Friday, January 25, 2013

An Epiphany ~ With a Side of Broccoli Rabe

OK, so yesterday I had an interesting experience.

I've been participating in the "Guided Reflections" exercises in the Forum of Fortuna's Oracle, a wonderful online site where I've been learning an incredible amount about the tarot in general and how to work with it.  Since the beginning of the year, several of us have been engaged in "Guided Reflections" on each of the 78 cards that comprise a tarot deck, in order.

Yesterday's Guided Reflection was on "XVI - The Tower," a card traditionally depicting a medieval tower being struck by lightning, its occupants falling to the ground.

The prompt that accompanied this Guided Reflection was:

"What epiphany might I experience that reshapes my reality?" 

The point of this exercise is to choose a card from our personal deck to answer the prompt emanating from the card of the day (in this case, The Tower), and then write about our interpretation of how the card we chose relates to and "answers," in a sense, the question associated with the card of the day.

I chose the Two of Water (a/k/a Two of Cups) from the Vision Quest deck.  And unlike most entries, my interpretation was simple and succinct:  "...that he really is reaching out to me from the other side."

It might help make sense of this post to know that the entire focus of all of my picks in the Guided Reflections has been on my quest (if you will) to manifest my three main goals for 2013, one of which is completing the book I began writing last year, which I will refer to here as "APK."

Although I didn't write much, it felt big.  Of course it felt big, I told myself, it's the Tower card.  And on some level, it was signifying an epiphany.  By their very nature, epiphanies are usually big.

But I didn't know an even bigger epiphany was in the offing.

Yesterday was a little strange, in that I did make a point of trying to get some writing done on the APK "earlier" than I usually do.  Then, in the middle of the afternoon, I was struck with a sudden and odd desire for broccoli rabe.  Now, I've actually been conscious of the fact that I have NOT CRAVED this vegetable - nor even DESIRED it - for many weeks, if not months.  Indeed, I would ask myself if I should pick some up, but no, I didn't want it.

  "Buy Broccoli Rabe!"

Well, that all changed yesterday afternoon.  All of a sudden, I could taste it, smell it, see it.  And I wanted it.  Indeed, so much so that I actually altered my plans about where I was going and what I was going to do when I went - all to build around the fact that I needed to get to the Acme to buy some broccoli rabe.  (And it had to be Acme broccoli rabe, because they keep it in water so it's fresh.)

Imagine my consternation when I got to the Acme and there was NONE to be found!?  I was like a caged lion, pacing back and forth, up and down along the produce section, searching vainly for where they might have put it.  How could they not have any broccoli rabe?!? 

Well, my neurotic persistence paid off and I glimpsed the tiniest few leaves of a different shape and texture peeking out from under at least six bunches of collard greens that had been stuffed into a display container of water.  YES!  There was one single bunch of broccoli rabe hiding there, waiting for me to come along and look hard enough to find it and take it home with me.

I was oddly relieved.

Photo by fritish

It goes without saying that I will probably never eat broccoli rabe without thinking about Karl (my son).  He always shared my voracious appetite for it, especially prepared in a very simple but delectable way:  steamed to a bright green and still "just crispy" consistency with many cloves of garlic, then tossed with olive oil, a hint of sea salt, and cayenne pepper flakes.  Oh yum.  He and I would eat it by the container-full when we first discovered it at a deli in Frenchtown, NJ, on our way home from me picking him up at the bus station when he would come home from NYU.

Indeed, the deli owner would look at us in amazement every time we would come in - probably equally for both the quantity we would purchase and our foolhardiness in paying a premium for him to make such a simple dish.  And Karl (husband), Maximus and Sage would just look at us and shake their heads, not taking anywhere near the delight that we did in the slightly bitter, spicy-hot, faintly salty taste of these delicious greens.

As the years went by, I did finally learn how to cook it as deliciously as our local deli-owner, and every time Karl would come home, I'd make a point of making a nice big batch for the two of us so that we could snack on it at a moment's notice.

So, last night, while I was out in the kitchen making portabello mushroom fajitas for dinner, I was also moved to steam that bunch of broccoli rabe and make "our green stuff," as we used to call it.  And it was as I was trimming the broccoli rabe and peeling the garlic cloves that I had my "epiphany," the "aha moment" that I honestly think was connected to the card I chose as my Guided Reflection on The Tower card, in that it is reshaping the reality of the book I am writing.

All of a sudden, I saw the book (APK) and thought about the way my stories just seem to "come out" of me.  I seem to constantly go "back and forth" from one 'time' to another, adding context and insight to the "present" experience, but in a non-linear fashion.  It's just my way - I honestly don't do it consciously. (In fact, I realize I just did it in this post.)  Anyway, as I was "seeing" the way I write my stories, and wondering how APK is going to unfold, I felt an overwhelming presence of Karl in the kitchen with me.  And not only did he convey a sense of permission, but it felt like he was actively encouraging me to "tell the whole story - the deeper story." That it's OK.  That, indeed, it's important.

"Tell the Whole Story..."

And that was connected to the unsettled and sad feeling I'd conjured within myself earlier in the week, when I'd opened one of my journals from quite a while ago - eight or nine years, actually - and started reading my entries (after quickly locating the distinct piece of information that led me there in the first place).  Wow, it was as if I'd been punched in the gut as I read entry after entry.  It's amazing how we forget the really, really hard times.

I didn't linger.  I put the journal back on the shelf.  But it haunted me.  And while the sadness stuck with me, I knew I'd been reminded of those times for a reason.

Now I know why.

They're absolutely as important a part of my story as the magical times.  And Karl wants me to share them, too.  Aha.


  1. Holy. You always amaze me, Lisa. Always. I love this and I can't wait for your book.

  2. Thanks, Gwen. The admiration is mutual. I'm hoping that by revealing that I'm in this process, I will create an energetic movement toward fulfilling it.

  3. Wow... that was great/interesting to read. I have no doubt that he's with you all the time, especially when working on this new book. I am really "glad" that you feel free to share the whole story and that he wants you to... though it is bittersweet because I know how hard it must be to revisit those times. I second Gwen, you are amazing. And such a strong person!

    I love you (and miss you)! I really want to reflect on this prompt myself with my set. I'll let you know if anything interesting comes up. :) Thanks for sharing!

  4. Lovely! And what a wonderful validation for the direction you are going, despite its difficulty or elusive-ness. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Katie,

    I can't encourage you enough to join us at Fortuna's Oracle. It's such a wonderful group of women (although men are more than welcome to be a part, it seems the "core" group are women at the moment), and everyone is so encouraging and inclusive.

    Love and miss you too.

  6. Been thinking of you alot this week. Remembering the good and letting go of the bad---is something I know about.
    Glad you are working on your book. You are the writer of the family.
    Peace and joy,