We are two days in to the season of Awakening, of Hatching, of Breaking Open. Two days in, through wind and sunshowers, through gusting rain and rushing cloud. Last year, on the second day of spring, a foot of snow fell in the hollow. This year, a seemingly endless drench of rain.
In the season of Brigid, back in February, we felt the Earth stirring, noticed the sap rising, watched pull toward birth and sprouting. Now we feel the promise, watch the winter aconite drop seeds for next years golden cups, and Persephone’s footprints–all shades of crocus–springing up across the lawns, uncontainable by flower beds.
What, in you, is hatching now? What thing, which has lain long and silently within you like a seed in the darkness, now seeks the sun and breezes? Hold that thing within you, like a seed. See the rough, hard casing which has protected it in its dreamstate. Breathe in the sun of spring, the chill air biting as it enters, and feel your lungs, your belly, your capacity, expand. Watch the casing of your dreamseed break open, and feel the roots push downward within you. Feel the sprout nosing upwards to the light and warmth of spring. What is being born within you? What new capacity? What new heartspace? What plan and purpose? Blessed be your seeds. Crack open. Seek the sun. Feel the rains of spring caress your growing roots.
Gratitude List: 1. The groundhog who is nosing around on the hillside behind the house 2. A day off, to ponder and paint, and catch up on the work 3. The fog of winter is lifting 4. Watching the children grow and become so gallantly themselves 5. The seeds which are sprouting
Has it been worse this year? I think it’s been worse. The dullness, the bone-weariness, the loss of zip and vim. The sleepiness compounded by insomnia, anxiety-ridden, with sudden nighttime joltings-awake. The Wintertime nightbird sitting on the chest, crying, “Shame! Loss! Devastation! Rage! Woe!” The burden. The Burden.
Winter is an enormous, lumpy, grey gunny sack full of dirty laundry that I must carry around on my back. It gets heavier and heavier by the day. Some years, it’s an act of sheer, daily endurance to make it through. There’s no extra energy to look around and see just how grey it’s all become. I just have to plod forward into the mist.
There are momentary compensations—shining blue days when sun sparkles on ice and snow, sky-heavy days when snowflakes whirl and dance through the air. Yes, momentary compensations. Breaks in the clouded heaviness. Few and far between. Just enough to keep me trudging in the direction of that pinprick of light in the far distance ahead.
And then the light begins to creep back in. The momentary compensations begin to string themselves together like shining beads. People like me, the ones who’ve been caught in Winter’s steely grey net—we lift our heads like small creatures catching a new scent on the breeze. We feel the wind in our whiskers, smell the freshness of the air, and catch a flashing glimpse of yellow aconite or blue-violet crocus.
We’ve still got a bit of a trudge until we can lay down the burden of Winter and roll in the warm grass of Spring, but knowing that the end is in sight makes the Burden lighter. It’s one of those things, for me, where I don’t know quite how bad it is until I’m coming through the other side. When you’re focused on the endurance, you don’t stop to wonder if this time around is worse than the last one. You just put the next foot forward.
And now, I have those shiny beads: earlier sun in the mornings, the aconite slipping out of the mud of the garden, the birds of morning singing their Springtime songs, the geese, the swans, the caress of warmth in the afternoon air.
Gratitude List: 1. Morning birdsong and the Hope of Spring 2. The fun of the Youth Group Auction, a night when we all come together to support the young people. 3. This kid here at the table next to me, carefully and deliberately putting together his new Ertl tractor model, which he got at the auction. He gets frustrated and stops, saying he can’t do it. Then his curiosity and will overcome his frustration, and he gets back to it, solving the problems that seemed insurmountable. (Hmm. I think I am telling myself a story to live by.) 4. Magical conversations. Not simply deep and thoughtful, but full of synchronicities that fill the air of the room like a humming web. Like it’s the two of you talking, and then maybe fairies or angels joining in, the Great Mystery guiding the stories and images. 5. Watching these children grow. Sometimes, I am sad that the babies are gone, gone, gone. But they are Becoming so delightfully themselves. Yesterday, the dentist removed a baby molar from Child 1, to make room for the big tooth coming in. It was his last baby tooth. Another step toward adulthood.
May we walk in Beauty!
Words for Sunday Meditation:
“Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world—everything is hidden in you.” —Hildegard of Bingen
“Because that’s what Hermione does,’ said Ron, shrugging. ‘When in doubt, go to the library.” ―J.K. Rowling
“Crystals are living beings at the beginning of creation.” —Nikola Tesla
“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for she was born in another time.”
