Twelvenight: Synchronicity, Orenda, and the Fool

One of the subjects that keeps snagging my poetic attention is the landscape manuscript–how everything around us (not just the landscape) has a “text” that we might understand, if only we could read it. When I’m driving down the road and thinking about a knotty issue I am trying to resolve and I see three crows standing quietly in a winter field, or seven geese suddenly fly overhead in a raggedy V across my view, or something in the way the sun shines on the remaining leaves of that old oak seems to have a message for me–it’s as if there’s a deep text in the world that could be understood if only I knew the letters. And of course the landscape does have messages, and they can be read. It’s what farmers and meteorologists and hikers have done forever. It is what ecologists and environmentalists are doing right now, to save our lives.

And sometimes the visual and aural messages in my environment do seem to align themselves in perfect messages that feel like they’re meant for me, specifically, to read. Again, this is whimsical and playful rather than scientific. And it also captures my attention. I’m not going to make a judgement about whether or not the Holy One Herself, or the Universe, or the faeries, set up yesterday’s little alignment just so my heart could see it, but I will claim the whimsy, say that the synchronicity caught my heart, and then I will use it to construct the next steps of intuitive meaning for the shape my ponderings take in the coming days. I’d rather step into the future making meaning from the rich webs of whimsy and coincidence that surround me than refusing to gather the symbols that dance through my life and live with meaning defined only by the hardest of logic.

I was driving across the Route 30 bridge, listening to the most recent episode of “This Jungian Life” podcast, on the Trickster archetype, because my friend had recommended it to me. I was thinking about the Fool, and how I hoped that this archetype would inform my activism in the coming year, speaking truth through the lies in the way only the Fool can. The theme of the podcast suddenly turned to the way that tricksters throughout history have been challengers of suppression and repression and autocratic rule, how they act as a corrective when a person or a system becomes too rigidly rule-based and oppressive. There was a “click” in my brain at the coincidence of thought and outer message.

At that moment, my eye caught the new Sight and Sound billboard at the end of the bridge—shining purple, it advertised their upcoming production of Queen Esther, and one of my favorite Bible phrases, from the book of Esther, took up the central space in large letters: “FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS.” Again, an internal click.

As I passed the billboard, a large vulture swooped low above the highway. Click.

Yes, it’s whimsy and intuition, poetry and dreaminess, rather than hard science or pure logic or cold reason. While I need the latter, while I value science and logic and reason as important mental processes, I think a world that makes meaning without the more poetic processes is bereft of the spark of spirit.

And so it is settled, this day before Epiphany. My word, my archetype, my guiding principle, for the coming year is the Fool. Sacred clown. Jester. Trickster. I’ve been considering how the Fool subverts the dominant paradigm (to use an old phrase) to speak the truth behind the lies. In a political milieu swimming in falsehoods, how does the Fool speak truth? Lear’s Fool spoke from deep love and tenderness, was not afraid to speak harsh truths right to the king’s face, and kept repeating the truth from various angles until the truth shone in.

Even the travelers whose arrival we celebrate today and tomorrow, the Wise Ones, the magi, have an element of the Fool. Magi, Mages, Magic, Image, Imagination. The truth they first told Herod was too bald, too open, too dangerous, and so, when they were presented with the deep truth of this Child, they disobeyed the king and fled home a different way, tricking the King. Still, the consequences were grave and terrible for too baldly proclaiming the truth to the king in the first place. This is lesson to be deeply conscious of to whom and how the truth is presented. The Fool must be wise.

So. The Fool.
Those black vulture wings are also in my consciousness.
And the echidna, a hybrid creature who survives and thrives because it is more than one thing.
Those mists and rainbows, veiling and shattering, scattering light.
Wading in the water: Do you want to be well?
And Aslan’s words to Lucy: “Courage, Dear Heart!”

There is one more thing, a more abstract word rather than an archetype: Orenda. It comes from the Iroquoian language systems, and it refers to the spiritual power that exists in all things, the energy that we transmit between us, that we can access to change the world.

Okay, and there’s one more thing. My friends. Community. Last night’s dreams were a succession of anxiety dreams. In several scenes, I was trying to find Joss, and just couldn’t make contact. In several scenes, I had little fiddly school details to remember and take care of while I was rushing around trying to do other things. In several scenes I was in a car, constantly missing my exit, needing to turn around, but unable to get around another car or to fit my car into the space of the turn-off. Finally, standing on a sidewalk, about to throw my phone on the ground because I couldn’t get it to make a simple call to Joss, a group of my college friends walked up. Nancy took my phone and got it to dial Joss. Gloria put her hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes, and started to tell me a helpful story. The others gathered around. I could feel everyone’s presence. And I calmed down. Friends. I get by with a little help. . .

What are your messages from the coming year? What words and images coalesce for you? What synchronicities in your inner and outer landscape call to you to listen and follow?


