“…Enough with such questions!
Let silence take you to the core of life.
All your talk is worthless
When compared to one whisper
of the Beloved.”
“…Enough with such questions!
Let silence take you to the core of life.
All your talk is worthless
When compared to one whisper
of the Beloved.”
“The tools are unimportant; we have all we need to make magic: our bodies, our breath, our voices, each other.” –Starhawk
(quoted in Dedicant)
“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”
I stand on the body of the Goddess
I sit on her bones
I breathe her breath
Spirit of Life moving through me
Her voice sings in my blood
stars shine in my veins
my heartbeat a drum
tuned to the core of the planet…
“When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.”
― John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (via 30 Days of Bringing in the May)
I’m in the middle of finals week right now. I know finals week is hard on students, but it is seriously hard on professors too. Teaching fits into my life and is very rewarding. Grading is an enormous energetic expenditure that doesn’t feel like it fits (i.e. it “takes from” other important areas). It takes a while to rebound from being thrown off balance like this. I always feel as if I’m “getting home” from being out of town when I resurface after finals week, and just like getting home from a trip, there is a lot to catch up with and it takes time to recover. I literally feel energetically drained, like something has been taken out of me that I didn’t really have available to give. I also notice a pattern of depressive thoughts at this time: not a good mother, not a good friend, not a good wife, not a good daughter, not enough, not enough, not enough, no one likes me, what is the point of anything, why do I try, who do I think I am, what do I have to offer. (Usually accompanied by a headache.) I’m trying to just observe and notice this as a pattern, rather than getting stuck in the thought-ruts. However, even this noticing usually involves a hearty dose of self-beratement: how come I can’t remember this, how come I can’t be more zen, how come I can’t “unclench” and flow, how dare I claim to be a “spiritual” person when this is how I think and feel, and blah, blah, blah.
Today I went outside after finishing my stack of final exams. We were supposed to get family pictures taken this afternoon and I’d finally come to the conclusion that it didn’t make sense to do pictures today and I should reschedule. Right then, my photographer-friend messaged me to suggest the exact same thing! Sweet relief! It is interesting how a fairly small adjustment to a day can relieve some of the drain and restore some of the energy. Just then my four-year-old brought a clover flower over to me and said, “I picked this for you, Mama, to help you have a happy day!” I smelled it and realized I may never have truly smelled a clover flower before. It was beautiful. I sniffed and sniffed the flower. My husband and daughter picked more flowers and we all inhaled the smell of them deeply. Indescribably lovely. And, then I realized…this is “approaching the beautiful.”
In direct contrast to the sweet contentment I felt on Earth Day, today I have felt tense, taut, stressed, unhappy, unsettled, depressed and discouraged. Yesterday was a hard day for a variety of reasons (primary being a baby that doesn’t like car travel + a long day in town with much ins and outs of the car). The Judgmental Committee in my head not only decreed that I’m a bad mother, but also a bad friend, wife, daughter, and overall person. I feel pulled between the needs of my older children, my baby, my work, and my business and end up feeling like I’m not doing a good job with anything. Today, I returned to an old conclusion/realization: much of life about discernment. I have a tendency to become dualistic in my thinking, either I DO IT or I QUIT IT FOREVER. At the same time, I am very harsh with myself at my perceived inability to “flow” and surrender (even though, when I look at my life objectively, I see that every single day, I actually demonstrate great capacity to adjust and adapt and be flexible).
This morning, I woke up remembering that today is the second anniversary of my grandmother’s death. No wonder I feel a little “off,” sad, and out of sorts. I also was harping at myself about not being able to “unclench my life” and just be with it. Why must I always push and force? Why don’t I know when to stop pushing or grasping? But, then the image of a seed came to me, pushing its way out of the shell and up through the soil. Life, Nature, pushes all the time. And, she refuses to give up. One of the daily miracles I witness in the forest is life’s refusal to quit. The refusal to give up, the tenacity of trying again, even when the ground is rocky and the wind blows fiercely. So, in response to the first prompt for 30 Days of May today, I realized the call of the “May Queen,” to me is of discernment. To find the balance between when to hold, when to fold. When to yield, when to resist. When to coast and when to swim against the current. When to push and when to pull. When to rest and when to keep going. When to laugh and when to cry. When to (temporarily) surrender and when to fight. When to soften and when to contract.
Pushing is not wrong. Sometimes it is exactly what is called for.
