Spinning My Wheels

I want to post a blog touching on one of my usual themes—wonder, creativity, humor—but today those feel a little scarce. Well, I do feel wonder as I sit today in this blizzard, the worst I’ve seen in many years.  And in mid-April yet. I know a few of you are living where spring has indeed arrived. I hope you are full of renewed energy. For us in the Midwest, not much has changed for the better in the outer world in the past two weeks, when I wrote about struggling to find my patience. Now that impatience–for spring, for positive change, inside and out–feels more discouraging than angry. I feel kind of muffled and mired, able to do all the necessary daily tasks but lacking the will and energy to do the many things that would probably lift my spirits and vitality. Or maybe just feeling tired of doing them all winter and wanting a change. Wanting the sensual contact with nature that spring brings. The grounding. The joy. I wrote this poem several years ago, but it feels appropriate today as I realize what’s missing right now (not all of which involves springtime): Groundless  For too many days now I have not danced, tickled spritish spirit with leaps and twirls, or dissolved, exhilarated, in sunshine splash, been pricked awake by gusty winds or cardinal call, clutched rainbow blossoms to my greedy nose, or burned to merge with musk and sweat.   Too many days since I have sought the dark, ventured in, with quiet breath, pen in hand, to listen and dictate whisperings wild.   begin—stop—veer—clunk! rattle!–turn back–...

Pele’s Cauldron

Today I’ve been thinking about Kilauea, the volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii that’s been reshaping the island’s terrain continuously since 1983. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because I was there around this time last year… Perhaps because thinking about something red hot feels good after a long cold white winter… Perhaps the approaching spring equinox brings the volcano to mind, since they are both about transformation and new beginnings, and not always pretty, at least at first… Perhaps  I need to be reminded that the blaze of Creation is a deeper, more powerful fire than the smoky flame of anger and conflict we contend with constantly these days… Perhaps I simply miss Pele. Here is a poem I wrote in 2010, after seeing the glowing caldera of Kilauea—the realm of the goddess Pele–at night for the first time.   Halema’uma’u   She is there, stirring fire in Her enormous cauldron, simmering stew, plume of sulfurous breath rising, glowing, blood red in the black night, a primordial witch’s kettle visible for miles.   “Stare—admire me—be afraid of me if you must. You think me wild and dangerous. I am and I have been so since the beginning of time. But—kinswoman—so are you. You, too, kindled by subterranean shifts fanned by passion and instinct fire up your cauldron simmer what is needed and when it is time, burn away the obsolete to forge the new. Fire to flesh to fire to flesh . . .   You know this. Live it.”   Have you seen Halema’uma’u caldera? At night? What are you forging in your cauldron of creation? (Photo...

Minnesota November

Dusk descends early on this cold, gray cloudy November day. All day I needed the lamplight next to my chair to read, and now I spread the wool throw over me. Halloween/Samhain/All Soul’s Day ushered in the dark time, a reminder of death and ancestors, of mystery and shadow. In November, as bony trees appear, cold deepens and days become shorter and cloudier I sink into that bleakness, become more subdued, sleep more, dream more vividly, move more slowly. I make things in my home warmer and softer. I gather blankets and also thoughts, pondering the past, considering the future. And sometimes I just sit and stare at the brown landscape, or let my thoughts wander as I doodle. At least, I do these things when I can. My body and soul, embedded in the natural world, want me to do these things at this time. Yet end of year tasks natter at me (making charitable donations, health insurance choices, purchases needed before winter), as well as activities connected to the holidays (baking, cooking, sales and gift shopping, decorating, attending concerts, shows and parties). My rebellious heart cries NOT NOW! These things jar and distort the contemplative energy I feel in November and December. I love Thanksgiving because it can be a quiet feast with close friends and family, acknowledging our interdependence, expressing gratitude for being alive and for all those who support us in cold, dark times. Also harmonious with this season is a winter solstice gathering honoring insights gained from our time in the dark and celebrating the eventual return of the light. But the last thing...

Ants in the Sun

Don’t you love how when you’re really tired, that’s when you slam your hand in the car door, or trip and bruise your knees (or break a bone), or forget to make that important phone call, or burst into tears when your coffee cup dances off the table and smashes on the floor— Or when you roll over onto your glasses (glasses which you virtually NEVER take off), distorting and cracking the frame beyond repair. As I did last night. Every year the days of spring and early summer take me by surprise. I imagine they will be soft and delicate like the earliest spring blossoms, but instead they abound with splashy color– end of school celebrations and graduations, weddings, outdoor social events, and frenetic gardening… in addition to all the usual activities of daily life. While the flowers simply bask and stretch out luxuriantly in the warm sun, we humans run around like ants, as if the sun were a stick poking into our hill. I’ve also had travels, funerals and grief over world events, so I am too tired right now to write many more words. I hope you are not so tired. I intend to take the advice of this poem, The Word, by Tony Hoagland to heart, and perhaps you need it too: Down near the bottom of the crossed-out list of things you have to do today,   between “green thread” and “broccoli” you find that you have penciled “sunlight.”   Resting on the page, the word is as beautiful, it touches you as if you had a friend   and sunlight were a present he...

A Solstice Prayer

Our lives and hearts are so full right now, for so many reasons, personal, global and seasonal. I prepare for holiday celebrations, but my heart has few words. It craves solitude, silence and stillness. Between errands and phone calls I stare at the Christmas tree. As we approach the longest night of the year, I offer these words by Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Prayer for Remembering Where to Stand in the Winds   Creator, please let me not be a weather vane turning and jerking this way and that whenever the wind blows, allowing me no rest for long, in any direction.   Creator, let me be blessed instead, to be   the old lighthouse keep who stays and stays under the wide sky and with the long view,…   Please help me be the old one who cleans the glass daily, stokes the fire beacon nightly, and no matter how winds blow, the Light I’ve tended, will steadily flow over the tempest waters, and no matter how winds blow, the Light I’ve tended, will steadily flow over the calms.   May your holidays be joyous and nourishing. May you tend your light with gentle care. (I’d love to hear how you are doing this, if you are willing to share.) If you want to see a short video showing the rising sun on the winter solstice entering Newgrange, the 5000 year old passage tomb in Ireland, click here. I have found laughter helps keep my inner light shining.  For a chuckle, here are some amusing winners in  the “Comedy Wildlife Photography”...

The Creepy and the Cozy

I like to decorate my home to reflect the seasons. A couple weeks ago I put away the exuberant summer accents—flowers, birds, symbols of growth and play—and brought out those that reflect fall in the Midwest. Last night I put up the Halloween decorations. Yesterday my house had a peaceful, autumn-earthy, cozy feel. Today the serenity is interrupted by bursts of the odd, the creepy and the orange (which clashes with the abundant cherry red in my home). I wasn’t going to; it takes time to haul out the boxes and select and place my adornments, my kids are grown and gone, and most of the neighbor kids have also grown up. But I never thought Halloween was “just for children.” Beyond costumes and candy, to me the holiday expresses changes in the earth that happen only this time of year. Changes that I think are worth noting and pondering. By late October images of golden harvest and crimson autumn leaves don’t tell the whole story. Halloween decorations reflect the apparent death of plantlife, increasing darkness, active night creatures, and the spookiness of the unknown and unseen that darkness seems to bring. Though adding the creepy to the cozy may feel a bit jarring at times, to me the house is more alive, more real, since I did. My decorations generally are not Disney-esque, smiling costumed children and cute animals devoid of anything dark or scary. Nor do I use the gory decorations so in vogue these days: the dripping hatchets, bloody bandages and body parts, bodies hanging in nooses. Or motion activated ones that scream and howl. Given the...