sudden and unexpected death.

The setting for this confirmation of Digby’s journey through this existence was perfect. Connie, his widow, chose the home of a friend a few miles south of Albuquerque, a beautiful horse ranch at the edge of a river valley plain with broad vistas in a rural, rustic environment. The horses were therapy animals, so it was appropriate that a palomino, a pinto, and a roan drew close to the gathered crowd as if to vicariously participate as they munched grass at the fence line. Several of the people in the back yard of the gracious home reached through the wire to pet them.

The Good Lord graced us with a magnificent, cloudless, blue sky that stretched overhead to infinity. The day had started with a distinctly chilly morning, but by noon, the official time for the gathering, people were shedding coats and sweaters. The wind was still, only occasionally ruffling a scarf or a lock of hair.

In addition to Connie and their daughter, a niece and two of Digby’s brothers were present, looking so much like him it was both stressing and comfortable. As if “almost Digby” were present in the flesh (although neither had his distinctive brogue). But the one thing I am certain of is that Digby, himself, was present in the spirit and having a delightful time.

Connie chose an aboriginal ceremony to honor her late husband. The crowd, collected around in a large circle stood with her while she addressed the Six Directions—the Four Cardinals, Father Sky, and Mother Earth—taking the time to detail the significance of each.

Then a man spoke of the Seventh Direction, a concept familiar to me. It is a gift hidden in the heart, yet undiscovered by so many of us. It is the recognition of who we really are. A direction on no plane, yet on all planes. A gift of higher purpose…a sort of divinity for those who discover it.

A flute solo by one of Digby’s brothers followed. As the breathy, haunting echoes of the flute died, drum song flooded the meadow, accented by rattles and clappers.

After this, Connie displayed a “Talking Stick” beautifully beaded and fringed with rawhide. Whoever possessed this stick held the power to address the gathering. The Mistress of the Talking Stick moved among us, bestowing the cane on any who requested it. All the while, other women used feathers and eagle wing fans to waft sacred smoke from smudge pots over any who coveted its blessings.

Many of the crowd spoke, sharing memories of Digby, reciting poetry the reader had created in his honor and memory, reading some of Digby’s verses. I read the blog I’d written last August. Eleven of our writing class attended, and most read or spoke.

On the way home afterward, Don DeNoon (another class member) and I agreed the ceremony had been exactly the right one for Digby, a strong man with the gentle soul of a poet.
Don T

Next week: Maybe it’s time to return to something from The Zozobra Incident or The Bisti Business. Something about New Mexico.

New posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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