In the Doorway of Another Year

My year has turned again to my starting day. Here I am, marking the end of year 54 and the beginning of year 55.

I always like to do the numerology assessment of my birthday. Like my dreamwork at the turning of the year from December to January, looking at the meanings in my numbers gives me something to contemplate and focus on in my inner work for the coming season.

One way to look at the numbers is to take the current date and reduce it numerologically: 8+10+2021 = 14 = 5. It’s a pretty straightforward reduction: You add the digits in each number together, and then add them all together. This is a 14 year for me. In the tarot major arcana, the 14 is Temperance. I can get behind that as a contemplation for the coming year.
How can I create balance in my life?
How can I keep one foot on land (practical) and one in the water (emotional/spiritual)?
How can I create and maintain healthy flow in my life?

The 14 reduces further to 5, which is my Life Number. This is the number of the Hierophant, the keeper/teacher of the mysteries. The hierophant passes on wisdom and knowledge. This feels doubly significant to me this year as I enter my 55th year.
How am I passing on the knowledge and wisdom I have gained from my mentors and teachers?
How can I be more deliberate about when to speak and when to keep silent?
What is the body of wisdom that I have to share?

Affinity Numerology dot com tells me that “54 tends to follow whim. It has an urge to be adventurous, yet is pragmatic and tries to focus and be reliable. . .The essence of the number 54 is continually focused on making life better for people. It isn’t always effective, as it also has an inner urge to express its sense of personal freedom.”

It also tells me that “54 has little, if any, judgement of lifestyles, societal expectations, religious beliefs, and political practices — in fact, it revels in the first-hand experience of a wide variety of cultures.” Unfortunately I have failed in that realm this year. Ugh. I have become the judgiest version ever of myself. I blame Covid and its attendant rage. Sigh. Maybe I can incorporate some of that into year 55.

55, according to the same site, suggests I might extend the adventuresomeness of the 54, to deepen the adventures, to claim my independence. I like that vision. So I sit in the space between reliability and independence, with adventure as the thread that ties them together.

Whatever meaning I choose to take from my numbers, the fact is that I have reached the milestone of another year. My hair is definitely grayer. My aches and pains are cycling through with more intensity. I made it through a bout of Covid, through Jon’s job change, through masked teaching and Zoom/hybrid classes, through the long languish of the pandemic. A year ago, I was pretty certain that this birthday would see us out the other side of the pandemic, yet here we are. I’ll be masked again this fall to teach. The numbers in both my counties (Lancaster and York) continue to rise.
I am, by turns: angry, tired, despairing, eye-rollingly-weary.
I have a low tolerance for people who will neither get the vaccine nor mask up.
I am experiencing a dearth of empathy for people who don’t see this the way I do–I consider this to be a moral failing on my part, but I don’t know if it’s something I can control.
I am really anxious about the rising cases in children.

Still, it’s a new year for me, a chance for a reset, with a chance to be better at balance, at flow, and at choosing how to pass along what wisdom I have gained. It’s a season for adventure, in whatever way I can grasp hold of that.

And there’s this:

While I was gazing at this perfect double rainbow, a branching flash of lightning snaked across half the sky. Moments later, a hummingbird flitted out of the willow tree to the left, and began dancing between raindrops right in front of the rainbow.

Gratitude List:
1. Last night, we had friends over for a farewell party for some of our beloveds who are returning to East Africa after several weeks in the US. We sat at picnic tables in the lawn with a cool breeze blowing through the hollow, and walnut leaves like fairy leaves flashing golden as they drifted down around us. Bittersweet, to say goodbye and to be among people I treasure so deeply.
2. The house is pretty clean. I’m not going to go down the shame-vortex in order to get to this, but needless to say, things had not been very clean for some time. Now they are, and I feel my spirits lifted. We should have company once a month.
3. Also bittersweet, today was my last day at Radiance for the summer. It’s sad to leave, but I can’t be sad when I reflect on the gift of being able to work there, surrounded by good and shiny souls, good smells, and so much to learn. Grateful for the connection to Sarah and Laura, to Chris (and Natasha, although our paths didn’t cross this summer). Grateful for herbs and textures and scents and magic, for all that reconnects me to the Divine Feminine.
4. Sensible shoes. Comfortable, sensible shoes. When my feet feel good, my body feels good.
5. Rain. We just got a thunder-boomer in the holler. The air sparkles.