These are not unique or amazing revelations, but I needed the reminders anyway. The prompt for today also suggested pulling a tarot card and so I drew a Womanrunes card and it was The Cauldron. In a sweet synchronicity, it reminds me: something is waiting to be blended.
…Be alert for feeling like a stubborn child, who feels cheated because the perfect day at the park is over and digs in her heels, stubbornly turning away from the cool glass of water and the freshly made bed. In other words, continue to give yourself what you most desire – the time to meditate or write, the time to hike in the patch of forest by your house – even if it isn’t the hours you would have on retreat or the pristine wilderness hundreds of miles from humans. Because to follow your desire, to tend them with care, is both the path home and a wonderful place to be right now.
Be alert to telling yourself, “Well that was pointless, why give myself _____ again?” Retreats and deep dives and walkabouts are precious. Period.
When I first led retreats, I used to feel like a charlatan because after the retreat was over, in a few weeks, people were back to regular life. It took me years to understand that’s normal! It’s okay. It is what we do with what we experienced and how we generously share that matters…
I’ve had this feeling before about our women’s retreats—how to “carry over” our sense of centeredness and connection and sisterhood and positivity. Or, how to maintain and hold the sense of personal equilibrium, stillness, connection, and understanding that I feel while sitting along on a rock into the chaotic noise of life with four kids. Maybe it is fine simply to sometimes feel it and sometimes not.
This tree took root over a slab of stone in the woods. At some point it tipped over, pulling the rock up with it. It continues to grow from a prone position along the forest floor. Its huge, strong roots stretch out on either side and you can peek right under it…
And, nearby, redbud flowers bloom directly from the partially split trunk of a storm-damaged redbud tree.
What are we leaping towards
what wants to push up from cold ground
what wants to open to the sun
what is it that we need to know?
What quiet, steady pulse beats
below the surface
what hope watches from the wings
what light grows broad
upon a patch of ground…
What expectations need we shed? What old thoughts need to leave our minds? What habitual patterns of behavior, relationship, and communication need to change?
It is easy to be centered when you sit in the woods alone. The challenge is to carry that core into the unrelenting murmur of everyday life. The challenge is to reach for that place of inner stillness, even when it feels as if chaos reigns. The challenge is to return to a place that heals your soul every single day even when the to-do list gets longer, the have-tos, the should-dos, the want-tos. Lay those things aside for a minute and step forward onto solid earth, steady stone, grassy ground. Rest for a moment in the calm stillness that sings through the air in harmony with the call of your own heart and the center of your own being. Find it here, find it now. Knowing that the potential is always within you and the place remains for you to return and return and return…
This is your wildness
don’t sell it.
Raindrop on plum branch
Mist rising through branches
Weaving you into the world
Since welcoming a new baby into my life as well as continuing to develop several other projects (hello, dissertation!!!), I’ve found the hours in the day increasingly short and tight. This morning, I looked out the window of our workroom into the woods and saw the foggy woods and the sun shining through the misty air and I knew I had to drop everything and get to the woods. It was beautiful and even though it “slows me down” to head out there when I was so many other things I want to do and a limited time frame in which to do them (nap times are precious!), it is actually exactly what I need.
When we cut trees in the woods several months ago, one of my favorite rocks on the path disappeared. I knew where it was supposed to be, but surmised someone either kicked it aside or it had gotten pushed underground (or even broken) when some of the wood was dragged out. (This tree cutting, while necessary, still hurts my heart to see the destruction in my sacred little grove.) Today, after watching the fog lift, I stopped on the path and “felt” for the stone that I liked. I brushed some fallen leaves away and there she was!
I am so enjoying the signs of spring and the warming temperatures. I registered for a neat sounding Spring Equinox online free event. I’m also looking forward to hosting a small drum circle at our house this weekend. And, don’t forget to check out all the lovely offerings in the upcoming Red Tent fundraiser auction to be held on the Spring Equinox as well: Auction Special…..see what’s on offer! – Moon Times Moon Blog.
