“The Silberner Quorum”

Ancestor worship– what does that mean?  Here is a short story loosely based on a dream I had months ago while just after I left the ER for my own minor, yet painful problems.

Names changed, but the coat of arms works.

Names changed, but the coat of arms works.

It was early morning when I found myself in a large, round room filled with wooden bleachers full of people in what appeared to be an old barn.  Most of which I had known who had passed on the one line of my family- and there was a disagreement.  Well, to be honest, many disagreements.

Ancient Aunts and Uncles were quarreling, My own line was there of grandmothers and grandfathers, and a long-haired woman with hair streaked of greys and silvers bid me to sit beside her wearing a beautiful dress of purples.

“This is not your first Quorum.” she stated approvingly as I took my seat a quietly as a could, not wanting to draw attention to myself

“No, it is not- but not called a Quorum…I had to petition the ancestors of a friend who was in a coma once to his ancestors of his tribe, and another time, I had to explain myself and my actions before a group of angry Scottish clans in a dream regarding a former lover who would have abused his children if I didn’t intervene to his family….but I did not know our family even had a council to go to.”

“We do, we just only allow one living clergy to attend….and before you object, there is no reason why you do not qualify to fill the position at present.”

Not knowing the proper address, I replied: “I suppose not, Grand Greatmother, Who was before me?”

“Your uncle Arnie, but his mind won’t clear until he joins us eventually, before him, it was myself.  Arnie’s dementia doesn’t clear from his spirit until he crosses, so you were next.”

Another voice interjected, “Someone in Dicky’s line was going to be a preacher…”
The woman beside me replied, “…And dropped out.  This one followed through and is close to the issues being discussed.”

“…She’s not even a Silberner anymore”- another old man groused.
“Born a Silberner, always a Silberner, the blood stays the same.”   Grand-Greatmother replied beside me calmly.

The old man replied, “What about those two kissing cousins?  They had some talent, did they get that marriage arranged?”
…to which people surrounding him shuffled uncomfortably.

“Mind Asa- he is very old and perceives time differently than most- he sees many potentials at once, exceptionally talented when he was alive 200 years ago.  He’s never missed a single Quorum.”

“I have been to Quorums that have never been!” Asa exclaimed, “It’s a family reunion without the food, speaking of which why is there no food?”

Great Uncle Benny scoffed: “Because we’re dead, you old fool.” turning to me “Present company excluded, niece.”

My attention turned to a young, blonde woman was in the center of the room crying- “Please, for the love of Jesus help my son, I’m begging you.  Please.  I wasn’t the best mother alive, but I am still a mother and my son is suffering.  Please help him.”

Pop stated: “He chose to drink, he chose to fuck-up, he chose to suffer- he leaves behind ungrown children, and he was raised Silberner, I raised him better and he failed.”

The mother replied: “Pop, he is not a Silberner- I married, he’s a Roslinya!  I ask for him to go before the Polish Roslinya council instead of the Silberner!”

“There is no Roslinya council- their family was not so strong, and if they had anyone who chose to watch their family, they would be welcome here to decide your son as well.” said the Grand Greatmother to my side who whispered “Now, you speak for the living…”

And I realized the beautiful young woman was my great aunt who had just passed on.

I spoke up. “He chose to drink because he suffered, without bad luck, my cousin would have no luck at all…  What decisions are being made here today?  What needs to be decided?”

“Punishment or mercy,” replied Asa, “He will pass and he is indecisive, some wish to punish him by forcing him to watch those he leaves behind and how his death will lead to lasting harm, some wish to free him when he passes to move onward and leave the world and family behind him, some want to give him the Choices freely: To Leave, to Watch, or to Reincarnate into his own grandson who is not yet here.”

“His death will divide the family inexorably.” said one.

“The family always divides” said another

Grandfather Charlie stood, “Anthony has suffered enough, my nephew has been through battles, he has been alone, and his own family has wronged him.”

“And been wronged by him! Your own line, Charlie!” exclaimed Asa.

True- we had not heard from Tony in nearly 20 years, but from what I could discern, it was more out of fear than spite.  My family fluctuates between over inflated pride and absolute despair depending on the individual.  Seeing my cousin in real life, however, showed no pride- fake or otherwise- a stubborn will to see his first grandchild, and sadness when he reunited with my father.

I replied “You mean my line?  I am Grandfather Charlie’s great-grandchild by blood-  Who else has he ever harmed- and even then, he did not seek to hurt anyone! He withdrew entirely.  Some people in my line treated him poorly, but if I am here representing my living line: He has done no harm that is not forgiven by those that count.”

“You speak for your living line?   Your uncle and cousins as well?”

“My uncle and cousins are agnostic and isolated from all Family issues, I am not.   My Uncle Keith doesn’t speak to anyone in the extended family, and my cousins Andre and Charles live in a vacuum completely ignorant and uninterested in the old way of things.  Of my line, all that remains is my grandfather and my father.  I can only speak for my father, Kenneth and I.  My brother, Matthew, also does not remember The Family even though he carries the name.   Keith, Matthew, Charles, and Andre have nothing to say on the matter and have no emotional investment.”

