Mirrors and Reflections

One of my recent obsessions is taking photographs of light reflected in windows, so that it falls on the landscape outside, or seems to hover between realities, like a doorway or window between worlds. Mirrors, reflections, shadows: light and shadow create images that show us another version of reality, enable us to see things from a different perspective.

At the beginning of the year, instead of choosing a single word for my meditations throughout the year, I felt a nudging on Epiphany day just to keep the three that had risen to the top of my list: Bird, Bridge, Boundary. They’ve been weaving and reweaving themselves through my contemplations in the past month. And a week later, I felt the compulsion to add a fourth: mirror.

The season of Brigid calls us to consider mirrors and reflections and shadows, those otherworldly, deeper layers that offer us images of who we really are in the world. Look. Then look deeper. See, then See again. Open your eyes, and then open your eyes, and then open your eyes. The Groundhog takes on a priestly role, reminding us to examine what reflections we are making in the world, what shape is the shadow that we cast behind and around us.

Two nights ago, I dreamed about going on an adventure with one of my beloveds. I wrote and told her of the dream the next morning. During our conversation, she offered me the gift of mirroring, of showing me the shape she sees me casting into the world. It was a different image than my own perceptions offered me, and gentler. My own sense of inadequacy, my fierce judgement of myself, has cast another layer of shadow into my own perceptions, and made me see myself with too critical an eye. It took the gaze of a friend, the tending perception of another, to shift the view for me.

Light is funny that way. Send it through water, and the image is distorted, shifted slightly. The kingfisher knows this, and automatically corrects for refraction, aiming straight for the minnows despite the tricks of the light. I’ve let myself be seduced by the critical angle of the light, viewing myself with a distorted lens. It helps to have a beloved willing to gently mirror a different perception back to me. My contemplative lens will be clearer now, and perhaps my work will blossom as I view it through another’s eyes.

I’m intentionally mixing the images here: mirror, light, shadow, image, refraction, reflection. Their meanings are like different layers of light viewed in the reflections on a window, each with its own truth to offer, but all part of the layered image.

May your reflections in this season bring you insight into your truest self.
May your beloveds be tender mirrors to guide you to images which help you blossom.
May your inner gaze be kind, offering yourself space to grow and change.

Postscript: This image of the back pages of my grandmother’s copy of The Mennonite Community Cookbook is also a reflection of sorts, a mirror that shows me my reflection in the past, in my own ancestors, or perhaps their reflection/refraction into the image of me. When I am searching for a recipe, fanning the pages with my thumb, there’s a moment when I feel this little arc in the paper, this spot worn away by the years of my grandmother’s own thumb flipping the pages of her cookbook, and I can almost feel her reflected into the moment, into me.

Leave a Trail

my-heart-edited
Heart of Stone. It doesn’t always mean what the song-writers say it means.

“I want to be a mermaid. I’m half-mermaid already. The human half.”  ~~my friend Liza

“I am always aware, when I am trailing an idea–it may be a god in disguise.”  ~~Dr. Martin Shaw, Westcountry School of Myth

I have been thinking of shape-shifting lately, and of myth, and of magic. I have been pondering art and poetry and activism. Pondering hysteria and alarm, contemplation and calm. I have been considering how we can leave a trail for our children and grandchildren, so that when the people of the future look back upon us, they will be able to see the webs of resistance that we created against the tides of hate and insult and discrimination and injustice.

heartstone

She appeared at dawn, her skin shining in the water, the color of the sun rising over the ridge, a tangerine carp-fish large as my thigh, her head breaking the surface for a hush of a moment. Bubbles broke the surface. Fish and womanfish, she spoke: “Leave a trail for them to follow.” And she was gone in a whisk of orange fin, water roiling behind her, the tiny sunfish and polliwogs scattering to the shallows.

A glinting of sunlight shafted through maples, and the air around the pond’s edge filled with sudden electricity. The pond waters boiled forth and a golden bird erupted from the surface. Sunlight lanced and ricocheted through the glade, and I lost the trail of shining feathers in the glare.

The surface of the pond became a still and silent mirror once again, a capricious breeze skuthered a cloud across the sun’s face, and a single golden feather floated lazily out of the hole of sky between treetops.

Later, I climbed the hill to the high fields, pausing to search the pathway for shining quartzite, or the gaze into the blue sky for signs of the bird. Reaching for a shining stone in the path, my fingers found a silky feather, one side golden, one side blue. My ears pricked at a whistle and a calling over the crest of the hill. I topped the ridge, and the golden bird fluttered out of the trees to earth before me. “Leave a trail,” she called. “Something for them to follow.”

Again, she was gone, this time a whisk of a tail into grasses and brambles, ginger-furred fox, fleetfoot. A phantom. Eyes could not avail, but for slight shimmering movements ahead in the meadow, yet scent drew me onward to follow her trail. Down the steep hill of the orchard she led me, up over the hill to the field of the winds.

Two trees stand at the field edge, one tall and graceful, losing its last leaves in the autumn wind, the other broken and twisted, dead for long years. The trees of life and death. Again the sun was shining, a shaft glowed between the trees, and for one brief moment I saw the pointed nose of the fox, and heard one last time, “Leave a trail for others to follow.”

stonehear

Gratitude List:
1. The annual tree-hunt at McPherson’s Tree Farm. Setting up and decorating for the holidays.
2. Exploring the cycle of the coming year with a dear friend, an old soul with a young heart.
3. These webs–sometimes I read or hear a thing that resonates with what has been happening in my head, and suddenly, I see the webs of the idea everywhere. Mindweb synchronicity.
4. I really like our new neighbors.
5. Saturday evening games of Sorry and Farkle.

May we walk in Beauty!

All is Well

<Prompt 28: Write a Bird Poem>

Laughter hovers like a bird
in the listening air around us.
Chuckles like feathers
float around the room,
and all is well for this breath.
And for this one.

The air crackles and rustles
with the winged ones watching.
And all is well.
All is well for this moment.


Gratitude List:
1.  You.  Just You.
2.  Because how knowing you makes me be a better me.
3.  Because you make me see colors and hear sounds and taste flavors that I wouldn’t have understood without you.
4.  Because you make sense of things that I can’t make sense of.
5.  Because you ask the right questions, and don’t always have the answers, but sometimes you do.

May we walk together in Beauty.

Palms Filled With Air

(for Bret and Sue, in memory of Eli)

the tiny bird needed
someone with the fierce
and tender heart of Buddha
to scoop green feathers
into cupped palms

someone who knew
–oh, how you knew–
to neither cringe at dying
nor waste hope for living

but only to watch
to feel the quivering heartbeat
to listen for the feeble chirrup
to look into the white-ringed eye
to say I am here
to feel the slide of feathers
as wings took the shape
of your palms
and filled them with air
with a whole world

light as ashes
scattered over sunset

Gratitude List:
1.  How tidy the bank looks after I have mowed
2.  Sweat
3.  Root Beer Floats
4.  Golden tomatoes that look like the sun
5.  Hummingbird

May we walk in Beauty.