Spiraling Inward

It isn’t a labyrinth, exactly, although it serves the same prayerful purpose. If you look closely and use your imagination, you can see that I shuffled a spiral in to the base of the maple tree.

November was going to be for morning serious writing sessions for me. I was going to get right down to writing, first thing, before the household wakes up. Somehow it hasn’t quite unfolded with the grace I had hoped for. My mornings have been more frantic and last minute as I try to rearrange my brain from that deep space to the focus of the day. Easier to continue to focus my morning writing on the quick little projects that I usually work on. I don’t feel like this is a failure so much as a recognition that the work that I normally do in this time is all writing practice. It’s just not writing toward a particular end goal. I have to find a different time of day for the goal-centered writing.

And editing. This is not the first time I have been working with the goddesses who descend–with Innana/Ishtar, with Persephone–and I feel a little like I am rewriting, like what I need to to organize what I have already written before I start the new stories.

Today, I am going to set myself a little writing goal. I am going to write Skinny poems: They’re eleven lines long. Line 1 is a phrase that catches your attention. Lines 2-10 are one word each. Lines 2, 6, and 10 are the same word. Line 11 uses the exact same words as the phrase in line 1, and these can be in any order that works for you. Le Hinton introduced us to this form on Friday, and it’s captured my attention, especially since I have gone googling Le’s Skinnys.


Gratitude List:
1. Inner work that helps me to bear the walk into the darkness.
2. I received a sweet gratitude from a student yesterday, something that reminded me of who I am and what my purpose is.
3. Yellow labyrinth-spiral of leaves beneath the maple tree.
4. Reaching small goals.
5. Rice and refried beans wrapped in a tortilla with all the fixings. It’s simple comfort.

May we walk in Beauty!

Wandering in the Myth

This morning, I decided to just dive into the myth that has been calling me, and I spent my writing time working on the story of Inanna/Ishtar, pondering the way her descent into the Underworld mirrors my own inward travels as the year turns cold and dark. I think this one will keep me busy for the rest of the week and beyond.

What symbols of your personal power and wisdom and authority are you prepared to relinquish as you circle downward into the deepest realm of your own inner knowing?


Gratitude List:
1. Myths and stories that frame and guide our own daily journeys
2. Small breaks
3. Seeking the fire within
4. Anticipation
5. Layers and layers of warm clothes

May we walk in Beauty!

52

I woke up at four-thirty this morning, the morning of my 52nd birthday, to the sound of a coyote howling, deeper down the hollow. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so it looks like I will welcome the dawning of my 53rd year.

Wikipedia reminds me that if you consider the majuscules (capitals) and miniscules (lower case) as separate letters, you’ve got 52.

There are 52 weeks in a year, with an extra day added to make 365. Perhaps this year, I will work on living with that sense of the extra day, the time beyond time.

On a piano, there are 52 white keys. Perhaps now I begin to learn the complexities of playing on the half notes.

There are 52 cards in a deck of playing cards, plus that extra tricksy Joker. Perhaps this year, I’ll be a Wild Card, playing any role I choose in the game.

(In the minutes it has taken me to write this, the sky has gone from the luminous grey of the pre-dawn, to a shining indigo. The dawn chorus is beginning.)

The web page Affinity Numerology tells me: “The numerology number 52 is a number of introspection and expression of a personal sense of freedom. It is studious and is mentally sharp. The energy the number 52 represents tends to do whatever attracts its attention as desirable to experience. But not on a whim. It analyzes what it experiences and what it observes.” I’ll take it.

Isn’t aging a wonderful thing? We grow more into ourselves, year by year. Sometimes I feel like I am a very young person, encountering the same ideas and experiences over and over again as if they were new, but always at a deeper level of awareness. Life’s a spiral–I keep coming back to the same things, but not really at the same place. Looked at from the top down, it could appear to be a solid, repetitive circle; looked at sideways and from a distance, it looks like a straight line. But we keep spiralling on.

Thank you, my friends, for walking this spiral with me. We were made for these times.

