Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Stephani Nur Colby writes about Walking with the Ineffable, her new memoir out from Green Place Books.
If Walking with the Ineffable were weather, it would be the gentle night rains of spring, coaxing green fragrant breath out of softening earth. Or a wild mountain storm on a Vermont peak in August, flashing and roaring and thundering and playing the trees like marimbas, Thunder Birds on a spree. Or it would be the rose gold light of a summer evening on Cape Ann, so still that the only sounds are the faint rush-hush of small waves on the beach, a seagull’s scream of triumph, and the soft singing of leafy branches, and their sighs, and their sighs. And if my book were weather, it would especially be the diamond-studded snow falling like a torrent of forgiveness over the night, healing everything at last, its faint dry sound the distant laughter of angels — impossible music.
If my book were a creature, it would be a griffin, flame and feathers and fur. Dancing out of the heart of the fire, gold talons outstretched, lion body leaping upwards to rendezvous with the invisible secrets of the air, where two become one, its eyes living topaz. A book should always take you beyond what you already know.
And if my book were a fragrance, soothing sandalwood, ethereal rose, intense jasmine, warm-hearted balsam, sweet woodruff’s fresh green, the wise, earthy smell of yarrow, violet’s music, lilies’swoon, jasmine’s exaltation, fresh bread loaves from the oven, piping hot . . .
And if my book were a thing, it would be a ladder between earth and heaven, a small, humble version of the Great Ladder, one where only the smallest, most whimsical angels would venture
helping me, us, to mount its shining planks, burning ones of sage, sweetgrass, and frankincense, gentle ones of wreathed flowers, thorny ones of the dark among the stars, blazing ones upon which we cannot step without weeping both in sorrow and in joy. In the beginning was the Word. And so it shall ever be. Our life is an open book. And my book a phrase of melody, fading on the breeze . . .
From childhood, Stephani Nur Colby has felt fleeting touches of grace, like the brush of unseen bird of Paradise wings from another world. They drew her on in search of healing for herself and others from a great ineffable harmony she sensed at the core of everything living. Spiritually seeking, she was already bathed in the powerfully mystical atmosphere of the Greek Orthodox Church from birth but over time explored other Christian expressions as well, a rich and subtle Sufism open to those of all faiths, a Native American transmission carried through hawks, owls, and falcons, herbal apprenticeship, and the study of various gentle but dynamic forms of energy-healing—trying always to follow the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.