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Archive for the ‘Dark Night’ Category

YULE

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

———Susan Cooper

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Yule

Photo by Jedediah Berry, Amherst, MA

Photo by Jedediah Berry, Amherst, MA

 

Solstice Darkness

I thought I’d be experiencing silence on this dark, solstice night. But outside thunder rumbles in the dark, while rain pelts the windows. There will probably be no snow this Christmas.

Inside, the Christmas tree – with no lights or trimmings – stands in a corner in the living room. Hanukkah candles offer a small, wavering light, which will grow as the week goes on.

Winter officially begins, even as we are about to slowly see more daylight.

This has been an intense year for me, because I was given a gift which is slowly bringing into focus the areas of my life where I wish to use my energy. That gift is a “live-in-the-moment” way of being, acknowledging what is and moving on from there, one step in front of another.

The Christmas tree has not been trimmed because my youngest daughter is eager to do it with me when she arrives tomorrow. It will be a delight to be with two of my three grown children. Hopefully I’ll see my eldest daughter and my grandchildren in late winter or spring.

Here’s more light, in the form of light humor. My Jewish brother-in-law sent the following Hanukkah greeting:

Top 5 Hanukkah Songs That Never Quite Caught On
 
5. “Oy To The World”
 
4. “Bubbie Got Run Over By A Reindeer”
 
3. “Matzo Man” by The Lower East Side Village People
 
2. “Come On, Baby, Light My Menorah”
 
And the #1 Hanukkah song that never quite caught on…
 
1.  “Silent Night? I Should Be So Fortunate!”

Random Crow Thoughts

This evening the crows gathered, with the moon almost full.

The weather has been warm, not typical November weather. I love the feel and smell of autumn, so I’m happy with this warm sunny spell.

The crows put me in mind of The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper). Crows as harbingers. There is a sense of stillness, of waiting.

Again my life is filled with a series of ER and doctor visits. The most recent was for my mother’s fall. Life is such a mixture of beauty and pain.

Descent to the Underworld for Wisdom

The Autumn Equinox ~ Stepping into the power of the dark part of the yearly cycle.

This is the time when the dark, which has been growing, is in balance with the light. We are grateful for the Harvest, but we also know that Life is waning.

This is time of year when Persephone descends to the Underworld to access her deep wisdom and compassion in caring for the dead. It is the time of her mother Demeter’s grief and sorrow, and with her we weep for our losses.

This year, Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, is especially meaningful for me. In the past few months I have gone through losses due to an autoimmune disease signaled by a medical emergency in May. Since then, I have not posted much, because I have been resting, regaining strength by walking, and most difficult, getting used to my new life. Some days are good, others are not so good. Until I wake in the morning, I do not know whether I’ll be incapacitated by fatigue, or whether I’ll be able to do some work or visit a friend.

Some days I feel that life is indeed waning. This Equinox I enter the underworld of chronic illness and seek whatever wisdom I am able to glean from this dark place. Certainly I am learning much about patience, loss, compassion, and stepping into my power as I deal with the medical community. The dark also feels womb-like at times, and I can even appreciate how this hermit-life may suit me. This is a perfect time of year for introspection, for seeking wisdom.

Will you be descending to the underworld this Autumn?

Eight Alternative Spiritual Paths

At the moment I’m reading a book which was mentioned on the blog called Urban Mystic (thanks, Tim). The title of the book is Beyond Religion: 8 Alternative Paths to the Sacred, by David N. Elkins. Because I haven’t finished it, I’ve not decided whether to add it to my list of recommended books.

“Buried deep in the heart of every adult is a longing for a life that matters.  We want to drink deeply from the stream of existence and know the passion of being truly alive.  The purpose of this book is to say that such a life is possible, and that it all begins by learning how to nurture and care for the soul.”

OK. Nurturing the soul is what Elkins considers the spiritual life to be about. But I’m trying to understand exactly what he means by soul, since it is basic to what he is putting forth. He does claim that one doesn’t need religion in order to nurture one’s soul. Should be interesting to see what moves he makes to define soul in non-religious ways. More after I’ve read more.

Meanwhile, some of the ideas I’ve already come across in this book may be fun to play with at the Sanctuary Without Walls  monthly gathering tomorrow. Please come if you are interested! 4 PM.

info@sanctuarywithoutwalls.org

By the way, the eight paths are: The Feminine, The Arts, The Body, Psychology, Mythology, Nature, Relationships, and Dark Nights of the Soul.

Wondrous Words

In the past few days, I felt out of sorts, as if my life no longer “fit” properly. In my experience, when I feel that discomfort – like a hermit crab that’s outgrown its borrowed shell, or a snake on the verge of molting – it is uncomfortable, constricting, dark and tight.

There was nothing to do but wait for whatever was wanting to come forth. I found myself wistfully remembering the spaciousness in which I usually live, wondering where it went. Waiting. Knowing that I’ve been through this experience before. Being a compassionate witness to my own tight, small predicament, without being overwhelmed by it. Not trying to think my way out of it.

And this morning, a reminder came that opened me to the world again. It was another natural wonder, this time in the form of written words from another person. The words were not addressed specifically to me, but to “readers” in general, yet they flew straight to my heart. Such is the dance we weave with one another, unpredictable, surprising, amazing grace.

Sometimes when other people share their deepest thoughts and feelings, they can lead our hearts to open. When we are warmed by the touch of others, we find ourselves shedding the thick blanket of self-stories in which we have wrapped ourselves. By simply reading the words of another struggling, growing person, my window on the world was thrown open. Heart-strings stretched, the door swung out upon on its hinges; I could step through it. Are there any words that can adequately describe these liminal threshold experiences?

In addition to reminding me that I am not alone, this morning’s communication revealed to me that we are fractals of one another, beautiful patterns within patterns, recognizing ourselves in one another.

The shell, the too-tight skin is left behind. “We are called again and again to come forth from our tombs.” Alleluia! And it’s not even Easter yet.