Gratitude List:
1. Coyotes howling in the holler
2. Getting older
3. Dawn chorus
4. My wise, wise friends
5. The fluttery purr of a contented, sleepy cat

May we walk, always, in Beauty!

The Art of Enough


Today is the feast day of St. Hildegard of Bingen. If I have a patron saint, it would be her. She loved music and art, herbalism and stones. She was mystic, poet, doctor, composer, artist, and theologian. I’ll include some of her quotations in the mix below.

Here, to begin the curated quotations of the day, is something I wrote last year about writing poems, and then a poem I wrote about Sadness.

“I feel like I want a disclaimer before I write a poem about sadness. I realize that my life has been free of the iron grip of sadness that many people experience through depression or trauma or deep, recurring grief. I wrote this poem because I am trying to be Rumi’s Guest House and welcome in any and all who come my way, to learn from them what they would teach me. Sometimes I am a poet sitting at a pool, fishing out a single word at a time. Other days, I sit beside the stream, and the poem jumps right out into my lap and only needs to be tidied up a bit before it’s ready for the page. This is one of the latter.”

She’s a strange guest, is Sadness.
She knocks on the door
and when I open it
she turns her face away, says,
“You probably shouldn’t invite me in.”

But when I close the door,
she comes in anyway,
seeping in around the edges
and standing with her back to the wall.
And then she grows.

When I look directly at her, she dissipates
into the indigo shadows,
and all I can see are her eyes,
full of grief, full of resignation.

Sadness. It’s hard to know her, really,
to understand what she wants of me.

Sometimes she comes in as a cold wind
and I feel my senses tingle with the approach of her
before the world goes numb in her silence.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ―Ram Dass
*
“If you spell HA backwards, you get AH! Put them together and you get AHA!” ―Jeff Raught (I think I got the quotation right)
*
“Like billowing clouds,
Like the incessant gurgle of the brook,
The longing of the spirit can never be stilled.”
―Hildegard of Bingen
*
The Red Wheel Barrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.
*
“She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans…. But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.”
―Hildegard of Bingen


Gratitude List:
1. I keep learning new things: There is so much to give away, to let go, before I know I have enough.
2. Patience. I have enough Patience, if I can find it behind that stack of Busy-ness that keeps getting in the way.
3. Wisdom. I know I have enough Wisdom here, but it keeps getting lost behind the boxes full of Knowledge and Know-it-allness.
4. Sleep. I can get enough of that, if I just work at it. Sleep is such hard work lately, but it’s better than insomnia.
5. Feathers. What does a feather mean?

May we walk in Beauty!

Blessings and Benedictions

Blessing.  Benediction.  Benison.  In Old Irish, beannacht.  In Swahili, baraka.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the act of blessing, of passing on the blessing, of sharing benediction with each other.  Such churchy words, eh?  Don’t let that distract from their universal power.

This evening I watched my incredible niece give her senior presentation at her school, a somewhat daunting rite of passage that requires each student to give a 20-minute presentation on herself (or himself), her goals and ideals, her personal story.  My niece focused a great deal of her presentation on her family and her community, and it was clear that this is a young person who is grounded in her connections to others, who finds meaning in relationship and conversation and interaction.  I am a very proud auntie.

While the senior presentation is a rite of passage designed to challenge the students to express who they are, where they have come from, and where they are headed, it was clear that a vital role of the whole process was to have a moment to bless each student individually.  This was a ritual of benediction.  The students, in telling their stories, receive from their teachers and gathered family and friends a sense of the importance and vitality of their own stories.  They are now empowered with the sacred duty to fulfill their destinies, to find meaning in their lives.

I know people who do this in their everyday story, effortlessly and “unshowily,” humbly: constantly passing blessings on to those around them, to the people they meet.  Un-self-consciously offering to others that sense of purpose and connection to something bigger than themselves.  The way these people treasure the stories they are offered makes the story-teller feel validated and blessed, as thought they, too, now have a sacred task before them.

Gratitude List:
1.  My marvelous niece Lara.  And all my incredible nieces and nephews.
2.  Blessings
3.  Earthshine
4.  Spirals
5.  Winter aconite

May we walk in Beauty!