Simple Solstice

In our house, pizza is a good symbol for the fire of Solstice, how basic ingredients laid together on bread are transformed by heat. Also, pizza makes joy.

Today is Summer Solstice, the beginning of the season of learning our passions, tending our fires, meditating on our energies.

What fires you up?
The ancient Greeks called the Fire nature within us our choler, so people who have a lot of fire are often called choleric. We’ve simplified that complicated idea in modern days to mean quick to anger, but it’s also about passion and energy.

When it comes to emotional responses, I can be choleric–quick to get angry, quick to get excited, quick to respond. And I often sustain those passionate emotions over time, burning coals. Physically, I tend to be more phlegmatic, less able to sustain energy over the long haul, preferring to sit quietly and read or make things than to be up and doing.

What makes you angry? What is your trigger for the rage-fires? How can you use that energy to help you bring about change and transformation? Fire transforms landscapes, not only destroying with fierce and random abandon, but creating spaces for new life to grow, new structures to be built. Will you pledge to learn about your anger, how to control and direct it so that it burns down old and tired and unjust systems in order to make way for new and love-filled ways of being that have space for all to breathe?

Do you tend, like me, to the sedentary life: quiet, still, and restful? How can we use this season of fire to feed us the energy to move our bodies, to revel in the fire of muscles moving, of our bodies in motion? Use this season of fire as a time to revel in the way your body moves. Careful now–it’s not a time to hate and despise the bodies we’re in because they’re bigger or slower or flabbier than we want them to be. Let’s live this season of fire to exist in the joy of being in these bodies we’ve chosen, to marvel in the senses, to move, to stretch, to learn speed and strength and limberness.

Summer Solstice is a time, too, to think about what sparks joy. Justice and joy are not things we need to choose between. They feed each other, if we let them, if we keep our hearts focused on their flames. Where do you see Beauty? (I usually capitalize Beauty because I believe it is the Holy One’s middle name.) What fills you? How does your love of Beauty feed your flames of desire for justice?

What ideas and images catch passionate fire in your brain? Flash of birdwing, the shade of red in that quilt, the way those words sound together, the crinkle at the corners of your beloved’s eyes. How can you feed the coals of those fires that fill you with passion? Fire season is the source of the energy of creation, of making, of designing, of appreciating Beauty. Give yourself to those fires. Feel the way they make you sizzle and roar to life.

A Blessed Solstice to you!


Gratitude:
The fires of justice, of love, of making, of delight, of transformation.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty! Blessed Solstice!


“We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” ―Bayard Rustin


“Bless the poets, the workers for justice, the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache, the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh meaning—We will all make it through, despite politics and wars, despite failures and misunderstandings. There is only love.” ―Joy Harjo, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems


“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.” —Howard Zinn


“It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing. What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.” —Laura McBride


“Love lit a fire in my chest, and everything that wasn’t love left.” –Rumi


“Developing your feeling takes time, especially if it has been systematically discouraged in you. There may be an initial layer of numbness or anger you have to move through and, beyond that, a backlog of grief. But as you make the seemingly bottomless descent, it helps to remember that grief is the downpour your soul has been thirsting for. Like rain, the more excellently and prodigiously you grieve, the more growth and fertility you can expect. There is a future beyond the spiritual aridity and meaninglessness of our time, teeming with life. If each of us has the tenacity to retrieve the elixirs of our discomforts, our combined medicine will heal the collective wound.” —Toko-pa Turner

Scattering Prayers

milkweed  lawnlabyrinth
Scattering Milkweed seeds like prayers.

Yesterday I mowed a labyrinth into the grassy patch between the barn and the greenhouse.  The boys and I took a basket of milkweed pods that we had gathered last fall, and spiraled our way into the center of the labyrinth, where we scattered the the fluff like prayers.  Prayers for the monarchs, for the future of these children and the planet that supports them, for the people I carry in my heart.  For you.  For me.  For transformation, and for compassion and for love.  For Beauty, and for fun.

Gratitude List:
1. That wren out there reminding me to keeping listening, keep talking, keep the conversation going.
2. Being in a body.  These morning aches, this slightly blurry vision, this stuffy head–it’s all part of being in the body, along with tastebuds, sensations of cool breezes and warm sweaters, satisfying stretches.
3. Prayers.  I am re-establishing my connection to the word prayer.  I will keep using my other words, too–carrying stones, casting webs, holding the bowl–but prayer is a strong universal signifier for being mindful and concerned, and I am finding that I am choosing it more often to represent what I do, wordless as it so often is.
4. That tiger swallowtail that slipped like a sunbeam down the green slope of the ridge yesterday.
5. Compassion, and all the places you find it.

May we walk in Beauty!

Being a Body

DSCN8041
I think it is time for me to start planning my retreat to the monastery when school ends this spring.  I want to go sit under the boughs of the cathedral tree again.

Gratitude List:
1. Gulls by the hundreds flying in the dawn across the River
2. Watching the freshmen really take up the work of deep discussion
3. How one foot just goes in front of the other.  Then the next one.
4. The sense of sight.  As my eyes age, I am more and more keenly aware of how appreciate clear vision.
5. Being in a body.  Incarnation.  There is so much to learn in this body, and I spend entirely too much time wishing it were different in some way, like I just did by wishing that my eyes weren’t aging quite so quickly.  And every moment, every itch, every ache, every noticing, is a chance to learn something about the interaction of spirit and matter.

