Twelvenight: Happy New Year!

The Fool rides a dragonfly.

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.

A New Year, Dreamtime 10

Here we are at Janus’ Doorway again. Janus, remember, is the two-faced Roman god who stands in doorways and gateways and openings, his face looking back to where he came from and forward to where he is headed. And on this day we, too, have made a practice of looking forward as we look back: What do I hold in my heart from the past year? What do I want to keep and improve upon? What do I regret? What do I leave behind with relief? And: What am I looking forward to? What do I want to maintain as the thread that continues from year to year to year? What do I want to pick up What can I strive to become as I step through this gate into the next phase?

Some years I make Resolutions. Some years I eschew them. Some years I make them with qualifications or new names like Intentions or Principles. This year, they’re Resolutions again. I can sit with that. Some of these are loftier than others.

Resolutions
In 2019, I resolve to:

  1. Continue banning face and name of the attention-monger on my FB page. No posts of him.
  2. Nourish my body with care, and make sure to strengthen and stretch.
  3. Tend to my inner life with even greater care. Expand spiritual practices and lifelines.
  4. Let the madwoman out of the attic. Give her flowers and colors, nice music and rich scents.
  5. Be actively kinder to my children.
  6. Finish the book. Can I finish the book this year? I think maybe I can finish the book.g

Gratitude List:
1. Closing the book on the challenges of 2018.
2. Opening a new chapter.
3. Blank pages.
4. Supportive, overlapping circles of community.
5. The blue of those clouds on this first morning of the new year.

May we walk in Beauty!


Today’s Quotations list is long. I decided to include two of my own New Year’s poems.

Words for the Seventh Day of Kwanzaa:
The word for this last day of Kwanzaa is Imani, or Faith. Believe that your dreams have the power to create change in the world. May it be so for you and for me and for all who long for and work for justice in the coming year.


“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier.’” —Alfred Tennyson


“Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.” ―Joan Chittister


Walking Through the Gateway of Another Year
By Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2017

Let’s call them New Year’s Revolutions
or Re-Solutions
or Revelations
or Re-evaluations.

Change. Progress.
Uncovering. Assessing.

In the coming year, I resolve to re-solve
my problems and issues every day,
not just on this morning.

For every morning is the morning
of a whole new year,
a bright blank page
in which any thing
can be a new thing.

Let every moment be a moment like now,
when the newborn sun shines
over the ridge
onto the scarlet breast
of a cardinal,
and the eye
for a moment sees nothing
but sparkling red.


“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


“And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
—William Blake


“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
―Mary Oliver


“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


This is How It Begins (a New Year’s poem)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, January 1, 2016

This is how it begins:
each year, each week, each day,
each golden shining drop of moment
approaches,
full of expectancy,
dawning,
ready for our use.

How will I inhabit the house
of the now that approaches?
How will I wear the cloth
of the day that is given?
How will I wander the story
of the year that has just now
leapt into shining view
through the gray clouds of winter?

I will face this year with resolution
(this week, this day, this moment)
not to wait until this whirling planet
has danced around the sun
to make the new thing new,
but to step into each freshly-birthed now
with eyes that see the golden shine of possibility
and ears that hear the note of each plucked strand of moment.

This is How It Begins

This is how it begins:
each year, each week, each day,
each golden shining drop of moment
approaches,
full of expectancy,
dawning,
ready for our use.

How will I inhabit the house
of the now that approaches?
How will I wear the cloth
of the day that is given?
How will I wander the story
of the year that has just now
leapt into shining view
through the gray clouds of winter?

I will face this year with resolution
(this week, this day, this moment)
not to wait until this whirling planet
has danced around the sun
to make the new thing new,
but to step into each freshly-birthed now
with eyes that see the golden shine of possibility
and ears that hear the note of each plucked strand of moment.

DSCN8884
Dew on Mullein.

Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday, the family together celebrating a woman of wisdom and compassion.  Some families celebrate the New Year.  We celebrate a birthday.
2. More conversations with the beloved community, with wise parents and in-laws and out-laws.  How listening well and sharing ideas becomes more than the sum of all the conversational bits that appear. How ideas build upon ideas, and shape the ones that came before, and open up spaces for new thoughts to appear.  How iron sharpens iron.  How certain conversations at certain moments prepare me to do the Work that approaches.
3. Three golden rays of sun yesterday before the sun set, shooting through a rift in the grey cloud.  The sun, the sun, the sun: I saw the sun!  And now, here in the crisp morning, nothing but blue above, and golden shine now slipping over the ridge and into the hollow.
4. I have been listening this week to Mindy Nolt’s Movers and Lovers, deeply and intensely, grateful for each phrase.  Move. Love. Listen.
5. 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.

May we–in each dawning moment of this coming year and week and day–walk in Beauty!

Epiphany

My holiday season is Twelvenight, the time that stretches from Christmas to Epiphany, a quiet and contemplative time, time out of time, intended for the gleaning of images and words that might help me focus the unfolding of my story in the coming year.  I extend the season a little, beginning at Solstice.  Through the long nights and the waiting for light to begin to return, I watch and listen for images and words that compel me in some particular way.

Two years ago, I found myself suddenly obsessing over the word palimpsest, a strange and new word that carried the sense of layers and shadings of meaning, of old stories suddenly appearing in the middle of new stories to inform the current living.

Last year, bridge was my word–an image that appeared repeatedly to me in conversations and dreams, and a concept that became incredibly powerful to me in the meaning-making of my own life when I found myself suddenly making a major life transition, from farm and child care back to teaching.

My grab bag of images and ideas this year is full and cluttered.  Fred the cat has been in one of his agitated cycles during the past couple of weeks, frequently waking us up in the middle of the night, which leaves my head whirling with fog-skuthers of dream-images, compelling pictures that slip into my thinking space throughout the day.  I woke up one morning thinking about a student at our school, wondering if she would be in my class next semester, with an almost wild sense of protectiveness for her.  Vulture, lynx, and leopard have appeared in my dreams.  Plantain and pigweed.  Storytellers, fools, and shamans (somehow associated with the image of those magical folk from the east who decided to follow the sign of a star).  There was even a nightmare about watching a plane crash that woke me up with a pounding heart and tight breathing.  The dreams have been full and fantastical.

Out of it all, I have settled on two words that have floated to the surface of the pond of my unconscious: secrets and impeccability. I don’t really like the word secrets (I have seen unhealthy secrets destroy relationships too often), and I keep trying to change it to mysteries, but something in me thinks that the distinction may be important to explore during the coming season, particularly in the context of the word impeccability.  Perhaps it’s a step in gaining wisdom and maturity, that ability to keep one’s own council and trusting to the strength of one’s own character.  I know I have much to learn on both fronts.

So Much There Is

milkweedBlessings on your new year. Here is a little something:

So much there is
that cannot be told,
so much to unfold,
so many new meanings to try.

So much there is
that waits in the wings,
so many things
cannot find their sky,
that minuscule patch
of impossible blue
beyond the shadows
of this darkened room.

So many stories
have yet to be told,
so many adventures
of boldness to tell,
to live, to explore.

Open the windows,
pick up the pen,
and then tell me more,
tell me more,
tell me more!

 

Dancing on the Cliff

mossSo here we are again, dancing on the edge of the cliffs, Fools that we are, watching the sun set on an old year and rise on a new one.  Like Janus the Roman god, two-faced, we look back at what has been and look forward to what will be, simultaneously embodying the present moment.

What amazing creatures we are, Bright Ones!  We carry within us this unbounded capacity for hope and healing, for starting again at tabula rasa, that old blank slate.  Oh, the old stuff lingers, like those lines of ancient vellum documents that re-appear after they’ve been scraped clean and re-written, ghosts of past that linger, but don’t overpower the new text.

One of my first remembered dreams of 2013 was a word rather than an image, the word Palimpsest, the term to describe those old re-used vellum texts that have given scholars the delight of being able to research two texts in one.  I won’t deny that this past year’s fresh text has had its bumpy bits, its painful plot twists at times, but there has been so much light and love, there have been so many epiphanies and mountain views, so many new friends and thoughts and ideas.

