Right now a friend’s discarded shell of a body is being cremated at a nearby cemetery. I look into the air, receive transition, matter to air.
My neighborhood is decorated both naturally, berries on the trees, and with wreaths and lights. I love this time of year, the falling leaves juxtaposed with our, just like the trees, need and desire to open to light.
In his December newsletter, Michael Lerner from Commonweal called yesterday Wisdom Wednesday. I think of today as Tuning Thursday, tuning myself ever more delicately for this play of dark and light.
In his newsletter, Michael wrote: Many of you know that four months ago I had a major surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm at UCSF Medical Center. The surgery and the recovery have been a life-changing experience. I was catapulted into a new stage of life.
At 77 I am exploring in new ways the joys of what I could call active elderhood. I feel vital. I feel clear. After over half a century of thinking of myself simply as being useful, I am now discovering what it is like to take more time simply being.
Simply being – that is my tuning fork for this day.
It’s the first day of December, and those of us who love Advent calendars can open the first window. It’s also Giving Tuesday. We reflect on what moves and expands us as we choose what and where to share.
The fog floated in softly this morning. Yesterday I heard leaves falling. Today the tree is mainly bare, open to the light.
I’m with these words of Thich Nhat Hanh:
Not talking, by itself, already can bring a significant degree of peace. If we can also offer ourselves the deeper silence of not thinking, we can find, in that quiet, a wonderful lightness and freedom.
May this play of light and dark move in us like branches in the wind.
This full moon is known as the Beaver Moon because it’s cold and the time when beavers finish building their lodges to prepare for winter. In their honor, I put a second, heavier comforter on our bed.
I think of how devoted we are to our calendars when the weather and light let us know what’s happening. We’re releasing into the dark.
A friend passed away recently. She had fallen and found unconscious, had lost much of her memory but she lived in a sacred place and felt and could say her body was no longer serving her. She fell again and became more and more luminescent as she let go, each breath a journey to what comes next.
I think of her when I read these words of Alan Watts.
“You have to get away from all that madness for a while because we become insane, we get confused with our roles, as being who we really are. Man is not his role. Man is something deeper than that. So, go into the forest or some place ALONE in nature, all by yourself, and find out who you really are! And when you no longer confuse yourself with your particular temporary body, but identify with the entire process of nature and the whole cosmos… When death comes, what a funny thing that will happen. Death comes, and will find no one to kill.”
Today I’m with these words of Robin Wall Kimmerer.
“Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.”
This morning I rise and realize I’ve made 47 Thanksgiving dinners, 41 of them in this house. This day honors tradition so I use my father’s recipes and the pans my mother-in-law gave us almost fifty years ago.
Two onions and a bunch of celery simmer in two sticks of butter. Giblets and the neck simmer also. They’ll come together in the dressing and gravy. One kitty and I will split the liver, a once a year treat. When my mother was alive, that was hers.
The day is exquisite with blue sky and a high of 65 predicted.
In Heather Cox Richardson, I learn that Thanksgiving as we know it was introduced by Abraham Lincoln to heal the wounds of the American Civil War.
Thanksgiving is about unity, about coming together, though this year we are advised to do it virtually, and we will. I read that people who serve and have served in the military are upset with people whining over not being able to gather when they were often overseas for the holidays, many times year after year. This year we’re asked to come together, separately for the health and well-being of us all.
Heather Cox Richardson:
Lincoln established our national Thanksgiving to celebrate the survival of our democratic government.
Today, more than 150 years later, President-Elect Joe Biden addressed Americans, noting that we are in our own war, this one against the novel coronavirus, that has already taken the grim toll of at least 260,000 Americans. Like Lincoln before him, he urged us to persevere, promising that vaccines really do appear to be on their way by late December or early January. “There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on,” he said. “Don’t let yourself surrender to the fatigue…. [W]e can and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war. You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever.”
“Think of what we’ve come through,” Biden said, “centuries of human enslavement; a cataclysmic Civil War; the exclusion of women from the ballot box; World Wars; Jim Crow; a long twilight struggle against Soviet tyranny that could have ended not with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but in nuclear Armageddon.” “It’s been in the most difficult of circumstances that the soul of our nation has been forged,” he said. “Faith, courage, sacrifice, service to country, service to each other, and gratitude even in the face of suffering, have long been part of what Thanksgiving means in America.”
“America has never been perfect,” Biden said. “But we’ve always tried to fulfill the aspiration of the Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal….”
Biden could stand firmly on the Declaration of Independence because in 1861, Americans went to war to keep a cabal of slave owners from taking control of the government and turning it into an oligarchy. The fight against that rebellion seemed at first to be too much for the nation to survive. But Americans rallied and threw their hearts into the cause on the battlefields even as they continued to work on the home front for a government that promoted the common good.
There’s so much to be grateful for. Yes, there is controversy with this holiday and yet a day, a few days really if one is cooking, set aside, to give thanks. My turkey is soaking in a dry brine, and today I make pies, pumpkin and mincemeat. There may be only the two of us but Thanksgiving eve pie can count as dinner with a salad perhaps.
I believe pumpkin pie has all the nutrients we need except vitamin C and an orange can take care of that.
Today I’m with E.M. Forster:
What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind if they do not enter into our daily lives?
Fog enveloped our home this morning, and like a letter still closed, I reveled in the peace of enclosure. Now the sun slants in such a way I see wires across the way I never noticed before. Light is such a powerful presence these days.
I read that turkeys are bred for slaughter, so even when the president pardons a turkey, the turkey dies soon after. It seems a lose-lose for turkeys, though the ones who wander around our neighborhood seem to do fine with their constant gobble-gobble as though you won’t catch me.
Today I felt my breath taking a ride on the blood, as I suppose it always does but today I noticed and was reminded of what my brother said once about a “rodeo snail”. I’m slowing for the holiday, grateful I’m not a turkey and grateful for the unity we come together to share. I miss my mother, father, and brother even more this time of year, as though they are sliding closer on the increasing slant of light.
Yesterday I was at the playground with my one year old grandson. He loves to be pushed in a swing, and swooped down a slide. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling sparkly and twinkly as I rise and fall in the majesty of unifying my being in the glorious play of shadow and light.
Yesterday Miren Salmeron led a workshop on Sensory Awareness. Her intention was to explore the words of Pema Chodron: Peace and War begin in our hearts.
She led us to our navel, the place where we received nourishment in the womb. I saw myself tethered in space like an astronaut, tethered to a wider world, receiving nourishment. We speak of landing somewhere, and I felt myself as land and sea, as my own earth floating in a wider space.
I felt my heart held by my lungs, my heart nourished and supported as it rests on my diaphragm like a bird on a branch.
I felt my back open up, and even now there’s transparency, translucence.
What does this mean for my life? I’ll see what comes but in this moment gentleness comes to my lips and jaw, softness. I see the day come to light.
Yesterday I watched the light on the yellow leaves of the tree. This morning a different sense of light as it touches my skin and eyes, and massages my ears, nose, and feet.