Gratitude List:
1. Friends. How even in my dreams, my beloveds appeared to bring me peace. You. The little connections that are bigger than you know. The way the web of our connections holds us up, and holds the world.
2. The spiritual force within each one of us that enlivens and enlightens and helps us to bring change and goodness into the world.
3. Synchronicity and coincidence and making meaning where it comes.
4. Image and imagination and magic.
5. Being greeted throughout the day by cats.

May we walk in Beauty!

Twelvenight: Mist and Fog and Rising Sun

So many of the little treasures that wash up on the shore of my consciousness after a night of dreaming seem insignificant, silly, unconnected. This morning, I woke up really early with my mind tugging at a joke it was making, about someone with the last name of Waters who had a son named Wade. Weird brain.

I know where my deep-self elf pulled the word Wade from. Yesterday one of my friends posted one of those word searches where the first three words you see are to predict something about your coming year. The words are always sweet and inspiring. I saw HEALTH, and GRATITUDE, and WADE. Wade? I think that word got into the search by accident, but there you have it. And then I think, the inner fool sent it back to me again, as a sort of joke. If I keep to the beachcombing metaphor, this one is a really odd-shaped piece of who-knows-what. It’s interesting enough, if it doesn’t seem to have any particular meaning. Into the collecting bag it goes.

Later, in my more complete and final waking of the morning I am dreaming: We are staying with friends at a little bed and breakfast sort of place in a sort of European-seeming city-town. I wake up really early and wander around the courtyard a bit. After a while, one of our friends wakes up and makes a fire in the fireplace in the kitchen. We sit and talk, but I wish we had made the fire in the courtyard by the garden, to watch the sun rise and feel the morning breeze.

Later, I go up to the second floor to pack up some things, and I open a window and look out at the sunrise. The landscape before me is green and rolling, first the gardens of the town, then rolling hills, and finally deep blue sky and the sun rising in a halo of rainbow. (There’s rainbow again.) I am filled with a sense of complete well-being.

I woke into the waking day to a grey-fog-filled hollow, which has its own kind of deeply satisfying beauty. I love the mystery of a good fog.

Do your dreams bring you satisfaction? Are they unsettling? I am paying attention to that sense of wellbeing I felt at the end of my dreams. The deep-self speaks in feelings as well as in images.


Gratitude List:
1. Fogs and mists
2. The long view
3. Mysteries–both holy and mundane (maybe they’re the same thing)
4. How people show up, even when it’s hard
5. Our friend’s surgery seems to have been successful. We pray that he will now be cancer free and on the road to recovery.

May we walk in Beauty!

Hello, Toadflax!

psychedelicrainbow
The other night when I was desperately trying to take a photo of the rainbow that would come even close to portraying the bright colors, I went through every funky filter on my phone.  This one came out really odd, but I like the psychedelic feel of it.  It’s kind of like a poem–it might not capture the physical reality of the moment, but the strangeness of the impression actually creates more the magical mood of the moment than the blander regular photos.

I have begun walking in the mornings.  I almost hesitate to say it, because it’s only been three days, hardly long enough to call it a habit.

Gratitude List:
1. Birdsong.  Swallows chittering.  Crow barking out directions. Sweet chirrup of goldfinch. A flock of swallows circled above the soybean field up near Mt. Pisgah Road, and one in particular sang a cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep.  Then it would swoop low, look me in the face, and say CHEEP-cheep right by my ear.  I find it amazing that something so tiny would take on a creature so much larger than itself.
2. Sun on flower faces.  There’s a yellow snapdragony-looking beauty that I have been calling butter-and-eggs.  Apparently that is actually one of its common names.  I must have pulled it out of deep memory.  Its Latin name is linaria vulgaris, and it is also known as Common Toadflax.  I love that so much, that we have a local plant called Toadflax.  Pleased to meet you, new friend.  Also, Queen Anne’s Lace veils the road edges, and the blue eye of chicory is everywhere.  Little patches of St. John’s Wort peek out from the poison oak.  The yellow bladders of jewelweed flowers are beginning to appear.
3. Cool breezes on the skin at the beginning of another hot day.  Warm sun on my face.
4. The scent of milkweed.  Milkweed a-buzz with pollinators, sending its aroma down the little breezes into the hollow.
5. Cold water infused with lemon, mint and basil.

May we walk in Beauty!

May You Have Rainbows

Rainbow

It was one of the brightest rainbows I think I have ever seen, but a cell phone photo just can’t do it justice.  There was a second rainbow in the space of this photo, and the deeper band of gray between them.

Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday’s shining double rainbow
2. The way mist gathers in the pockets of trees in the hillsides
3. St. John’s Wort.  I found some wild patches of it along my street, and on this morning’s walk, I dug some up to bring home for my garden.
4. Lemon, Mint, and Basil infused water
5. The Weaving that we all are doing, not always aware as we place our threads how we are intertwining our stories and prayers together.

May we walk in Beauty!  Much love.  And rainbows.

