Gratitude

My young friend Katie Zarling Buono, well, the age of my sons,  survived an unbelievably challenging bone marrow transplant, and is a wonderful wife, mother, teacher, and human being.

She posted this today on FB:  Finally sitting down to do grading and I find myself getting tearful in that joyful, grateful, utterly verklempt way. I’m so proud of my students and all they’ve endured this year… One writes as part of their reflection: “I learned that I get uneasy around the unknown. I like certainty; however, during this process, I realized that I have to push myself even if I am not 100% positive the project will go perfectly.” Isn’t that just the key to it all? Learning to deal with uncertainty and moving forward regardless? Damn. If this is the only thing my students learn from me, then I’m happy.

I’m happy there are teachers like Katie.  My understanding is that teachers for K to 12 are essential workers and will get the vaccine soon.  It’s always a time of transition between Christmas and New Years, and this year feels even more clear.  

We open gratefully and with necessity and resilience to uncertainty,  stretch, and change.

Morning Crow

Light

For me, the day after Christmas is the beginning of the New Year.  It sparkles with new light, the light of possibility and beckoning what comes, or maybe not beckoning simply allowing the grace of embrace.

John Lewis is a light for this morning.  


And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.

Leaves fall so we can see –
Morning gathering of crows in the Redwood tree

A Christmas Gift

One of my daughters-in-law, a doctor, got the vaccine today.  She got the notice late last night after our Zoom call where we opened gifts together.

I sit here now, so grateful. Tears came when I got the news.  She is a doctor in Santa Clara, not the safest place these days, but now we feel a level of protection, and realms of gratitude, and yes, she’ll still wear a mask.  

Four years ago, my husband was in the hospital at Christmas.  Not one’s choice but across the hall was a prisoner from San Quentin.  Though he was shackled, a guard was in the room with him, and another sat outside his door.  He didn’t look capable of escape though he was young, perhaps thirty.  

Everyone agreed that for Christmas the shackles would be removed, and he could take a shower.  We all rejoiced in this man’s shower.  

Those who worked those holidays, Holy days, volunteered so those with families could be home.  It’s a sacred time, as is every moment and day but something jingles more clearly this gathering time of year.

I continue to read Journey into the Whirlwind by Eugenia Semenova Ginzberg, about her 18 years of unjust imprisonment in insane times in Russia.  And the rain pours down.  I’m gratefully embraced.

Christmas Morning!

Last night, I lit candles, made a fire, and opened a bottle of wine. Neighbors across the valley put on a light show. We opened gifts with our family on Zoom.

This morning I rise early and as the day comes to light, there’s pink in the sky. Outside, taking pictures, drops of rain fall, and as I turn, a rainbow in the sky.

We are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us.  
– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Looking East at 7:28:26 AM
Looking West at 7:28:39 AM

Christmas Eve Eve

I like to leave this day open to reflect.  I honor the solstice pause.  On December 21st, the sun, that appears to us to stop moving southward, pauses, and then moves northward.  

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words “sol” for sun, and “sisto” for stop.

Even as I pause, I feel myself “champing at the bit” to get back to “normal” in this new year.

My doctor daughter-in-law keeps cautioning we’re in this for a long while.  The vaccine requires two doses, so even when I qualify which is probably months away, I’ll still wear my mask and curtail my activities.  

I think in each of us, there is a felt sense of the change in light, and a movement toward the bud to ripen and grow.  I want to be the opened flower picking off the petals of my life to reach the fruit.  I think I’ve handled isolation reasonably well, but today I feel frisky.  I want to romp with family and friends.

And now I look up and a squirrel is running along the branches of the redwood tree outside my window.  Who wants to romp, squirrel or me?  And now I look at the trunk of the tree.  Let contentment root.  Birds are tweeting and threading movement in the sky.  There are no clouds today, and the blue seems still until a hawk, crow, raven, or vulture sweeps through.

May birth spin within!

Where’s the Squirrel? Hiding or scampered!

Bears

Perhaps it’s winter awareness of the night sky, but today my eye is drawn to the book Grrrrr, A Collection of Poems about Bears edited by CB Follett.  

Perhaps it’s also that bears are hibernating right now so something in their dreams growls in my heart.

Maybe all animals are asking us to come together and save their habitat.

In the book, Doug Peacock writes: The richest, most diversified grizzly bear habitats were found in the state of California … The only incontestable fact about California grizzly bears is that there aren’t any left.  We shot them all.

Tears come and then there’s a knock on my door – Tom and Maggie stand there, stand back, wearing masks, bearing a Christmas bag of homemade cookies. We used to go with them to cut our Christmas tree, now we stand back and exchange.

This is hard.  It’s Christmas and we can’t see family and friends.  May we all unite in gazing up at the sky tonight.   Maybe we’ll see bears!

One of three Christmas Bears gracing my fireplace.

Imagination

We’ve now slid into the excitement of the December equinox with the addition of two planets coming together to form a star.  I’m taking the meeting as an omen, as I dance and prance on these words of Albert Einstein.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

That’s my guiding star for the day.

Sky last night

Solstice

In the northern hemisphere, it’s the shortest day of the year.  For me, it’s a day to balance on light and dark.  What calls me now?  What paths open before me, and yet, as Antonio Machado wrote in “Traveler, your footprints”: 

Traveler, your footprints

are the only road, nothing else.

Traveler, there is no road;

you make your own path as you walk.

As you walk, you make your own road,

and when you look back

you see the path

you will never travel again.

Traveler, there is no road;

only a ship’s wake on the sea.

“only a ship’s wake on the sea.”

Last night I watched the movie “Within the Whirlwind”.  I plan now to read the book.  It puts what we’re going through into perspective.  It’s a true story with a happy ending.  

It’s a powerful look at how we meet what comes, no matter how horrific, painful, unfair, and unimaginable.   

As we stand on the cusp of a new year, I’m with these words of T.S. Eliot:

For last year’s words belong to last years language

And next year’s words await a new voice.”

How do rocks meet the sea?

Winter Morning

It’s still dark this morning and I revel in the velvety folds.

A friend’s dog was put to sleep on Friday.  Her pain and the loss are with me.  We may jokingly say, “A dog is man’s best friend,” but it’s true.  My two cats are sensitive to the loss, extra sweet and cuddly.  We don’t know what surrounds the love we share.

I read Heather Cox Richardson every morning.  Today I am struck by what President-elect Biden’s nomination of Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior means. 

Richardson writes: 

Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people who have lived in the land that is now New Mexico for 35 generations. She is the daughter of two military veterans. A single mother who earned a law degree with a young daughter in tow, she was a tribal leader focused on environmentally responsible economic development for the Lagunas before she became a Democratic leader. 

Her nomination for Interior carries with it deep symbolism. If confirmed, Haaland will be the first Native American Cabinet secretary and will head the department that, in the nineteenth century, destroyed Indigenous peoples for political leverage.

Richardson goes on to name the horrific ways the Native people have been treated, and how now we acknowledge and move forward for ourselves and the generations to come.

She continues:

The Interior Department today manages our natural resources as well as the government’s relationship with Indigenous tribes. Placing Haaland at the head of it is more than simply promoting diversity in government. It is a recognition of 170 years of American history and the perversion of our principles by men who lusted for power. It is a sign that we are finally trying to use the government for the good of everyone. 

“A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” Haaland tweeted after the announcement. “I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.” 

A new world struggles to be born.

And on our planet, tomorrow the light returns.   May that light shine in all ways.  

Stillness

As we approach the solstice, the words of T.S. Eliot guide me.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

The Dance