Advent 12: Claustrophobia

Beloveds, we are just over halfway to through this December labyrinth walk into the dark. The light begins to return on Solstice, on the 21st.

Where I live, the holiday traffic is ramping up to frantic, and the afternoon commute gets long and dark and claustrophobic. Yesterday, I nearly let the long ride home ruin my evening. Being trapped in a box on wheels on a highway in the dark for hours feels too much like my inner state in December.

Today, I need to make sure that I am intentionally working to combat the claustrophobia I feel rising in me as the constricting layers of winter clothes and the darkness and the schedule and the traffic have all closed around me.

First, Breathing:
Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out.
Pause: Remember last night’s moon.
Breathe in, holding the image of moon.
Pause: Let go of the traffic.
Breathe out.
Pause: Yesterday’s lovely morning snow.
Breathe in.
Pause: Let go of the work ahead.
Breathe out.
Pause: So many shining, twinkling lights surround me, students and family and friends.
Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out. Pause. . .

Second, Art:
Yesterday before I went to bed, I watched a little video of comic artist Tim Gula doing an exercise in automatic drawing. It’s kind of like a journal free-write, where you just keep your hand moving and put whatever comes down on the paper. I have noticed that even my doodles have become constricted lately, lines choked and tight. I think that some drawing practice might help me to free up some of this claustrophobic inner space.

Third, Story:
I’ve queued up the next book in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle on my tablet, and I am going to have it along on the ride to school so we can start to listen to it today.

Perhaps claustrophobia isn’t a struggle for you at this time of year. Is it panic, silence or noise, loneliness? Or maybe this is your happiest time. What are the tools you use to cope with the challenges or to mark and celebrate the joys?

Gratitude List:
1. Story
2. Art
3. Breath
4. Wildness
5. Moon

May we walk in Beauty!


Gratitude List:
1. How time shifts grief to a different space. This is the week, thirteen years ago, when my first child would have been due. I lost the pregnancy early, at thirteen weeks, but I was new to the horror of loss in those days, and it hit me like a truck. Today, it sits differently in me. Still, it wants to be noticed, to be remembered.
2. The light is coming back. We still have a long way to walk until Sunreturn, but it will come again. This year is harder than some, the claustrophobia more intense and grinding, and it’s hit me earlier. I am grateful for whatever lessons it has to teach me.
3. Coffee and chocolate
4. Getting it done, slowly but surely
5. Innovation and change

May we walk in Beauty!


Because today’s poem is about claustrophobic passages, I am posting this photo of my favorite weeping beech tree, and a passage to the light.

Today’s Poetry Prompt is to write about a Phobia.

by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Perhaps I have always been afraid to be born,
unable to bear the tunnel passage,
the sudden loss of air, of light,
the moment just before emergence.

In the dreams I am always
stuck in the opening,
caught between worlds
unable to go forward or go back.

There came a day when I shed those brick walls,
left the constrictor’s coils behind me,
raced across the open field like a deer
suddenly freed from the snare.

That day when I bounded to freedom
I let god out of her golden cage, too,
and she roared–a mighty wind–
across the meadows.

Gratitude List:
1. Orange leaves, like bits of flame, slipping through the sky.
2. Orange fox, like a small brush fire, sauntering through the grasses.
3. This has been such a season of training of the love muscle as someone said somewhere in a random internet post today. I keep not passing the test. I keep giving in to the Panicky Raging Maniac in my brain. Today, and tomorrow, and Tuesday, and then especially on Wednesday, I am going to see if I can pass the Love ALL Your Neighbors test.  All of ’em, Sweetheart. You’ve got to love. All. Of. Them.
4. Encouragement from the peanut gallery. This evening, I said to Jon (about the grading stack), “I can finally see the light at the end of this tunnel. I think I am going to make it.”  From the other side of the room, one of the munchkins started to chant, “You can do it! You can do it!”
5. That hurdle has been leapt. Grades are marked ready for the Registrar.

Don’t forget to smile at each other today.