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that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I call forth tears.
I am the yearning for good.
Hildegard von Bingen – circa 1140
My grief overflows at sunrise this morning. I find comfort today knowing that I am waiting in the same place as this remarkable woman, and being held by our same earth mother.
It has been a week of unimaginable chaos in this country after the inauguration of Donald Trump. It seems that anything I write will not even touch the acute heartbreak of our land. This is not “building,” this is willful destruction, a volcanic eruption, a tearing down of the foundational norms of human decency. By the time the book I am presently writing is published, history will have unfolded in ways beyond imagining. All we need is grace for today. This Sunday morning I light a candle from a deeper place, below the tears of outrage and sorrow lies a profound yearning for good. Without any shadow of doubt the Holy arises from there.
She has arrived in my garden as Great Blue Heron. She stands fishing in the water-garden – I witness her from my desk. Usually herons come silently; then flying off with a mighty stokes like an ancient pterodactyl. This juvenile is determined and curiously, she is clearly unafraid of me. I’ve been meditating on the round bench on the other side of the pond watching her fish. Completely mesmerizing. I have named her Hildegard because she has come as a visitation to teach me about the ‘greening’ of our lives. She arrived on the day when I am shattered about the decisions being made that threaten our global greening. She is a sent one – an angel shimmering in blue-grey feathers and dagger-like bill. We must hear her story.
The complicating thing is that our winter pond is now shrouded by a net, so after spearing a goldfish she must pry it up through a hole she is forced to make in the net. It’s double work – she must be hungry. Alas for the net, alas for the goldfish. She didn’t give a thank you for a few frozen shrimp I proffered. Part of me wants to shoo her away – “enough already my friend – don’t be greedy.” Another part of me knows she has more to say.
A shadow floats across us both and we both look up at the red-tailed hawk gyrating in slow circles above us. Now she flapping and poking her head into the leaves attempting to scare fish out into the open. I wonder what my role is today – is there really enough food to go around for all of us? Goldfish multiply fast but not with a resident hungry predator. The higher an animal is on the food chain the more thoughtful attention we as humans need to provide – so I’m opting to let her fish her heart out. Her dance is magnificent to behold. Maybe being a loving witness is the best I can be. No fixing this conundrum.
I know how environmentally disrupting nets and fences can be for a smooth-running ecosystem. I can’t even fathom what might occur if we built a wall across our southern border. Somehow all of us humans must learn the complicated art of compromise, learn to share a little bit more of our loaves and fishes, maybe work more than usual. Whatever -after all it’s only our lunch – and not our life.
Yesterday she held her place in the circle from our roof, as I write this moment she flew in again! Thank you Hildegard for your presence. The past, the present and thus hope for the future. Spirit arrives in flesh to remind us God is waiting here… with us. Immanuel alive in so many incarnate ways.
The pond is hard frozen like our president’s politics- I wonder how we all find our way together?
My grandmother’s heart overflows this morning, so it seems important to honor this moment in time with words. It is Jan 13, 2017, and a week today we will inaugurate a new president into the White House. With all the places I have lived, you probably don’t think of me as being a political kind of person, (your Pa speaks a lot more about that stuff usually), but I have decided to participate in the Women’s March on Washington, on the day after the inauguration.
So why does your nature-loving Nana who loves quiet, wilderness, and her own sacred garden want to hold signs and get exhausted feet tramping down city streets with thousands of people?! (Someone even told me I should wear diapers because there might not be enough places to pee – imagine!) What is it that we so urgently want this president and new government to know and care about?
I write to say – I am doing this on your behalf. I will march with your precious names physically written on my body and the names of every grandchild of every being on this planet will be on my heart. I want to stand up and prayerfully shout on behalf of every living eco-community/family on this precious earth – for all life. It’s a first for me to do this so visibly, but I’m convinced we are at a cross-roads. If we as humans don’t continue to make big changes in our lifestyles, values, and choices about how we treat our planetary home, your generation will pay a price that is impossible to imagine. As a woman, your own grandma, I know this.
We absolutely must learn to more deeply honor our Earth mother. If we reverse the caring, respectful flow that has begun nationally and globally, then you children will suffer and see unimaginable years ahead. I won’t list every horrible result of our terrible ignorance and negligence – I actually resist how that fear paralyses us – but instead, for a moment, let’s imagine something completely wonderful together.