― Rabindranath Tagore
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” —Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.” ―Sophie Scholl
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ―Gilda Radner
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” —Anne Lamott
“And these children that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations.
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” ―David Bowie
“A revolutionary poem will not tell you who or when to kill, what and when to burn, or even how to theorize. It reminds you. . .where and when and how you are living and might live, it is a wick of desire.” —Adrienne Rich
“Justice is what love looks like in public.” —Dr. Cornel West
“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” ―Gandalf, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation―either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” ―Martin Luther King Jr.
“It helps to think of our swamps of despair as the necessary muddle before clarity. Actually, swamps are incredibly fertile places full of life. In mythology the heroine must cross such a place in her darkest hour, where she comes to face her unlived life―meeting each of the divine allies disguised as regret, doubt, and insufficiency which swell up from the mud of her despondency. If she is willing to consummate the full encounter, they will reveal themselves in service to the vitality of her true being.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled __________ Wave.
Ride the Wave
If you watch closely
as it approaches
you can begin to feel
the energy enter your body
before the water
even takes shape.
Enter the sound and the color
before the matter engages you.
And suddenly you are part of it,
caught in the song of it,
bound in the curve and the crash
and the pull of the wave.
Gratitude List: 1. Speedwell and dandelion and grape hyacinth and violet and deadnettle. The little quiet beauties that catch your eye when you’re least expecting it. “Wake up now,” they say.
2. Spring in the air
3. People who put their souls and hearts into what they do. Art that is more than technical perfection, but is a reflection of humanity.
4. Getting some of the work done. Not nearly enough. But some. The load begins to lift.
5. Blooming. Flowers, children, teenagers, relationships, work, ideas.
Years ago, during the month of April, I kept a poetree. Two dogwood trees stand on either side of my driveway. I would hang poems from the branches of the one closest to the house. Rain and snow caused problems until I got smart and hung them in plastic sheets. Since I have been teaching school, I have not had time to tend and April poetree, except on my bulletin board in the classroom one year. The year of this photo, 2013, I called myself the laundress of poetry, hanging my fresh sheets in the sun every few days.
Today’s prompt is to write a temptation poem. This year’s poems feel more solid than some years in the past. Fewer toss-offs, fewer place-holders. Today’s poem might fit those categories, but it has a little promise, I think:
Lead me not into temptation,
not into the Faculty snack room,
not into the valley of Facebook,
not into the sleepy arms of the recliner.
Lead me not into the second pot of coffee,
not into the bargain bin at the yarn store,
not into the library book sale,
not into the place of shiny stones.
Lead me into the long afternoon walk,
into the quiet seat in the spring sunshine,
into the circle of the oriole’s song,
into the embrace of a weeping pink tree.
Lead me into a whole classroom of laughter,
into the smile of a child,
into the room of your song,
into the twinkling space of your gaze.
You are my favorite color:
that golden shine of sun on the trees in the morning,
that deep cotton grey of dusk,
that rich mocha brown of turned earth,
that silvery sheen on blue waters.
You are my favorite sound:
the sigh of a breeze through the sycamore,
the quiet hum of a child at play,
the full-throated song of a joyful choir,
the chorus of birdfolk at dawn.
You are my favorite feeling:
this tingle of warm sun in spring chill,
this shiver of the spine at a memory,
this sigh of soft satin on the inside of the wrist,
this ease of rest at the end of an aching day.
I remember drawing this five years ago after I had a little dream about a little gnome/elf/spirit-being who chose to be my helper.
Sometimes lately, I feel as though the bridge can’t hold. The gulf between us is widening, and the the bridge is strained almost beyond repair. This cultural divide in the US keeps growing, keeps expanding. What words can we string together into lines and cables to hold the space between us? Or do we just give up? Wave goodbye across the chasm? Accept that we no longer have common ground? It has torn the fabric of my church, torn the roots of families and friendships, of social groups and communities.
I know I am part of the problem. My own ideals and values keep me settled on one side of the chasm. I must speak up and speak out for what I believe to be right and against what I believe to be great wrong. I can no more shift my position than I could leap into air and fly across the widening gulf. But there are places of common ground between us–I am certain of that, and I don’t know how to connect them when the space between us grows so rapidly.
