Reckoning With My Past Abortion on Yom Kippur

Last Rosh Hashana as the shofar beckoned us toward the new year, to become brave as the breath of the Baal Tekiyah, to feel time wrap us in its tallit of embrace and release; I heard the cries of women, of mothers who had to let go of what they held most close-their children.

The shofar, which in the past has been a celebration of connection to the higher spiritual realms and joyous journeys inward that although tinged by trepidation, always led me to a spiritual and emotional place of moving forward. But last year it blew my spirit elsewhere.

Midrash and text have likened the shofar sound to the wails of Sarah as she assumes Isaac has died at her husband’s hands. Hagar’s sobs from seeing and not being able to see her son die as she turns from him are also part of the shofar’s tomes, as are Sisera’s unnamed mother who stands at the window and weeps for her son, and Rachel’s weeping for her children on their exile. Women’s tears and laments contain much of our tradition, our mourning and tears illuminate our humanness, connection and responsibility and accountability we hold to each other.

 This primal agony surges and spins into a tornado contained by the wildness of too many feelings to sort. It reverberates with the power of a broken heart. It is soul seared grief that is soaked by tears. This shofar blew an unexpected torrent of notes of reckoning about something I had done years before. It could be silenced no more. It was time to see deeper and to make amends, to do teshuva.

It was the day after Yom Kippur. I looked out the window of the room I ‘attended’ services in the day before. The leaves wafted gracefully from their branches to the grass when the wind was a gentle lilt and then plummeted to the ground when the wind became a harsh gale.

This is what my prayers were. I was being shown that Nature and the Divine will not forget. I was heard, and I was seen. And now I am being led to see myself and not to forget. This year’s prayers were particularly deep as an old pain and grief joined the pain and grief of today. They mingled upward like the smoke of incense in the Temple.

I had an abortion when I was 22. Over the years the pain I hold about it would step forward. I would ride it till it retreated. But this year it came like a frost heave. It erupted from the deepest, most buried part of me. It expanded and contracted with the pressure of not being able to hold this any longer. It had to breathe. It had to speak. It had to be healed.

I was suffering from a serious back condition when I became pregnant. My doctor was not optimistic that I would be able to walk if I went to term. I would likely find myself in a wheelchair as a result. Although I knew in my gut this was the right choice, I also believed, and still do, that life begins at conception.  

So, life went back to what it was…except it did not. The primal topography of my being shifted like tectonic plates of Earth in days of formation. I did a series of paintings about it, I cut my hair, I wrote, but I remained and remain in the two pieces of this fissured state.  I had to learn to live with knowing I determined the fate of another being. While I took solace that Judaism does not have a non-negotiable restriction of abortion, especially when the mother’s health is at stake, I wanted to reconcile the morality of abortion and the iniquity of ending a life, but I found no way to do it. This year I was pushed toward finding a way. That way was asking for forgiveness.

I watched services from my couch. I found myself in a squatting position. My body was birthing my prayers. They were strewn with flowing tears and solid stillness much like the physical births I have nurtured in other women as a healer. I was in a liminal space between the present Yom Kippur and the pith of emotional pain. It was filled with an anguish that was too heavy for tears to move. It had been tethered to my soul for so long that it had been unable to receive any touch of comfort.

I faced the soul that I had taken toward its death and asked its forgiveness. I asked permission for connection in order to come to a deeper healing for both of us. Was I presumptuous to think this innocent one needed healing? I was not sure, but I did it anyway. It didn’t matter that I still felt my choice was correct, this was an act against another, and I needed to reconcile it. But I realized that I could not. I could only ask, again, forgiveness for the stark truth that there are some things that cannot be reconciled. We need to learn to live in the haziness of ambiguity

 This spirit was part of me. Did a part of me die along with it? Is that crevice of my inner geography made of my death as well as the death of this soul that was inside of me? I asked for forgiveness for myself from the Creator. I asked that this loss that will never leave, how could it, be taken to a place within myself where it can rest swaddled in love and compassion.

My heart reached toward my unborn child’s soul.  My invocations for forgiveness and peace squeezed my breath to a whimper, but my soul roared. It bellowed through my blood releasing decades of immobile torment. I was finally able to let the self-hatred and shame be washed away. I was being cleansed and nurtured on this most holy day. My child and I were held together by the Supernal’s strength of love for us both.

