Give Yourself to Love

roots

Another year has dawned, Bright Ones! And of course time is a human construct. Where we begin to count its passage on this Wheel of the Year is utterly arbitrary. I like how it has come to be that we create a passage, a doorway in time, here in this place of winter, just after we have swung around the sun again and begun to whirl in toward Equinox. I love the Days Out of Time marked by the twelve or fifteen days of Solstice or Christmas to Epiphany. I revel in the dreamtime of these days.

I have been mining my dreams again for the word or phrase that I will take into this year. Several years ago, I woke up one morning with the word Palimpsest in my head. It became my word for the year, the idea that we live in layers, simultaneously experiencing the past and the present. The next year was Bridge. The next, Mystery and Secrets and Impeccability. And last year’s phrase was Bold Wise Counsel. Ooh. That was important. What will be my word for this year, I wonder? I have begun to wait until the Dreamtime of Twelvenight is officially over on Epiphany, so I will give myself these next five nights to settle. I think because we celebrated Epiphany Sunday at church this morning, I am particularly impatient this year.

Join me? Keep particular watch on your dreams (daydreams, too) and conversations in the coming days. What images keep coming back? What songs present themselves? What names keep surfacing in conversation? Be like the Magi, who followed their intuition and a star through the dark nights to seek their truth. What will be your words and images for 2017?

Here is a poem I wrote in 2015 about the impatience and the anticipation of seeking out the word or idea that I will use to shape and mold my story for the coming year:

Waiting for the Dreams
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

While I wait for the dreams to be complete
while I sit at the feet of winter
listening

waiting for the little bell to ring
for the sound of rushing wings
for the things born in darkness
to take form
to rise up–

while a vulture flies across my window
red root and plantain nourish and heal me
a lynx crouches by a granite outcrop in the meadow
the storyteller raises her voice in a chant of longing
and a silent girl turns the corner ahead of me

I sit down to work
and sleep overtakes me:
One more vision for the road
One more message for the journey

Gratitude List:
1. Give Yourself to Love. What a song. I loved Mindy and Jared’s version this morning.
2. The Magi–colorful, messy outsiders who followed their intuition and a star: What a story about stepping into the unknown dark to seek their truth with only the stars and their intuition to guide. Mindy’s tales of magi this morning: Giving, Resisting, and Being Honest.
3. Dinner with the family, reflecting on the ways in which our parents have inspired us, considering–in their presence–some of the legacy they have given us: noticing beauty, advocacy, mentoring others, using their own voices to empower others. The story of Grandpa wanting to send my mother to college, how Uncle Moses and Aunt Lydia told him to send her to EMC, which is where she met my father. The story of Joe Shenk introducing them, and of their first “date.” How series of decisions come together to make a story happen.
4. Those vultures, sunsheen on their black feathers, kettling above Columbia this morning.
5. An afternoon with my college friends. Dear, dear thoughtful people. There’s never enough time together, and yet even a few hours is satisfying. What a profound blessing it is to have friends who are family.

May we walk in Beauty!

Long Naps and Dreamtime

solstice-morning-sun solstice-spirits
One of the perks of having people riding with me to school in the morning is that I can ask someone else to take pictures of the Solstice sunrise over the bridge. The picture on the right has been sent through a filter–I like what it did with the visual rhythm of the old bridge.

During these long nights after Solstice, I try to stay particularly aware of my dreams. This evening after supper, I fell asleep on the recliner. I can’t remember the whole dream. I remember a sense of feeling like I was sort of an outsider in a group of people at some sort of resort, but the image that strikes me was of a mountainside across a bay. There were large areas of woody hillside covered in blue and purple shadows, but the sun was shining down on one bit that was bright emerald green. When I conjure the image in my head, it’s like a piece of painted art rather than a physical landscape, but in my dream, I desperately wanted to get a picture of that little green patch of sunny green.

Last night, I had planned to spend some time working on a meditation I had just read. I thought I could work my way into the space of the meditation, and then gently fall asleep, but I couldn’t get past the first moment of focus on the candle flame. Every time I woke up in the night, I would go back to the flame, and start with orienting myself in space, and then I would be asleep. Perhaps it would be good to have something like that for the insomnia moments.

Gratitude List:
1. Christmas Caroling and Singalong Chapel. The men’s chorus singing “Twelve Days of Christmas” was one of the funniest Christmas carol moments ever. The women’s chorus was beautiful, and Javon’s final song, “Peace on Earth” gave me the chills.
2. Cloud-shadows on the sky
3. Fred’s Christmas routine. He can no longer jump up to sleep on the Nativity scene like he used to. Now every morning he goes under the little table, beneath the table cloth, and waits for someone to toss his mouse to him. Then he goes and plays shark hockey with the sharks that Josiah sets with his Lego world. He still has a lot of kitten in him.
4. Chocolate
5. Long naps and dreamtime

May we walk in Beauty!

Sunreturn

light-returns
How the Light Returns.