Think of each the amazing North American forests, deserts, mountains and oceans that our family have played in together. Imagine the fresh waters of the Canadian lake we have swum in every year. Conjure up images of all the magnificent African beasts that I have told you about, those ones I was raised with as my friends and wild family. Breathe – consider this air, the water you drink every day, the fresh veggies you helped me pick in my garden. Now stretch even farther to every tiny micro-organism we cannot see, and beyond, to the farthest star hidden behind sun. Imagine people across the globe of every color, poor people and people of power all linked like us, within relationship with their land and creatures, safe in their beloved places.
Stop for a minute. Now see this all together! Weave all this in fabulous color within your wildest imagination, with your most favorite music and then dance your butts off! Can you feel this intricate and unimaginably scintillating rainbow web of God-Spirit energy that keeps evolving; dying and giving birth, and in time forming precious brand new generations of human and other-than-human grandchildren. Awesome – eh?! (now there’s a perfect Canadian expression still left in me!)
Precious ones, I will walk on Saturday in this joy-filled hope and also in grief. I will shed tears of sadness that it has taken me, all us humans, so long to realize we are not at the center of all of this–and we sure have messed things up trying to be. Somehow it seems that women often find it easier to connect all the strands of these earthy dots, but it’s been very unnerving to hear our new president say he will use politics like scissors, to cut and shred many specific diverse filaments of this fragile web. How incomprehensibly ghastly. Maybe that’s why thousands of us want to show up in Washington to show how powerful we are when it comes to relationships. Nothing will stand in our way to preserve the peace and unity of our diverse Earth home. And, I know you’re with me in this – right?!
Your parents have taught you to be bold explorers and yet to tread gently on the earth. You know how to speak up for yourself, for justice and right actions for everybody, and above all I see how much you love all the God-Nature that is you.
Thank you for walking with me next Saturday. We all need your prayers that day. No doubt it will be a day to remember. I’ll be sure to tell you about it.
With all the love possible,
The sun has not yet risen and many of us have barely slept all night. We are witnesses to a seismic shift in our cultural tectonic plates and we have no idea what awaits us when the sun rises. Clearly a tsunami of change has rocked our world. This political result has overturned much of what we hold of value; like rag dolls our carefully ordered lives risk being shaken by every potential wind of change in the global aftershocks from this election. How will each of us find our way at sunrise? How do we hold true to our psychospiritual center of gravity as individuals and communities while our panicked political leaders freeze, react, and retreat from their personal injuries and perceived success?
Both grief and unbridled elation will roll in shock waves across the nation. Many will batten down the hatches inside and out and prepare for cultural war. Fear mongers will stockpile their arsenals of hate and the timid will be swept along blinded by the fury of the changing season. Clearly, it will be impossible to be a dispassionate witness in the days ahead. Like it or not, each of us is being offered the opportunity to engage wholeheartedly with whatever emerges. The lava and fires from this volcanic eruption will continue to devastate us, just as election process did, unless we find courage to take a fresh stand on the deck of our personal lives. We are being rudely pushed to be the change we desire, and at the same time feeling lost at sea, with many of our guiding lights blackened out. Where is true North?
We are clearly seeing an uncovering of the hidden sides of our humanity that our cultural selves have denied and repressed. How each of us finds our way through outrage and grief will be paramount to our healing as a nation, as a globe. Similar to what is happening out on the national stage, our egocentric selves have tried and true patterns of protection from shame, embarrassment, and the demonic hordes of anxiety that a storm such as this exposes. The good news is that each of us also has been hiding unrecognized gifts towards healing, potential for offering our uniqueness in such a time as this. As with any emergency, let us trust that the best in us will also arise.
There is no ‘one way’ answer this morning, but without a shadow of doubt, I offer that we still have all that we need despite our unhinged political world. Let each of us stop, look, and listen to the shift of awareness taking place inside ourselves. Maybe we personally need some lame-duck time before we rush out in response to rebuild. Maybe we need time in the cocoon of winter, to melt the bones of our old ideas and find a fresh dream that comes from the soul of this land, from the heart of our collective nature as human beings, from the core of Mystery.
A few words from Rilke arise this morning from his Book of Hours, II 1
You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing…
… You thought you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.
Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.
The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.
Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.