The boys were running around on the soccer field and Marcy and I were wrapped in a blanket, trying to stave off the New Hampshire chill that had settled over the area even though it was the beginning of August.  The boys were participating in a camp.  Marcy had been nice enough to sign Max up so he could participate with her son, get a real feel for small town New Hampshire life, and so Marcy and I could have a couple of hours each day to visit really visit.  “Tomorrow” Marcy remarked “the Olympics start”.  We were talking about TV and how much or little to let the kids watch.  We both agreed that the opening ceremonies were a must see and that we would relax whatever rules we had established so we could all gather around the TV and watch the spectacle.  And then, it dawned on us.  Yes it made so much sense.  The Olympics started on August 8.  08.08.08.  The most auspicious of dates for the Chinese.  Triple 8. For reasons I can’t explain, 8 is a magical number in Chinese culture.  The #8 star brings with it the best of energy.  Eight is lucky and good and holds all sorts of beneficial qualities.  Marcy and I agreed right then and there.  Tomorrow we needed to mark the day with magic and drama—celebrate its luckiness and hold it as special. And so the morning bloomed and found us scampering through a moss-covered elfin forest, Max and Marcy’s son running up ahead of us, stopping only to munch on wild blueberries and to point out trees that had been marked by bears.  The forest on Mt. Cardigan seemed like something out of a dream, or a fairy tale, wildflowers and wild waterfalls, gigantic mushrooms and old fashioned bridges that sprang out of nowhere, taking us over fairy filled streams.  Birch trees were filled with song birds.  We stopped often to re-fill the kids pockets with trail mix and take long drinks of water.  To take in long drinks of the view, busting as it was with magic.As we approached the top, the landscape changed looking more and more mysterious.  We had entered a cloud and the mist filled everything.  The soft moss covered forest floor became more and more gray and hard and slippery beneath our fear and then suddenly we were climbing up a slope of granite. So many different shades of gray–the rocks, the clouds, the sky.  Silver streaked, dull and grainy, dark and light and gray.  By the time we reached the top, we needed to put on our raincoats and huddle together to protect ourselves not from rain but from the wet of being inside a cloud.

At the top of the mountain, a lake had sprung—rainwater filling a hole created by a glacier or perhaps from years and years of falling water.  While the children, skipped rocks on the shores of their own private pool, Marcy and I were on a mission of our own, finding a quiet place for our ritual to mark the day.   We found a tiny crevice—somewhat protected from the breeze that was blowing the clouds around.  And we gathered all the children around.

I pulled our precious cargo out of my backpack.  The wishes we had made.  Each of us had written or drawn our most precious wishes (no telling!) and folded them up tight.  We placed each of them into the tiny space between the rocks and all leaned in tight.  Marcy and I instructed the kids to think about their wishes with all of their might.  And then she and I pulled out a book of matches.

  It took almost the entire book before we got the wishes to catch fire.  It was as though the wind and rain were testing our seriousness of purpose.   Max was particularly concerned about the burning ritual.  He was afraid that if we lit the papers on fire that it would destroy his cherished dream.  Marcy and I had to explain that the Chinese regularly constructed elaborate things out of paper—only to burn them—sending the good wishes and blessings and prayers off to God, to their ancestors, to the Universe.  That was what we were doing.  By lighting our wishes on fire we were sending the smoke up to God so that He or She could hear our prayers.   And then, as he finally was willing to let his wish go, as though his assent gave the mountain permission to allow it, the wind cooperated and the clouds lifted enough and we were able to get a tiny contained fire going.  Marcy and I held hands, the children wrapped their arms around us, our heads all touching over our tiny mini bonfire to the Gods.  And our wishes carried off Mt Cardigan to someplace magical—to be part of the air around us, to join the clouds. On our way down the mountain, Marcy and I realized that without intending to, our little ceremony was performed with all the elements present.  The earthen granite floor where we built our fire, was just inches away from the metal fire tower.  The cedar and pine trees were not far below and indeed it was the green pine needles from our pockets that ultimately helped us light the pieces of paper, made themselves from trees.  And finally the clouds which sat on our shoulders brought the water to our ceremony.As we hiked down, twice as fast as our assent, there was much chatter about the wishes.  But we all agreed not to whisper our wishes out loud.  While we had shared the ceremony, our wishes were our own, between us and our God.On the way home their would be a stop for ice cream and a visit to the playground.  A brief stop home, a trip to an old orchard that made hard cider and then the last day of soccer camp.  That night we all sat watching the Olympics as we had planned, cuddled together against the chill of night with blankets spread out over us.   “Do you think” Max asked me “that our wishes will come true?”  I held that precious child on my lap.  “I don’t know honey if they will come true exactly as we want them to.”  I replied.  “But I know our prayers –they will be answered.  That the magic of the day will not be lost”

Since that night I have dreamt of nothing but magic.  Wild, Technicolor dreams of flying and knitting needles turned into magic wands.  I have dreamed of great love of my child and of bright yellow gingerbread homes and the dear friends who live in them.  I have dreamt of healers, and teachers and loved ones all doing amazing things in my little dream world.  I have woken to find myself sure, as I have ever been, that Max and I are living a magical life—a life full of wonder and joy and surprises.  Whether or not our wishes come true I am sure that I have been blessed by the magical day of 8. 

4 Responses to “The Mystery of Eight”

  1. maggie, dammit Says:

    I’m guessing your wish had nothing to do with me giving you a blog award, but… well, I did anyway. Hop on over and see.


  2. Jena Says:

    I love this last photo. Technicolor, all awash in rain and eights.

  3. Wendy Says:

    Hi Meg. I found your blog thru Jen Ballentyne’s. I’m so glad that you’re feeling better. Your posts are starting to feel lighter and more positive. Sounds like you’re coming out of the other side of the dark place you’ve been in. We’ve all been there in one way or another. From one mother to another, I’m glad you’re finding your self again. One of my most favorite sayings is “Trust and Allow.” To me that means that we all need to trust and believe that we are exactly where we are supposed to be right now and when we learn what we’re supposed to learn from it we move on to the next life lesson. If we allow this natural flow of life to take place without struggling to swim against it, we will come out of it a stronger and better person. I think that is where you are right now. Thanks for your incredibly honest writings. I look forward to reading them. Namaste ~ Wendy : )

  4. Jennifer Ballantyne Says:

    Just so beautiful Meg! I love the photo at the end too, the stunning grey of the granite. Such a beautiful ritual to do, I am sure you are living a magical life too. Love to you and Max, Jen xxxx