May we walk in Beauty!


Tuesday’s Quotes (long, but hey, it’s my birthday):
“There is one masterpiece, the hexagonal cell, that touches perfection. No living creature, not even human, has achieved, in the centre of one’s sphere, what the bee has achieved on her own: and if intelligence from another world were to descend and ask of the earth the most perfect creation, I would offer the humble comb of honey.” —Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life Of The Bee, 1924


“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” —Coco Chanel


“If it is bread that you seek, you will have bread. If it is the soul you seek, you will find the soul. If you understand this secret, you know you are that which you seek.” —Rumi


“By virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.” —Teilhard de Chardin


Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
Look
what happens
with a love like that —
It lights the whole
world.
—Hafiz


“The Seven of Pentacles”
by Marge Piercy
Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.


“In these cataclysmic times, living in what Michael Meade calls the ‘slow apocalypse,’ despair can be dangerously seductive. Our lives may feel inadequate to the terrible momentum of our times, but it is in those moments that we must remember the difference between despair and grief.
“While despair traps us in the bog of despondency, grief carries us into life. Grief calls us into a deeper engagement with those things that we love. And even as we are losing them, grief wants to exalt their beauty.
“If we let grief move us into expression, it will sing the blood into our songs, colour the vividness into our paintings, and slip the poetry between our words.
“Rumi says, “All medicine wants is pain to cure.” And so we must cry out in our weakness, our ineptitude, our beautiful inadequacy and make of it an invitation that medicine might reach through and towards us.” —Toko-pa Turner

Fatalism By Choice

How scars hold memory

Some things I noticed today with gratitude:
1. A young person with a burgundy mohawk walking down the streets of Lancaster with a chill ginger tabby hanging out in their backpack.
2. How conversations about life and books weave webs of experience and story, creating scaffolds for the next set of experiences.
3. When I walked through the city today, I felt the sense of power in my own body again, the joy in movement, in striding. It’s been really hard in the last few months to regain that. At first, I thought it was just the weight gain and sedentariness of having had Covid that was causing me trouble. Then I thought it must still be residual Covid problems in my body. Then I thought, “Maybe I just got old during the time of my illness and recuperation, and it will always be this way.” There’s likely some truth to all of those bits, but I can still have moments when a brisk stride brings pleasure.
4. I was pondering this thought this morning: I am not a serious fan of determinism and fatalism, but I began to wonder how life might be if we would begin to consider every moment of interaction with others to be a “fated” moment, that each conversation, each random meeting, is designed by the Fates or God or the Universe as an opportunity for some spark of tenderness or energy or truth or even boundary-setting to occur. On one hand, it’s exhausting to think about always being that “on,” but it’s also instructive to me to consider how to live more intentionally in the moment, to maintain those moments of human interaction as holy.
5. Hummingbird. Whenever we spend a little time on the front balcony (which is pretty often these days), we’re pretty sure to see the hummingbird at the hanging baskets, within about four feet. And I have been seeing more of oriole, too–he’s no longer calling in the treetops, but he’s very present. And blue heron has been stalking the creek. And the young hawk still fusses regularly in the treetops.

May we walk in Beauty!


It’s a Momaday sort of day:
(I looked up Momaday and got carried away by his words and ideas)
*
It Works
by Rabia of Batista (c. 717-801)
Would you come if someone called you
by the wrong name?
I wept, because for years God did not enter my arms:
then one night I was told a
secret:
Perhaps the name you call God is
not really God’s, maybe it
is just an
alias.
I thought about this, and came up with a pet name
for my Beloved I never mention
to others.
All I can say is—
it works.


