Breathe. Ground. Prepare.

Sweet Shining and Shadowy Beloveds:
This morning, it’s hard to keep believing in justice, hard to keep the long view in mind, hard to hold a vision of a world in which people of courage make decisions for the good of all, with wisdom, humility, and honor.

Part of me longs to enumerate all the horrors and destructions of the past week, to see the hurts laid out like a cadaver, to identify each killing blow, each bruise, each scar.

But that would only serve to feed the rising panic that’s been gathering in my gut this week, and perhaps in yours, too. Those pieces will come later, in poems. But now it’s time to tend to ourselves, to shore up and take stock and plan our way forward.

Let’s fight this collective panic attack. If we’re left lost and quivering, we only feed their power. Oh yes, I’m lost this morning, and quivering, too, re-traumatized. Let’s acknowledge it, notice where it lodges in our bodies.

My muscles actually ache from all the tightness I’ve been holding in. My head is pounding and my brain is foggy.

Now, it’s time to push back the panic:
Breathe in.
Straighten your spine. Lower your shoulders.
Breathe out.
Roll your neck and shoulders.
Stretch and wriggle your spine until you feel yourself to be a line drawn between heaven and earth, a conduit of energy that flows through you.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Notice every place your body is touching a surface. Notice the sensations in your body.
My backside and thighs on the chair. One foot on the floor, one on a chair rail. This cozy jacket keeps me just warm enough. My tongue’s a little scalded from that first sip of coffee.

What do you hear?
The water in the cat’s drinking fountain, a small boy clicking his tongue, the creaking of an old house on a chilly morning.

What do you taste? (Grab a bite of something, or remember a favorite taste sensation.)
The bite of pepper and the creamy counterpart in the pepperjack cheese.

What do you smell?
Coffee, vanilla, springtime

Look around you. Find a color, a texture, a beautiful thing.
The shining scarlet drop of red on the head of that downy woodpecker. The sweet, soft salmon leaves of the Japanese maple, still clinging to the branches and twigs. So many winter goldfinches on the thistle bag!

Now, here we are in the doorway of a new season.
Today and tomorrow mark the beginning of Imbolc, the Season of Stirrings. New life is coming, cold snap or not. Sap will rise. Seeds will sprout. The Earth spins and whirls on in her dance through the cosmos.

One of the old names for today is Candlemas, when we acknowledge how the light has been within us all along, how much light we have to offer. Take stock of your candles. What is the small flame that you can offer the world in this moment? What is the fuel that you share?

Perhaps you are already doing it–tending daily to children or calling your senators, teaching teenagers to ask discerning questions or planting seeds for the crops that will feed your neighbors, healing bodies, gathering friends, listening. Today, this week, this month, do that work like a prayer, like a magic spell. Do it with intention, knowing that your work is changing the world, that what you do is fighting the forces of wanton destruction and power-mongering.

And maybe take up another thing this week. Make cranes for the Tsuru for Solidarity March, when Japanese Americans for social justice will be marching on Washington in early June to demand the closure of internment camps in the United States. Become an advocate for immigration reform. Send money or food to groups who are taking food to asylum-seekers forced to wait in inhumane conditions in Mexico. Express your support for Muslim people, and people from African and Asian countries which have been added to the US travel bans. Help people register to vote.

To combat the lies and obfuscations: Speak truth. Magically. Prayerfully.
To combat the normalized cruelty: Speak compassion and tenderness. Prayerfully. Magically.
To combat the power-mongering: Share your privilege. Offer the microphone, the stage, the moment. Do it prayerfully. Do it magically.
To combat the greed-mongering: Be generous. Give. Share. Do it magically and prayerfully.

Another ancient name for this day, this season, is Brigid, after the ancient goddess of the Celtic peoples, who offered her muse to poets, to metalworkers, and to healers. She later became syncretized with the beloved St. Brighid, and so this aspect of human understanding of the Divine was not lost. Water and flame and word are her tools, her symbols. Today, make a poem, or make art, or make a nourishing broth to honor the gifts the Holy One has given you to make and change and heal. Do it prayerfully, as an act of defiant hope in the face of lies and cruelty and greed.

And also, this is the Groundhog’s moment. Tomorrow is the day when we check on the burrowers and the underworld dwellers. What light do they see? What shadows? In Advent, we walked into our own shadows. On Epiphany, we celebrated our light. And now, as we feel the heavy weight of the week’s shadows like a physical burden upon our shoulders, we must acknowledge and greet our own shadows. How do they give us power? How do they sap our power? Can we work with them instead of against them? Can we find their deepest meanings?

