The Art of the Letter-PART 1: Memories

The Letter

Perhaps it is the long cold isolating winter this year, or perhaps it is a seasoned Maturity marching to an old and distant drummer which is somewhat at odds with, and questioning of, the fast pace and material focus of contemporary life. Perhaps it is a personal longing for communication with grown children who live busy lives elsewhere as parents and professionals and a puzzlement as to how things have become so intensely busy that even a 3-line e-mail is too long to ponder and respond to with presence or care.
 
 It seems that the social forces want everyone to link up and “connect” but to do it as quickly as possible…get in and get out, skimming over the surface of life with sound-bites of information/touching base that become trivial because there is no time to pause, go deeper, reflect and dialogue for the fuller, more complex and truthful story. And that may be okay for some, but for others it simply is not enough to satisfy the longing for the treasured communication that was often inherent through the more personal presence and practice of letter-writing. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in these past several days of Winter isolation, I have been pondering the lost art of letter writing, as a sweetly archaic form of personal communication that is unknown to the generation of the 30 year olds and younger, and which has been almost forgotten by many who are older and now tech-saavy.
  
 
As a youngster and a teenager, one of my greatest delights was the rhythmic correspondence between myself and my beloved cousin Edmond in which we shared endlessly about books, youthful and deepening philosophical ponderings of the meaning of life, teasings and humor -an ongoing lively in-depth dialogue that started about age 10 and continued through his tour of duty in Vietnam and my marriage and new life as a wife, and mother. In a real sense, these letters to each other were like diaries in which we shared with each other great trust and patience, depths of intellect and for sure, depths of Soul in spite of our youth.

In my teens also, I had a handsome pen-pal named Sujit Banerjee from India who sent me marvelous and intriguing pictures of himself in school uniform, riding an elephant and visiting exotic holy temples made of polished glass and sparkling mirrors. How exciting it was to receive the mail and see his paper-thin air-mail letters with unusual stamps and to open it with news and Kodak photos from a place so far away in miles and in culture!

In the years of my marriage and motherhood 3 states away from my own family and my in-laws, letters flew back and forth on a weekly basis to both my Mom and Dad, and my beloved Italian Mother-in-law, Maria, filled with stories of our life and the babies, and the joys and struggles as a young couple while my husband attended graduate school at the University. My parents and my in-laws were connected to us and we to them across the many miles with those stories which gave them an ongoing “picture” of their children and grandchildren allowing us all to feel, know and experience the continued unfolding of our lives as family, through words, images, thoughts, sharings. And they told their stories to us too as parents do…you know, the weather, their health, the state of the changing world. In these letters, we spoke, were listened to and were heard. To get a letter, to open it and read it was a bright spot in the day, and no matter where we were, it was a a reminder that we were connected to those who knew us.

Not that ALL letters were sweet and warm…in times of family or relational stress, letters could come that challenged the calm, drew lines in the sand or broke the heart. However, the letter carried the truth of the moment of a situation and the truth emerging from the heart, and allowed one voice to speak without interruption, interception or deflection. The letter allowed a period of listening time, and if a bond was not irrevocably broken, a possibility for ongoing, albeit sometimes scary or courageous, reflection and dialogue in the service of reconciliation. The point is, the letter always had the potential for authentic communication…which takes TIME, and a certain spaciousness for thought…and perhaps, a certain conscious elegance that could nurture and deepen Relationship.

Of course, the teasing, passionate or longing and SEMI-PRIVATE e-mail or FB announcement of ardent devotion can never match the treasure and intimacy of the Love Letter straight out of the depths of the heart, to be read and re-read and kept secret and personal under the pillow or tucked away in a special box, with a key…to save for years if love is true. And if love is fickle, the solemn ritual of tossing the letter with its personal handwriting into a roaring fire is much more powerful and magical for healing than pressing the “delete” button!

Letters, letters of all kinds…the paper, the pen, the stamp, the time it takes to write, the time it takes to read…there is an element of beauty, honesty, respect and genuine contact and communication directly from the heart and head and through the hand that offers a human touch and presence that no e-mail, twitter or texting message can match.

And like taking the time to prepare and sit down with a cup of tea, the writing/reading of a letter is an opportunity for a centering “Time Apart” from the world, so fast and full of noise and invasive chatter about so many things that do not matter.

The Letter. It is an art and a craft worth reviving.

(Christine Phoenix Green, January 2011)

Coming up next

The Art of the Letter

Part 2

Please respect my ownership of all writings and photos on this site, and  credit me and this source if passing on or sharing this in any way. Copywrited material is part of a book in progress. Thank you.

 

 

MARY Christmas Eve

MARY Christmas                               (artwork by Sulamith Wulfing)

            Christmas Eve: The Time of Fulfillment draws near.

Gaudete! Gaudete! Christus est Ex Maria Virginae

Music: Gaudette by Steeleye Span

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDc2FD-vy8M

 

Frost on Glass: The Miracles of Deep Seeing

IMG_0695 (4).jpg Frost on Glass

The Art of Deep-Seeing is the practice of slowing down, paying attention and being present to the Miracles and Magic that surround us all the time, every day, every place, no matter where we are.

To some, the Art of Deep Seeing comes naturally.This is especially true if one’s personal pace and daily schedule offers the opportunity to not just “look” as we dash through on our way to somewhere else,  but rather to stop and allow things to surprise us. When that happens these seemingly ordinary “things” capture our attention with their beauty, their patterns and colors, and especially their metaphors..that is, what they simply are and  what they suggest to us symbolically.

The morning I captured this picture, or rather…it captured me…. was one on which a sudden sharp dark-night frost unexpectedly coated the windows of my car, the blades of dried grass and the glass jars I had washed and set out on the deck to drain and dry. Yes, in the early morning,  I had to scrape the windows of the car, scatter ice-melt on the front steps and mourn a potted rosemary plant that had taken the sudden freeze to heart, and sadly died.

