Repair

In a post written late in February, I wrote about how items had been lost or broken around my house, and how two broken family heirlooms reflected most particularly the state of my psyche at the time. At the time I had a keen sense that the wintry landscape outside reflected a deep brooding inside, a brooding that I experienced as a brokenness that could not be repaired. Just as my grandmother’s bud vase had been shattered by my child, so archaic parts of me had been shattered irreparably.

Around this time, I had a transformative dream in which the god Apollo took aim with his silver bow and I felt the glory of his power and precision. That this figure had such beautiful and glorious ability overwhelmed and awed me. It was some time before I could approach the idea, pressed upon me by a fellow Jungian and later by my analyst too, that this figure was a part of me that wanted and was ready to manifest.

I worked with the maleness of this part of my self, sometimes trying to offer this feeble gift or that, but mostly simply admiring him. I tried a dialogue but like many others who have attempted dialogue with gods, I ended up tongue-tied, scuffing my toe in the dirt and feeling my mortality. Still, the dreams continued and the image of the god taking aim and the dream in its entirety have stayed with me.

Easter

When I turned 52 last year, my father brought me the gift of a clock that had belonged to his father. Since his mother’s death when I was 21 years old, he had tended this clock, winding it once a week at the same time every Sunday, nursing its tick-tick-tick with all care. I imagine he thought of his parents when he wound it, and that perhaps the winding of the clock was for him something like lighting incense at the altar of his ancestors. He gave me this clock and its brass key in honor of the anniversary of my birth. “It’s your turn to tend to this,” he said. I cried, because of all the things my parents had, this clock was one of only a handful that I truly cared about. My earliest memories include my grandmother and then my father winding the clock, Sunday after Sunday.

Though I cared for this clock with all diligence, after a year or so, the clock stopped working. The clocksmith who had been repairing it had died, and I couldn’t find another. This year, when Easter came, my grandfather’s clock still sat silently on our breakfront. I knew my father was coming over for Easter dinner and would notice that the clock had stopped ticking.

That Easter Sunday–sun day, the day of Apollo, the god of the sun and of much else that radiates gold–I felt as mute as the clock when it came to explaining to my father what had happened. I fretted a little about telling him that I had somehow broken the clock, about how I’d make the confession. Would I blurt out my transgression as soon as he walked into the room? Would I wait until he noticed? Would my mother notice first and make one of her dismissive, judgmental comments about my inability to keep something as simple as a clock going? What would I say? That I had failed the clock somehow, or that it had failed me? That it had been unhappy in my home? Or perhaps that we lacked some energy it needed? As I prepared our Easter meal, I projected these and other thoughts onto the clock and the small drama that might unfold over it, amusing myself. Half serious, half not.

My father arrived, and after our flurry of welcoming died down, an extraordinary thing happened: the clock started ticking. The clock started ticking, and it continued to tick during my father’s visit, and it ticked the rest of that day and the next. It continued ticking through the week and it has continued ticking since then. My father entered the room, and the clock started ticking.

My father tells a story about this clock. He says that when his father died of a sudden, massive heart attack in the drug store of the small Oklahoma town where he was mayor, this very same clock suddenly stopped ticking five or six blocks away in my grandparents’ house. It started working again the week after my granddad was buried. This was the only time the clock had ever stopped ticking like that.

What I made of this event was what my dreams have invited me to make of my own life, which is to suggest that repair may come through masculine energy. The feminine is receptive, inclusive, rejuvenating, nurturing; the masculine is about power, independence, initiative, logos, and (strangely enough) Sophia. The whole human being needs all of these traits and gifts and more if he or she hopes to run a good race. While running mine, I’m grateful and amused to be the recipient of such odd little refreshments along the way.

7 responses

  1. Eve, I found your blog in the midst of the biggest turmoil of my life. Now that I’ve revealed myself as a reader, I will reveal, little by little, why I found your blog, and what keeps me coming back. I’m not quite ready to give the story, as things are still in turmoil and I’m still wrapped up in my pain. Little by little, the pain loosens up. Working on my blog is also helping me with the healing.

    The turmoil in my life led me to some readings in Jung. These readings spoke directly to me about what was happening. And further research brought me here, where I find Jung made accessible and brought to life… your life! I want you to know that I love all your posts.

    So, I love your clock story. I have my own. I had a number of clocks in my house that stopped working over the last couple of years… many of them battery-operated. I would change batteries and still nothing. One was a clock that played birdsongs on the hour, given to me by my mom a few years before she passed away. The birds had stopped chirping. I tried everything, followed all the directions, no chirps. Another was a battery-powered mantle clock with a pendulum. The pendulum would do nothing. It didn’t appear stuck, it simply did not work at all. Another was a small painted clock under a glass dome with a twirling pendulum… I believe they are called anniversary clocks. Mine was given to me many years ago by my sister-in-law. The pendulum no longer twirled. Lastly, there was my cuckoo clock, which I had bought as a souvenir in Germany, 25 years ago. The pendulum did not work, so the clock did not keep time.

