Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Snow, the Studio, Resolutions

Yesterday I visited my studio, which is in a remodeled carriage barn behind our home. There was fresh snow on the ground. It was lovely.

Snowy slope behind the studio

Snowy slope behind the studio

I was dashing out there to get some supplies I needed for a small project I am working on in the house, but I stopped to take the above photo with my phone. In the past few years I have spent little time working in the studio, though I very much want to. Over time, supplies have accumulated there: piles everywhere, half-finished projects are on tables, in baskets, tucked away on shelves. I have been “away” for years, with only occasional visits. The place is in terrible disarray.

During 2016, as I was healing from major surgery, I would sometimes visit the studio for short visits to sort and organize. I even made a few simple gifts for people. I am again able to use my sewing machine without discomfort, and now that I’m on fewer meds, my hands shake less when I work. I have hope for more time in the studio in 2017, but first I would need to make the space workable again. That will take sustained effort.

So, a fine New Year’s resolution would be to do just that. Then why have I been hesitant to make a resolution to finally get the studio in working order? Some days I feel that reclaiming the studio is what I really want to focus on in the new year; I know doing it would feed my soul and make it possible for me to concentrate on my creativity once again. And yet on other days I think there are probably better ways to spend my time. When will I return to ministry work? Should I spend time catching up with my family and friends, after being focused on regaining my health for so long? Or how about our country’s political situation; should my focus be on the environment? I am tugged in many directions.

Somehow being out there yesterday with the fresh snow all around made it seem like a new beginning is in order. Thinking about it now, I realize that beginning again in the studio has the potential to encompass some of the other strands of my life. I used to use the space not just as a studio, but as a place to offer spiritual direction, and also to have workshops for small groups. I used to do projects with my grandchildren there. The space provided sanctuary not just for artwork, but for ministry, friends and family. In it I worked on nature- and environment-themed projects. It really is all of a piece. Through the process of writing about this, I have returned to the New Year’s resolution to put my studio in order, and begin again.

Below is a 2011 photo from part of the studio, neat and spacious. Something to which I can aspire!

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

 

Easter: Rebirth & Renewal

It has been some time since I posted here. As some of you may know from my earlier posts, my health has been challenged in a big way for the past five years. Actually, it began before that, about twenty years ago, but doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong for fifteen of those years. By the time I was diagnosed, I was at Stage 3 out of 4. The autoimmune condition (Primary Biliary Cholangitis with Autoimmune Hepatitis overlap) is incurable, but a liver transplant can prolong life.

On November 23rd, 2015, I was finally transplanted, at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Miraculously, an anonymous living donor had come forward. This person is unknown to me. He or she had intended to donate to another person, and went through the health workups and evaluation, but the transplant did not happen. I do not know why not. The donor decided to go ahead anyway, donating a piece of his/her liver to a stranger in need. Because of my poor quality of life, my blood type and my relatively small size, I was chosen. I received the left lobe of the donor’s liver, and the pieces grew back to almost full size very quickly for us both. My new liver grew to almost full size by eight weeks post-surgery!

K with plush liver - Version 3

At six months after the surgery I will be allowed to (anonymously) contact the donor through the clinic to express my gratitude. If all goes well, years will be added to my life. Transplantation is not a cure, for the problem does recur in some cases, but already the new organ has made a huge difference in my quality of life and well being.

Now I am recovering from the surgery. The most dangerous time, regarding rejection of the transplant, is in the first three to four months post-surgery. I have made it past that point with no rejection episodes. Hurrah! Full healing will take at least a year. But today, to celebrate Easter and enjoy this fine early Spring day, I walked in the woods with my husband, looking for signs of seasonal renewal.

Easter 2016, Renewal!

This was my worship today, because being immuno-compromised by anti-rejection drugs, I am still avoiding groups of people in close quarters. This year especially, Easter is very meaningful to me, as I experience life anew, with energy, gratitude, and hope for the future.

PS – Share Life! Be an organ donor!

Happy St. David’s Day!

Daffodils, March 1, 2013

Daffodils, March 1, 2013

Daffodil Detail.3.1.13

Daffodil Closeup.3:1:13

Dydd gwyl Dewi Sant Hapus!

Happy Saint Dwynwen’s Day!

Saint Dwynwen is the patron (matron?) saint of lovers and relationships; interesting legends and stories are associated with her. January 25th is the Welsh “Valentine’s Day.” I posted a “Happy St. Dwynwen’s Day” message on Facebook, and a friend asked if I would put it here, so here it is. Check out the Wikipedia link on her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Dwynwen%27s_Day

Her stories remind us of the mutuality of love, and the pain when love is not reciprocated. Another version of her story can be found in the book Praying with Celtic Holy Women, by Mehan and Oliver.

Before going to sleep tonight, take a few moments to close your eyes, and with your imagination, encircle those close to you with warmth and love. If you are seeking a relationship, feel your heart open as you appreciate the goodness and love you already have in your life. And pay attention to your dreams.

(The above post was formerly published here in 2010.)

 

dydd-santes-dwynwen-hapus

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!”

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?