(In these twelve nights of Yuletide, I have again been listening more acutely to my dreams.  So far, the thing that stands out most clearly is something vague about The Wild Boys of Raccoon Hollow.  I’m not feeling the spiritual depth of that one just yet.  I’ll keep listening.)

Thank you, Bright Ones, for sharing the journey, for reading my lines here and there.  I wish you many bright spots of sunlight on your path, and challenges enough to make you know your true strength.  Oh, and dreams that give you vision for the next step.

Gratitude List:
1.  This phrase that someone used today: “The intimate magic of motherhood.”  Isn’t that satisfying?
2.  Joseph Brodsky, and Alex Estes’ review of his “1-Jan-65” poem.  It enlivens the literary critic within me.
3.  Knowing my work.  Refining the vision.
4.  All that we have been and all that we will be, but mostly, who we are right in this exact moment.
5.  I have said it before, but it bears repeating on the cusp of the New Year: You.  Oh, Bright Ones, You.

May we walk in Beauty!

Palimpsest: Song for a New Year and an Old

I have already received a private message from a friend who wrote a marvelous Palimpsest poem.  Feel free to type in your own in the comments or on my FB thread, or in my email or FB messages.  Here’s mine (the phrases on the right-hand side are random quotes pulled out of my Facebook archive):

The fiery sunset of the old year gives way to

salt. . .balsam. . .ratatat cat feet. . .green

a silver gibbous moon gives way to

not sure the sun is ever coming back

this rosy sun shining through a gull’s wing.

too many trinkets in the trees already

This new morning climbs down the northward hill,

a new bubble wand and a madcap two-year-old

washes the fields above the orchard in golden glow,

can’t get enough mulberries

slips downward into the frosty pear trees,

amazing person, that cat

illuminates the weather vane rooster on the roof,

my brain is filled with compost and my poetry is green

and suddenly crests the southern hill.

I think when I was born I was a baby

The puddle of night in the bowl of the hollow

keep talking, keep loving

dissolves into the new year.

Palimpsest

Good Morning, 2013!  Such a fresh-looking number, that.  I love the movement into a new year, no matter how arbitrary the choice of day may actually be.  As my friend Carol said, Let each day be a new beginning, a chance to begin afresh.  Now, this moment, I am a new person.  And now, in this moment, too, I begin anew.  Always.  There’s that phrase again: Always we begin again.

I went to sleep last night asking for a Word to come to me, a word that would be my focus word for 2013.  What with all the restlessness of a recovering-from-flu six-year-old next to me, and the aches and pains in my own muscles, my sleep was disturbed enough that my dreams haven’t given me clarity on a word.  So I suppose I have to do some actual work on this one.  I think I am going to go with the word I chose for my journal last year.  Perhaps it was unofficially last year’s Word of the Year, but I want to bring in into this year with focus: Palimpsest.

It’s the term for an old manuscript or scroll (usually made of velum) in which the words have been scraped off so that it may be re-written again.  In many cases, remnants of the original documents show through.  I think it was Margaret Atwood who expanded the meaning when she described Canadian cities as palimpsests, new places in which hints and pieces of the older times could be seen.

So Palimpsest is my Word for 2013.  Writing the new chapters of me, I will also read the ways in which the past and memory continue to live in the present, becoming part of the current writing of my life.  Layers upon layers.

I had intended to avoid New Year’s Resolutions this year, but it feels appropriate to me, in conjunction with the word I have chosen, to continue to resolve to scrape away the bits of the story which I no longer need.  So I will continue to resolve, and strengthen my resolve, to de-clutter.  To clean up the spaces in my home and my head which hold the unnecessary bits.  But whatever I miss in my scraping away, instead of resenting, I will look at with wonder at the way it shines a light from the past into the present.

Oh–so Palimpsest will also become today’s poetry prompt.  Anyone care to join me on this one?  I’ll post before I go to bed tonight.