    The stopping of the clocks in my house coincided with the timing of the turmoil brewing in my life.

    Last May, there was a turning point in the turmoil in my life. There is still much turmoil and it is far from over, but the source of it moved out of my home.

    And the clocks started working. First, I tried re-setting the bird clock again (for umpteenth time since the birds had last chirped years before). Yes, birds are chirping in my home again. Then, the mantle clock pendulum started to swing. It had been years since it worked. Then I decided to be proactive and take the cuckoo to the clock shop. It’s still there, but I’m hopeful. That reminds me that I have not thought to check the anniversary clock. Do you think the pendulum will be swirling?

    Congratulations on the new grandbaby. Enjoy!

    • Orwhatyouwill, after reading your comment, I’m so touched. It made me want to call you by another name, something from Shakespeare… but I’ll resist picking one of his characters, because I think people should name themselves when they can.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It takes some kind of courage to share oneself wherever we do it, even when we’re ‘anonymous’ (which we never really are, are we?), most particularly about things that are close to our hearts and that have caused us pain.

      In my Jungian studies program, they tell us often that all growth and change comes through suffering. A moment of insight may occur outside pain, but it will come on the heels of suffering. I know this is true, and have seen countless times in my life and the lives of others how words do not do what suffering can.

      So your turmoil, which is suffering, will bear some kind of fruit, won’t it? All those clocks stopping in your house say something. I wonder about the anniversary clock. What anniversary might it speak of? I wonder that. I wonder if there’s any meaning you’ll find in that. I’m playing with the words, but you’ll probably know what I mean.

      I was given an anniversary clock one time that represented “not good enough” for various reasons due to my wants and the gift giver. I smashed it completely one year, and felt very good about that. Sometimes a clock isn’t worth keeping, even if it will work–which this one wouldn’t.

      I’m glad you’re here. Your comment was a gift today. I’ve been playing hooky a lot this winter and upon returning, felt a little fretful about whether the time I spend writing here is worth anything to anyone else. So your comment encouraged me to stick with it, for other than papers, this is the only Jungian writing I’m doing at the moment.

  2. Christina, you have had enormous pain. Even when we are not recognized by others, we are recognized by ourselves and by God. Today each of us who stopped by to visit with Eve has recognized you. No corporal work of mercy ever goes unnoticed. All that caring you gave was good. When you do it for someone else you do it for the Creator. It’s as though all those multiple days of service were gold coins tossed into a pot that is now heavy with its own reward.

    And Eve, in the beginning was the word. You are my feminine word with an incredible animus. I don’t want to pressure you with that statement but I wanted to share it.

    How lovely that when your paternal grandfather died time acknowledged him. I think about that moment when we lose someone we love so much and the world keeps going. Recently, a friend told me how in the early morning hours his buddy – who had suffered long and hard with cancer – closed his middle-aged eyes and died. My friend kissed his forehead, hugged his old pal’s wife and quietly walked outside where the NYC trash trucks moved noisily about, the cabs honked, the wind blew. He was struck by his loss, his sadness and a parallel world moving along as though nothing had occurred.

    Death changes us forever. I still remember my grandmother’s breath on my ten year old face. All of her ten living children surrounded her bed in what my faith calls a happy death but there was nothing about it that felt happy to me.

    I’ve also pondered your powerful Apollo dream. I felt his silver arrow was to protect you from stinging remarks from your mother. I’m sorry, Eve, it’s never pleasant and as grown children now we cannot help but wonder why. Why would a parent chide his or her offspring regardless of age if to do so is hurtful?

    Many years ago I had a client who came from a highly educated background in the Deep South: physicians, scholars, professors. Martin Luther King, Jr. dined at their dinner table. My client’s mother was beautiful and sophisticated but cruel in speech. I know that because she came to one session where she cut her daughter in half with her wicked tongue. Her words made me spring from my chair, walk across the room and put my hand over her hand, “Demeaning another is not permitted in my office not by you and not by anyone.” We were eyeball to eyeball, her animus and mine.

    Ten years later I still hear from the daughter who tells me that that seminal moment killed the witch in her mother.

    With warm regards to you,
    MJ

  3. I haven’t commented for awhile, but I’m always inspired by your ability to find signs in daily life that help you figure out yourself and your needs at a given point. I find that by reading this, I’m doing that in my own life a lot! So thanks for the inspiration!

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