Walking into the Labyrinth

This afternoon, I crawled through cobwebs in the attic to retrieve two full snakeskins and several partial snakeskins that someone had shed at the same place in the eaves. I tried to talk to the AI about a woman with snakes for necklaces, but I wasn’t happy with any of those, so I altered a picture of myself.

I led Sunday School today with a Poetry for Advent theme: Feeling our Way Into the Darkness. One of the various prompts I offered for writing was to write a poem in a labyrinth. I printed out copies of Lisa Gidlow Moriarty’s Dancing Woman Labyrinth. This afternoon, I pulled phrases from my labyrinth poem to make this.

Darkness calls.
My shadow blends
into shifting Shadow,
and I am borne upon wave
upon wave of indigo shade.
I am uncertain
but unafraid
stepping into
the fresh adventure
of unknowing.

Gratitude List:
1. Crows
2. Treasure trove of snake skins I found in the attic
3. Pileated Woodpecker in the treetops
4. The songs and conversation about Mary in church today. In the stories we tell, so often she has no agency, but we get to choose how we tell the story, who we make of her. For someone who daily prays the rosary, this was a particularly meaningful morning.
5. Poetry, and how it opens us to ideas, to each other, to Words.
May we walk ever in Beauty!

“People talk about medium. What is your medium? My medium as a writer has been dirt, clay, sand—what I could touch, hold, stand on, and stand for—Earth. My medium has been Earth. Earth in correspondence with my mind.” —Terry Tempest Williams

“The country is in deep trouble. We’ve forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that’s the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.” —Cornel West (2005)

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” —Jane Austen

Grabbing the Throat

My apologies for the unsettling photo, but I’m using it to help me exorcise a dream.

In the dream, I and three friends are moving our things into a room where we’ll be staying. Our beds are laid out in a rectangular pattern, so there’s sort of a room within a room. Suddenly we realize that there are snakes under our beds: several really large and a couple small ones. Their bellies are creamy yellow, and their backs fade back and forth between blue and green, with some patches of orange in the lines between belly and back.

We leave the room and someone comes to get the snakes out. I remember in the dream telling myself (and this might be my conscious mind intruding) that snakes actually represent all sorts of good things and there’s no reason to be afraid of them, but I was. I was terrified. (And snakes ARE a powerful symbol, holding many different ideas. And even though I like snakes, I can’t ignore the startle factor.)

When we get back to the room, we check for the snakes, and they seem to be gone, but when I go to lift my stuff, the largest one rears out, fangs beared, and lunges for my throat. I manage to put up my hand to grab its throat, and then the image freezes.

Just before I woke up, the image was frozen for what seemed like seconds, with the snake lunging with immense fangs toward my throat, and me grabbing it by its throat.

The Dream-Mother speaks:
Who gets to tell your narrative? If you don’t actively cultivate your story, speak your truth, interpret for yourself the life you have been living, others may begin to control that narrative. There is danger in letting others control your story. It make take some active and powerful work to keep your own throat safe so you can interpret your story.

You cannot control how others see your story, but you need to take great care that you don’t let others’ interpret your story in such a way that you begin to believe their version.

Also, acknowledge your fears. Simply telling yourself and others that you aren’t afraid of snakes does not make it so.

Gratitude List:
1. My supportive colleagues. I’ve landed into a tender community.
2. Speaking my truth. Interpreting my own story instead of letting others tell me how it should be interpreted.
3. Cool fall weather.
4. All I am learning as I learn to pray the rosary.
5. How the world is alive. How everything speaks. Everything listens.
May we walk in Beauty!

“Self care is not an individual act; it is a collective act.” —Yara Sallam

“The enemy of a love is never outside, it’s not a man or a woman, it’s what we lack in ourselves.” —Anaïs Nin
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” —Frederick Buechner

“To live by a large river is to be kept in the heart of things. ” —John Haines

I haven’t yet read The Shack, but this passage makes me think I oughta:
“I,” she [the Holy Spirit] opened her hands to include Jesus and Papa, “I am a verb. I am that I am. I will be who I will be. I am a verb! I am alive, dynamic, ever active and moving. I am a being verb. And as my very essence is a verb, I am more attuned to verbs than nouns. Verbs such as confessing, repenting, living, loving, responding, growing, reaping, changing, sowing, running, dancing, singing, and on and on. Humans, on the other hand, have a knack for taking a verb that is alive and full of grace and turning it into a dead noun or principle that reeks of rules. Nouns exist because there is a created universe and physical reality, but the universe is only a mass of nouns, it is dead. Unless ‘I am’ there are no verbs and verbs are what makes the universe alive.” —Wm Paul Young, The Shack
Thomas Merton:
“There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist. . .most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his (or her) work. . . . It destroys the fruitfulness of his (or her). . .work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

“I can’t control the world, but I can control myself. And you are not going to coerce me into hating.” —Ruby Sales

“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.” —Mark Strand

“A characteristic of feminism is to think twice about what you know.” —Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” ―Iain Thomas (not Vonnegut, as everyone says)

Gratitude Brought to You by the Letter S

Sun, 2010

Today I am Grateful for:
1.  Silence
2.  Speech
3.  Story (I caught a bit of this Vincent Harding interview today, and felt like his take about the value of Story in our lives was a message meant just for me.)
4.  Snakes
5.  Sleep.

So be it.