Seeking the Messages

This thing I do every year, during the high holy days between Solstice/Christmas and Epiphany, of listening for words and watching for repeated images and ideas in waking life and in dreamtime, helps me to focus on a theme for the year. In recent years, I’ve gotten pretty free with throwing everything into the mix. This exuberance has meant that I end up with such a collage of ideas and words that are somehow loosely tied together that I can’t seem to keep my focus as much throughout the year, and end up forgetting or dropping my theme by midyear.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It serves me for a while, and then I move on to another idea. This year, in June, while I was on my silent retreat, I found three words that I have been gnawing on for the past six months: Embodiment, Creativity, Magick. As I sort through my dreams and images from the past few days, I keep returning to these words. And yesterday, one of my new Facebook friends wrote a powerful piece about how focusing on embodiment helps her through times of anxiety. That’s the sort of message I look for. This word has been flittering about inside my skull, and then someone brings it up, or I hear it across a room, or it comes in a dream. Those are the patterens I search for.

As for the dreams, I’m finding a lot of anxiety there, and weariness. Last night, I was trying to care for two children, a boy and a girl. We were assigned a room on the fifth floor of a run-down building. It was so cold we slept in cardboard boxes. I was terrified I was going to lose the children. Typical anxiety dream.

In a later dream, I was at a farming conference with a group of people. A couple of us went up near the front to try to get seats for the group. I really wanted to hear the speakers. But nothing ever really happened. People milled about, and speakers seemed to go up and get ready to speak, but then something else would happen, the speakers would switch out, and eventually a bunch of us fell asleep on a mattress at the back. When we woke up, most people had already left. The weirdest thing about that dream was that at one point I was talking to a couple of farmers we’d once worked with (in the dream, they were just generic men–not any specific people I know in waking life), and I was struck by how crusty and rough-talking these earnest and thoughtful men had become. They were both smoking cigars, but they looked like stage cigars, with a glowing bulb in the end and little bits of orange and red tulle fabric to look like glowing ash. But smoke was coming from the ends, and they were getting shorter.

I feel like my dreams reflect the anxiety of the times. How can I take care of the Beloveds in my circles, and still have enough energy left for my own inner and artistic life? How can I maintain my true self when social and community rules and conventions seem to keep shifting? How can we build and grow the new thing when rest itself has become work?

What dreams and messages are you receiving these days?


Gratitude List:
1. I’m still feeling the resonance in my chest of playing music with Val and Henry several days ago: violin, clarinet, and tenor recorder. I’ve always liked clarinet, but now I am in love with it. What a rich sound, and what a blend of instruments. I don’t know if it’s just with recorder, or whether other instrumentalists hear it, but when recorders play together, there’s often an overtone, a separate voice, that layers itself in the mix. Often it’s a clue that the instruments aren’t quite in tune with each other. But sometimes, it blends and supports the other instruments, like an angel humming along. This happened during that session. At first, I thought my father was humming a harmony along with us.
2. A misty morning.
3. Time out of time. This is healing and rejuvenating time for me.
4. This sturdy little oak up on the bluff. It’s probably thirty or more feet tall by now, but still young and skinny. I remember when it was a sapling, just my own height. Thank you, friend squirrel, for planting this beautiful guardian of the hilltop.
5. Bright red cardinal on a branch out in the mist and the grey.
May we walk in Beauty!


Honoring Kwanzaa with those who celebrate it: Today’s word is Nia, Purpose.


“The idea that the poor should have leisure has always been shocking to the rich. In the early nineteenth century, fifteen hours was the ordinary day’s work for a man; children sometimes did as much, and very commonly did twelve hours a day. When meddlesome busybodies suggested that perhaps these hours were rather long, they were told that work kept adults from drink and children from mischief.
When I was a child, shortly after urban working men had acquired the vote, certain public holidays were established by law, to the great indignation of the upper classes. I remember hearing an old Duchess say: ‘What do the poor want with holidays? They ought to work.’ People nowadays are less frank, but the sentiment persists, and is the source of much of our economic confusion.” —Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays (1935)


“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier. ‘” —Alfred Lord Tennyson


From An African Prayer Book
by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Wonderful one, you live
among the sheltering rocks.
You give rain to us people.
We pray to you,
hear us, O Strong One!
When we beg you, show your mercy.
You are in the highest places
with the spirits of the great ones.
You raise the grass-covered hills
above the earth,
and you make the rivers.
Gracious one!
—Rozwi, South Africa


“We arise today
in the Eternal Flow of Mercy
who was here when the land began to breathe,
when the first tribes began to roam,
and when the colonists came to settle.
We arise today
in the Eternal Flow of Wisdom
who is dimly perceived in the stones,
the stories and the studies of all our peoples.
We arise today
in the Eternal Flow of Life
who seeps through land and limb and love.
Amen.”
—Ray Simpson


“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. #goodtrouble” —John Lewis tweet


“Being curious is the most important part of being a journalist. It might be the most important part of being anything.” —Lemony Snicket