Breathe deep the light-filled air.
Feel how the new sun touches you.
Remember the stars that circled you
through the long hours of darkness.
Sit within the circle of the dwindling dark
and feel the way it bathes you with memory.
Walk the bridge between dream and daylight.

These are the nights of the dreamtime. The tender new sun is born into the hush of midwinter, and we can hold the quiet light within us as we walk, careful step by careful step, out of the labyrinth. The inward journey into the darkness has stripped us of our crucial identity, piece by painful piece. And now, as we step outward, the darkness offers us new gifts, images that come in dreams. As the days gradually lengthen, and the dark nights wane, what words and images will the journey offer you to put into your pockets for the coming year?

Gratitude List:
1. Those really super-bright stars at evening and morning. Sometimes you get those news reports that THIS star or THIS comet is going to appear fifty times bigger than usual, and I look and I can’t discern any difference. But that star in the west last evening, and one in the east this morning were so incredibly large and bright. I wonder if it’s a function of my aging eyesight? No matter. It’s compelling.
2. Driving into the Solstice sun this morning. The sky was like a gentle watercolor painting.
3. Waiting quietly in this space at the edge of the void, a moment between moments. Stepping into time outside of time.  Walking over the Dreamtime Bridge.
4. Approaching a time of rest.
5. The people who get it. Today I read a Jan Richardson poem to my classes, and I posted a picture of Richardson on the Smart Board that included a statement about “Seeking the thin places that exist between heaven and earth.” One of my students, who has some learning struggles, got really wide-eyed and said, “I like that poem-thing you have up on the board there. It’s like when you go to a place with a lot of history, like caverns, that you know have been there since before people were around, and it feels like heaven is right there.”  What a wise, intuitive boy.

May we walk in Beauty!

Learning Chess

sunrise

Gratitude List:
1. Playing Chess. I am so bad at it. I think of myself as being fairly intelligent, but I am miserable at chess. I do dumb things. But I am loving playing, and loving being schooled by my ten-year-old.
2. Crawling out from under the rock.
3. Long sleeps.
4. The light will return. The light will return. The light will return. Wednesday at 5:44, to be precise.
5. The Great Horned Owl calling in the bosque.

May we walk in Beauty!

****

I’m not sure where I am going with this story. I may take more time off. I seem to have shifted out of the voice in which I began it, and it’s becoming tedious to write it without that initial fire. Perhaps its next steps will have to happen during summer vacation.

****
Deep in the lower ring of the city, where the bustle of the market lasted from early in the morning to late in the evenings, where the fruit and vegetable vendors set up their brightly-colored stalls along the main street out to the gates, where the shops of the bakers and the butchers lined the ancient walls in a rumble-tumble fashion–there where the press of humanity was greatest, in the back of the shop of Bilhah the Baker, there grew up a secret school for women and girls.

While educating females was expressly forbidden by law, many families saw fit to “teach” their daughters to read and write and do simple sums in order that they might help with the family businesses.  As long as no one pushed against the law and tried to send their daughters to school, the spirit of the law could be bent for the good of the family economy.

In recent years, however, the generals had begun to take a firmer hand. King Astra Djin, they whispered secretly amongst themselves, was soft. He wanted easy living, fine wine, gentle and docile women, and lots of gold. His hardest edges were reserved for the collection of taxes, which he raised in greater amounts with each succeeding year.  The generals believed, to a man, that the city-state of Zammarqand needed a heavy-fisted rule. The king could have his cushy life, and the generals would keep him content, fat and happy, while they set about the careful enforcement of law and order in the city.

Depleted

in-prints

I did not write yesterday. This flu/cold/encroaching darkness has been a little soul-sapping. I’m not suffering, not falling apart. Just extremely weary. The last days before Winter Solstice are always harder. It’s like the cave in the dream–you know that for every step you take inward, you’ll have that many more steps to take to get you out again. And in this one, you don’t get to choose–you just have to keep going into the darkness, one more step each day until you get there. I managed it last year, and the year before that. I will manage the final week this year, too. Somehow this year seems grayer, darker, more menacing. My physical malaise of the past week is just a perfect metaphor for the psychological/spiritual/political malaise of the moment.

Goodness. I should re-iterate that I am not falling apart here–just living the season. I love the lights and the songs and the way the children anticipate the holiday. I love peppermint things and the extra chocolate and lots of citrus. The sky is still beautiful many mornings and lots of evenings. My colors are still rich. People are still working for justice, still letting their hearts break for the pain of others, still trying to make the world a better place. All of that is intact and hopeful. It’s just that I’ve seen the nastiness more closely and clearly this year, too, so the need to find the balance is ever dearer.

I want to get back to writing my story, but it will probably be a few days before my head settles out of the fog of flu and winter. I need to be extra careful with where I place my energies in the coming week or two.

Gratitude List:
1. Full moon in the morning, setting over the ridge.
2. Warm cat on my lap
3. Peppermint things
4. New snuggly dresses
5. Hot lemon tea with honey

May we walk in Beauty!