Today is the last day of Sukkot, the last of the High Holy Days. The rise and the dive of this time when inquiry of our darkness and celebration of our light heals and restructures us. It invites us to muster the faith that Spirit is supporting our walk. I have been in my inner Succah, my place of rest and recuperation. Each day when I shook my lulav and etrog, I did it for myself and for this child who is now wrapped peaceably within my heart.

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My Journey with the Covid Vaccine and the Prayer that Helped Me

I got my first shot of the Moderna vaccine January 5. As I walked from the vaccine injection booth to the open observation room where I was to sit for 15 minutes to be monitored for a reaction, I felt like I had completed a dangerous journey. I walked through tumultuous waves made of concern, fear, debate, much scientific investigation and even more emotional reckoning and soul searching that had occupied most of my time, awake or asleep for weeks.  

“I need to bench Gomel”, I said to myself.

 ” Blessed are You, Lord our God/Goddess, ruler of the world, who rewards the undeserving with goodness, and who has rewarded me with goodness.”

The Birkat HaGomel prayer is recited after one has come through a dangerous occurrence or situation. In the Talmud: Tractate Brachot 54b, the referred to physical dangers are a hazardous desert or sea crossing, healing from a life-threatening illness, and being freed from jail, I presume in one piece. Of course, there is much discourse as to what makes something dangerous and about adding other situations as well. The prayer has become an integral part of trauma healing where there are many perilous places we must traverse on our journey.

One is also required to recite Gomel in the presence of a minyan and to hear their rejoinder. “May he/she who rewarded you with all goodness reward you with all goodness forever.” Call and response is a form of being witnessed. My minyan was the patients and nurses in the room. This was a treacherous crossing of the roiling sea of my emotions and my alternative health practice beliefs. I went from never even getting a flu vaccine to accepting a vaccine that was raising many red flags of caution. But when I read that COVID-19 can cross the blood brain barrier my tentative yes to the vaccine became a crystal-clear absolute yes. So, I had either just saved my life or put it at risk. I choose to believe the former. 

When the Temple stood, the prayer was accompanied by an offering-Korban Todah-, a Thanksgiving Offering of gratitude for surviving a said danger. But the goats have long bleated their last. Instead, we find more acceptable ways to fulfill this. I figured while I was being monitored and having the snacks provided, I would think of what an offering might be. ‘I got this’, I thought. I perused the post-vaccine buffet and chose a ‘treat’ and a bottle of water. “I got this’, I said to myself again and planned to sit on my Moderna laurels of bravery and munch till I was cleared to leave.

But the moment I sat on the chair at the observation table my I got this bravado melted to tears that I held behind my mask. I thought about all of those who died and those who survived but are still suffering with long term effects. I felt the yearning of the many people who want the vaccine but who will have to wait. I realized that I was one of the lucky ones. I can still stay sequestered and supported if I need. We really don’t know how much any vaccine will assuage this virus, but I wanted to be part of the solution if it would help. I also wanted to take care of myself.

I managed to collect myself. The Ritz crackers, that I allowed myself to eat as a way of comfort, no-grain diet be damned, helped. I opened a packet and offered it as a Korban to a potted plant that was under a sunny window by my seat. I imagined myself at the Temple. The aroma of the incense we will never be able to replicate wrapped itself around me like a tallit. I repeated the affirmation I had been saying all morning. After reciting the prayer I added ‘My whole being, physical, energetic, mental and emotional accepts this vaccine with calm and appreciation.’ I sat down to quell any side effect fears.  

The ubiquitous ‘They’ said there are no dangerous side effects, well, not many, and few people would get them. ‘They’ also said that what side effects there may be are telling you that your immune system is working and being trained. These symptoms are a short lived and welcome response. In other words, maybe you will feel a little something for a day, two at the most. Okay, then. No big deal.

However, it was the biggest deal. It loomed wide around me. It placed its sleek hands on my head and pushed my mind so far into my body that I could see the newly injected serum careen through me. I could feel it laying itself over my bones, flowing into my blood and entering my cells. It had a mission and all I could do was witness its progress. I was powerless to stop it. I was at the mercy of its strength. I had to yield to it. I had agreed to this. I had decided to do this despite my reservations. It was a done deal, and it was a big deal.

But then it dawned on my quivering heart that this vaccine is not made of toxins and unknowns. This vaccine is made of love. The love of the scientists that created it and medical staff that are filling us with it. And I was so grateful that I was on the other side of this ocean.

(For the record I had such debilitating fatigue that I could barely sit at my computer let alone work for over a week. However, the only pain I felt were some disapproving glances from Facebook ‘friends’, but that is another discussion. I will go for my second shot with prayer and munchies at my side.)

