Every year I wait for Christmas to come in its own special way. One year it was the alto and soprano soloists each singing the aria,”He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd.” They were part of the Augustana College Oratorio Society performing Handel’s The Messiah. The women’s lovely voices–especially on the high G notes of the soprano’s aria–commanded my attention. In those moments, upon hearing the words, “Take His yoke upon you and learn of him / for he is meek and lowly of heart / and ye shall find rest / and ye shall find rest unto your soul,” I felt my heart overflowing with gratitude, my spirit renewed.
Another time, shortly after the death of my husband, Alec Azure, I had moved from Chicago to Fairfax, Virginia. One late afternoon I was out walking and came upon a young boy weeping into his hands. I stopped by him and asked if I could help. Through tears that covered his cheeks, he cried, “I feel so bad about myself.” And I, burdened by the same, tried to assure him that we, as a human race, have all experienced these feelings but have to go on, forgive ourselves and learn from our mistakes. And I went on. Days later I wept, realizing the Christmas Rose had come again.
On December 17th of this year, Christmas once again visited me! A poster arrived in the mail, sent by my good friend, Ray Kimball. Titled “Msit No’kmaq,” meaning “All My Relations,” the poster is a colorful depiction of Mi’kmaq family clans. And guess what? Spider is there! Awo’kaq! Awo’kweijit! What an affirmation of Grandmother Spider’s visit to me the summer of 1994 when I retreated to some woods in Wisconsin, seeking new direction in my life–even beseeching the name of my clan! Then, I did not understand her visit. But I never doubted that she would teach me. My memoir, Along Came a Spider, recounted this incident and how, in the ensuing years, I have learned about Spider’s importance in my life.
I am convinced of the glorious compatibility of Native and Christian spirituality. So I have arranged a miniature alabaster crèche on my kitchen windowsill. Above the figures, I have hung a purple-beaded rendition of Spider, who stretches down to where the baby lay. I regard this as a bold link of greeting from deities come to earth to bless and champion all who seek succor, including me.
(c) December 2013 by Alice M. Azure