“He was Matthew’s Godfather.” Asa contended
I shot back: “My parents are still alive; and if they passed on, my grandparents would have had custody in accordance to law- his absence did not harm Matthew in anyway except for a missed opportunity to connect and strengthen the Family.”

“And what about your own Grandfather, still alive?”

“I do not speak for the thoughts and actions of my grandfather- his actions and thoughts are not my thoughts- either for positive or negative.  I am here, he is not.  I only speak for my own father because we are of one mind on this matter and discussed it at length.”

“You reconnected the family for this?”

“I did, I was raised knowing him as an uncle on account of our age difference- he was kind to me.

“Interesting, that. Arnie wanted Kenny to come after him in line, but we end up with Kenny’s daughter regardless!”

“Now now…back on topic!” shouted an old man in plain clothes in the corner, I had no idea who he was….and all people continued to divide and speak on a variety of topics like an aviary of small birds creating a cacophony through which no business could be conducted at all.

“You did very well, daughter- very well spoken.” Grand Greatmother spoke beside me in a whisper.

“What now?” I asked.

“This continues until the matter is settled.” she replied with frustration.

“…And that would be Death, wouldn’t it?”

“Nice to see your divinity school taught you so well- the Moravian Quorums are so much less interesting than the Lutheran.” At this point, I was remarkably confused- I felt like i was in a room surrounded by Heathens except for my aunt who still wept in the center of the room, her older brother had joined her and was speaking quietly with her words I could not hear.  My confusion must have shown, “Labels are what you make of them-  To the Catholic, all Lutherans are Heathens.”

“I’m not Lutheran, actually-  I went with the Old Religion of the rest of my family”

“All of your family” she corrected

“But you said…”

“Sometimes, i think you only hear what you think people are going to say instead of what words actually come out of their mouths, my dear.” she smiled.  “How did you Ever get through college…?”

“Intuition and bullshit, mostly.  I wrote papers and then found sources to back up what I already concluded on my own.  I studied religion years before I even set foot in University.”

She sighed…it was then I realized she wasn’t being literal.

“You have amazing luck in this entire ordeal,  if he’s bright, you even have a short window to help Tony transition more easily regardless, the Quorum doesn’t end…”

“…until he’s dead, got it. Then he’s judged.”

“No…” she looked at me as if speaking to a particularly dull child, “No. Then he speaks for himself, his mother called the Quorum- and if she was capable of doing so, there is much hope for her lines through her children and her children’s children.  You won’t be the only ‘Heathen’ about the Family, I can tell you that much- the lineage finds a way to continue through what lines it can- your line is infertile, but Tony-  Tony was always such a Kind child, and there is Kindness in his children and his niblings of his siblings”

The way she emphasized the word “Kindness” seemed to take on a heavier, deeper meaning to which I am still not certain-I was relieved I knew the word “Nibling” to mean “Nephew/Niece” rather than an allusion to cannibalism. Things remained strange.

I felt like I was trapped in that barn filled with a myriad of voices of angry and sympathetic relatives- and the amazing thing was the entire time I was there I forgot my own troubles for a time.

I imagine, somewhere between Earth and Beyond, they still argue- they have all the time that ever was from their perspective.  Tony still lives, but in hospice and is not expected to see Yuletime.

Coincidentally, I can’t help but wonder if he will live through the period of time while I remain highly dosed on many painkillers, through my own surgery, and through the time after of even greater painkillers where all lines of reality seem to blur entirely.  Is my surgery to coincide with the death of my cousin- in the same hospital in which he has spent so much time before my prayers for him to be in Hospice were granted.

No one should die alone in a hospital….but here we both are, in the town settled by our ancestors and not even a mile apart.  My surgery seems like an entirely random thing to be necessary with no true warning beyond “I’m in pain- fix it.”- which started the same week as my cousin decided to defy all logic in favor of stubbornness- to live without functional organs almost daring death to take him in a battle of wills rather than giving in-exhausted.

Tony always was a stubborn sonofabitch.

I wonder about the dissolution of my Greater family, the matriarchs and patriarchs of centuries will fade after myself and the last of my generation remember those who once lived and remembered when there was a family not just in the in-between, but here on Earth-equally strong and opinionated about what was best for the Family.

Will they move on or keep guard of their descendants’ descendants for as long as it suits them?

Even if you are confused, directionless, and alone for a time in your experiences; no one else but the self can feel the strands of probabilities and possibilities trail through their fingers like plants in a fast stream moved only by their Will through the reeds and nature herself.

In analogy, one sees people as threads and with subtle will can move them like chess pieces towards and away one another- with nothing more than a few words.  The great magicians can do it without words- just weaving threads of lifelines and energies into something beautiful- if there are not knots and snarls in need of greater attentions.

I wonder if this period of life will change me, if my cousin dying will actually have any effect on my mortal life beyond a possible funeral, if this is a test/initiation, or if it means nothing at all.

What I do know- is that side of my family prays to their dead loved one’s for help, always have- more than Jesus or Woten or even some great universal God, that like Shiva, mostly ignores us mayfly humans and our short, quick lives of little comment in comparison to immortality.

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