Good Words to Begin the Year

One of my beloveds nearly died this past summer. I’m not being over-dramatic about that. It was touch and go with his first treatment for his lymphoma, whether his failing liver and kidney function could support the clean-up work of the immunotherapy and chemo. I felt Death hovering in the corners of the room, thought I could see the shadowy and bright forms of his escorts from realm to realm.

Today, the oncologist gave us some glorious words: “complete remission” and “probably a cure.” I still don’t know how to articulate the joy of this. It’s a moment to pause in the glorious rays of morning sun and whisper hallelujah.


Gratitude List:
1. Those miracle words of such great relief: “complete remission,” “probably a cure”
2. Trusting that excellent substitutes can take my classes for two days while I finish my Covid isolation
3. A warm house
4. Patty Griffin’s song, “Mary”
5. Words! So many words!
May we walk in Beauty!


“Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.” —Minna Thomas Antrim


“How do we go on living, when every day our hearts break anew? Whether your beloved are red-legged frogs, coho salmon, black terns, Sumatran tigers, or fat Guam partulas, or entire forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, or oceans, or the entire planet, the story is the same, the story of the murder of one’s beloved, the murder of one’s beloved, the murder of one’s beloved.” —Derrick Jensen


“The Work. I am learning, slowly and in tiny little ways, to stop asking myself what I can get from each moment, but instead what my Work is here in the moment. And realizing, ever so dimly, that when I am really doing my Work (really doing my Work), I am also receiving what I need.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider


“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke


“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” —Peter Drucker


“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it will be a butterfly.” —Margaret Fuller


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” —T.S. Eliot


“So my mind keeps coming back to the question: what is wrong with us? What is really preventing us from putting out the fire that is threatening to burn down our collective house? I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe—and would benefit the vast majority—are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.”
― Naomi Klein

Harvesting from the Dreamtime

The Dreamtime this year has been. . .dreamy. We have Covid in the house, so we cancelled all our plans to attend family holiday gatherings this year. It was definitely sad, and yet we’re all homebodies, so we’re fine, other than feeling like we missed out, and missing our families.

And although it has been dreamy, we have been getting stuff done. I’ve been knitting and crocheting, painting, organizing, learning a lot of Swahili. Jon’s been spackling and painting and fixing stuff. Josiah has been getting his room ready to repaint.

Yesterday, I finished going through files from my previous job: I let that be a ritual of release. Whoosh! It’s out the door, into the trash, out of my life. I kept a few things–poems, articles, notes of encouragement. So, of course last night in the dreamtime, I was finding space for myself in buildings, and trying to negotiate what my feelings should be in the context of other people.

Here’s the dream: I am going to a funeral with a friend. I think that she was probably closer to the one who died than I was, so when she decides to wait in the hall before our group goes in to sing, I wait out there with her. But she looks bored, like she doesn’t really care about what is happening. I long to be in the service, so I leave her with some others in the hall and go in. When we get up to sing our special music, the man who is holding the hymnal for a couple of us in the singing group keeps shifting it away so I can’t see it. I keep shuffling to get a better view and he shifts it away again. I think we must look ridiculous to the people in the audience, so I just shift into the back row and ignore hymnal-guy. He’s left standing awkwardly alone in the front row.

In the second half of the dream, I am finding office/living space in the basement of the church where the funeral was. There’s a lovely big heavy curtain walling off my personal area from the rest of the basement, giving me privacy. Someone is concerned about the smell of shrimp. We discover five or six large (lobster-sized) peeled shrimp lying around my space. They smell strongly–not rotten, just shrimpy. The dog has been chewing on them, but doesn’t really like them. I think maybe we can clean this stuff up, and hope the odor doesn’t last.

Perhaps I am hoping that the “odor” of the really negative energy that still remains will not mar my new experiences. I not only have to rid myself of the old files and things, I still need to deal with the lingering bad energy. In the early morning, I found myself dreaming–again–of explaining carefully to someone why I was forced to resign my job.

I’m glad that I made decisions during the funeral part of the dream to do what I needed to do instead of being led by others’ notions, to let myself be emotionally involved in letting go instead of sitting outside, to step out of the dance of someone else’s manipulations.