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Happy Challahween

Ever so often Halloween, Samhain, falls within the boundaries of Shabbat. I make pumpkin challah and light candles in witchy colors. My decorations, a copious amount, take on an extra glimmer. These two spiritual practices glide over the letters and books of each tradition like water over stones. They shine with the connection reflecting their light to one another. They wind around each other as they swirl around like braids of challah and the ribbons tied to my hat.

I polish my wand and candlesticks and feel the women from these beloved paths standing with me. My soul hears their whispers, and my heart is warmed by the love in their spirit eyes. I feel their hands on my hands. We caress our tools to reveal their beauty.

I have wondered if there is ever any other-realm consternation between my two tribes. The tribe that has sands of the desert under their feet and the tribe that has the forest wrapped around them. Of course, this is imagery that comes from my imaginings. Is this really about religious tradition or is it about my deep link to woman-centered energy and nature.

My first awareness of my wider connection to the world outside of my house was when I was barely 4. My hands found solace in the coolness of soil. Its loamy softness seeped through my skin. It coated my nervous system and energy bodies with a silent language. This nonverbal conversation opened me to my first best friend. It was the pussy willow tree next to the swing set.

My growing community of Nature beings; those who had roots and those who flew, slithered and rolled lit the halls of my Jewish experience of the holidays and education. The earth and religious ceremony were joined by a web of consciousness that surrounded me like a shawl made by the flowers and ancestors’ breath.

I was a natural alter builder and a voracious learner. I was also acutely in touch with the spirit of the energetic realms. The ease and natural inclination that my body knew when I reached toward, when I experienced, and learned of something spiritual informed my mind and opened my heart to the truth that it held for me. I followed that truth. It was a home space for me to enter.

I walked the path of Nature, later to become the Wiccan world, and the Jewish path. Judaism is steeped in reverence for the earth and for women. It is not just a patriarchal stronghold of power. That I do not embrace although there is much there I do when it is stripped of its fortress built to keep us out.  As I grew into being able to practice the art of discernment, I culled the archives of my spiritual heritage and followed where my soul reached.

Celebrating the moon’s cycle, lighting and praying and spelling with candles, working the directions of the lulav and etrog, making amulets with the holy sigils and letters, being embraced by the Goddess of Beltane are all connected for me.

And now Samhain approaches just as the High Holidays have ended. For me, this time when the veils are thin is richly witchy. Perhaps this is because ‘Halloween’ is, commercialization aside, a day where this path is celebrated and embraced by the wider culture. The ethics of falling under this spell has been the subject of many conversation, and I get both sides of it. However, as the night draws long so does my spirit. I reach the stars and beyond, I reach within and deep toward the earth.

But as Samhain is a day also for introspection and looking froward to a renewed time; the energy of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot has a quiet presence. I told a rabbi years ago, that I worked harder than he did with all this tshuvah and self-examination. For him it ends on Sukkot, but I continue through Samhain. He smiled and agreed. And then we went to decorate the succha where I sneaked in Samhain decoration.

So am I a Jewish Witch or a Wiccan Jew? Does it matter or is it just semantics?

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Grounding in the Time of Lava

Grounding in the Time of Lava

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I let part of my garden go untended this year. It grew in wild abandon. It ignored my care-placed stone circles and lines of plantings when I created it years ago and scoffed at my incessant weeding habits of the past. It exploded into extravagant plumes of plants I had no idea lingered within its depth. They sidled up to my perennials with a come-hither sway to their leaves. The party was on, and it was wonderous.

To some eyes this would look like a hot mess, but to me it just looked hot. Well, not at first. I am an intuitive enough gardener to feel what my patch of solace and creative expression needs. I back it up with science, of course because I don’t want to do anything blatantly ignorant. I love the design stage that begins to enliven my winter hands. Oh, the lists and diagrams! But this year I knew I had to bow to what the garden was calling for. The Devas needed to breathe big this year. What first looked like pandemonium became wild, passionate wisdom. What an opulent panorama for my dailyish grounding practice.

Grounding, to me, means to become present to where you are. This gives me the capacity to expand toward what is beyond and to look back to the past without dissolving into a traumatized mound of mud. These days we need to do this more than ever.

I conjure the requisite grounding cord to come from the spirit of this lush growth. It rises from the bounty and transforms into a verdant green vine. We swoon with delight in the loamy richness of it all. It is bedazzled with drops of dew from the morning that glitter in my mind’s eye.

