Aha! The light is here. We have found our way by star and by dream, by following the song inside us.
Now we face a terrible choice. A new dream asks us to stand against a great evil that threatens to destroy this promise, that will destroy the lives of many children and their families until all is said and done. But we are used to following the paths where our dreams take us, and so we must see the child on his way, pack up our things, and head out another way, tricking the old king of his quarry.
Legends say that the astrologers and seers who followed the star in search of the child of promise came from Persia. At least some of them probably came from Iran. Rumi’s beloved Shams was from the city of Tabriz, in Iran, and my own beloved Hafez was from the city of Shiraz, Iran, where the Nasir Ol-Mulk–the Rainbow Mosque–is located today.
As my own country is crouched on the brink of a war with Iran, a rogue president at the helm and all semblance of Congressional checks and balances seemingly in tatters, we must consider our own response to despotic and ruthless leadership. How will we find a different way out of the murderous city? How will we protect the small ones? Perhaps today calls not for a quiet exit through the back door, but a conscious and public standing up and speaking out.
The people of Iran are not our enemy. We have, perhaps, more in common with them than with the angry old men who plot war between our countries.
What do your dreams tell you? Where will this star lead us today?
La Befana: The Epiphany Witch
She’d got her eyes fixed on what was right in front of her, the dust and the dirt and the everyday mess. Wanted to be ready for the coming of the child but couldn’t see beyond the day she was in.
Believe me, I know what the old one was up to. I too get caught by the fishhook of the present, stuck in the nextness of each task ahead, forget to lift my eyes to see the shine and sparkle of my arriving guests, can’t put down my broom, my pen, my daily rhythm, to look up and outward.
Like Old Befana, I catch, too late, the jingle of the caravan bells as they turn the corner in the distance, see the disappearing cloud of dust.
Hastening to grab my cloak and bag, I’ve lost their trail before I reach the distant corner, left behind, bereft, alone, dust-covered, traveling bag in one hand and besom in the other, destined to spend my life sweeping the skies on my broom, chasing down the Holy Aha.
Gratitude List: 1. Dreams and visions 2. Watching a boy and his grandparents yesterday, putting together a giant Lego jet. Hearing him hum and whistle as he concentrated. 3. All the people who are standing up and speaking out. 4. All those crows! On the way home last night, as we were driving beneath a sunset sky full of crows, a boy began to sing, “Magical, magical, magical.” (Of course, when he noticed me appreciating it, he switched and sang, “Unmagical, unmagical, unmagical,” but it was too late. I had noticed.) 5. The holy Aha! Finding the way by starlight and dream. Choosing to disobey, if that what is called for.
On this day when everyone’s attempting to solve and re-solve their solutions, to resolve their resolutions, to tend to their intentions, I’m still waiting on a word. I watch my dreams and inner questions until the shining sixth, Epiphany, until the kings come. Wise ones. Mages. The light pours in on Epiphany and wisdom comes to the house.
It doesn’t really matter which day you embark on the journey. It only matters that you take it. Today we stand with Janus in his doorway, looking back and looking forward. With the double-faced god beside us, we can simultaneously look behind to the road that has brought us here, and ahead to the road we’re soon to take.
How could I live the coming year without that knowledge of the shadow that travels behind me, the road I walked to get here, the person I have been? It’s so easy, when we turn over a new leaf marking a new season in our lives, to simply yank the leaf from its twig, but the what-will-be is built upon the what-was. The new self which is emerging only arrived at this doorway on the persistent legs of the self which brought me here.
Whether you are waiting, like me, for Wisdom to come on Epiphany, or whether you step away from the door this morning to begin the journey of the year, this is the season of the set intention, the forward-moving affirmation. This is the time of the tabula rasa, the blank page upon which you can write whatever you choose.
Do you have a resolution for the coming year? A re-solution, perhaps, to an old and persistent problem? Or perhaps you need this official moment to end a habit that has you in a rut? Or to begin a new one that will get you traveling a more liberating and exciting road than the one you’ve become accustomed to walking? Many people I know prefer to call it an intention rather than a resolution. Perhaps an unachieved intention sounds less like a broken promise than an unsolved resolution.
The road to February is littered with broken resolutions and lost intentions, with holy words discarded and new habits jettisoned as old habits creep from the undergrowth and reattach themselves. I don’t think this means we shouldn’t set intentions or resolutions. Perhaps we need to set the intention and then set a second intention: To tend the first. If I set the intention to get 7,000 steps a day, and I succeed for a week or two, but then fall away, I will have had a less sedentary week or two. That’s a good thing. The idea, then, is to come back to it. Perhaps 7,000 is too much to ask, amid all the other things I need to accomplish. So maybe I re-set my intention and say 5,000 steps a day during the weekday, and 7,000 on weekends. And I try again, with fresh will and determination. After all, February first is another new beginning.