This year, I am not feeling the desire to choose a single word or theme for the year. Usually I end up with layers of themes anyway. A week ago, I had a moment with a friend when the words Curious / Cure / Curator came into focus together. I’ve been playing also with the connection between Curative and Creative. And there’s another one to add: Connective.

So maybe this year does have an overarching theme after all: Harvesting and Foraging for words and ideas that suit. It’s a free association process, following the bright trail of words and images, expanding the dreamtime from the high holy days of late December and early January to the whole year. I’ve started painting cards with some of the words. Perhaps I’ll stop after ten or fifteen. Perhaps I’ll do a word a day for the whole year. Maybe I’ll end up with my own personal oracle deck.

Curious curiosity cure curator curative creative creator envision vision embolden bold badass connective secret spaces wonder welcome belonging wildness winsome wisdom widen spiral. . .


Gratitude List:

  1. Holding a little house finch in my hand as it came back to awareness and life after hitting the window. How its heart beat against my fingers. How its eye shifted around to find me. How it settled into the warmth of my hand. How it suddenly lifted and flew off. Such perfect feathers. Such lightness of being.
  2. Rumination time
  3. How prayer and magic connect us
  4. Zoom. Even though Covid kept us from family, we could still participate in some important conversation
  5. Dreaming myself into the cure
    May we walk in Beauty!

“Beauty is not a luxury but a strategy for survival.” —Terry Tempest Williams


“Your suffering needs to be respected. Don’t try to ignore the hurt, because it is real. Just let the hurt soften you instead of hardening you. Let the hurt open you instead of closing you. Let the hurt send you looking for those who will accept you instead of hiding from those who reject you.” —Bryant McGill


“Contrary to what we may have been taught to think, unnecessary and unchosen suffering wounds us but need not scar us for life. It does mark us. What we allow the mark of our suffering to become is in our own hands.” —bell hooks


“I came from a family of repairers. The spider is a repairer. If you bash into the web of a spider, she doesn’t get mad. She weaves and repairs it.” —Louise Bourgeois


“When you have an ancient heart and childlike spirit you must feel deeply, but go lightly. To trace and learn the language of waves. How all the seas carry secrets, yet still move freely. I am still learning how to be water.” —Victoria Erickson


“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor E. Frankl


“We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew… Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful… and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.” —Desmond Tutu
*:
“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.” ―Anaïs Nin


Leave your windows and go out, people of the world,
go into the streets, go into the fields, go into the woods
and along the streams. Go together, go alone.
Say no to the Lords of War which is Money
which is Fire. Say no by saying yes
to the air, to the earth, to the trees,
yes to the grasses, to the rivers, to the birds
and the animals and every living thing, yes
to the small houses, yes to the children. Yes.
―Wendell Berry


“If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So like children, we begin again…

to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


Martha Beck: “The important thing is to tell yourself a life story in which you, the hero, are primarily a problem solver rather than a helpless victim. This is well within your power, whatever fate might have dealt you.”


“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.

It seems that we Christians have been worshiping Jesus’ journey instead of doing his journey. The worshiping feels very religious; the latter just feels human and ordinary. We are not human beings on a journey toward Spirit, we are already spiritual beings on a journey toward becoming fully human, which for some reason seems harder precisely because it is so ordinary.” ―Richard Rohr


“What if nostalgia is not a fruitless dwelling on those irretrievable moments of the past, as we are taught, but an attempt by sweetness to reach you again?

What if nostalgia is really located in the present, like a scent or ambience which is gathering around you should you avail yourself to it.

As anyone who has been heartbroken knows, there comes a time when, long after loss has been well-lived with, a small melody of love always returns. And to your surprise, you may recognise the tone of that love as the very same love you believed you lost.

It’s then that you know that your love was always your love. And if you let yourself be unguarded to it, nostalgia may find its way back into the generosity of your presence.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“We often cause ourselves suffering by wanting only to live in a world of valleys, a world without struggle and difficulty, a world that is flat, plain, consistent.” —bell hooks