But then I noticed a slant of cold early morning light beaming through the bushes and across the railing of the deck…and in all crystalline brilliance and color, was a feather-thin pattern and sparkle of ice on those glass jars.  Looking closely at them, I could see the icy crystals in a pattern of radiating stars as if  the frost had captured and imprinted the night sky full of twinkling bodies of light upon the surface of the glass.

The magic of camera went one step beyond the naked eye, and the editing program of cropping and color went several steps beyond the camera. And what do we see once again but the ingenuity, the beauty, the creativity, the mirroring of stars and sky upon earth and in water:  crystals, gems, snowflakes, stars, the sparkle of mischief, humor , intelligence  and LIGHT in the eyes of humans and all creatures on earth. Wealth and abundance of spirit everywhere. .and a multitude of Possibilities!  Is it actually possible to count each individual ice crystal upon that small patch of glass, let alone all the individual ice crystals of that morning?

Rev. Matthew Fox, author of “Original Blessing” often says “Where there is Awe, there is prayer”. (Awe as in “oh wow! Look at THAT!”)

I guess this was a morning prayer.

Move slowly, and with Presence. Be surprised when what was hidden because you looked but didn’t see, suddenly reveals itself to you in your rare moment of stillness.

It’s always about Magic.

Christine, The Greening Spirit

The Path of Sacred Mysteries: Advent as a Marian Holy Time

ADVENT-  holy enclosure, gestation (Painting by Sulamith Wulfing)

ADVENT- holy enclosure, gestation (Painting by Sulamith Wulfing)

 Path of Sacred Mysteries: Advent as a Marian Time of Waiting
ADVENT in the Christian tradition comes in the cold and dark of winter when it seems that we will be waiting forever for the return of Spring, the season of new light, life, warmth and the emergence of the greening vegetation that sustains us. It is in these dark days and even longer nights that we must not lose energy and Faith that although all seems hidden and silent,  a great Mystery is taking place within the womb of Mother Earth;  the seeds of something wonderful and NEW are gestating in the darkness itself , and will indeed, undeniably and and with utmost certainty be born out of the Waiting Time to bring new Life and Hope everywhere.

In the Christian tradition, it is familiar to focus on the birth of a Savior..THE Savior… and so Advent is celebrated week by week, with the lighting of a candle and the reading of Scripture that expresses the LONGING of the people to be saved, rescued and renewed by One who will bring new life, new hope and new meaning to humanity in dark times. However, although the Catholic/Christian path was the inherited and beloved path of my own roots originally, as I have grown older as a woman, a mother and now a grandmother, and have spent many years in and with spiritual circles of Women, I have come to ponder  another perspective on this Holy time before the actual birth of the Baby…and that is,  ADVENT as a “Marian” time, and the story-REALLY pondered  studied, imagined and ritualized, as the story of a young, innocent Child-Woman asked to partcipate in an astounding happening: to agree to be “overshadowed” by God, to defy the rules of Nature and become pregnant by Divinity…and  yet to remain within the tribe of her people, undercover as it were, containing a very great Mystery within her that surely could not be explained in ordinary society.

My compassion and admiration for Mary in this story is great and profound. It must also be said, having studied archeological histories that there is vast evidence of archeological HERstories also and that this particular Holy Story is not the only one of its kind..many that pre-date Christianity. But this is the season of ADVENT in the Christian tradition, and it IS winter,  during which the Earth is pregnant with the seeds of Spring’s new Life.  And so though it may be a departure from the traditional focus for this season of Advent, there is in truth for me a  very personal call to honor Mary in the enclosed time of her pregnancy, holding the Light of a very special Life within her, in a posture of Stillness, Solitude , Calm Waiting and Mystery.

It is also a time of personal remembering for my own experience many years ago as a Mother-to-be in the waiting time…and an honoring of an event that can only be experienced by, and through the body of a Woman.

Christine, The Greening Spirit

Memoir: My Mother’s Hat

Hat 5

One of the  literary options available to a  Writer is the “Memoir”. Why do we write memoirs? Well, party to more fully understand and process personal life events of deep meaning or confusion,  partly to share with others so that they may recognize parts of their own stories in ours and find comfort, healing, celebration, affirmation and connection… and most significantly, to follow the most important virtue of writing, which is to tell the truth as we remember or experience it at any one time. The Greening Spirit is about life and the cycles of the seasons as well as the cycles of the many seasons we live through emotionally, spiritually or physically. This is one memoir of a season of letting go, of remembering and honoring when things have been difficult.

                                                      
                                                             My Mother’s Hat

When the box arrived from my brother a number of months after Mom’s death, I knew it was going to contain her “furs”.  He really wanted to send them on, saying they were part of my “inheritance” but I really did not want them for  a variety of reasons, both simple and complicated.

One, I don’t wear furs (who does these days?)  and secondly,  I would have to find a place to put the large box in my already-cluttered tiny house while I figured out what to do with the contents and where to dispose of them. (Donate to the theater department at the University?  Take them to a consignment shop? Give them to Goodwill?)

Those are the simple reasons. The complicated ones have to do with emotions and unresolved wounds from our very unfortunate, if not tragic, contentious and dysfunctional relationship filled with disconnected-ness, hostility, punishment, disappointment and pain. My mother was a very complex person. The fact was, I simply did not want anything that belonged to Mom at this time. There was no one treasure or keepsake that I longed for as a reminder of our relationship, no one item that I longed for as a memory of a close, caring or supportive mother/daughter relationship, because really, it had not been.