It winds through my feet, then my center and then out the top of my head, where by now, in lithe waves of surrender, I connect to the great cosmic stage where I am twirled with the deftness of an accomplished dancer of the universal ballroom experience. That sentence was as long as the vine itself. How I adore our waltz.

My bare feet are cooled and nurtured by the soft soil. They are covered with earthy mirth. I am connected to the world outside of me and the world within. The peace of the garden feels like smooth jazz. It resonates deep within me.

Wait, what? Did I just hear the rumble of an old news story that Vermont is perched on top of some future lava spewing volcano?! Well, that tugs at my earthy rope, now doesn’t it? It seems we are sitting on a future giant swell of hot, roiling magma. Scolding spurts of its turbid churning may be permeating our consciousness this very minute as it boils below us.

Well this is going to change our grounding practices, isn’t it? Walk cool. Miles Davis, where are you? Clearly, jazz fits every occasion. How might one maneuver her silken tresses of spiritual glee through a fire that will vaporize her before even a giggle can come forth?

In a more practical turn of thought, I wonder what this will do to the home-grown metaphysical devotion? It seems there might be a new stream of meditational obsession for the spiritual larder.

New prayers, new dances, new catch words. ‘Well, just let that idea bubble awhile’, now has a direct and physical reality, so that to ‘simmer a pot’, could refer to a newfangled spiritual and emotional process. Making pasta may take on a whole new meaning. Well, I’ve been simmering stuff in a cauldron for years, but that’s another tale.

So perhaps letting my garden have its way with itself was a foreshadowing of the flames of the interior that are bounding their way toward us…in 50 million years, give or take a millennium or two. So, for now, I will tread with added awareness and perhaps a lighter foot so as not to get burned by what life has in store for us. But wait, isn’t there an election coming up?

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Facing the Waterfall-Tools for Coping

 

Waterfall

For the past 10 minutes, I have been rearranging my desk drawers. Do my pens need to be where my paperclips were? Nope. I did this because I find that my ability to concentrate on ‘brainy’ tasks, such as work that I do from home these days, has taken a hit. How about you?

Welcome to the ‘New Normal’. Brought to you by Covid-19 et al. 

Even if we do not physically have this virus, we are all carrying a viral load that we cannot unload.

We have been thrown off-center…together. We are coping with similar concerns…together.

Everyone I help has voiced concern about the changes they notice in themselves. Why are they less able to keep on task when self-discipline has been a strength? Why do their bodies feel like it is set on low vibrate all the time? Why are they fatigued? Why does it feel like they are walking through molasses? This is abnormal!  What is wrong with me? This is my reply.

 Nothing. Nothing is ‘wrong’ with you, except that the changes in the world are cascading on us with the force of a waterfall weeping in distress so that we feel drenched. 

Your new state of mind may be disconcerting and even scary, but you are still you and your capacities are still within you. They have just been derailed for a bit because of today: 

 Abnormal is the New Normal 

Here are tips for coping: 

 Be compassionate with yourself: What would you say to a friend in need of consolation? You would probably tell them that anybody would have trouble being at the top of their game when there are so many difficulties in our lives. How can you expect not to be influenced by this? We all lose our footing at times like these, so anything you can do is perfect. Say this to yourself! 

Relax your expectations: Concentration is often the first thing to get rattled when we are under threat, and this is just that. We easily get distracted. This is anxiety talking. Break down tasks into steps. If you have a work project or paperwork to process, break it up into smaller pieces, then stretch, or look at something amusing. Laughter is medicine. 

 Speaking of laughter: Make space for humor and let yourself laugh, or at least smile. There are many short funny recordings to watch online when you need quick relief from overwhelm. Curl up with a humorous book or movie or share jokes with a friend on the phone or media. Laughter brings us relief and pleasure. It also brings oxygen into our blood which keeps us healthy.

 Limit how much time you engage with difficult news and Facebook dissension: Yes, we want to be informed, but we don’t need to get battered by it. When we get caught in a loop of fear, frustration, and anger, we become reactive without realizing it. We are traumatized and reactivity is a hallmark of it. It is hard to step away when venting feels relieving. But we don’t want to embed these feelings in our bodies.

Keep yourself on a schedule: Get up and go to sleep around the same time each day. This will help your brain balance and your body will get used to being consistent. We will all have nights when we just can’t or just don’t want to go to sleep. Perhaps staying up late and reading past your ‘bedtime’ may be a comfort for some, for others, it works out some excess energy, so do it judiciously.  

