We Are So Lightly Here

On my walk with Yoda,  I spy a faint blue moon as I looked to the west and the shimmering sun to the east, both in the same late-fall sky. The sun was a bright-white light in waves of blue-grey clouds. It tricks you into thinking you can look at it, but still, you can’t. That ultraviolet light will flood your retina and quite literally burn out the tissue. It will change the way you see the world, or maybe IF you see the world, forever. It is a small temptation with dramatic consequence. 

Two years ago I wrote a blog post about light. It was our first Covid Christmas and a year of devastating loss, but something about late fall inspires a nod to the daily ordinaries. A hat-tip to the power of illumination. I did manage to string up a few lights this year as a rainbow reminder of a changing season and an always changing self. 

I read something yesterday that I’ve heard dozens of times in recovery, but saw it with new eyes and a new awareness. 

Be Where Your Feet Are. 

I have a swift mind. It can go from 0-60 in a flash. That can be helpful in an actual emergency, but as a life practice it’s pretty lame. If there is another word for “unhelpful” it could be inserted here. (Note: futile, useless, fruitless, hollow, bootless …) Be Where Your Feet Are. It’s a nod to the power of being present.

Occupy the space you occupy.  
Presence and light. 
A growing theme. 

I also read something about a chain pickerel (a fish). If it swirls and dips, but misses the fly on the line you have cast, it will remain in that place for hours. Waiting. Hoping. You could return hours later and it would still be there. A day later, still there. 

I’m like a chain pickerel. Just as I used to chase a good high, I go back over and over to the places I was wounded, chasing a healing that never came. Other times, I return to places that have always healed me, only to find myself chasing the ghost of what/who was there. I know this about myself and that’s what makes me so painfully aware that “there is no there, there”.  I worry sometimes that I am losing the ability to reign in my wild mind. Once a thought emerges, I go back to it over and over again like an itch. Like a chain pickerel…

The bad news: Nothing lasts. 
The good news: Nothing lasts

I did my meditation in the tub yesterday. I realize that’s wrong in every way. In gassho, I chose to sit for twenty five minutes, feeling my breath between my hands. As I exhaled I felt that gentle whisper of the Universe weaving itself through a space I thought was closed up tight. Light gets in through the cracks, and breath does too. Feeling it, kept me present while the clock ticked and the candle flickered. 

Presence and light. 

As I’m sitting there, I look up and see frozen crystals on the skylight. I’m not sure what they are reflecting, but they are shimmering like a prism and I am suddenly awash in light. And then I remember what I came here to write about: Solstice, the shortest day followed by the longest night and then the steady march back into the light. 

This week I have been taking an inventory of sorts. Every year as winter solstice approaches, I write down the things/feelings/judgements that are holding me back. There is no sense lingering in dark places hoping that the light will take the bait. I always feel like I need to step away and let go of anything that keeps me feeling stuck. I make it a ceremonious thing. Making a list of the things I am ready to leave behind,  then burn them in a small ceramic bowl and release the ashes into the river. I go early without company or an audience and I say goodbye. 

Bring on the December 21st ritual.

Does it always work? No. But it never feels quite the same if I find myself clinging to those remnants in the future (and of course that happens). I’d like to think I’m getting better at it. These are things I’ve already released to my God Box but need an extra nudge to get them fully out the door. This year, I am seeking a new river. The days will begin to get longer. Minutes at first, but before we know it, spring is upon us and spilling new light across the path. 

And the river just flows. It keeps going. 

As the sun sets tonight I will be out in the city seeing a different kind of light. Towering buildings with soft light from the windows. Each room holding a story. Downtown can be a sad place though too. Streets filled with despair and survival. It can be overwhelming to see the consequences of greed and abandonment. These human lights are flickering and I am a loss as to how to help. 

Maybe I can find a way to be of use. 
I will be looking for those with unlit candles.

Even as I recognize the sadness, I love most things about this time of year:  I nest. I read. I write. I listen. I drive. Always, I walk. There are people who keep me inspired all year long. Here are a few of my favorites and I hope you will give each of them a look:

You can read Nancy’s musings in word and photo from Portland here. 

Gretchen’s SW Washington adventure blog and everything about her new book here. 

Crystal writes from her little corner of Oregon here. A kindred spirit, for sure.

Manja, oceans away, blogs from Slovenia here and gives me a peek through the doors into her world.. 

Michael shares his visual feast (BIRDS!) here.

And Dan teaches me about the natural world of our beautiful PNW  here. 

These people are my light. 

If you are grieving a loss this year I hope you have been using your own version of a divining rod to find light and joy. Dowsing, I think it’s called. I hope if you are wrestling with any kind of darkness that you are finding a gentle way to be with it. Grief, after all, is just love with no clear place to go. 

We are so lightly here.
(Leonard Cohen)

18 Comments on “We Are So Lightly Here

  1. I appreciate the shout out. I agree we are kindred spirits. One of these days we will share a mountain walk and make the link a little stronger. Thank you for the light, the inspiration, the learning, growing, crying, writing, photographing, that you have inspired in me during 2022.

  2. The theme of presence and light really resonated with me. As a person with disabilities, I feel I have spent my life in recovery of sorts. Recovery from surgeries, from health crises, from dreams, goals and aspirations that will never be fulfilled…perpetual recovery from grief and loss. I’ve done the burning bowl ceremony you describe on winter solstice, one of my favorite seasons and times of year. Thank you for this post that spoke to my heart and soul.

    • Thank you so much for writing. Tomorrow is burning bowl day for me. If recovery means regaining possession or control of something lost, I think it’s a perpetual thing too. But maybe regaining control is about changing the narrative. Maybe some things are best left in the past. Letting go with love can create space for a new thing. That’s what I hope for with all my heart*

    • I love Leonard Cohen. I think my favorite quote is “dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in”. Oh, to know a love like that*

  3. Your heart is wide open. Hoping it is filled with love and light as you move forward. And thanks for the mention. It’s an interesting way we have of conversing, no?

    • Open hearts are good. I’m not sure what you mean about conversing. Do you mean us or how we talk to the world? Open hearts either way. My search for the “very” is all about love and light. Thanks for being one of my beacons*

  4. Your words always touch my heart and soul in places they’ve never been touched before.

    Today my family will be celebrating the life of my baby cousin Jordan.

    He was 23 and never found his way through the dark but he was the flame for so many.

    I will do my best to carry his light into my own darkness today…a day that will one day be an anniversary of a life that was only just beginning before it came to an end.

    ♥️ Jess

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