When I opened the box, there they were, neatly folded and flattened: a tiny golden mink coat that had been my Nana’s  (my mother’s mother) and passed on to Mom when Nana died. Were they both so TINY? The coat looked like it would fit on a 12 year old child. Next, a grey stole, soft and classy, of the kind worn covering the shoulders in the 40’s through the 60’s before animal rights activists cursed such  apparel, this item of clothing replacing a coat or cape in glamorous style. Underneath that,  a fluffy white rabbit fur jacket that I remember her receiving one Christmas. From Dad, I think. (How did he know? I’d think she bought it for herself, “from him”).  A golden mink hat to go with the mink, all items that I would not wear for sure, although the grey fur stole with satin lining would be kind of stylish “retro” if I were going to a party. I sat looking at these items with a *sigh*. What was I going to do with these things?

There was a canvas bag with zipper which I opened, filled with gloves…tiny ones  for such a tiny pair of hands. Really, I never remember noticing how small my mother’s hands were. I do remember them being deformed at the knuckles from degenerative arthritis and I remember the operations on her knuckles to try to correct them and the ruby ring on her finger that she inherited from her sister Gina who died in Europe. None of these gloves would fit my larger hands, but I knew that these gloves..smooth leather, or felt… had kept her hands warm as a necessity in the brutally cold winters of upstate New York. I also remember that there was a time when gloves were a part of dressing up appropriately for important appearances like church on Easter Sunday when I was very little. Not now. We only wear gloves in cold weather, and mine are stretchy woven things purchased at Job Lot. Warm. Inexpensive, easily replaced when inevitably I would lose one of the pair..  But not classy. No, the gloves would have to go, along with the coats.

Then…then…a small pile of many colored fur hats. Except for the hat of golden mink that apparently matched the fur coat, they were of several varieties of more contemporary and politically correct faux fur. These I lifted out of the box, taking myself and them to the mirror in the bathroom. One by one, I tried them on…each decorated with a flirty little pin on the side. I remembered how in both the dresses, and the pins on the hats, and the “tilt” of the hat on the head, there was always  a sassy slant of decoration or position…a kind of stylish flair that expressed the drama, the theatrical, the “Glamour” of the maternal Family women: the “actress, the attitude, the “posturing” of glamour. Sometimes it embarrassed me greatly when in the presence of my friends, seemingly false, untrue or melodramatic. But now, far away from those times and Mom’s actual presence, and after looking through the albums and pictures of the her family of origin way before I was born, I can kind of smile about this, appreciating both the  valid expressions of high style in the manner of show people and entertainers, and the longing to incorporate beauty, color and drama into the Personas and presentations to the world. No “hausfraus” in smocks  in this side of the family.

So back to the hats. Three of the four..all faux fur of different colors…were a little small and tight for my head size. But one of them, a mix of brown and grey fur, with a silver pin  attached by Mom for “upping the ante, style-wise” or as she would say “you know, for a little ‘décor’”…fit quite nicely. I turned it this way and that to see where the pin might look best, and I guess true to the genes and lineage, tilted it to the right at an angle..a little off-kilter stylish sass…yes, a touch of glamour. And that’s where it looked best.  And…I liked it.

This was new for me. I don’t usually wear hats. And I was uncertain and more than a bit uncomfortable wearing a piece of Mom’s personal clothing. It felt a little spooky, it brought up memories that made me quite sad. But somehow I needed to wear that hat, which I did for two days whenever I went out. It really seemed to be perfect on my head, looked good, and kept thoughts about Mom…always thoughts of confusion and emotional complexity… in my awareness re things between us that have slowly mellowed from anger into sadness so far. Things that simply were and best let go of, and things that “could have been” but never were. But wearing the hat seemed to have a certain connection that was gently opening a feeling of appropriate grief, acknowledged in its own time. Which apparently is now.

Yet there was something about this hat, or wearing this hat that was not comfortable. A subtle scent of it when held in the hand, or when I wore it…a  faint combination of someone else’s natural fragrance, a hint of cigarette smoke and a remembrance of a light cologne. I never ever could bear the smell of cigarette smoke or the ashes, and my eyes always stung and watered when around Mom and her habit,  I constantly moving out of the range of the drifting smoke from the cigarette. And Mom, in her self-centered ways, would become angry with me for this, asserting her right to smoke when she pleased whether or not it was hurtful to others in her presence .We did not have the right to breathe fresh air and not have stinging eyes, but it WAS her right to smoke without interference,  and  for us to ask for it not to be was taken as direct and unfair criticism by her, resisted with hostility.

What to do? The scent though subtle, barely detectable and elusive was nonetheless real, and the feelings and memories associated with it, would not allow me to accept this hat as a fitting keepsake. But I did want it, for in truth we all need a mother….

Not knowing if it would shrink the hat, I took the risk to wash it. I washed it in an organic dish soap (Mrs. Meyer’s) that is very pleasing to me, with the scent of rose geranium. I let it soak for a bit in cold water, squeezing gently for the water, soap and scent to thoroughly cleanse away what was not mine and should be let go of. (Maybe a cleansing of memories as well..?)  I hoped that the hat would not shrink, and handled it gently and with care, rinsing away the old and absorbing the delicate and loving scent of rose geranium. Gently squeezing out the moisture, shaking and fluffing it, it was then  hung over the shower head to dry, and on the third day, hung outside on the brambles of the wild rose bush that crawls over my deck, for the cold and fresh air to add a new aliveness.

Hat

The hat still has Mom’s energy in it because she wore it, in and out of the car on her short and busy trips here and there, and on her head in those fierce winters going in and out of the house to scrape and brush ice and snow off of the car, or shovel a path to it. I’m thinking of her when I see this hat on the shelf her or if I place it on my head, with the silver pin tilted stylishly to the side. It smells of fresh air and rose geranium..an herb of love and beauty and healing of the heart. I think this is a “Remembrance and forgiving in its own time, after a death with un-resolved loose ends”.  It feels gentle.

And that is the story about my mother’s hat. Now mine. Or rather, “Ours”.