For now: While I do not think it is possible to be unaffected by the physical, emotional, financial, political, and spiritual ravaging that is unfolding before us: I firmly believe that we have everything it takes to thrive. At our core, we are glorious and resilient beings. We will learn. We will grow. We will shine.

https://insighthealingdotcom.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/facing-the-waterfall-tips-for-coping/

 

 

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Of Trees and Menorahs

chanukah7_sm

Oh, holidays,

To the latkes I am cooking,

At whose applesauce topping I am looking,

Your potato goodness astounds me,

Your oily needs confound me.

Oh, holidays,

To the cookies I am baking,

With no grain, dairy or sugar I am making,

Will anyone be glad that they are for the taking?

For a Jew in Vermont, a state that despite being blue,

Is still a state of Christmas to which the cows moo.

So I sat with a cat wearing antlers on my knee,

And elatedly helped decorate my first New England tree.

I styled that thing from its limbs to its trunk,

My earnest enthusiasm could not be sunk.

I spiraled garland to add depth to its skinny bark center

‘Oh look,’ I called to my holy day mentor

With ornaments a plenty still dripping with glee

They wanted to see where they would go on said tree.

With glitter from icicles still on my face,

I was in a happy frenzy to keep up the pace.

But one who has designed NYC wreaths and tables aplenty,

Is apparently not appreciated as a north country celebration sentry.

So let me just say with a sigh and lament

At least they didn’t show me to the cold, cold cement.

Was it culture or couture that led to my demise?

Oh, well, I still have my menorah light in my eyes.

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The Holiday of a Miracle

chanukah7_sm

Miracles

Miracles are from the edge of the stars

where the light begins to flow into the dark of sky,

They are the gift of now becoming,

the need answered before even aware,

the tears subdued before hope washes away.

 

It is the Holy of All,

who creates beyond what we can fathom,

who loves us deeper than what we can imagine,

who offers us what we do not even know we can contain.

 

A miracle is beyond what our hands can make

but we can call it forward for each other

we can give the faith we hold to the one who creates

as truth shines within our pleas.

 

So I will pray you a miracle.

Reach to the most hidden part of you,

the quiet voice of your soul

that will let me hear what you reach for.

 

I will make you an eruv

of grasses that hold the earth’s mysteries,

flowers that bloom wisdom of the universe

and streams that sing in exaltation the song

of the Great Mysterious that will keep you held in love.

 

We can face our spirits to the stars

and join light to light to swirl the deep heart of all.

But while we cannot create a miracle,

we can help each other hold them.

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Witch Hat to Wear

witches-hat-with-spiders-table-2

Winter swoons into spring, spring sings into summer, summer chants toward the beginning of autumn. It is a primal tone that has deep intention and thrust. The shift from summer to fall is powerfully dynamic. Our eyes go from seeing the lush colors of flowers and gardens to the stunning last vision the leaves show against the muted fall sky. it is both stark and enchanting. The contrast is extraordinary and daunting. This beauty is nature’s incantation that brings us toward the winter. But first…to the pumpkin patch!

Okay, so here it is. My favorite time of year. The summer has ended. The month-long Jewish High Holidays, which begin with Rosh Hashanah and end with Succot, have ended, I like them both, but they each leave me exhausted. The heat wilts me and my garden. Keeping it perky and producing is an endless watering task. The High Holidays are spiritually vast, but also physically draining from the cooking, the clergy work and inner work that the month calls for,

By the time all of this is over I just want to curl up with a piece of challah and tea and watch, oh, I don’t know, maybe a Halloween movie? A nice one, not horror, although ‘Shadow of the Vampire’ is a favorite, but so is ‘Practical Magic’, and of course ‘Hocus Pocus’. Oh, and then there is ‘I Married a Witch’ and ‘Bell, Book and Candle’. Can you see where I am going with this?

So now, I sit amongst my favorite decorations of the year. They transport me. Bring out the invite that makes the invisible visible. My glittery shoes, bats and cauldrons add a layer to the air that makes way for guests of a more non-corporeal nature.This is my Wiccan succah.(a temporary structure that is built during Succot that is our home of faith and spirit. This is a connection and remembrance of the ‘homes’ that Jews built when we made a yearly pilgrimage to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem during the holiday of Succot.)

