Many of us were raised to look for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and sometimes it seems to set down on someone I know, but I read Ovid now and consider how gold might be spread, and how many transitions and levels there might be in each of us as we meet each moment as it comes.
The threads that touch seem the same, but the extremes are distant, as when, often, after a rainstorm, the expanse of the sky, struck by sunlight, is stained by a rainbow in one vast arch, in which a thousand separate colours shine, but the eye itself still cannot see the transitions. There, are inserted lasting threads of gold, and an ancient tale is spun on the web.
It’s Veteran’s Day, a day to bow our heads as we come to understand how to speak to each other in ways that open empathic threads as ways to connect.
I rise early, 4:15, and sit with what is circulating within and what might be brought forward and out.
My arms move upward and raise and lower like bird wings. Shoulder blades rise and fall, petals opening and closing in light and dark.
I’m with the words of Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet.
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror up to where you are bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead, here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.
It’s a weekend to give thanks, to celebrate and honor the service that leads to security, safety, and peace.
This comes from Writer’s Almanac today:
On this day in 1973, school officials in Drake, North Dakota, burned copies of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut had served in WWII, and he was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner in Dresden when the Allies bombed the city. For years, he tried to find a way to tell his story. Meanwhile, he went to graduate school in anthropology, worked at General Electric, got married and had three kids and adopted three more, and struggled to find his voice as a writer. His stories kept falling flat — too serious and straightforward. But finally he wrote his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five, which was published in 1969. It was extremely popular and for the most part it got great reviews, but it has been banned many times, for being obscene, violent, and for its unpatriotic description of the war.
In 1973, a 26-year-old high school English teacher assigned Slaughterhouse-Five to his students, and most of them loved it, thought it was the best book they had read in a long time. But one student complained to her mom about the obscene language, and that mom took it to the principal, and the school board voted that it should be not only confiscated from the students (who were only a third of their way through the book), but also burned. Many of the students didn’t want to give up their books, so the school searched all their lockers and took them, and then threw the books into the school’s burner. While the school board was at it, they decided to burn Deliverance by James Dickey and a short-story anthology.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote a letter to one of the members of the school board, and he said:
Dear Mr. McCarthy:
I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. […]
If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. […]
If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the education of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books — books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.
Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.
It’s the Saturday of a three day weekend, an honoring of veterans, of those who have served, and yet when I Google it, I see ads for sales. Might we have one holiday that isn’t about buying things we may or may not need?
I like to pause on a weekend like this, to reflect, and give thanks to those who’ve served, my father and grandfather among them. We are entering into a complex and deepening time of year. For Americans, there is Thanksgiving, and then holidays that are sacred for many. Certainly the Winter solstice affects us all as we honor the tilt on the earth’s axis that shifts, and for those of us in the Northern hemisphere begins the return back to light.
Today I’m with words from Richard Rohr.
Following Rupert Sheldrake’s invitation to practice relating with nature, take some time to simply be present to a flower, plant, or tree. After choosing a quiet location (or selecting a photograph or art image if you’re not able to go outside), look around, above, below, and behind you, enjoying the environment and noting that you can feel completely safe and relaxed in this place. Open to your intuition or to any image or sensation about what specific flower, plant, or tree you will spend some time with in contemplation.
Sit or kneel quietly nearby. As humans, we tend to be observers of the world that appears outside of us. Instead, allow the flower, plant, or tree to observe you. Let yourself be seen by this being. Or you might do like the mystics and have a dialogue with your flower, plant, or tree. If you like, you might keep a journal reflecting on your experiences or to express gratitude for any insights that might arise. To make this a regular “practice,” set aside a similar time of day at least once a week when you can visit this flower, plant, or tree.
I choose a Maple tree, well, two, actually three. I know they connect through their roots and processing of breath and air. I’ve been watching them carefully, as their leaves are changing rapidly, as the sun moves through the day, and some are beginning to darken, crinkle and fall.