Moi hat 2

“O Whole-y White”

Snow posOur first real snowfall is here today, blanketing the brown and burnt sienna of dried oak leaves, softening the limbs of branches and tree trunks, gently drawing us inward, listening to the music of silence as we watch the flakes fall straight down wordlessly but with  messages that we hear nonetheless.

Shhh! Shhhh! Be still. Pull in and cozy up. Push your indoor garden closer to the window so that they can see the whiteness and celebrate their year round green-ness  in the shelter of a warm kitchen.

Snowpost 3

Polish up the crystal teapot and take out the herbs. A special tea for today, a creative and sensuous blend, just because…Milky oat tops, red rose petals, spearmint, a thin wedge of orange and a little honey. Snowpost 2

Listen to Vivaldi, softly, in the backround on Pandora. There is celebration and quiet crystalline lushness outside…

And magic and mystery as well.  A good afternoon to read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,  feet up, disappearing from the usual path and pattern of a Tuesday schedule.

But mostly, it is a day for rest, for pulling in and down without distraction if your life allows that today..centering, listening to the silence of snowfall and within ourselves, breathing deeply and inhaling the fragrances of rose and spearmint and honey..becoming WHOLE again…and a prayer:

“Thank you Oh Whole-y White.”

(If the only prayer you say is “thank you!”..it is enough. ~ Meister Ekhart)

Snowpoat 6

With love, from the Greening Spirit

NOTE: Today’s “Sensuous Snowday’s Tea”  recipe is on Sensuous Soups and Suppers blog! http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

Oak Maiden

IMG_2228 (3).jpg Spirit of Autumn Melissa

Usually at this time of the year, I am overwhelmed with the carpet of oak leaves that completely blankets my “yarden” since my little cottage is situated underneath a the overhanging canopy of a forest of oak. I must admit, because the weather and my daily schedule do not always co-operate, I am probably the only one in my neighborhood who does not rake and bag and neaten things up. I admit, I submit to the wildness outside while I give reign to the  imaginative wildness within that flows through me into my writing, photography or cooking.

They are EVERYWHERE, these leaves,  and they crackle and crinkle under boots as I come in and out, they come into my living room stuck to the shoes of my piano students upon entry, the blow in fierce winds and stick to the screen glass door as if to say hi.

I have come to think of the oak that surrounds me as a sign of the part of me that is magical while living in a mundane world, knowing the history of this tree in the worlds of the Druids, the old herbalists and other magical folk. I come to realize that often, the places, the happenings, the land, the home and surroundings that are unique to our own particular individual life are a hint of our own inner life and thoughts, in manifested form. If this be so, that I might be a woman of the wild, sheltered by a magical forest full of power and mystery which I love and respect.

And there IS mystery here as I gaze out into the woods from my writer’s alcove here. Throughout the year, and in yarden and woods, faces in nature reveal themselves to me, in the trees, the rocks, the sky, the flowers, the reflections in water. So it is no surprise to see the emerging mirage of the Oak Maiden appear through the dream of leaves and autumn’s powerful transformation from green to brown.

She is lovely, this mysterious Deva..quiet and calm, as she prepares us in the northern hemisphere to, like Persephone, enter the dark and stillness of winter for rest, reflection, recycling, and renewal. She is a reminder that this season is not meant to be a secular one, running here and there to shop and consume, but rather to pull back and let GO of what no longer serves us, to dive deeply to the underground of Soul to dream, journal, process, renew and quietly plan for what could be new in time.       ****************************************************************************

Note: The Oak Maiden is my daughter Melissa.                                                                                           Note: Photograph by Canadian Artist David Hickey @ http://www.davidhickeyartist.com/

Note: Be sure to check the Greening Spirit’s recipes on my foodie  blog: http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

Note: The Greening Spirit loves to cook and EAT! Check out my latest recipe on Sensuous Soups and Suppers: http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/simply-sensuous-spicy-indian-stew-cold-weather-heat/

Witchy Willow: It takes one to know one!

October Witchy Willow

One of my great passions as The Greening Spirit, is photography and the magic that can be created through the editing technology that is now available in our computer programs. There  is, in the community of photographers, some small debate at times as to whether one should leave a photograph alone to stand on its own merits and the gifted eye of the photographer, or instead enhance the photograph through cropping, framing, blurring, working with light, shadow and color through editing programs to create a desired effect.

For myself, I tend towards the freer and more playful practice of editing my photographs to express something at a later time in essay or written form. It is an old saying that “a picture speaks a thousand words” and although my photographer’s eye, never un-assisted by my camera, is forever and endlessly seeing wonders everywhere, there is usually within a larger scene compelling me to “stop and snap!”,  some singular image that evokes a whole story, message or teaching worthy of pondering and eventual literary expression.  It is the need to capture and highlight that central image through creative editing that makes it come alive for me… and the actual source of those enhancements, deeper than the technology that implements them, draw their inspiration from the creative sparks of the Imagination, thoughtful discernment and good taste of the photographic “artist”, and depths of Soul.

Witchy Willow                                                                                                                                                       It is curious that many old libraries are home to magnificent old trees as well as old and treasured books under and into which we may take leave of the mundane world and magically “disappear”  for refreshment, inspiration and just plain “time out”. To disappear under a long-limbed and leafy tree or into the pages of a book and a fantastic story, especially a so-called “fantasy” one,  are indeed  magical experiences.

Go through the  solid back wall of an old wardrobe in a hidden room and spilling out into Narnia, sliding down a rabbit-hole and landing in “Wonderland, slipping into your “avatar” and through dream traveling arrive in Pandora, and walking through a wall at Platform 9 and 3/4 ending up at Hogwarts are all highly imaginative doorways through and to the usually hidden worlds of Soul, the home of light and darkness, choas and creativity, woundedness, vulnerability, healing and courage, art, music and all manner or archetypes, muses, Daemons and guides available to us for our adventures on the Imagination’s  surprise-filled paths and roads.