May we walk in Beauty!

Creeds

(Commercial Prelude: Today is the Worldwide March Against Monsanto.  Very possibly there is one happening in a town or city near you.  We have one happening in Lancaster, PA, today in the center of the city at 2, with a rally and Awareness Fair afterward.  Join us, wherever you are.  For the bees.)

What are the ideas and assumptions you live by?  What are the beliefs that give meaning to your life?  I know they change from day to day, moment to moment, but if you fling your butterfly net into the brisk morning air of your spirit this morning, what might you catch in there?  How about writing five to start with, and as fast as you can, without thinking, without trying to find really cool ones, but just the ones that first float to the surface.  It strikes me that “creed” might not be the most accurate term, but somehow that’s the one I want to use.

Here are a few that I found in my net this morning.  Remember, this is just a quick, top of the head free association.  That’s the point.  It will be raw, but hopefully it will catch some meaningful tidbits that my thinking mind would overlook or dismiss.  Try it!

1.  Love.  Whatever promotes and supports deep and faithful and trusting Love.  Wanton Love of all that is around us.  Answer the question with Love.
2.  Notice.  Notice as much as possible.  Every detail.  Color, shape, movement, flickers of energy.  Like Sug said in The Color Purple: “I think it pisses God off if you pass by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”  I think the converse (or is it the inverse?) is true: I think it makes her intensely happy if you DO notice it.
3.  There’s a place for everyone at the table.  I believe this and I want to live by it, but there are people I don’t want at my table, and I don’t know how to reconcile it.  I think I mean that compassion (not just the broad love of #1) ought to somehow be extendable to all, but I want to have my compassion for the rapists and murderers and frackers and oil executives and warmongers from a distance.  Still it’s an ideal I believe in, even if I can’t live it yet.
4.  Listening.  I work so hard at this, and I still get caught up in telling and spilling and requiring you to listen to me instead.  But I think there is something incredibly holy in the act of listening, something that strengthens and fortifies that web that connects us all.
5.  Treasuring the web of all life.  In one sense, I think we’re all one organism of many parts.  Trying to see the world this way helps with the compassion dissonance of #3, I think.  We are all one.  What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.  What harm I do to you, I do to me, too.  And when we spread love outward, it heals ourownselves.

So a really interesting thing happened there.  Originally, I wrote ten as the suggestion for a number, but I found that by the time I hit the fifth one, I had started to engage my brain, had started to worry what people would say (“That’s too religious!”  “That’s not religious enough!”), had started to delete and re-type, delete and re-type.  Five seems to be a good number for quick reflection, before the brain gets too involved, too Editorial.

 

Gratitude List
1.  This amazing and perfect spiderweb outside my window.  Thrive, little spider.  May you and your offspring eat well here in the hollow.
2.  The voice of the people.  Daily I become more cynical about whether the democratic process has any more validity in a system where the richest candidate wins, where corporations and lobbyists can donate huge sums of money to campaigns so that the candidates become beholden to their causes.  I get pretty twisted up inside about it.  But I still think the people have a duty to make our voices heard, perhaps now more than ever.  When this chapter gets written, I want it to be noted that people spoke up.  So, today I join the people in the agora.  For the health of our children.  For the bees and the monarchs.  For the future of the planet.  I am grateful for the voice of the people.
3.  Short fiction.  I am finding it difficult to get a good overall view of the English 9 course I will be teaching in the fall, because I have gotten stuck reading the short stories.  I guess I just have to sit down and read them all so I can focus on the big picture.  What a lovely chore to have.
4.  Belly laughing with the kids
5.  Watching my 8-year-old beginning to develop grace and fluidity to his movements.  Body confidence.  Dancing and climbing and jumping and running.  I think even the klutziest among us (like me) probably went through those phases in childhood where we began to live in our bodies with more awareness.  Today, treasure your body and the ways it moves, the way it propels you from place to place, whether you run or whether you hobble.  What an amazing thing it is that those nerves and synapses within us all work so beautifully.

May we walk in Beauty!

Through the Same Door

despise not small things

Day 29 Poem-A-Day Prompt: Write a Birth Poem.

We all came in through the same door.
The young ones just beginning to learn
what their bodies can do,
the new crones bidding the blood farewell.

And all those rounding bellies.
There were more of them than any of the others.

I sensed the wolf the moment I walked in the door.
I almost looked around to see her,
before I realized the shadow was my own.

Of course.

I stepped across the carpet
carefully toward the desk,
past the pair who sat together
with heads bowed in wonder
over the full bowl of her womb,
willing them not to look at me
lest they sense the blood on me,
lest some contagion contaminate
their innocent joy,
lest the wolf turn her face their way.

Me, I had walked this way before
with my strange and dark companion,
carrying my empty bowl.
I was only there for confirmation
this time.   I knew what I had come to hear,
knew how to follow this particular path of grief.

Walking out again, afterward,
the fresh-faced ones were still there,
and the wolf and I again took pains
not to taint them with our shadow.

We left by the same door
and closed it quietly behind us.