During the days when we are in the succah, we call in a different set of ancestors each night. On Halloween, or Samhain, we also call in our ancestors, friends and whomever else is flying about, to spend some time with us. The veil between the worlds is open for both of these holidays at a time when the earth is transitioning to a seemingly more dormant state. But really, it is all there, if we open ourselves to this ‘unseen realm’ and feel its movement and power.

The spirit of Samhain has become a cultural reality in spite of its commercialism and its plethora of horrendous sex-up-anything costumes. People come together to host Halloween fun for the kiddies and themselves. Okay, so perhaps this is because it is no longer considered wise to let children roam around town after dark looking for candy; but this reality has opened like a skeletal hand rising from the dirt of a grave pointing us toward community turf to celebration together.

And oh, yes, back to the costumes. I do not don too much of a holiday costume, as I am in costume all year, so to speak; but I am not a costume curmudgeon. I will help anyone fancy up, and once my vampire costuming skills won first place in a competition.

I love the way that Halloween garb can be an expression of ideas, concerns, hopes and dreams. Some are witty, some are beautiful, and some are touchingly poignant. I usually wait with light-hearted breath to see what will be parading around, but with what is going on in the world right now, this year my breath will be holding more stalwart apprehension than gleeful anticipation.

I suspect that this year I will look out from under my seasonally pointy and wide rimmed hat with one eye. The other eye, you may presume is looking for the nearest bar, er I mean, tea room. Nope, I do mean bar. I can have one bourbon and not fall off my broom, right?

NOTE: I wrote this before the massacre in Pittsburgh. Is any humor appropriate today? Should I have saved this for next year and offered a tone like my Charlottesville article? If I have offended anyone by not only writing about yesterday, I apologize; but I am a Jew and I am a Wiccan, and I will be open and proud about both, although I am surely a double-whammy target for some hateful f*** out there. So I will not hide. I will not hide.

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Letting It Flow

waterfalls

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

I have let my garden go this year. It is growing in wild abandon, ignoring my well-placed circles and lines of plantings from years before. It is scoffing at my incessant weeding habits of the past. It has plummeted into extravagant plumes of plants that I had no idea lingered below just waiting to erupt. They sidled up to my perennials with a come-hither sway to their leaves, and the party was on.

There is a feeling in this place now that is like an electrical charge. It is scented with the red-hot of unexpressed passion. What a panorama for my grounding practice.

Grounding, to me, means to become present to where you are and to expand toward what is beyond at the same moment. A metaphorical and energetic for some, myself included, cord comes from the very core of the earth and swoons with delight at the fragrance of the loamy touch of where we stand.

It winds through my feet, then my center and out the top of my head, whereby now, in lilting strokes of anticipation, this waving ribbon will connect me to the great cosmic dance where it will twirl with the deftness of the accomplished hoofer of the universal ballroom experience. That sentence was as long as the string itself. Ah, solid ground, how you waltz me about. What could be better?

Oh, really big ocean boat, how you unearth me and spin me with your watery sentience. I am upon the deep, wet sea of the great unconscious. I sense Jung lurking about in the briny mist. My rock tethered interior is now unmoored and afloat on the waves. My feet become part of the waters of constant movement. I feel like I can sink into its depths instead of my usual travels through the solidness of earth. It rises to meet me, but this aqueous shindig is dancing me right into the walls, that for some reason keep moving.

My center of gravity has shifted. It needs to be as fluid as the waves that are tussling us about, ever so gently. This is a different kind of waltz. Actually, it is more like a rhumba. This is the dance of surrender to the inner and the outer. This grounding flavor is new to me. I taste the vastness of the salty, roiling sea, not the savory taste of land. I close my eyes and breathe in its aroma.

And I breathe again, now back home in my familiar to my spirit earthiness. There is something so cooling and nurturing about the feel of bare feet on the ground. The arches and planes of my feet are covered with earthy mirth. I am again connected to the deepness of being; the being of the world outside of me and within.

Oh, how wondrous…wait, what? Did I just hear the news correctly? We, in Vermont, are now believed to be perched on the top of some future lava spewing volcano?! Well, that tugs at my cord, now doesn’t it? How might one maneuver her silken tress of spiritual glee through a fire that will vaporize it before even a giggle can come forth?

We are sitting on a future giant swell of red-hot magma. Scolding spurts of its turbid being may be permeating our consciousness this very minute as it churns below us.

Well, this is going to change our grounding practices, isn’t it? Walk easy and be cool. Miles Davis, where are you?

In a more cynical turn of thought, I wonder what this will do to the homegrown metaphysical devotion that abounds here? It seems there might be a new stream of meditational obsession for the spiritual larder.