Our little local library here, though not ancient (but the township is) is home to a most interesting weeping willow tree overlooking the small parking lot. As with most weeping willows, long thick and thin wooden tendrils of branch twist their way in a downward sweep from a central sturdy trunk which is unseen. When fully clothed in leafy attire, no entrance to the base of that tree is visible, except “Under” it. Of course if in the middle of the Harry Potter series, one never does forget in Book One,  the impact of the “Whomping Willow” that thrashes any interloper daring to come close, insuring its independence, privacy and displaying its most contrary overly defensive/offensive nature. But not all weeping willows are cranky.

We love this old tree at the library, twisted and a little mysterious, and to my eye and imagination, exceedingly magical as well. Although it sometimes receives a little haircut, or curtain- cut as a caretaker’s trimming clips its trailing vine-like tendrils when reaching the ground, still it is full of private, hidden mystery,  for it is not possible to see the heart of the tree..just the spell of its thick green curtain that blocks entry to its heart of secrets.

My Witchy Willow has a magic power of Blue-ish green and depth of shadow, informing me that there are stories, poems, visions, inspiration, safety, and soulful inspiration beyond the veil of protection, and close to the heartwood, if one knows the right password to slip under and within and find them as treasures. Yet the word “Witchy” always has an edge to it…possibly dark and foreboding, the lure of the as-yet unknown requiring a spirit of adventure and courage…but also a sense of magic and possibilities available to us yet often unrecognized and un-claimed as we busy ourselves out in the parking lots and on the roads, rather than seeking guidance under the tree.

I love the Witchy Willow and although my mundane eyes see a more “normal” tree when I pull into the library these days, I know of a secret more hidden expression of that old tree that only reveals itself to those who see with other eyes.

As it is said in the “Witchy World”…”It takes one to know one”.  (WINK)

Crunchy Cranberry Relish! A Greening Spirit Recipe!

IMG_6987
Want something to SNACK on or take to a pot luck and become a culinary Star? Try my special Crunchy Cranberry Fruit and Nut specialty! On my companion foodie blog:

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

Community, Kinship and Conversation on Thanksgiving

IMG_0684 (2).jpg Thanksgiving Celebration (Reposted from November 2010 by request)

Many Thanksgivings have come and gone and once again we are on the eve of that special day, each year the experience of the holiday both familiar and new as people come an go in ours lives.

And yet, we approach the day with precious memories that may or may not have anything to do with the picture painted by Norman Rockwell, in which a Gram and Gramps preside over the holiday feasting table of sons and daughters with their spouses and children, all gathered as one big happy family.

It is a picture with a homey, old-fashioned air of harmony, peace, togetherness and the ongoing family story, extended into longer chapters with each new marriage, each new birth. The thing that is so touching in this painting is that it feels real and comforting, eliciting the longing for “coming home” where we are loved, accepted, connected and recognized, and it’s fulfillment on Thanksgiving Day.

But as I pondered this,  other not- so- cozy scenes of the holiday prompted me to to ask the questions ”where are all the OTHER sets of parents of the spouses who married into the family in this picture ? Their own children, now all grown up, are HERE at this table, not at their table, so where are they? And how are they celebrating this day of  “togetherness and home-coming”?

I suspect they are: #1. With their other children, or with friends  #2. Eating a turkey dinner at the local Fire Station with other child-less elders. #3  Alone at home watching QVC. The Norman Rockwell painting may portray the experience of some, but what you can’t see are all the others who are attached deeply to those seated around the table, but who are NOT there, and having to create a way to alternatively go through the day somewhere else where they find kinship or seek solace in some manner in solitude that may be piercing to the heart.

So it was that yesterday, a day after Thanksgiving itself (when my out-of-town daughter, son-in law and grandchild came through for an overnight after spending this year’s Thanksgiving with his extended family elsewhere), I made my way to the home of dear friends where 19 of us gathered once again around the welcoming table at Madeline and Michael’s in a nearby township. Madeline had to work at the hospital on Thanksgiving this year and so the official celebration was moved to Friday, which served us well. For some, it was Thanksgiving #2, having spent Thursday elsewhere with blood family or friends,  and for some, it was THE Thanksgiving #1, having spent Thursday alone cleaning the house or yard or watching the football game without family. But for ALL of us, no matter what the official day of Thanksgiving had been, gathering once again around the table at Madeline and Michael and with each other, was  THE “coming home” event, as we greeted each other with open, cheerful, tender, or wounded hearts that could, for these hours and in this company, heal with welcoming, stories, hugs, laughter, updating, and the bounty of the earth.

Everyone contributed a specialty to the banquet table, an offering sharing delight and nourishment to pleasure and sustain both body and spirit. The age range of guests around this table spanned a great swath of time and several decades, from age 80 down to age 1½.  There was a 7 year old, some young 20 year olds,   a couple in their 30’s, a number of 60+ year olds, a 75-er and a great elder of  80. And unlike sitting at the table with one’s children in their 30’s plus toddlers in which there is no possibility of starting or actually finishing a sentence,  there was REAL conversation, and the topics varied…who’s doing what, how to cut down a tall tree, the price of ink (one of the costliest commodities at $5000 a gallon), growing potatoes and butternut squash organically in the neighborhood gardens, what the difference is between the space shuttle (that part which propels the whole affair) and the capsule( where the astronauts live and work and float about in space), how a cat sitting atop a tv survived a lightening strike, what it’s like being on a construction crew working on building mega-mansions for the mega rich ( summer homes that include helicopter pads and indoor private theatres)  and many other interesting topics to mull over  keeping the conversations lively with stories.

