Movement and Change

We enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving Day, and now, I softly percolate the day after.  The hills were green, and the sky magnificent with clouds and light as we drove south, and then, freezing temperatures brought us all inside to feast.  Now, I’m home aware that there’s one more day in November, and then we enter December, the last month of this year.

There’s a sense of pause and then a leap toward transformation and change.

In Chinese mythology, the Dragon’s Gate is located at the top of a waterfall cascading from a legendary mountain.  If a carp makes the jump at the top of the waterfall, it becomes a dragon.  

I’m reminded of a story I love, The Reluctant Dragon, written by Kenneth Grahame, and published in 1898.  A young boy meets a poetry-loving dragon and they become friends.  When the dragon is discovered by the local people, they call St. George in fear, and ask him to come and destroy the dragon.  

When St. George arrives, the boy introduces him to the dragon, who is not inclined to fight. The two decide to stage a fight.  The dragon is given an imaginary wound, and declared reformed by St. George. The people accept the reformed, poetry loving and peaceful dragon.

Tonight, I sit contemplating. What do I want and need in this upcoming last month of the year? I’m inspired to leap to the top of my waterfall dreams, and become what streams a fire of peace, poetry, connection, friendship and ease.  

Blessings on this Day

I was raised that Thanksgiving was about the Native Americans helping those who came to their land to survive.  It was about giving, sharing, relationship, and fragility.  

Today I read that President Lincoln first declared Thanksgiving a holiday because he felt the nation had been blessed in fighting for freedom during the Civil War even though it was still going on.

President Roosevelt changed the date so there would be more time to shop before Christmas.  Read this and laugh at how silly we are:  

https://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2019/11/28/when-president-roosevelt-tried-to-save-christmas-and-america-ended-up-with-two-thanksgivings/#344dfcdd53fe

For me, it’s a day to come to peace, to savor and rest, gather and feast, and it’s not just one day; it’s more.   

Thanksgiving Eve

I rise at five, make two pie crusts for pumpkin pies, and place them in the fridge to meld before I roll them out.  

Then I mix sugar, spices, eggs, pumpkin, and evaporated milk.  One pie is in the oven and the other will go in soon. I make cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries, spices, sugar, and orange juice.  Cranberries pop with heat. Yum! Yum!

The house is smelling like pumpkin, cranberries, and because I always buy an evergreen wreath before Thanksgiving and hang it inside, fresh pine.

I walk outside.  Rain in the night brings forth sweet smells.  I’m alive with gratitude and trust that this time of harvest can focus on gathering and harvesting ease, connection, love, and peace.

Free-range Children

Yesterday I’m sitting by the bay when four children pass by – four boys.  They are serious, and the older one is explaining how to catch fish. The younger ones ask questions.  This is serious play.  

I don’t know why they aren’t in school but I’m grateful they aren’t.  They don’t catch any fish while I’m there but that’s not the point.

A seal frolics; boats pass, and birds float and fly.  Peace twines.  

Trees

In Timothy Egan’s book, A Pilgrimage to Eternity, he writes of walking through a section of the Via Fancigina where trees are revered.  

I love this passage.

The people of Lazio have long known that trees have feelings.  Recent studies suggest that many species experience pain, communicate with one another, send out distress signals, and lead complicated sex lives. None of this is a surprise to the forest dwellers of Etruria.  Every May, a Wedding of the Trees takes place atop nearby Mount Fogliano in front of thousands of dancing women and men. Two sturdy hardwoods, chosen for outward virility, are draped in ribbons and garlands, and sealed for life by a priest. The marriage is notarized, a way to ensure leafy fidelity through troubled years ahead. The union is pagan in origin, though that hasn’t kept the monks who live in a local nearby monastery from blessing the entire event.”

Last week I was in Mill Valley watching as trees were decorated for the Holiday season.  We embrace many traditions this time of year.  

Remember the words of Maya Angelou:

“Survival is important, but thriving is elegant.”

Draping Lights for the Holidays

Listen!

I walk outside at 5:30 this morning.  Stars are shining and an owl hoots.

I come inside to be with Tiger and Bella who are grateful the heater is running.

It’s the week of Thanks Giving – giving thanks.

I finished Timothy Egan’s book last night, A Pilgrimage to Eternity, about his pilgrimage on the Via Francigena, the path from Canterbury to Rome.

As I processed the book, I traveled in my dreams, trying new things.  I hit a home run though I haven’t held a baseball bat in years.

At the Abbey of San Caprasio, founded in 884, Egan asks Father Gilvanni Perini what kind of pilgrim stops at his outpost.  Father Perini responds that people are searching for something and they learn how to think clearly. He says people used to take a siesta in the afternoon.  Now they work, work, work, all the time. They don’t have time to think.

“Then they start walking on the Via Fancigena.  Now they have time. More time than ever in their life. They are not used to having time to think.  They are out of practice. A lot of people on the Via, they won’t even go into a church. They say that they’re walking to practice mindfulness.”  He stifles a chuckle. “Mindfulness.  They used to call it living.”

And in the Cathedral of Santa Margherita, the author has an experience I won’t describe, but it makes one wonder, or believe more firmly in what surrounds us, in more than we usually see.  

The book honors kairos time, which opens a door to forgiveness, as it’s not linear time, but a time for action. What can release?

And these words “The way is made by walking. There is no way,” seem to be attributed to a great many, which may serve to thread the universality of giving steps to land.

Savor this week of gathering. Step out of linear and into kairos time.

Receiving

I spent yesterday with new grandchild.  Mainly I sat and held him, and looked into his eyes, and watched him sleep.

What is the enchantment of a new being in one’s arms?  It’s incomprehensible that such a being exists, such a culmination of evolution, and combining of generations from the past.

I’m with these words of Pir Elias Amidon:

 Every time you think you’ve got it, it goes.

    Every time you let it go, you’ve got it.

Lately, there’s something in me knowing the words of Rilke are so true.

How surely gravity’s law,

strong as an ocean current,

takes hold of the smallest thing

and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing—

each stone, blossom, child—

is held in place.

Only we, in our arrogance,

push out beyond what we each belong to

for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered

to earth’s intelligence

we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves

in knots of our own making

and struggle, lonely and confused.

So like children, we begin again

to learn from the things,

because they are in God’s heart;

they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:

to fall,

patiently to trust our heaviness.

Even a bird has to do that

before he can fly.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God