New prayers, new dances, new catchwords. ‘Well, just let that idea bubble awhile’, now has a direct and physical reality, so that to ‘simmer a pot’, could now refer to a spiritual and emotional process. Making pasta may take on a whole new meaning. Well, I’ve been simmering stuff in a cauldron for years, but that’s another tale.

So perhaps letting my garden have its way with itself was a foreshadowing of the flames of the interior that are bounding their way toward us…in 50 million years, give or take a few millennia. So for now, I will tread with added awareness and perhaps a lighter foot so as not to get burned by what life has in store for us.

This was first published in Vermont Views Magazine: http://www.vermontviews.org/vermontviews.org/An_A-musing_Life.html

 

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A Resolute Spirit

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As a nod to one of the words for 2016 posted by Merriam-Webster-‘post-truth’; part of this piece is ‘post-time’. Its initial writing came to an abrupt halt due to, well, you’ll see.

The End of…. 2015

The last day is coming and a wintery air of anticipation abounds. This closing of time is like a book that one has finally, yet often stubbornly, finished.

It flies around you like an insistent bird that won’t stop flapping its wings and banging its beak into that tree outside your window. Walking through hazy morning eyes toward your coffee, your bare foot crunches a slight piece of bark. It has a soft, dulcet tone until it leaves a splinter in your heel. How did this get into my house!

And there is the book waiting on your kitchen table. It is a somewhat annoying book, really. Not consistent, not hilariously funny, but not dreadfully sad. Its protagonist was kind of brave, was kind of well behaved, and was way too attached to good cheese. She was not overly lovable, but not too disliked; just enough to confirm she still had some spice. Room for improvement, for sure, but would not be a total embarrassment if flirted with in a bar.

“So”, said my New Year’s Resolution Fairy, although she looked more a cross between a gargoyle gone soft and a lapsed, yet surprisingly glamorous, burlesque dancer. She adjusted her wings into the cushions on my couch, then threw one leg over the other and proceeded to pump it in steady rhythm. It reminded me of the cat clock I had as a child. The tail moved back and forth like a metronome of time. Only this was no cat and it did not purr. Rather, it brandished questions and comments like an old feathered fan that had been used in some onstage extravaganza.

“tell me what ya got.”

“I don’t know yet. I haven’t thought about it and I didn’t know you were coming today.” Did I really just say that? I felt like a guilty child. I busied myself with straightening up to avoid eye contact. In other words, I moved things from here to there for no reason whatsoever.

“I can think of a thing or two,” she quipped, eyeing my newest and fanciest cheese board. Those eyes made a slow orbit between my birthday gift to myself and my eyes, which I am sure, resembled the proverbial deer caught in the headlights; not a grown woman who knows how to stand her ground.

“Okay,” I said rising to the occasion. I called on my inner Wonder Woman and planted my feet on the floor, lifted my chin in righteous clarity, and spoke.

“I will not be bullied and shamed. I am a grown up and I can determine my own indulgences.” And with that, I blew a bit of bang out of my eyes. Not the strongest ending, I suppose.

My declaration was met with a stern look of bland amusement. “You got any wine to go with that cheese?” she asked. “I seem to recall we discussed wine last year.”

As usual, she got the last word, and off I went for a bottle of my best red. “Would you like to chase that down with some scotch? I seem to recall we discussed that as well,” I retorted, proud of my quick inspiration. “Touché,” I thought. A bold parry, this was. After all, she was getting something out of the deal.

“Why, yes, I do recall that,” she answered, “but if you think plying me with even more liquor than last year will give me a hangover, don’t bother. You think I look like this because I don’t know how to drink?”

“Okay, look,” I said, taking a seat next to her while defiantly munching on cheese and a slice of zucchini that I often use as a cracker, “I am a foodie. If I ate food the way I talk about it I would not be able to fit through doors and I would be on more medications than you can fit in a pill organizer.”

No response; just a well-appointed foot- she does have good taste in shoes- tapping, ever so slightly, the embellished edge of that new cheese platter.

“This is going to be tougher than I thought…again,” I quietly lamented.

And then….

Yellow!!!!! I woke up yellow!!!!! It was the tip of 2016. I was still rolling with 2015. The Resolution Fairy had barely left. I was still finding her snarky looks peering around the edges of the notebook I was recording her yearly visit in when….I woke up yellow!!!!!