At this table were artists, painters, a dollmaker,a woodcraftsman, a piano teacher, a flute player,  a roofer, a construction supervisor, a soon- to- be aeronautical engineer, a lady bartender, a teaching assistant,  a grade-school teacher,  two medical lab technicians , potters, an astrologer, a Chinese translator, lots of great cooks, gardeners, herbalists, former professional photographers, Irish set-dancers, English Country Dancers etc-many of us wearing more than one hat in what we do for our both Vocations and our avocations, and a great pool of wisdom, expertise and services to offer within this little “village” of companions.

Times have changed from the evocative scene portrayed in the painting of Thanksgiving by Norman Rockwell. Yes, families still do gather at long tables, and carve the turkey, and watch the grandchildren, nieces and nephews dash around the house in rambunctious delight and play. They still note with bittersweet memory those who are no longer alive, and their absence from the banquet of Life. But this scene attempts to portray a wholeness and a continuity, which is does in a lovely way. Yet in these times, the changes include family continuity challenged by many divorces, great distances between people, and a cultural ethic that puts commercialism and glitz (Thanksgiving stuffed animals and baskets on display in September, Christmas goodies with sports, Disney or designer logos on display in November) before the simplicity of community coming together in some form, either familial or intentional, consciously, and with a gentle ease, to linger together, take refreshment, tell stories, laugh, and be grateful for the hours of gathering set apart from the mundane daily routines. And if there is the possibility of a span of generations present, than there is an extra richness and nourishment around the table  and afterwards, in front of the fire.

For the wonderful  Thanksgiving gathering on Friday at Madeline and Michael’s and the members of the day’s intentional “tribe”, I am very nourished and full of  Gratitude. Thank you, Thank you, dearest of Friends.

TREE SPIRITS

Old man tree singing in the morning

I do believe that there exists all around us a parallel world of spirit, energies and beings who are usually hidden from our human physical eyes, either because they just operate on another plane of existence, or because they wish to be hidden in order to go about their assigned business and purpose in our mutual and precious web of life, OR.. because we two-leggeds are just so immersed in our own dramas at a high rate of speed, that we do not see what and who is there around us all the time!

 In any case, there are moments of sudden deep-seeing that can happen unexpectedly when we are slowed-down a little and the slant of light is just a bit different to allow a peek in-between the worlds. This deep-seeing requires but a momentary flash of child-like openness and imagination, which is the source of all fairy-tales, myths, “Make-Believes” ( oh, but are we sure about THAT?) and dreams.

So it was that one morning, while washing dishes at the kitchen sink I gazed briefly out of the window, my mind slowly pondering the schedule of the day, when there he was, the old man-in-the-tree singing to the sunrise,  greeting and welcoming in, the new morning. Or perhaps it was more important than that…perhaps it was his task to call in the morning through his song and had he failed to do that, it would have stayed dark forever!

It was a deep-rooted song (basso profundo I believe) and he was so into his morning salutation that he was not aware of my enthralled and delighted gaze. OR… maybe he was aware of me indeed and thought “ah, she is one who believes” and subtly but intentionally bent into the shaft of light that would render him visible to one who would do no harm and perhaps even add my voice to the morning salutation.

It was a gift under any circumstance and whether he lives and sings in the Outer World or in my Imagination it does not matter. The world of Myths and Dreams is REAL and so is “Make-Believe,”all of which is necessary for Manifestation, and in this process Creation flows back and forth between the two multi-layered Worlds unceasingly.

If still you are not sure of this, and yet are fans of Harry Potter ( “the whomping willow”), AVATAR (the sacred tree), Star Wars, and the Lord of the Rings (remember the “ENTS” ?) then remember that they started as dreams in someone’s Imagination before they became the stories that we read, watch, and tell to remember in some fashion that the Web of Life is Magical and that there are many kinds of “us” who  live here.

So in the next week as you yourself walk or ride around in your life, gaze at the trees who have agreed to shed their clothes this season to reveal their stories and personalities to those who might be open to meeting them in a new way.

Maybe you will even hear them singing.

Christine Phoenix-Green (January 15, 2010)

Please respect my ownership of all writings and photos on this site, and  credit me and this source if passing on or sharing this in any way. Copywrited material is part of a book in progress. Thank you.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Please Visit My Foodie Blog!

The Greening Spirit Way is about the cycles of Life and how we grow and renew our spirits, our minds and our bodies through Nature, Art, Beauty and all that Nourishes.

I invite you to visit my other blog:    http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com  for delicious recipes from Earth’s bounty and Greening Spirit stories and memoirs around food.

Today’s post is  “A Memoir: Recipes as Life Markers”Handwritten Recipe

Manifesting: The Art of Focusing – 1

Drawing from the Field of Possibilities

   “Everyone is waiting for Eternity, and the shamans are saying ‘How about   tonight?’ ” ~ Albert Villoldo, PhD

Do you believe in Possibilities? Do you believe in Dreams and the ability we have as conscious humans to manifest those dreams into the realities and experiences in our lives?

For a number of years, I have been studying, practicing and teaching the principles of creating our personal experience of  reality no matter what is actually happening in our lives at any one time. There are many many teachers of these laws and principles of manifestation these days, offering metaphysical, spiritual or scientific perspectives. But really, the teachings are not new or new-age. They are old…ancient as a matter of fact… offered throughout the milleniums, but not always accepted or followed through as a practice to bring into our lives a way of being that is healthy, wealthy or wise.

It is taught that in order to bring a particular experience or set of circumstances, a specific desired material object, or a definitive solution to a problem into our lives,  we must be clear..very clear… in our minds and in advance, about what we desire or intend. It is taught that beyond our limited awareness, all shapes, colors, sizes, streams of light, objects, forms of creation, elements, situations, energies, POSSIBILITIES and SOLUTIONS are available to us in and from the quantuum Universe. Because of this,  anything and everything is available to us if we can imagine it,  focus on it within our minds, hold it in our intentions, express it through our attitudes and call it into our lives with the words we speak. Personally, I am enchanted with the word “magic”, but when the principles of manifestation -into- experience- and- reality are studied, magic and quantum physics are similar, if not the same. It is a Mystery that we cannot actually explain by logic, but that we know from experience.