And I think we need to take great care in the intentions we set. If I decide that I don’t like the way I look these days, so I am going to whip my body into shape by diet and exercise, that’s a punishing resolution. My body is going to rebel, and the deep-self is going to feel attacked. But the fact is that for my whole life, I have needed to keep re-setting the intention to move more, and to maintain a healthier balance of the foods I eat. I don’t believe in self-denial. I will never entirely give up chocolate or ice cream or cookies, because then I am bound for failure. But I can probably re-set some of my boundaries with the sweet things. Slow down and savor.
Now there’s a good intention for experiencing life in 2020: Slow down and savor.
In the coming year, may you be kind to yourself. May you set reasonable goals that help you meet with success and fulfillment. May you bring out the best you, informed by all the versions of yourself that you have been. May you not jettison old versions of yourself along the trail behind you, but transform yourself in ways that acknowledge all the work you’ve done to get here.
Blessing for the New Year by Beth Weaver-Kreider
May you be born fresh and shining into the new year and may the old you continue, too, a thread that ties you to past versions of your truest self, for we need to be constantly reborn while we hold a deep sense of the shape we create in the universe.
Gratitude List: 1. All the birdlife of yesterday! It felt like we were in a legend. Suddenly, after weeks of very little bird activity, there were birds everywhere: bluebirds on the wires, finches and sparrows at the feeders with juncoes and mourning doves catching the windfall below, woodpeckers rowing through the space between trees. On the road, flocks of little birds schooled from grove to grove of roadside trees. Vultures, and maybe an eagle, hung in the updrafts above the Susquehanna. And a kingfisher chattered on Fishing Creek. 2. A good, hard hike/climb on the Mason-Dixon Trail south of Long Level. The trail rises above the river on a steep rocky ridge climb, and you’re on a dragon’s back of up-jutting rocks for a quarter mile or more, the river flowing wide like a lake on your left, and Fishing Creek rushing rapidly down the steep ravine to your right. 3. The hike reminded me of the moment in Prince Caspian when the children and Trumpkin are walking along the gorge, trying to find their way, and Aslan appears to Lucy. She must make a choice to follow him rather than going the way the others are going. She knows what is right, and she must follow that way, even when the others mock her for seeing things they cannot see. Even though he doesn’t say it at that moment in that book, I still heard him say, “Courage, Dear Heart” as we picked our way along the stony pathway. I’ll take that with me into the New Year. 4. We meant to go to Infinito’s for their pizza bar for supper last night, but they had closed early for the holiday. Instead, we went next door to Asian Yummy, and it was beautiful as well as yummy. 5. Again, as I feel the sadness and loss of these long mornings for writing and thinking, I can only be grateful for the gift of them in this Time out of Time. While I have not made headway on any projects in particular, I have stretched my writing/thinking muscles on the blog, and it has been satisfying and fortifying.
May we walk in Beauty!
Last January, I had repeated visitations from kingfisher, in waking life, in dreams, in conversations, in books. I chose kingfisher as one of my symbols for the year. Yesterday, as we were finishing our hike, climbing down the ridge toward Fishing Creek, where it moves slowly in deep pools before rushing down the ravine, we heard a kingfisher chattering in the hollow, over and over again. When I got home, inspired by a friend who is writing Shadormas, I wrote this two-stanza shadorma (3/5/3/3/7/5):
Kingfisher, who visited me at the start of the year chattered farewell to the year this cold afternoon.
And vulture floated like eagle through currents o’er the ridge while last year’s waters flowed down the Susquehanna.
Dreamwork: I don’t have much to say about last night’s busy anxiety dreams. In the dream, there is some sort of educational conference going on. It is both at my school, and not at my school. I go into a room, meaning to climb the stairs and go up a few floors, but it’s kind of Escher-like in design. I climb a flight of stair, walk along a landing, and the next flight leads down again into the same room, though I don’t really remember stepping down. Someone tells me I need to find the secret door on the landing. After that it’s possible to find stairs that go up, but each leads to an identical room with the same weird stair situation.
At one point, my colleagues are walking through my bedroom, and I say, “It wouldn’t be so bad if I felt this tired at the end of the day, but I feel like this right after waking up!”
Another of my colleagues, who retired a few years ago, is there, and he has brought his pet echidna. It’s really quite curious and adorable. It keeps sort of morphing into a puppy.
Perhaps I do need to pay attention to the exhaustion bit in here, and the confusion of stairs.