(Book Excerpt) Secret Lives

From Chapter 19 of Secret Lives:

“May I come in?”

Brooke looked up from the blue book she was grading to see who had tapped on her office door. It wasn’t one of her anxious students, after all; it was the Green Man from the Halloween party. Except that he had shaved off the beard and mustache and the loincloth, cape, and vines had been replaced by mundane khaki cords and a worn cotton work shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows.

Brooke has had very bad luck in the past with love, but Matthew is persistent.

“Milly—she’s my oldest and dearest friend—she told me it’s time for me to explore the God.”

“Hey,” he replied, “I’m just an old street magician, a part-time technical writer, an AIDS volunteer, and a lousy poet.” He laid the pencil down and picked up one her books and flipped through the pages. “That’s all.”

“I think I know better.”

He put the book down and picked up the pencil again. “Oh?”

“The Green Man. The May King. Symbol of growth, life. Fertility … and sexual energy. Look at any carving of him. Abundant crops, both literal and metaphorical, flow from his mouth.”

She finally takes him to the circle’s hidden “ranch” in south Orange Co.

They entered the old stone circle from the west, and he took her hand.

“This is the corner of the powers of air,” he said softly. “The powers of the mind and the intellect.” He smiled and touched her hair. “Where you, my dear, are most comfortable. Where I am comfortable, too. Air is also the power of the breath that shows that a newborn baby is alive and has a voice. It’s the power of the winds that blow freely around our planet, across all lands, across all waters. The powers of the winds of change are here, the winds that blow away what is old and useless in our lives. They sweep us clean for new growth. It’s the tornado and the zephyr. Terrible and blessed are the powers of air.”

She joined her hands at her heart in the ancient gesture. “Blessed be.” Why was her heart beating so fast?

He took her hand again and led her to the next standing stone. He knelt down and placed both hands on the stone and waited quietly. At last he smiled and took a handful of soil and let it trickle through his fingers back to the earth. Then he lightly touched her feet and her legs, and she could feel the tingle through leather and denim.

“This,” he said, his voice gentle and soft, “is the corner of the power of earth. Our Mother’s body, our own beautiful physical bodies. Earth grounds and sustains us. Earth is rich with treasures and she is able to provide enough food for all of her children. But earth is also the power of earthquakes, which destroy without discriminating between good or bad, strong or weak, rich or poor. And what is stronger than an earthquake?” He looked down at her. “A seed. Terrible and blessed are the powers of earth.”

“Blessed be.” She was beginning to feel weak at the knees.

He took her hand a third time and led her to the next stone. They stood before it, his left arm around her shoulders. His lips brushed her hair. “No need to be afraid,” he whispered. “This is sacred land. You’re safe with me. I promise you that. You will always be safe with me.”

Read the consummation of this love affair. See how Matthew helps the crones in the weather war of Chapters 20-22.

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