What I think we need to recognize is that when we are torn apart from each other in these ways, something within us is also torn. When you and I can no longer touch or hear each other across this chasm, something within each of us also becomes unmoored, unhinged. If the bridge breaks, we all lose something of ourselves. Gratitude List: 1. That golden moment of sun touching the snowy tops of the trees as it enters the hollow.
2. The spring songs of sparrow and wren and titmouse.
3. As frustrating as his attention is at 5 am, I love the way this little ginger cat loves me.
4. Catching up. Yesterday brought me a lot closer to being caught up.
5. The threads that hold us together.
Today, snow or no snow, our planet whirls into another season. Here in the western hemisphere, in the northern temperate climates, the early flowers have been up and blooming, calling to the bees. I have yet to see the early foragers this year, and it makes me anxious.
Someone must awaken the bees!
The crocus have opened their golden throats.
The windflowers have blown awake
out on the lawn.
Where are the Queen’s daughters?
Where are the melissas?
Someone awaken the bees!
On this first day of Ostara, the ancient holiday to celebrate the awakening spring, on the day when night and day are equal in duration, I like to ask myself questions to awaken my spirit:
What are the instincts and drives within me that must awaken, like the bees, to get my work done, to find the food I need to carry me through the season?
What new things are stirring within? What is awakening? What is hatching?
How do the forces of balance and imbalance work in my life? What can I do to bring more elegant balance into my daily rhythms? In what ways can I disrupt the balances which keep me caught in a rut?
This year, I keep coming back to the question of what calls me awake? When I fear that the bees will not awaken, I think about the sleepy spirit within me that likes to settle into sameness. It takes some effort to wake up, and then to wake up again, and to keep waking up, shedding the outer layers, like an opening flower.
Today, I will watch for the bees.
Today, I will keep my eyes open for the People of Feathers, who wing their way across the sky.
Today, I will feel the breezes on my face.
Today, I will keep listening for the voices of the bees, and for the voices of the young people.
Blessed Ostara to you! Happy Equinox! A Joyful spring. Walk in Beauty.
Gratitude List: 1. The amazing choral concert at my school tonight. I can’t quite find the superlatives to describe our choir director without sounding like I am over-blowing the talent of our choir director. World-class would not be an exaggeration.
2. Cool mornings. Warm afternoons.
3. Sonneting with students.
4. This practice, which keeps me from wallowing in rage for at least a few minutes in the wake of today’s health care debacle. I admit that I am really struggling tonight to move out of the rage into a contemplative place. I don’t want to reflect. I want to throw things and say things I’ll probably regret. So. Breathe. Breathe again. Breathe again. Feel the rage, but don’t let it be the only answer.
5. Writing sonnets with the Creative Writing crew.
A couple photos from the goat-petting party at Sonya’s yesterday. I’m still pretty awkward with the whole selfie thing, but I do like that there’s a rainbow on my face.
Somehow, it feels more like spring because we’re having an actual thaw on this day before the Equinox. That last blast of winter stood right on the doorstep of spring, and this morning brought the sound of water dripping from the trees. When we peeked outside this morning, it looked like sun through a rain-shower, but the rain was falling from the trees and nowhere else. Thaw.
Oh, how I need a thaw! I need to get the juices flowing, get the good mojo moving, get the fierce and raw energies of the season swinging brilliantly into the sunlight. Can you feel the balance approaching?
What is being born in you now? What new thing arises, like the little flowers that are suddenly free of their snowy encumbrance to pop into the sun?
Was it only three years ago that I put a little prayer bundle out into the elements on Spring Equinox, setting my intentions to get a job within the next six weeks? It was a reminder for me to keep my head and my heart in the process of the job search. And within a couple weeks, my friend Ryan suggested I contact a certain school. Now I work there, and my life is full–so full–and rich in ways I could not have imagined.
I have new intentions this year, new goals for where I want to go with the things that I am writing. And so tomorrow I will place another bundle out into the elements, with the prayerful intention to keep my head and my heart in the process of writing and submitting work for publication.
Here in the green
where the wren is calling
and earthworms begin their work,
you can sense the great heart
of the whole,
Gratitude List: 1. Awakeners. People (both the mentoring and the challenging) who wake up something within me that wants to be more whole, more real, more alive.
2. Love wins. Love will always win. Put down your stones and walk away. Love wins.
3. Field Trip. Today I am taking a personal day to be a mom rather than a teacher. First graders are going to the Science Factory.
4. Hafiz. “Your heart and my heart are very, very old friends.” They are, aren’t they?
5. How some people center their wisdom in their compassionate hearts. That’s the direction I want to go, too.