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:
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.