Today, the snow has finally been melting. I walked out at sunset and took a quick picture thinking about how I will miss taking and sharing a daily picture now that 30 Days of Brigid is over. The most powerful part of this experience was the practice. It felt like showing up for myself. It became a discipline. There was no requirement to write a blog post every day, but I made a commitment to doing so and I did it. 30 posts in 30 days! None of my posts were particularly stunning, though I liked my Hands post a lot and fell in love with the snowflakes from “lovely desire,” but it was powerful to commit to doing something and then doing it! I wanted to work through the course with my husband, but while I read a lot of the daily prompts out loud to him, we didn’t sync up and take the daily “sacred pause” together that I had envisioned. It became kind of my thing, rather than a shared experience. I read the daily emails first thing each morning and often reflected on the content for the remainder of the day.
Anyway, my closing thoughts on the ecourse in general are these…
30 Days of Brigid absolutely delivered on the promise of a sacred pause for each day with art, readings, blessings, meditations and inspiring prompts. The course was well-organized and thematically consistent as well as beautifully gentle in tone and thought-provoking in question. I got out of it what I was willing to put in and it was an investment in myself and my spirituality. It created a container for me that was very valuable, both for personal reflection, spiritual development, and for a daily writing practice. I loved challenging myself to really respond to the message of each day and enjoyed how I spent the day looking for the right moment to capture the spirit of that day’s theme. Great fun, great practice, great connection! Also, the personal interaction with Joanna Colbert via Instagram and Facebook was fun. I love her Gaian Tarot so much and I love how the Internet “smallens” the world and allows direct interactions with artists and authors I admire. At the beginning of the year when I did my annual oracle using the Gaian Tarot I had no idea the gifted woman behind it would be commenting on pictures of my cute baby on Instagram just a few weeks later. :)
If I was doing it again, I’d stretch myself to dig even deeper and to do art journaling for each prompt as well as move it up in my daily priority list so I could share it with my husband the way I originally planned.
If you missed 30 Days of Brigid (or even if you didn’t!) you can move into 30 Days of Welcoming Spring and working with Persephone with Joanna’s next ecourse offering:
It’s for those who want to align themselves with the rhythms of nature as we leap into the time of greening and blossoming, and dance with the Maidens of Spring. By the end of the 30 days, you’ll be reconnected to your own creative core, with a daily practice in place for taking in beauty and responding to it in your journal or with your camera or paintbrush. Best of all, you will have taken a divine pause each day to mindfully experience the shift in the seasons as Persephone emerges from the Underworld, and Winter gives way to Spring.
Brigid, I accept your flame.
Flame of creativity, poetry, hope, and healing.
Flame of understanding.
I accept your gifts
committing to their expression.
aligning with the workings of word, art, and deed.
Open to that which comes
responsive to that which surrounds me.
Enlivened by the dancing flame
of passionate creation.
Open hands, heart, and mind.
To give and to receive.
To express, to feel, to wonder, to know.
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
-Jack Kornfield via Sunday Sabbath: Tiny Desert Flowers
This morning as I stepped outside to gather newly fallen snow to make snow ice cream for my children, the Kornfield quote above kept repeating through my mind. I’ve lived in the woods for almost my entire life. I have seen snow plenty of times, but I cannot ever recall having seen snowflakes like this. In fact, I confess that until a few hours ago I assumed that the only way to take a picture of a real snowflake-shaped-snowflake was with an extreme close up (not an iphone). I’m used to a fine powder snow that is too fine of grain to distinguish separate flakes or a clumpy, wet snow in which no individual flakes are distinguishable either. I am so unfamiliar with the flakes I witnessed today, that when I first saw their starry patterns on my little girl’s hair, I thought, “look, the little grains of snow are clumping together and almost looking like real snowflakes.” When I saw that they were, themselves, real snowflakes, I was exhilarated. I was so excited it was like a genuine miracle to have seen them. Since, I already had my snowboots on, I went down to the woods with my drum and delighted in the snow like I’ve never seen it before. And, in I way, I never have. This is a beauty of taking a sacred pause. We see things that cause our whole lives to change.
Can I trust the rhythm?
Can I embrace the flow?
Can follow inspiration?
Can I heed when to let go?
I feel like I am in the process of learning, or re-learning something lately. Perhaps it is simply being the mother of a baby again, but perhaps it is something deeper that wants to shift. Either way, when I got the 30 Days prompt this morning, I knew exactly what my response was to the prompt of “flowing inspiration.” One of the mottoes or reminders that I wrote down in our Shining Year workbook this year was to follow the inspiration. Life unfolds much more beautifully, creatively, productively, and powerfully, when I don’t “force it,” but instead sink into my heart space first and feel what it is I wish to do next. I have an ongoing issue with turning every “could do” into “should do,” every fun idea into work, and every possibility into an obligation. That said, I also have been reminded that while I give myself very little credit for being flexible and in fact makes jokes about my lack thereof, but in reality, I demonstrate a lot of flexibility every day–I just don’t always like it and I argue with it, but I flex and bend every. single. day to respond to what is around me and what a situation requires from me.