Rain and River

Today was bookended by two powerful stories about language, how it differentiates, how it connects.  This morning in chapel a colleague of mine spoke thoughtfully and reflectively about her own life story, about the Tower of Babel–how we build complicated structures of our lives, placing our hopes and expectations into them, and how we can be blindsided when they crumble.  Her stories were affirming of those who struggle, acknowledging the struggle, and offering the hope of transformation, not only of the pain, but of inner prejudices and stereotypes.

On the other end of the day, in Faculty Meeting, was a presentation on resilience, particularly for women (and others) who have been marginalized and excluded from leadership roles in the church and its institutions.  The framing story was Pentecost, another tale of people of many languages trying to communicate.

Language helps us to classify and analyze and differentiate.  It’s an intellectual tool.  It also helps us to connect and weave together and integrate.  It’s a psychological/heart tool.

Gratitude List:
1. The scent of the honey locust tree blossoms wafting through the window just as I am falling asleep.  Blessings on the bees.
2. Yesterday, Jon spotted a box turtle on the driveway, wandering off into the yard.  I was sort of afraid that thee’d become too rare to spot anymore, but there is at least one living on Goldfinch Farm.
3. Rain, rain, rain.  Slow and deliberate and steady.  Free of high wind and hail and flooding.
4. Chasing rainbows.  After supper we drove down to the Rt. 30 bridge to see the new girders that were just put in place last night above the highway by Wrightsville.  We have some engineers in the family who just couldn’t wait to see them.  As we reached the crest of the hill, we saw the rainbow, looking like one foot was in the hollow and another was at Sam Lewis Park, but the nearer foot kept shifting as we neared the park.
5. We parked by the River at the John Wright restaurant boat launch, and Ellis and I walked down to the water, standing between the two bridges in the rain.  I found a shining 2015 penny there on the threshold between the land and the water.
6. Language, the gossamer thread of words that we send between us like trees, our conversation the webs cast by a spider.

May we walk in Beauty!

So Much We Do not See

There is so much we do not see.
We walk through a maze of rocks on a beach
and think that all the world is washed in beige,
when before us lie the myriad possibilities
of the rainbow, if we would only turn our gazes
to the shine, the light that splinters
into beauty on every surface.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  The great horned owls are calling this morning.  I have heard three distinct voices, I think.  Their call, here in the hollow, is the same rhythm as I have heard it elsewhere, but there’s something different, like a regional accent, an extra light bounce between the early notes.
2.  From my end, chapel seemed to go well yesterday.  They seemed attentive to what I was saying.  I talked about the Open Bowl of the Heart: the practice I do, when I get to feeling hopeless and despairing about what is wrong in the world, of visualizing that my heart can hold it all, the stories of horror right alongside the stories of unexpected kindness and the beauty around me.
3.  Elderberries!  Thanks to my wonderful friend Tabea, I now have two large bags of berries in the freezer, enough to make quite a bit of syrup to keep my family healthy in the coming winter, I hope.
4.  Unexpected kindnesses.  A student I have never met walked into my classroom and deposited on my desk a picture that he had drawn for me, a beautiful pencil rendering of a movie heroine.  Apparently he used to draw pictures for my predecessor, and he decided to keep up the tradition.  Lucky me!
5.  This gray moth that is fluttering about in front of the computer has a little flash of rosy sheen when its wings catch the light just so, and when it slows down enough for me to see.  It’s sort of like the magic of moonstone or labradorite, appearing dull and grayish on the surface, but filled with faerie twinkles when it is turned to the light just so.  Maybe people are like that, too, the ones who seem to be going about the day in a gray pallor, not drawing particular attention to themselves suddenly shine forth a color you can’t even name, it comes on you so whimsically.

May we walk in Beauty!

Rainbow Dragon

Gratitude List:
1.  Powerful Community Rituals.
2.  Collaborative art (the piece below is one Ellis and I started several weeks ago and finished coloring today)
3.  Breathing in and out
4.  Courageous Discussion
5.  The way scent is connected to memory.

May we walk in beauty.

2013 March 168

The Truth about the Tree Poem

Poem-A-Day Day 24 Prompt:  The title begins, “The Truth About ______”

When I said that I was transformed into a tree
perhaps it would have been more accurate
to say that I became a raven
my roots curling into claws
my branches melting into blackness
the rush of the dawn wind in my ears.

Did I say “roots” again?  Pardon me.
My feet are roots, of course, when I am a tree,
but also when I am a rainbow.
Did you know?  A rainbow has roots too
great arcing roots that mirror and reflect
their sky-form.  The earth spectrum of the underworld.
When I am a rainbow, I am a perfect circle
holding the world in my colors.

It may be closer to the truth were I to say
that one fateful day I became a stone
and sank deeply into a stillness so profound
I could not hear even my jeweled heart
burning with the brilliant fire of the Earth.
I cannot recall what happened to my night-black wings
on the day I turned into a stone.

You may think it is not possible, not true,
that right now I am actually hearing you say, “But
a person does not simply turn into a tree
or a stone, into a rainbow or a bird.”
Now, see, I have told you your own thoughts
and you can feel free to be amazed.

But how can I not hear you
when you have become
the gentlest of breezes
and whispered your protest
with a smile
into my ear?