“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” —Corrie Ten Boom


“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” —Brené Brown


“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” —Garth Nix


“We need to walk to know sacred places, those around us and those within. We need to walk to remember the songs.” —Joseph Bruchac


“A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things.” —N. Scott Momaday


“As far as I am concerned, poetry is a statement concerning the human condition, composed in verse.” —N. Scott Momaday


“I wonder if, in the dark night of the sea, the octopus dreams of me.” —N. Scott Momaday


“We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined.” —N. Scott Momaday

Go Back to the Shire & Start Again

When I was a teenager, and we got our first Apple Computer, we bought a Hobbit adventure game. It was one of those where you have to successfully execute a series of tasks in order to level up. You started at Bilbo’s house in the Shire, and you needed to get certain supplies to get on your way, and then you’d go through adventure, and you’d get to the trolls, and you had to figure out how to defeat them, but it you had forgotten to pick up a key that you had passed way back near the beginning, you would fail at getting into their lair for the next step, and so you would have to go way back to the very beginning again, and you’d have to remember to pick up the key, but then you might forget to open a door somewhere where you were supposed to pick up your sword, and so you’d fail again somewhere along the way and you’d have to go back to the beginning again and start over. I don’t think I ever got as far as Rivendell. The goblins always got me.

When my son and I were sent home from school yesterday because of a Covid exposure, I felt like we had fallen into that game all over again.

I knew we should get tested. That only makes sense, right? The way to prevent the disease is to make sure that people who are exposed get tested, so we make sure they aren’t passing it on to their families, and on and on. So we went on a Quest for a Test.

Call the Urgent Care. Sorry, no more appointments for testing today. Are you experiencing symptoms? Then you probably can’t get tested anyway. Sorry. [Go back to the Shire and start again.]

Call the doctor’s office. Sorry, no more appointments today. Call first thing in the morning and we just might be able to get you an appointment that would get you an order to get swabbed sometime next week. [Go back to the Shire and start again.]

Call the kid’s insurance company. Yes. He should get tested. Go to the York Expo Center Drive-Through testing site. His insurance pays the whole thing. And by the way, he’s due for his well-child check-up and a dental appointment, and he can get a free flu shot at Rite Aid. [Angel sound. Door opens. Pick up swab test. Pick up flu shot. Pick up well-child check and dental appointment.]

Drive to York Expo Center. No one is there. Find people on other side of huge parking lot. “No, there hasn’t been a drive-through test here for months.” Sorry. [Go back to the Shire and start again.]

Call MedExpress again, in York and Lancaster. No. Sorrysorry. No. Call doctor’s office again. No. [Sit in the Shire and think about how ineffective you are at your life.]

Take a nap and wake up with a terrible headache and the sniffles. Wonder if you probably have Covid. Isolate yourself in the bedroom for the night. Call MedExpress again and tell them you have symptoms. “Try calling in the morning.” [Go back to the Shire and stop bugging people.]

Call MedExpress in the morning, as they suggested. Busy. Call. Busy. Call. Busy. Repeat. Repeat. Call the doctor’s office. Busy. Call. Get partway through automated phone ladder. Wrong choice. [Go back to Shire.]

Call doctor’s office’s Very Confusing Phone Labyrinth again and again [Go back to the Shire. Go back to the Shire] until you get a voice. [Angel sounds.] “We can get you an appointment for Monday.” [You don’t have to go all the way back to the Shire, just to Bree.] Anything, please, yes, but is there no chance we could see someone today? Pause and go on hold. “Yes, I’ll schedule you both for an appointment at 11:00.” [Angel sounds. Doors open. Pick up sword and key.]

Ten minutes later, receive a call from doctor’s office. “The doctor would actually like you to get swabbed this morning so you don’t have to wait until next week. Come to the office, but drive around to the back, in the employees’ entrance, and get in the car line to get tested. Stay in your car.” [We have broken through to a whole new level now, Bilbo!]

Swabbed and teary-eyed, we head for home, pull up our video conference with a very pleasant but tired-sounding doctor. My symptoms are not consistent enough with Covid to concern him, especially since I tend to get headaches, and I have allergies, and people are catching cold right now. We don’t need to isolate within the house–the others have been exposed to us for five days already since our exposure. We’re to quarantine until November 30 (though a negative test might free us sooner), and the others in the house can come and go as they please, as long as they take all the precautions. We do not need to wear masks in the house any longer, and the cats are grateful. [You have made it to Rivendell. Rest well, small hobbits.]

So that is where we are. Because school was to go virtual beginning Monday anyway, we’ll just work from here and hope the wi-fi holds up. If I get a negative test, I might be able to teach from my classroom using the school’s wi-fi for the week following Thanksgiving.