One of the things I realized recently is that I really shouldn’t have planned to do monthly Red Tent and monthly Full Moon circles throughout the coming year, because planning and facilitating 24 rituals is simply a lot. When I had the idea, I was thinking month by month, instead of realizing that I was committing myself to TWENTY-FOUR rituals. That is simply too much to expect of myself while also mothering a baby (and other kids!). And, it is also too much to expect of those around me. While the only person who would actually have to show up for all 24 would technically be me, that much participation is a lot to ask of my friends as well and a lot of dates to add to their calendars! I’m trying to remember to check in with Future Molly when I make plans for this year and Future Molly predicts that attendance and enthusiasm for either or both events will wane with “too much,” particularly after midsummer when people are traveling and then into fall when they are beginning to switch into holiday mode. So, I’m pledging to myself that I will look at the rhythm of each month as it flows before deciding which/what/when/how many events to plan this year. I wonder why I thought I needed to commit to an entire year of anything, rather than simply seeing what makes sense over time and what I, and those around me, will enjoy? Something like 8 rituals for a year sounds like a much more reasonable and enjoyable general plan! (not including private family rituals or personal rituals)
Back to flowing inspiration though. This is where I feel it:
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Where ever you are is called HERE.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying, HERE…
–David Wagoner, in Life Prayers
I’m also reminding myself to flow with milk time…
Give up your calendar and clock,
start flowing with milk time.
Unclench your life.
That’s what I wish to flow with and into.
What song can only be sung by you?
What emberheart can only be ignited by your breath?
What path have your feet found?
What messages are carved in stone and etched on leaf for your eyes and in your name?
What promise are you keeping?
Time for your light to shine
from within the sheltering dark.
Note: Modified from a prior post, I shared this on my SageWoman blog earlier in the week and then decided to include it here also.
I have news for you.
The sun sets every day
The hollow tree is beginning to tip over
Wind chimes sing
Bushy tailed squirrels sit on rocks
Deer have walked in the driveway
There are bluebirds in the vineyard.
I step from stone to stone
To keep my baby happy.
His head smells like vanilla.
The woods are brown and skeletal
There is a sound in the branches,
And a taste in the air
That dreams of spring.
Babies can drum with the forest.
This is my news.
I love Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot deck. It is one of my top favorites for morning inspiration and intuitive guidance. It is also the deck we used to do our annual oracle this year. So, when I got an email about her simple ecourse, 30 Days of Brigid, I was intrigued! This is the description:
30 Days of Brigid is an ecourse for those who want a daily inspirational touchstone during Brigid’s season of the Prelude-to-Spring (known as Imbolc or Candlemas).
On the surface, it’s about beautiful photos, art, quotes, and journal/photo prompts landing in your inbox every day for 30 days.
But really? It’s about connecting more deeply with the creative fire of the Celtic Goddess Brigid as she begins to awaken the land from its winter sleep.
The course is designed for people who don’t have much time, but still want to take a sacred pause each day to find a fresh breeze of nature, art, and poetry wafting into their inboxes.
I signed up for multiple reasons. The first is because Brigid is our business namesake. We celebrate the anniversary of Brigid’s Grove in February and doing this course felt like a wonderful way to honor that connection. The second is because of the “don’t have much time, but want to take a sacred pause,” part. With adding a new baby to our family and the increase in our business activity, I feel like some of my spiritual practices and sacred pauses have fallen away. In 2015, we would like to take more sacred pauses and spend more focused energy on spiritual development and connection. So, taking this course felt like a great way to begin the year–building intentional pauses and sacred connection into the daily round, rather than only on “special occasions.” After doing the first two days of the course, I realized that this course could also neatly tie back into my (near) daily Woodspriestess time, since most of the pictures I take for the ecourse are taken in the woods. So, I plan to share a quick post here every day, usually photo only, as we move through 30 Days of Brigid. I really like the integrated feeling I have with this plan!
Edited to add: This is my 300th blog post on this blog! So, that also feels like an auspicious connection/beginning to this new sacred pause project.