I go outside and wait to receive. I’m touched – trees, leaves, roots, soil, air, me. All cycles in waving beams, all One.
My friend who worked in tech and then retired, is now teaching swimming to little people. She works with six month olds and their parents, and gives private lessons to children up to five years old.
Yesterday she was sharing the process and experiences, the different responses of children. Some love it; some cry, some say no to everything proposed, and some point out they already know the “right” way to do it.
What I’m entranced with is the process. With the six month olds, the baby is held by the parent and simply bobbed up and down, in the air, then, tippy-toed in a warm pool, up and down and then a little more. Before total immersion, water is poured over the head. Depending on the response, the child may be dipped more or less.
I’m with how we learn, how we come in contact with a new experience, and how this new experience might “extend our consciousness”.
Okay, so that thought comes from my teacher of Sensory Awareness, Charlotte Selver. In the book Waking Up by William Littlewood and Mary Alice Roche, Charlotte is quoted.
“What I want to say at the end is: you have all kinds of activities which are constantly happening.You eat, you lift your food to your mouth, and come down,you comb your hair, you brush your teeth, you do anything which belongs to daily living, and in all this you can practice. You can become more aware of when you are really allowing free contact with something or someone, and when you are constricting yourself and forcing something. I wonder who likes this extension of consciousness?”
Extension of consciousness – my intention is to notice, and with that, celebrate how easily a wall, or walls, might simply slip away.
My grandson has a new little cousin. Two new babies are in the world, well, more than that, of course, but my focus is on these two, a boy and a girl.
I’m also entranced with toes and feet. The toes on a baby’s foot are amazing, like little pearls, and yet, that foot won’t touch the ground for months. It feels like hallowed ground, and has me aware of my feet, and how I touch the ground.
I feel such reverence in my steps these days as though each one is a stone tossed in a pond rippling outward in circles. How carefully do I touch the ground with my 70 years?
What resonates in the meeting and all that’s involved in each step, that range of motion in each foot and ten delightful and delighted toes?
I am a swing, a merry-go round, a ferris wheel, a playground of excitement and moment to moment, and daily, yearly thrills!
I’m grateful for life, and the cycles that renew, grateful for expansiveness and the connective weave of breath.
My father loved to listen to symphonies but he also loved the marches of John Philip Sousa born today in 1854. My father was a faithful Democrat who piloted a B-17 in World War II. The plane was shot down over the border of Germany and Austria, and my father parachuted out to land in an apple tree on a farm in a little village which my husband and I later visited.
Some of the villagers saw him come down from the sky, and were still alive when I went to visit the village a few years ago. When they heard I was there, they ran to greet me, thrilled that when they handed him over to the SS, they hadn’t handed him over to death. He was transported by train to a prisoner of war camp in the north of Germany and survived.
I sit with that now, that village, and how my father’s ancestors may have come from that area. I saw men who looked like him, and now here we are, so divided and separated, when I truly believe that living comes down to that we love our children, and that includes all children, all new beings living and growing on this planet Earth.
I listen to Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. I tap my feet knowing this song resonates no matter what our political beliefs.
I read this today in Writer’s Almanac, and do a double-take at the year. Sousa said this in 1906. What would he think of technology today?
He was not a fan of the new recording industry and all its technology and spoke adamantly against it at a Congressional hearing in 1906: “When I was a boy … in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today, you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.”
I smile and lovingly tap my vocal cords, gums, teeth, and mouth as I connect to this new day which allows me to listen to different versions of songs, many of which are older than I. I curve to embrace what centers flow, the latest theme in my life.
I keep watching a video of grandchild working hard to crawl. Head is lifted; arms and legs are moving. It’s a heroic effort. His dad provides sound effects, and though his dad has made two great movies, this is clearly the best.
I’m inspired by this impulse to move, this impulse to stretch and explore. My heart is touched with thrust.
Two weeks old today, he’s on the move, filling my heart with Love.