My holiday season is Twelvenight, the time that stretches from Christmas to Epiphany, a quiet and contemplative time, time out of time, intended for the gleaning of images and words that might help me focus the unfolding of my story in the coming year. I extend the season a little, beginning at Solstice. Through the long nights and the waiting for light to begin to return, I watch and listen for images and words that compel me in some particular way.
Two years ago, I found myself suddenly obsessing over the word palimpsest, a strange and new word that carried the sense of layers and shadings of meaning, of old stories suddenly appearing in the middle of new stories to inform the current living.
Last year, bridge was my word–an image that appeared repeatedly to me in conversations and dreams, and a concept that became incredibly powerful to me in the meaning-making of my own life when I found myself suddenly making a major life transition, from farm and child care back to teaching.
My grab bag of images and ideas this year is full and cluttered. Fred the cat has been in one of his agitated cycles during the past couple of weeks, frequently waking us up in the middle of the night, which leaves my head whirling with fog-skuthers of dream-images, compelling pictures that slip into my thinking space throughout the day. I woke up one morning thinking about a student at our school, wondering if she would be in my class next semester, with an almost wild sense of protectiveness for her. Vulture, lynx, and leopard have appeared in my dreams. Plantain and pigweed. Storytellers, fools, and shamans (somehow associated with the image of those magical folk from the east who decided to follow the sign of a star). There was even a nightmare about watching a plane crash that woke me up with a pounding heart and tight breathing. The dreams have been full and fantastical.
Out of it all, I have settled on two words that have floated to the surface of the pond of my unconscious: secrets and impeccability. I don’t really like the word secrets (I have seen unhealthy secrets destroy relationships too often), and I keep trying to change it to mysteries, but something in me thinks that the distinction may be important to explore during the coming season, particularly in the context of the word impeccability. Perhaps it’s a step in gaining wisdom and maturity, that ability to keep one’s own council and trusting to the strength of one’s own character. I know I have much to learn on both fronts.