Simple Solstice

In our house, pizza is a good symbol for the fire of Solstice, how basic ingredients laid together on bread are transformed by heat. Also, pizza makes joy.

Today is Summer Solstice, the beginning of the season of learning our passions, tending our fires, meditating on our energies.

What fires you up?
The ancient Greeks called the Fire nature within us our choler, so people who have a lot of fire are often called choleric. We’ve simplified that complicated idea in modern days to mean quick to anger, but it’s also about passion and energy.

When it comes to emotional responses, I can be choleric–quick to get angry, quick to get excited, quick to respond. And I often sustain those passionate emotions over time, burning coals. Physically, I tend to be more phlegmatic, less able to sustain energy over the long haul, preferring to sit quietly and read or make things than to be up and doing.

What makes you angry? What is your trigger for the rage-fires? How can you use that energy to help you bring about change and transformation? Fire transforms landscapes, not only destroying with fierce and random abandon, but creating spaces for new life to grow, new structures to be built. Will you pledge to learn about your anger, how to control and direct it so that it burns down old and tired and unjust systems in order to make way for new and love-filled ways of being that have space for all to breathe?

Do you tend, like me, to the sedentary life: quiet, still, and restful? How can we use this season of fire to feed us the energy to move our bodies, to revel in the fire of muscles moving, of our bodies in motion? Use this season of fire as a time to revel in the way your body moves. Careful now–it’s not a time to hate and despise the bodies we’re in because they’re bigger or slower or flabbier than we want them to be. Let’s live this season of fire to exist in the joy of being in these bodies we’ve chosen, to marvel in the senses, to move, to stretch, to learn speed and strength and limberness.

Summer Solstice is a time, too, to think about what sparks joy. Justice and joy are not things we need to choose between. They feed each other, if we let them, if we keep our hearts focused on their flames. Where do you see Beauty? (I usually capitalize Beauty because I believe it is the Holy One’s middle name.) What fills you? How does your love of Beauty feed your flames of desire for justice?

What ideas and images catch passionate fire in your brain? Flash of birdwing, the shade of red in that quilt, the way those words sound together, the crinkle at the corners of your beloved’s eyes. How can you feed the coals of those fires that fill you with passion? Fire season is the source of the energy of creation, of making, of designing, of appreciating Beauty. Give yourself to those fires. Feel the way they make you sizzle and roar to life.

A Blessed Solstice to you!


Gratitude:
The fires of justice, of love, of making, of delight, of transformation.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty! Blessed Solstice!


“We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” ―Bayard Rustin


“Bless the poets, the workers for justice, the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache, the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh meaning—We will all make it through, despite politics and wars, despite failures and misunderstandings. There is only love.” ―Joy Harjo, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems


“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.” —Howard Zinn


“It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing. What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.” —Laura McBride


“Love lit a fire in my chest, and everything that wasn’t love left.” –Rumi


“Developing your feeling takes time, especially if it has been systematically discouraged in you. There may be an initial layer of numbness or anger you have to move through and, beyond that, a backlog of grief. But as you make the seemingly bottomless descent, it helps to remember that grief is the downpour your soul has been thirsting for. Like rain, the more excellently and prodigiously you grieve, the more growth and fertility you can expect. There is a future beyond the spiritual aridity and meaninglessness of our time, teeming with life. If each of us has the tenacity to retrieve the elixirs of our discomforts, our combined medicine will heal the collective wound.” —Toko-pa Turner

In the Dreamtime, Day 7

I went to bed really late again last night, after a couple hours of writing. I was frustrated. I had just realized that the sweet and tender scene I had just written would completely through off the truth of another piece of the story that I am deeply attached to, so I have to rewrite a few pages, and make sure that one character is kept in the dark about her mother’s true identity.

Consequently, my dreams were fragmented and illusory. I cannot remember them. Perhaps I just slept well because of the late hour. So I have no dream images to add to my storehouse of images for the year.

I did do some meditation work yesterday, drawing upon three sets of images that have been in my mind. Pairs of images seemed to play with and inform each other. From this dance of images came three principles I will consider for the coming year:

* In crunchy and conflictual situations, instead of squashing my own feelings and needs or avoiding the stress of conflict, I will strive to be generous with myself and others while setting strong boundaries.

* In response to my weariness and exhaustion about picking up the Impossible Tasks (the looming work that gets bigger the more it gets avoided), I will create gentle life-giving personal rituals that ease me through the challenges and mark the little accomplishments along the way.

* For the sake of balancing my mental health, I will do something that I deeply love, which at this moment is writing. Deep down, I still long for a Writer’s Life, but I have a family to support, so I cannot simply leave my wonderful job to write. But my wonderful job ceases to be wonderful when it feels like it keeps me from doing what I love. If I am to maintain balance, I must make time to write. And it can no longer just be practice and place-holding, but seriously crafted Storymaking.


Gratitude List:
1. Messages
2. Sunshine
3. Homemade bread and soup
4. Following the trail of bread crumbs in a story
5. Twinkling lights and twinkling eyes

May we walk in Beauty!