I take care of myself with clean food-even the disputed cheese is infested with nature, not additives-and clean supplements and herbs…oops. Clearly, that herb was not clean enough as it spread havoc within my innards like a stealth bomber until….Have I told you I woke up yellow?

So I spent the year de-yellowing, de-traumatizing and de-lighting my inner resources.

New Year’s Eve and Last Night of Chanukah 2016

Okay, well here we go again. There is still cheese, but I am chasing it down with beet juice in my finest wine glass, of course.

“I’ll show her,” I thought.

Despite the year I have had, I still believe in the aesthetic life. Beauty and necessity can partner and sustain an ideal. Beauty adds to living. It does not diminish moral values or actions. And this year was filled with moral and immoral actions on a grand and global scale.

Now it was my turn to tap my feet. My Resolution Fairy was later than usual. Was she having too good a time outraging someone else?  I decided that when she heard about my very colorful year, we would have something to celebrate. Maybe she would forgo the blasts of eyeball and snorts, and cheer me on for once. I decided to bring out my good port and long unused antique port glasses to mark the occasion.

While my head was stuck in the china cabinet, which had gotten scarily dusty during my year hiatus, I heard a tenor toned yelp and then I heard a crash. “Oh, this does not bode well,” I said to myself. Perhaps she had as tough a year as I did. I wondered if she ever takes broken resolutions personally, or is her not so veiled disdain the answer to my question. I guess if I were in her position, I might get a little cranky myself.

So I walked into the living room bearing a shiny grin and crystal glasses when I was stopped short in my reverie. My eyes were filled with the most disheveled and frayed creature I ever could have imagined would share space on the celestial pod, or wherever fairies and their like live.

I never could get a clear answer out of my R.F.; who absolutely abhorred when I called her that. The only thing she ever said was not to be too surprised, as she was when she started this gig, with the motley crew that any group of beings can include, emphasis and eye-jab on ‘any’ pointing toward me, as I recall. But I think I also recall just a wee smile from her.

“You’re not my Resolution Fairy,” I said as he unraveled himself from my curtains.

“May I help you?” I continued. “You seemed to be lost.” But my eyes were stuck on permanent open because I didn’t want to lose any part of this sight.

“I’m not lost at all,” he said. “I’m taking over some of her cases this year’s end eve.”

And then I blinked…a lot. “Cases?  Is that what I am…stop…A mess to be managed…stop… Well, harrumph to you!” I screamed inside my head.

I probably looked like I was practicing Morse Code.

“Overrun we are, with the most recent of hatchling resolutioners. Oh, and by the by, she most dislikes when you call her R.F.”

“Well, if Yoda channeled Shakespeare, it would be you; and yes, I know she does not like it,” I replied while chomping on some much needed cheese, as I was left famished by all that blinking.

“Who are you then? You certainly don’t look like a fairy.”

Not that I had a hold on what all fairies look like, but I presumed they all at least had wings, and this creature was as close to the ground as one could come.  He held onto whatever he could find as if he were in the constant possibility of landing face down on whatever surface was beneath his odd little shoes. Nope, not a fairy.

“I am merely a fraction of a most large spirit beast such that holds time.” He was off and unwinding like a too tightly wound pocket watch.

“How I lament, with every pass of moment, the waste of chance, oh sorry humanity, you had, to make time move toward something of bounteous conflagration of wills and ways. Verily, oh, woe to me, who feels you swat me like a fly.” His flailing arms could hold him no more. His center of gravity lost to his grave words, and with that, he fell over flat.

“Please forgive my outward passion. I have not been ‘on the job’, as you say, since William penned himself to history.”

“Holy crap,” I thought. “You have been retired that long? We must be in bad shape if they pulled you out of the Globe. Here is some mead for you then,” I said leaning down to floor level.

“I know what port is,” he sniped. “Gimme that,” and he grabbed the bottle.

We spent the rest of his time with me, as he did have other ‘cases’ to see, discussing the dawning awareness of the political imperative to action, drinking beet juice and port; well he had the port and almost all of the cheese, laughing and crying and basically charming the hell out of each other.

We agreed that the only resolution anyone needs to make this year is to keep moving forward, if that is already what you do; and for the new resolutioners, to begin to move forward. For those of us in the first group, I also suggest that we add another to our list. We will keep motivating all of us and mentoring the newly awakened ones.

To you all, I offer my new friend’s last words, borrowed from his old friend.

All days are nights to see till I see thee

And nights bright days when dreams do show me thee.’ ( William Shakespeare Sonnet 43)

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