This time of transition continues. Tomorrow is the Epiphany, a Christian holiday, and yet I feel the need for some honoring of change from December to January, especially this year, when all is so unsettled and strange.
This offering from Jan Richardson comes my day today. She writes:
There is a custom, rooted in Ireland, of celebrating epiphany (January 6, which brings the christ- mas season to a close) as women’s christmas. called Nollaig na mBan in Irish, women’s christmas originated as a day when the women, who often carried the domestic responsibilities all year, took epiphany as an occasion to celebrate together at the end of the holidays, leaving hearth and home to the men for a few hours. celebrated particularly in county cork and county Kerry, the tradition is enjoying a revival.
whether your domestic commitments are many or few, women’s christmas offers a timely op- portunity to pause and step back from whatever has kept you busy and hurried in the past weeks or months. as the christmas season ends, this is an occasion both to celebrate with friends and also to spend time in reflection before diving into what this new year will hold.
The women’s christmas retreat is offered in that spirit. within these pages is an invitation to rest, to reflect, and to contemplate where you are in your unfolding path. Mindful of those who traveled to welcome the christ child and who returned home by another way, we will turn our attention toward questions about our own journey.
My father died 52 years ago today in an accident. I was in Mexico City and had to return on a busy holiday weekend. The American Embassy stepped in to get me on a plane. Tears come even now. Though our cells change, live and die, something of grief and shock is held and brought forth at different times of year.
For me, each year since I was 19 I’ve honored this day, this drawing forth of a new year even as there’s pain. I know it is to balance the fullness of living, to follow the path, the passage of each breath.
Each breath, in and out – like a kiss –
It’s raining today as it did after both my parent’s deaths.
I have to admit that this with Trump continues to shock me, to shake my inner being.
My father was a B-17 pilot in WWII. Shot down, he was in a prison camp in the north of Germany and yet he never judged the guards. He knew, they, like him, were caught in a segment of history. When a group of them tried to escape and were captured, the punishment was standing in isolation, in water, underground, and again no comment or complaint. My mother only overheard it when one night her brother and my dad were discussing what they endured during the war.
My father was a life-long Democrat and yet could argue both sides with my uncle who was a Republican. I can’t imagine what either of them would think of this, of the lies and threats. This isn’t about political parties. It’s about morality and ethics.
I listen to rain’s soft drops, come to Mark Nepo’s Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What Is Sacred and read that there are over seven thousand living languages on Earth. Might there then be seven thousand ways to listen.
I pause, welcoming and allowing breathing to flow. Tissues wake and skin tunes. Reception opens antennae like eyes.
[We] will not perish for want of information;
but only for want of appreciation … What we lack is not
a will to believe but a will to wonder …. Reverence is one
This year we have a celebratory day and then a weekend of transition, and where I live it’s raining, another gift.
I’m with these words of Rumi as I absorb entry into receiving this bold and tender offering to begin.
What in your life is calling you, when all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned… the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest… what still pulls on your soul?
What still pulls in my soul? I’m reminded of Rilke:
I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
And for further guidance I lean into the breathing path of Thich Nhat Hanh!
I rise early, exhilarated by the excitement of New Year’s Eve. I go outside to walk forgetting my mask which is a luxury and doesn’t matter as no one else is out except the moon, birds, and squirrels. Moon is still shining in the sky, but is shy about having her picture taken, so her bright light isn’t coming through in the photo. I’m grateful to live on a planet with a moon.
It’s a day to look back over the year and years, as we mobilize to meet this new year with optimism, trust, and an “Is that so?” greeting of Hope.
A good friend of mine said, “You are married to sorrow.” And I looked at him and said, “I am not married to sorrow. I just choose not to look away.” And I think there is deep beauty in not averting our gaze. No matter how hard it is, no matter how heartbreaking it can be. It is about presence. It is about bearing witness. I used to think bearing witness was a passive act. I don’t believe that anymore. I think that when we are present, when we bear witness, when we do not divert our gaze, something is revealed—the very marrow of life. We change. A transformation occurs. Our consciousness shifts.
This morning I went through photos and videos of my grandson and his cousin taken as their families have gathered together so these two beautiful, loving, and generous children can see, touch, play and be with another person their age – 14 months. Their smiles and innocence are enchanting – pure bliss.
I then read Heather Cox Richardson on the Massacre at Wounded Knee, December 29, 1890, so not so long ago..
How to hold it all?
On our local Next Door is a post with a photo of two empty toilet paper rolls. The sign says “free toilet paper seeds”.
Muriel Ruekeyser wrote: Nourish beginnings. The blessing is in the seed.