I love watching and photographing these Great Mysteries expressed through Nature. The world of science, the world of the shaman, the world of storytellers and cosmologists, the world of the poets, artists and  mystics all have some manner of communion, understanding  and expression about the way Nature, the Universe, The Cosmos brings the most amazing creations, living and non-living, into being, into form,  into Manifestation.

Everything that manifests in the world of nature  draws from that vast field of Possibilities, and with the highest intent and focus, pulls together from the swirling vortex,  all that is necessary for a tree, an ocean, a bird, the winds, fire, color, movement,  to come into a form of reality that we can see, feel, smell, taste or interact with.

It is taught that we may do the same in our lives. Out of the limitless, infinite stream of colors,  shapes and energies swirling in the ALIVE Field of Possibilities,  what do YOU  intend to draw from it for yourself for a happier, healthier, more loving way of Life?

Dream a dream, hold it, SEE it in your mind, FOCUS on it being possible, and trust that the many threads of wild color and energy of the amazing Field of Possibilities will weave it together for you..!  If Nature can do it..so can we!

Abundance

Nov 8 2013  4

I belong to a community of photographers on FB who focus (literally) on pictures taken within our little New England state. Each week there is a different theme and we are out and about everywhere capturing the beauty or the visual stories of where we live. Right here. Right now. It is a very special and gifted group, with cameras large and small, tripods or steady hands, fancy lenses or single built- in lenses, and editing programs in our computers. We capture Beauty, shapes, scenes, angles, curves, colors, people, animals, events, costuming, memories and more. We are not competitive, but rather, amazingly enthusiastic, supportive, inspired and inspiring. We learn to see the world through many perspectives, and to see a theme, through many eyes and unique interpretations, celebrating and taking delight in diversity.

Because I am a writer as well, when I see an image that I am compelled to capture, as I am taking the photograph for what it is, I am deep-seeing what it means for me symbolically as well. When I photograph something, I am also writing about it in my mind. What it is beauty enough, but what it means to me as metaphor is even more powerful on a personal level and often becomes the inspiration for my writings on nature, or life, or soul-full living.

Like many creative artists, I often ride a financial roller-coaster supporting myself through work based on the creative, healing, or metaphysical arts. Sometimes up. Sometimes down. The themes of Abundance/Lack are always being worked with and adjusted through meditative practices, visualizations for blessings, reading inspiring books and practicing exercises for manifestation, and just plain prayer..(we try not to beg the Universe to answer..wrong energy :-) )

For me, one of the best ways to work with the theme/the prayer/the desire for the manifestation of “Abundance” is to photograph it! And in truth…it is the way of Nature, the way of the Earth, the way of the Universe in its sheer playful and awesome generosity of manifesting bounty. Everywhere we look…the infinite individual needles on a single pine tree, the impossible-to-count grains of sand on a beach, the millions, billions, TRILLIONS of drops of water in the ocean,the un-ending blades of grass in a yard, let alone everywhere, the awesome silk-carried seeds on a dandelion head..everywhere we look, we see wealth, treasure, opulence.

And let us not forget leaves, leaves, leaves…the sheer amount of them covering our lawns and “yardens” when they decide to let go of dancing in the wind and drop upon us, truly revealing the enormity of their numbers under our feet, eventually to be swept up for re-cycling by our rakes, the work and gathering seemingly endless when we are in the middle of that task. There is the other gift of leaves besides their numbers, reminding us of the Earth’s generosity and abundance, and that is their ability to transform themselves from green to unique, flaming brilliance of light and colors in their “old age”. They do not “leave” without letting go of the rules and required uniformity of Community, becoming who they truly were all long as the chlorophyll in their individual bodies drain away, their work in the greater community done for this year. They do not go quietly, insignificantly or shyly into the dark night, but rather, in flaming color, beauty and bounty while saying  goodbye.

May we open our eyes to the Beauty, the Blessings and the Abundance that surround us at every moment. May we choose to notice, capture and savor it.  May we always remember to say Thank You, as well…..

Little Leaf

Little Leaf 5We live in such a busy world of movement, noise, activities, responsibilities, information and constant media updates about all things important and mosty not, and of instant everything that keeps us in perpetual motion, dashing from one thing to another, one thought to another, sifting, sorting, prioritizing on the run in a constant state of mental mind chatter. Attention spans can be very short, communications brief, quick and on the surface (who writes letters anymore, or has the patience to read through an e-mail communique made up of more than one short vertical message..three paragraphs taking up too much time…).

Woe is us, who have lost the art of Presence, Depth, Deep-seeing and the practice of and intimacies  Deep Engagement with those around us, and in our connection to the natural world..the Earth’s primary scripture of connection and belonging!

There are four lines from a beautiful blessing by the Celtic priest/poet John O’Donohue in his lovely ode to “Presence” that I carry with me every day, and these four lines remind me always of the delightful gifts of slowing down, opening my eyes and heart in a spirit of focused alertness to be present to the wonders that surround us in people and places as we move about the world.

The four lines are:

Awaken to the mystery of being here~ Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses~Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention and ~May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

And so, on a particular day of seeking sanctuary, play and exercise as well, I entered the woods once again at Kettle Pond, with camera…my treasured deep-seeing companion.. and moseyed about just walking, just seeing the depths throughout the woods and the varieties of colors and textures of bark, roots, fallen leaves, mosses, and rock.