“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” —Virginia Woolf


“And when I had asked the name of the river from the brakeman, and heard that it was called the Susquehanna, the beauty of the name seemed to be part and parcel of the beauty of the land. That was the name, as no other could be, for that shining river and desirable valley.” —Robert Louis Stevenson, 1879


The New Song
by W. S. Merwin
For some time I thought there was time
and that there would always be time
for what I had a mind to do
and what I could imagine
going back to and finding it
as I had found it the first time
but by this time I do not know
what I thought when I thought back then
there is no time yet it grows less
there is the sound of rain at night
arriving unknown in the leaves
once without before or after
then I hear the thrush waking
at daybreak singing the new song


“Know that the same spark of life that is within you, is within all of our animal friends; the desire to live is the same within all of us…” ―Rai Aren


Someone asked me what is your religion? I said, “All the paths that lead to the light.” —Anonymous

Angel Over the Hollow

Sky over Skunk Hollow: Dove, or angel, or ashy wisps of phoenix after the egg is laid and the transformation is set in motion?

Gratitude List:
1. Community
2. Cats
3. Morning coffee
4. There is always another poem
5. Puzzles

Take care of each other.


Friday’s Finds:
“We take our stand on the solidarity of humanity, the oneness of life, and the unnaturalness and injustice of all special favoritisms, whether of sex, race, country or condition. If one link of the chain be broken, the chain is broken. A bridge is no stronger than its weakest part, and a cause is not worthier than its weakest element.” —Anna Julia Cooper


“…now is all there ever is…”
—Eckhart Tolle


The moon is most happy
When it is full.
And the sun always looks
Like a perfectly minted gold coin
That was just polished
And placed in flight
By God’s playful kiss.
And so many varieties of fruit
Hang plump and round
From branches that seem like a sculptor’s hands.
I see the beautiful curve of a pregnant belly
Shaped by a soul within,
And the Earth itself,
And the planets and the Spheres–
I have gotten the hint:
There is something about circles
The Beloved likes.
Hafiz, within the Circle of a Perfect One
There is an Infinite Community
Of Light.
—Hafiz


“The church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The body says: I am a fiesta.”
—Eduardo Galeano


“It is the scientist whose truth requires a language purged of every trace of paradox; apparently the truth which the poet utters can be approached only in terms of paradox.

“T. S. Eliot said that in poetry there is ‘a perpetual slight alteration of language, words perpetually juxtaposed in new and sudden combinations.’ It is perpetual; it cannot be kept out of the poem; it can only be directed and controlled.

“The tendency of science is necessarily to stabilize terms, to freeze them into strict denotations; the poet’s tendency is by contrast disruptive. The terms are continually modifying each other, and thus violating their dictionary meanings.”
—Cleanth Brooks, “The Language of Paradox”


If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present. . .gratefully.
—Maya Angelou

Seeking the Stairway to the Second Story

golden

In the dream, I need to get to the second floor of the house. I know I have been there before, but the only way to get up there is through a little cupboard space high up off the floor. There are no steps or ladder. I need to climb up on the back of a bench or chair, balance myself, and scramble up and through. I have physical memories of having done it before, but every time I dream this, it seems that the distance has increased, or I have gotten smaller. There is just no way I can make the scramble. (Years ago, the dreams had me scrambling through claustrophobic spaces. Now I cannot even reach the portal.)

In last night’s version of the story, the cupboard/passage was slightly to the right above the chair back where I was standing, hoping to get the courage to leap up to the opening–my arms couldn’t even reach this time. I think that is how it is in every version of this dream, above my head and to the right.

Last night’s dream included an incredibly gorgeous cat named Angel (pronounced Ahn-Jel, emphasis on second syllable). Angel kept her claws sheathed, and her toes were long and agile, almost like fingers. She had dark, knowing eyes.  The woman she lived with was named Jessica, and Jessica was terribly conflicted because she was a Trump supporter and none of the rest of us in the circle were. We were trying to figure out a way to help Jessica to feel welcome and comfortable. I said a prayer, but everyone stopped paying attention and started talking after the first couple sentences.

I am struck by the challenge of trying to get to the second floor. As much as I am working on getting my inner spaces in order, something seems to be a little off-kilter, a little too hard to negotiate.  Or perhaps I am longing for the ease with which I could access my deepest self when I was younger, and the older I get, the smaller I am, and the less able to make the leap into that space.

I am glad to have the magnificent Angel in my head, and Jessica reminds me to love and welcome all people, not to simply spiritualize the conflicts of the current political story, but to make the human connection.

I think that there is a purpose to my nighttime wakefulness–there are ideas that the Dream-maker would have me explore right now. Perhaps I can meditate on the way to enter the second story. (Wow. Now I am caught by the double meaning of that: second story.  Here I am, poised in the liminal space of midlife, and I am seeking the stairway to the second story. What will that story be?)

Gratitude List:
1. Friday. Hymn sing and a weekend coming.
2. I know those hidden rooms within me do exist, and I know that I can find them.
3. Cats and angels
4. Crossing the River these mornings in the dawn
5. Nighttime wakefulness, when it brings messages

May we walk in Beauty!