I wake with elves dancing in my chest and stars twinkling in my ears. I believe in Santa Claus, in love, giving, receiving, and peace. We can have this when we pause for a moment, and before we know it, each pause is fully aired with love, gratitude, and peace.
May we each radiate in ourown precious and only in this moment, startling and momentous ways.
I learned about Commonweal years ago when a good friend had cancer. I’ve loved Rachel Naomi Remen’s books for years. Today I quote from an interview with her in the Commonweal newsletter on A Life with Purpose.
She says, “My grandfather believed that each of us has a holy purpose and that we fulfill this purpose in many ways – through our relationships, our families, our careers, or just on some street corner somewhere. We may fulfill our life purpose simply by something we say to some stranger on a bus.”
She continues on speaking of collective purpose which has a Hebrew name, Tikkun Olam, which translates as the word service.
“One of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, writes about this in his book Cat’s Cradle. According to Vonnegut, God has organized the world into working units called Karasses. A Karass is a group of people who have been born to serve one of God’s holy purposes without ever knowing. Their lives and their work may bear no outward relationship to one another. No matter. They serve their holy purpose together perfectly. Vonnegut says the members of a Karass circle around their holy purpose like electrons circle the nucleus of an atom. Some orbit very close to the nucleus. Others orbit at a great distance. But all are bound to their holy purpose by spiritual bonds, bonds of the soul. Those who orbit very close to the nucleus may be friends or even a married couple. But most others are total strangers: people whose lives and work seems to bear no relationship to one another, people of all ages who speak different languages and have different religions, people who will never meet or have any awareness of one another. Yet their lives fit together in service to their holy purpose. Vonnegut contrasts this to the Grandfaloon, the way human beings organize the world. The people in a Grandfaloon think they are related to one another but actually have no relationship to one another at all; for example, the Yale class of 2003 or any professional sports team anywhere.”
She continues: “According to Vonnegut, should you have the good fortune to meet a member of your Karass, you feel a sort of deep recognition that you can’t explain, a sense of bondedness, a feeling that this other person is truly family.”
This is the third Sunday of Advent and that has meaning for some. The day is softly coming to light.
I look up the meaning of advent, and come to “coming”. I find myself coming to the word adventure, a place we come to explore and discover. We each have our own way to worship. For me, it’s something deeply inner I’ve always felt and known.
I watch the sun rise and feel that rising in my chest. It’s a new day.
I’m reading The Power of an Open Question by Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel. She begins the book with her experience of rock-climbing in Colorado. She quickly learns rock-climbing forces her to pay attention. She has to notice “shallow patterns and textures in the rocks”.
She says “Hanging off a rock is an exaggerated experience of facing the unknown.” “When we can’t find a foothold, the mind falls into an open stillness – the same-open stillness we encounter in any situation in which we lose our familiar points. If we have the wherewithal to relax, we find our way.”
Knowing one can’t hang there forever, “we work with our own fear and slowly soften. Now, this is the fascinating part: as we soften, we notice all kinds of new patterns and shapes emerging from the rock. We see places to balance we didn’t see before. We’re not doomed after all. As we soften and open, we access a special intelligence, unimpeded by habitual, reactive mind.”
For me, this time of year allows that. It’s a time to notice and receive.
Softening like wax warmed by flickering flame, I look for new patterns and textures to open and touch like treasure chests.What invites me now?
I wake aware of feeling like a pillow of silk sewn together to hold fine sand that’s been lifted to fall and fill with air between each beautiful and powerfully contained grain.
It’s the time of year to even more gently and tenderly allow the particles and waves of gratitude to coalesce and flow through.
On Saturday I learned a friend was ill, very ill, and I was struck, penetrated by daggers of sorrow. My web of connection had a tear, but it wasn’t a tear. It was a re-weaving and she is fine now but even so it comes back to how we meet what comes, how we come together and apart all the time. I’m feeling even more clearly how the point is to receive, balance, and in healing, radiate our own powerful and unique force.
Yesterday I was in a larger grocery store than my usual one. I stood still in awe, over and over again. Piles of apples and pears. Rows of cooked food, prepared, a bakery, lines of meat, fish, chicken. The back row of this huge store is lined with dairy products, different kinds of milk, eggnog, eggs, sour cream, butter, cheese, cottage cheese. I’m not sure why it struck me so clearly yesterday but it did. Perhaps it was because I’ve been reading of walking the Camino in Spain and food is not guaranteed. One must allow the stomach to rumble and contract, and here I was in a place of gathering where food, wine, and decorations are abundant in offering and display.
I had come from meeting a friend for breakfast, so was full, full in all ways of fullness, and perhaps that allowed a deeper appreciation for what is here.
We are connected, and again, perhaps the emphasis is deeper now as the days come to darkness, and we celebrate each in our own way, together or apart.
Blessings bind us when we feel the grains of sand we are, as we come together and part, like sand in silk.
It’s Saturday. I rose at 5, and looked for the moon, but she was tucked in fog.
I sat on the couch with Tiger and Bella, a blanket over my lap, and closing my eyes felt them moist and expanding, cells like wands.
I fell asleep to wake from a vivid dream. A window was open and that made sense since in the dream it was the room where my brother passed away. I picked up wet sheets and pillowcases, and rocks fell out, and feeling what we leave behind, I burst into tears, and sobbed and sobbed. I thought I can’t stop no matter what, and then I woke up disoriented, wondering if the dream was telling me I haven’t cried enough tears, haven’t mourned enough.
I sit here now, the fog quiet and still. Early this morning, wind chimes sounded like church bells. I felt how when someone I love dies, this world seems like a matte painting, as though I’m missing something, which of course I am, but somehow today, there is fluidity and fullness in the layers, waves in the embodiment I seem to think I am.
A bison who lived in the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park died yesterday. 8-year old Brunhida had kidney disease.
I am with loss and change as I sink in and out of this beautiful poem by W.S. Merwin on gratitude and honoring thanks.
ThanksBY W.S. Merwin
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
On the fifty-fourth day of my brother’s passing, I look out on a morning, still, quiet. Overhead, in the distance a jet streams by in the blue. I picture people traveling from Asia getting ready to land. Sometimes I find it hard to hold in my head all the lifestyles on this planet, all those who travel and those who stay still.
A friend just spent five weeks on the island of Sardinia. She said the people there consider themselves a family, and families spend their days together. It’s hard to imagine where I live when there’s so much distance between families and ages. There, she said, you see children helping grandparents up and down steps. It’s not a duty; it is.
Families gather quietly together during the day, eat dinner around eight, and are all together in the market squares until eleven. How is it to live like that?
I don’t know but I do know we are on this earth as a family. How do we then more clearly honor and cultivate all the stages of life? As we explore the possibilities, perhaps we better understand what appears to be separation, as exchange, as we bind and unbind the passages and transformations that clasp and unclasp life and death.
I look at a rose, the grip of petals before they let go, feel the beat harvest gratitude in my chest.