Words for the Fourth Day of Kwanzaa:
Today’s Kwanzaa Word is one of my favorite Swahili words: Ujamaa. Cooperative economics. How can we create local systems that develop economic justice for all? How can we share our finances in ways that build up the community?


“Don’t let the tamed ones tell you how to live.” —Jonny Ox


“The best way for us to cultivate fearlessness in our daughters and other young women is by example. If they see their mothers and other women in their lives going forward despite fear, they’ll know it is possible.” —Gloria Steinem


Mark Twain: “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”


Frederick Buechner:
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”


“A night finally came when I woke up sweaty and angry and afraid I’d never go back to sleep again. All those stories were rising up in my throat. Voices were echoing in my neck, laughter behind my ears, and I was terribly, terribly afraid that I was finally as crazy as my kind was supposed to be. But the desire to live was desperate in my belly, and the stories I had hidden all those years were the blood and bone of it. To get it down, to tell it again, to make something—by God, just once to be real in the world, without lies or evasions or sweet-talking nonsense. It was a rough beginning—my own shout of life against death, of shape and substance against silence and confusion. It was most of all my deepest, abiding desire to live fleshed and strengthened on the page, a way to tell the truth as a kind of magic not cheapened or distorted by a need to please any damn body at all. Without it, I cannot imagine my own life. Without it, I have no way to tell you who I am.” —Dorothy Allison, from “Deciding to Live”


Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov:
“Love all of God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”


Antonio Machado, Border of a Dream: Selected Poems:
“Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.
Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.”


Walt Whitman:
“Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Traveling with me you find what never tires.
The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.”


“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15

I Am Not Alone and Hearts Glowing Fire

hildegard1
This is one of my favorite views of the ruins of Disibodenberg, the abbey where Hildegard was brought as a girl. I ran it through a Mosaic filter on the Dreamscope app.

This is a poem I wrote several years ago. I am in the process of deciding whether there’s an essential wisdom to the poem that warrants revision and inclusion in my next book. Meanwhile, Google Translate and I are having a little fun with it. The stanzas in parentheses happened after I sent them through several languages in Google Translate.

Now I realize
that I must fling myself
into the center of my life
with a fierce intensity
and passionate joy
or risk dissipation.

(I was the center of my life,
and the joy and the pride
or the threat of violence,
I know the voice cast.)

And all while holding the center,
embodying the nature of the tree.
This, too, helps to hold it all together.

(Always occupied the center of the tree.
In addition, all to get together.)

That still small place
cannot exist for me
without the passion that feeds it.
Nor can I maintain the fire
without the quiet and glowing core.

(A small part of this feed
is not available to me without passion.
I am not alone and hearts glowing fire.)

Somehow, “nor can I maintain the fire” became “I am not alone.” I wonder how I can draw parallels between such thoughts. The tense shifts in the first stanza open up some interesting connections, too. Everything has layers of meaning. Does my friend Google Translate help me to elucidate or obfuscate my deeper meanings?

Gratitude List:
1. A day of solitude.  The boys have gone to Diggerland for the day.
2. Coffee, socks, and a hat on a chilly day
3. My new fountain pen. The ink came yesterday, and I just want to write and write and write. I will use it for today’s grading. I am thinking of giving it a name: Kalamu, or Chemchemi, perhaps. (Pen and Fountain, respectively, in Kiswahili.)
4. Crows and blue jays. Messengers.
5. Toast and peanut butter.

May we walk in Beauty!

Throw Myself in

<Prompt 12: Two in one–Write a happy poem, and then write sad>  I’ve wandered a little far afield with this one.  The idea for a Passion/Calm poem started to work on me this morning as I was headed to work, and I decided to follow that rather than the specific happy/sad prompt.

Now I realize that I must fling myself
into the center of my life
with a fierce intensity
and passionate joy
or risk dissipation.

And all while holding the center,
embodying the nature of the tree.
This, too, helps to hold it all together.

That still small place cannot exist for me
without the passion that feeds it.
Nor can I maintain the fire
without the quiet and glowing core.

Gratitude List:
1.  Venus.  At least I think that’s who it is, like a bright flower, these nights.
2. Warm hen eggs on cold fingers
3.  My sourdough starter fluffied up.  Tomorrow, sourdough bread.  Mean while, my mother’s amazing banana bread.  My brother is running a marathon on Sunday, so I am carb-loading for him.
4.  John Tavener.  May he be finding the deeply spiritual music he always sought.
5.  White sage and rehmannia root and lavender and hyssop.  Dandelion root and birch bark and whole dried chilis and lemon balm and St. John’s Wort.  Peppermint and elecampane root and dried elderberries and hawthorn berries and juniper berries.  Chamomile and jasmine and helichrysm blossoms.  I weighed and packaged herbs today at Radiance.  What a marvelous day.

Blessings on the blossom.  Blessings on the root.  Blessings on the leaf and stem.  Blessings on the fruit.