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.
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.