The Week Between

I’m meeting with my web guru tomorrow to move all of this blog to the new website and to conquer the world of MailChimp so that newsletters from me can at last re-commence.  In the meantime, in this week between, I’m reposting a few Facebook thoughts for those of you who aren’t there.

I have mostly been baking and delivering apple butter today but have spent enough time here to feel the sense of some folks being overwhelmed by the season, awash in personal and cultural grief, trying to claw some joy from this season of returning light. I sat at my altar at mid-day, simply sat with a single candle burning. I counted from ten to one in Gaeilge, to see if I could. Then I dreamed a bit. In that dream, you were heavy but resilient. You were working to ground and to keep yourself and those you love shielded. You were paging through a seed catalogue and making a list. You were smiling, though the world holds chaos. You were confident, even as you kenned that the challenges would continue into the “new” year. You were strong, and loving, and whole. You were ready. We are ready. Let us together weave this new world, even as we midwife the old one through its transition.

In spite of the dour pronouncement of the “meteorologist” who is dressed like a sex worker, many of us don’t consider the Winter Solstice to be the beginning of Winter. Since Winter started for us at Samhaintide, we are looking at Midwinter. Just so’s you know.

Of course, I am contemplating the Wren Boys of Boxing Day and I am wondering what Wren Women would get up to. Thinking, thinking…obviously today, this Wren Woman is going to be sewing a shroud. But in 2016, when the Wren Women take to the high roads and by-roads, what shall we be doing?

I insist on six more weeks of luxurious endarkenment. I’m not coming out of my cave until Imbolc.

DSCN4047

A Blustery Day

Here in this blustery day, sit in silence for a few minutes (if you can) and listen to your breath. Let the wind spin the hamster-thoughts from your head and down the road. There is sorrow in the world, in your world. There is fury there, too. But this old Earth has seen so much violence and fury and sorrow. For today, I invite you to let it go and focus on the small and tangible graces before you. As Oriana proposed yesterday, practice kindness. Kindness to the Stranger. Kindness to the Other. Kindness to your Family, especially the ones who misunderstand and disrespect you. Kindness to the Earth. And give the Divines a break. For today, do your work, do it well, sleep the sleep of the just.

Homeliness Practice

Last night, in celebration of homeliness, I sat in a comfy chair, with a good light shining over my left shoulder and I read a book. The first chapter of “Linnets and Valerians” to be exact. There was some soft old jazz on the radio. The house was quiet.

I worked for about fifteen years in a bookshop. Those of you who are avid readers may think that is a dream job and in  many ways it was. But not in the way you might think.  It made me stop reading for pleasure.

I taught myself to speed-read many of the new arrivals so that I could give our customers a sense of what they were getting. They trusted us to steer them towards books they’d like and away from ones that weren’t to their taste. They knew we knew what they liked, our regular customers.  And we did.

It started with fiction. I found I couldn’t read it for fun, not even authors I really liked. Non-fiction was safe for a while because most of our customers were looking for recommendations on fiction. But after a decade, all reading was work.  I could write reviews–good and thorough reviews–quickly and efficiently, though I had spent little time with what makes reading a book an experience of beauty and power.

I haven’t worked in the shop since 2012 and I easily got back my ability to read non-fiction.  It helps in my own work, of course, so I enjoy it as well as benefitting from ingesting the materials.

So my homely goal for now is to re-learn the pleasure of reading a good story, of getting lost in strong characters that become people I know.

Soft jazz, a good light, a well-loved old book-friend.   I think I can do this.

In Praise of Homeliness

 

homely—simple, but cozy and comfortable, as in one’s own home; simple and unpretentious (Oxford Dictionary),   plain or ordinary, but pleasant

I have returned home from nearly a week away, not entirely unpacked, looking forward to routine reasserting itself in the morning. The satisfying click of the electric kettle means there will soon be a cuppa nettle tea, and a shortbread cookie. The thought of sleeping in my own bed tonight holds me in thrall as I mark the hours until bedtime.

My mail—yes, we still get mail hereabouts—held two cards from friends, a book that was expected and a small sturdy box that holds black drawing salve from a colleague in Missouri.

Sometimes I feign confusion on complicated social or political issues by stating flatly—I’m a simple country woman. I am going to spend some time reveling in that as Winter spreads Her wings over us and the dear land. I will do some sampling of new things as I return to old neglected favorites like spinning, canning, learning Gaeilge, playing the fiddle badly, painting with watercolor paints

I am going to live and celebrate quite a homely life for these few weeks. A life simply and joyfully lived.

Addendum:

Here are some words I am considering, in addition to “homely”:

Sturdy

Simple

Comfortable

Nibble

 

A book to consider reading is Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge. Call you local bookshop and surprise them by ordering it. Also, A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. They’ll have that one in stock for the holidays.

A review of L & V

DSCN4270

 

 

Beginning…From Here

What if you chose to be proactive in this Tower Time of ours? What if we–each of us–simply said, enough is enough? There’s a truism in the non-profit world about tackling a big, complicated problem–“how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Let’s take a bite, together, to secure our resilience in these chaotic times. A tiny step into freedom from fear, a wee dance-step into the circle we all long to create. Today, right now, I am going to my altar (in the middle of the day!) and am saying a word or two to Themselves. Time to fly, sisters and brothers. We have been too long looking down, fearing the day. We don’t have time to dillydally or fret about things we can’t fix. Time to figure out what needs fixing and see if we have the tools to do it. I suspect we do. Shall we?

 

DSCN4047

A Wee Holiday Toolkit

Many of us are leaving our comfy hearths behind us to venture into the houses of kith and kindred, hoping for a slice of pie without too much sturm und drang.

Is that even possible in these chaotic and polarized times?

Maybe.  Maybe with a few guiding principles.  Let’s see if we can create a sensible and helpful list, shall we?

Food

There can be a fair amount of guilt and shame about this. You can be judged for eating too little, for eating too much, for having seconds on mashed potatoes but not on broccoli. You may be bullied into submission by Grandma’s gimlet eye and wagging finger.

Know your limits before you go in.  Are you a low carb-er?  Let ’em know you won’t be eating a basket full of rolls, no matter how delish they are.  You will be exclaiming over the crispness of the turkey skin, helping toss the perfect salad, suggesting brown rice over Uncle Ben’s.

Are you a vegetarian or vegan in a meat eating family?  Vice versa?  Know what you will and won’t eat and don’t be bullied.  Also, don’t be a jerk about it. Take the high ground.

Drink

If you do, don’t dull the political conversation by getting drunk. Take a long walk, practice some art or craft, watch parades on tv.

Speaking of which…the world is a terribly complex place right now and you may be spending time with people whose views make you want to vomit. You can argue with them for the whole time you are together or you can let it go.  It will depend on your family dynamic and your level of political engagement, I suspect.

Here are some general tools for your holiday toolkit. Use any that may work for you.

Ground yourself and keep your shields up when you feel triggered.

Take lots of walks.

Insist on continuing your daily meditation/prayer time–however you need to frame that for your family.

Try not to feel you need to jump into every fight you are invited to.  Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.  Silence, nodding, smiling your mysterious smile.

Know where you are willing to be flexible and where you aren’t. Does it really matter that your cousin thinks vegans are weird?  Probably not.

And the single most important things to carry with you?  Your sense of humor and your big, loving, golden heart.  Practice kindness whenever possible. Practice patience when need be.

Be the kind of guest you’d want at your table and remember you can go home soon.

Be well. Tend your heart. Travel safe.  Eat pie.

DSCN4270