We can’t know what the coming days will bring. Too many signs point toward historical repetitions that turn me to salt, to stone. I freeze. I feel small and insignificant. But I must remember, constantly: Nothing we do now–to fight the tides of hatred and cruelty, to stand between the powerful and the vulnerable, to create holiness and beauty and health–will be wasted, no matter what happens. Now, perhaps more than ever, every act of hope and healing and love matters.

And:

We are not alone. You are not alone. Reach out. Take hands. Build the webs. Ask for help, and be the helper.

Let’s situate ourselves so that we are always ready–strong enough, centered enough, grounded enough–to step up and do the work of love and compassion and justice, to stand up, to stand between, to risk, to raise our voices, to be the fierce and defiant hope for the future we want to create.

Exploring the Shadows

2014 January 018
Sun and shadow.

It’s Brigid’s Day.  It’s Candlemas.  Day of the Groundhog.  Day of the Shadow.

The thing about shadows?  They appear most clearly on the brightest days.  Those cloudy and overcast days, when everything is one singular tone–the shadows are hints and mirages only.  But on days when the sun is shining brightly, then the shadows flow and scatter about your feet and down the hill, pooling and puddling like water in the hollows and crevices.  On sparkling days, you can look into the shadows and discern the deep indigo and violet.  The shadow becomes a mirror, another layer of reality overlaid upon the everyday.

Today, I will light my candle in the dark places and watch for the way the light shifts the darkness around me, how it helps to define and shape the darkness, how it gives meaning to the shapes of things as their shadows find them, mirror them, define them.  Today, I will be the groundhog, searching for the shadow that defines and mirrors me, that offers me a new vision of who I am when I am outside the safe burrow of myself and standing in the sunlight.

May your shadow be a reflection of the Truest You.

Gratitude List:
1. Sleep.  I seem to need more of it these days.  And I am sleeping more deeply.
2. Shadows.  Mirrors. Reflections.
3. Indigo. I’ve been meditating on indigo.  I want to do more research on human perception of blues, indigo in particular.  When people began talking about no longer including it in the rainbow line-up, I was really bothered, and was consequently delighted when my 6yo came home from school and told me about Roy G Biv (the I is still in there).
4. Dinner with the dormies last night.
5. Circling the wagons. Joining hands to hold the net.  Casting the lines from person to person to form the web.

May we walk in Beauty!

Seize Your Goat!

(with thanks to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, 1982)

 

get (get)  [< akin to OE. -gietan (see BEGET, FORGET),
G. -gessen in vergessen, forget
< IE. base *ghend-, to seize, get hold of,
whence L. prehendere, to grasp, understand]

1. to come into the state of having; win, gain, obtain, acquire
[Don’t let her get your goat.]
2. to set up communication with, as by radio or telephone
[Ah yes, I see, she got your goat.]

3. to influence or persuade (a person) to do something
[You can get your goat to climb the stairs, but you’ll never get it down again.]
4. to reach; arrive at
[How did you get back downstairs with that goat?]

5. to go and bring
[Go get your goat back, Girl!]
6. to become afflicted with (a disease)
[Oh yes, I’ve gotten goats.  It’s no easy affliction, let me tell you.]

7. to cause to be
[I see you’ve got your goats in a row.]
8. to be sentenced to
[She got your goat.  Now what is she going to do with it?]

9. [Colloq.] to own; possess
[I have got my own goat, thank you.]
10. [Colloq.] to be or become the master of;
to overpower; to have complete control of
[Or has your goat got you?]

11. [Colloq.] to catch the meaning or import of; understand
[Relax.  She really gets your goat.]
12. [Slang] to cause an emotional response in;
irritate, please, thrill, etc.
[Your goat gets me every time.]

 

Saturday Prompt

I know, I’m supposed to be done and editing, but Tuesday is Brigit, Groundhog’s Day, Imbolc, Candlemas, the Feast of St. Brighid, a luminous day deserving of poetry.  Let’s skip a day and write a poem to honor the occasion on Saturday.  Join me?

 

Gratitude List:

1.  Cassiopeia, Orion, Pleiades (and spell-check)
2.  Forgiveness
3.  A sun-splattered day and winds that meant it
4.  Did the boys pass an entire day without a single fight?  It’s a miracle.
5.  Editing

May we walk in beauty.

laughing goat
I found this randomly on the web and cannot discover who owns it.  I’ll credit it if someone tells me.