Longest Day

EWK 4 001
Happy Solstice!
Here we are at the longest day, the shortest night, the time of fire and of rampant growth.
Where do you find your fire?
This is the pollywog season, when the water creatures grow legs and arms and begin their movement onto the earth.
What is the force that spurs you toward action and change and transformation, that enables you to become a creature of more than one element?

May this cycle be fruitful for you.
May the sun bring you the transformation and direction you seek.
May you green, may you grapple and grasp, may you grow.

I did not post a poem yesterday–my pint-sized party planner was up early and demanding help with the Father’s Day preparations.  Here, for yesterday and this morning, both, is a Cinquain. a syllable-count poem of five lines: 2/4/6/8/2, and a rhyme scheme of ababb, abaab, or abccb.  I chose the third rhyme pattern.

Evolve Love

Evolve.
We grow. We move.
We struggle to transform.
We walk together through the storm.
We love.

Gratitude List:
1. That moon, right?
2. Here comes the sun
3. Gina Sue’s red Russian kale.  How that will nourish me this week!
4. A little morning solitude.
5. Now the summer really begins.

May we find our fire.  May we walk in Beauty!

Shortest Day

NASA photo

Today is Solstice.  I like to picture us flinging our way through space, held in our ellipse by the flaming star at the center of our dance.  In these days we are out at one of the further points of the oval, and our northern face is turned away, mostly, from the sun.  We get to gaze, for these few moments a year, into darkest space, to sense the comfort of the darkness that enfolds our tiny galaxy, to really feel the presence of the stars.  I feel these Solstice days as a hush or a pause, a breath, before we begin our inward whirl again, back into light, back into slightly closer proximity with the sun.

The twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany are often spoken of as high holy days, days in the Christian calendar when people reflect on the darkness and the light, on our place in the cosmos, on the past year and the coming year.  I like to begin those days of deep reflection at the Solstice, to watch my dreams, to see what images and visions come to me, what words become important.  Perhaps what comes is purely random flotsam from the unconscious, or perhaps it’s messages from the Spirit.  Either way, what appears provides me with visual and linguistic hooks on which to hang some of my meditative practice for the coming year.

May your dreams comfort and disturb you in this season.

Gratitude List:
1. The quietly enfolding darkness
2. Dreams.  Quiet.  Waiting.
3. Good counsel.  I am not alone.
4. Prayer.  Praying.  Inter-cession: being “yielded between.”
5. Looking backward.  Looking forward.  Looking inward and outward.  Up and down.  How many ways can I examine the space around me?

May we walk in the light of the stars.

Throw Open the Windows

candle

If you wish to find rest here below and hereafter, in all circumstances say, “Who am I?” and do not judge anyone. –Abba Joseph to Abba Poemen

Rattle the bars,
turn the screws loose,
throw off a limitation or two
like veils and garments cast to the wind.
Open the windows and doors,
welcome the wild wind,
escape the cage.

Gratitude List:
1. Synchronicity.  When you begin to look for it, you see it everywhere.
2. Advent.  Something new is coming.
3. Weekends.  Time to rest.
4. Solstice.  Soon, soon, soon the sun returns.
5. Poetry in the hands and brains and hearts of ninth graders.  Brilliant.

May our hearts, our hands, our minds be open to what the day brings.

Solstice Rain

Triumvirate

Photo by Lauren Liess

I know I have posted already once today, and I do not want to exhaust anyone who may be following these words, but I want to begin daily gratitude lists again for a time.  I need specific spiritual disciplines to follow throughout the shifty days of summer.  I need gratitude to help me wade through the current darkness.  I need the juxtaposition of words and ideas to prompt deeper poetry.

Gratitude List:
1. Solstice Rain
2. and Thunder
3. Mimosa abloom
4. and Magnolia
5. Wayside wildflowers*

May we walk in Beauty!

*chicory, day lily, Queen Anne’s lace, hag’s taper, buttercup, bladderwort

(It’s all nature today, but you are in there, too if you look closely, you and your eye clear as chicory, your heart a-flame like the day lily, your blooming, blooming self.  You know that love has the last word, right?  Always has.  Always will.  We’re all going to make it through this one, too.)

Waiting for the Dreams

Each year, during the long nights between Winter Solstice and Epiphany, I carefully watch the dreams and pictures that appear to me, gleaning ideas and images that might be helpful to me in the coming year.  This year I am impatient.  I have been cataloging my list for the past two weeks and I want to solidify it and crystallize it.  But it’s also delightful to anticipate what these last few nights might show, so I will wait, and perhaps nudge some of my list into a poem:

While I wait for the dreams to be complete
while I sit at the feet of winter
listening

waiting for the little bell to ring
for the sound of rushing wings
for the things born in darkness
to take form
to rise up–

while a vulture flies across my window
red root and plantain nourish and heal me
a lynx crouches by a granite outcrop in the meadow
the storyteller raises her voice in a chant of longing
and a silent girl turns the corner ahead of me

I sit down to work
and sleep overtakes me:
One more vision for the road
One more message for the journey