In such a relaxed and slow stroll, we can often fall into a kind of altered state..really a state of seeing from the center of Soul, all superficial worldly subjects of concern falling away. And for me, and perhaps for you as well, entering this alternative state of consciousness allows for a different kind of focus..both laser-like in clarity, and diffuse in perception combined.

And suddenly…I saw it. A leaf…a little tiny leaf.. open and trusting, spread out upon a large and friendly boulder, surrounded by the chaos of the breakdown and decay of a season gone past and returning to the earth. It was darling and sweet, like a tender baby clinging, or rather, resting upon the support of sturdy sanctuary. Had I been moving fast through the woods to finish my walk and get on to my outer life..like grocery shopping, driving to town to pay a bill, scooting around to get on to get back home to check e-mails..I would have missed this, with eyes straight ahead to finish my walk and get on with things, mind chattering about things I needed to do next.IMG_4004

Presence. Presence to the present moment from a place of centered wondering/wandering. Looking..and really seeing..and full of anticipation for the element of surprise!

I am never disappointed by the conscious decision to slow down and practice the art of deep-seeing..and I always always find that I am rewarded by the surprises and delights that open up to me when I surrender to this. Of all that was going on around me in the cacophany of color, shapes and textures of the woods on that walk, it was this little leaf that was the greatest gift of beauty, tenderness, vulnerability and trust that was the gift and teaching of this moment of “time out” and be here now. I am so grateful.

I am also grateful for the technology available to us in the photo programs in our computers that allow us to crop and see even more closely the wonders that surround us that we otherwise might miss. When I was growing up, I often asked for a magnifying glass or microscope kit for Christmas and would spend hours collecting treasures from nature and seeing them enlarged, up close and personal, revealing then what could not be seen of their intricacies and complexities with the naked eye. Up close and personal through the technology of “cropping” the exquisite colors of rock and moss, the delicate and fragile skin of leaf, and the patterns and veins of life within the once-living leaf are revealed.

Rock 2

 I am always enchanted, captivated by and in love with the great Mysteries (which are often little) hidden in plain sight.

Presence.

**If you also love good food that is natural, healthy, delicious and full of life..please check out my food blog sensuous soups and suppers! Then go take a walk in nature!

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/tempting-tomatoeggplant-basil-teasers/

Mr. Grumpy Rock

Grumpy RockIt’s probably because I have Cancer Rising and a Pisces Moon, that I have quite an imagination and a  highly intuitive sense that allows me to peek into the “invisible” world that co-exists right alongside the material one. I “read” faces of people, imagining their personalities and hear the “music” (major or minor key?) in people’s voices,sensing their mood,  and I “see” distinct personalities in nature as well. Driving past a stand of trees, I can see the ones that are family groups, or lovers, or free spirits within their arboreal community. I see shapes in clouds that reveal a story, and  I have experienced looking down at reflections in pools of water that tell me what is happening up in the sky.

Today while driving out of our little lively local library, someone was coming in at the same time. Our windows lined up for a brief moment as we passed each other going in opposite directions and we were in direct visual contact for a mili-second. What I saw was a face that was very very crabby if not downright angry..not sad, not worried, not flat…but quite unpleasant and cross, and I thought..”my word, I don’t think she would be pleasant to interact with just now..”(or maybe ever). She reminded me exactly of a woodland entity I met while on one of my nature walks at a nearby preserve. She reminded me of ….Mr. Grumpy Rock.

One of our seaside nature preserves is an old forest, with immense rocks, boulders and deep pits  hewn out of the earth during glacial events..a very interesting territory with narrow paths, knobby exposed tree roots,  overhanging canopy and lichen-covered boulders of various sizes and shapes. I love the variety of plants found here..sassafras, sweet fern, yarrows, goldenrod, St. Johnswort, red sumac and other herbal treasures. Oak dominates, but the forest is host to many other species of trees and entering its sanctuary is like entering another time and place in history when coming off of the mainstream road of the present. There are many paths that wind and meander and one always has to IMG_4002eventually make a choice to stay on the path or move to the side and investigate a bog.

On one particular walk, when the leaves had fallen and the trees were unclothed and courageous to the elements of the sleeping season, I followed a bend in the road that was lined with a community of large rocks and boulders along one side. I always have my camera with me..always..for who knows when something extraordinary  or of exceptional beauty will be revealed without warning and I serve to capture it for the purpose of remembering.

And so I started down this new path bordered by these large boulders and was suddenly startled by a most definite scowl..the face of a very disgruntled rock who I think was also grumbling and mumbling to himself as I passed by. Not that he was aware of me, actually.. he was really just too into his own story, and centuries of discontent had etched itself permanently upon his face. He wasn’t sad. He wasn’t suffering that I could see, but he was just one of those types who by temperment, was just plain crabby. And the older he got, without a change of attitude..the bigger and wider his scowl became.

Well now. Isn’t that just the way it can be with us humans who, without paying attention to how we habitually think and talk,  can also have that tape of kvetches, complaints, discontents and resentments playing over and over in our minds on an unconscious level, tempering the music of our voices and creating the shape of our facial expression. One of my Aunties used to tell me when I was growing up and grumpy and out of sorts that if I kept looking like that, it might freeze that way on my face permanently..a really harsh destiny, self-inflicted. Nobody in the forest dared to mention that to Mr. Grumpy Rock..but it was obvious that he was not having fun. Is it fate? Or is it at some level a choice to be in a snit, perturbed, irritated on a regular basis, argumentative, and witholding of good will and gratitude for what IS working well, even amidst the challenges, upheavals and seasons of life?

So I go back to the brief eye-to-eye encounter I had with a passing human today, in which I was reminded of Mr. Grumpy Rock. Perhaps it was just a momentary pique on her face, worthy of compassion..but inviting a cautious wide berth just in case. Perhaps it was an expression worn daily and perpetually, frozen there in a particular stance in life..certainly an uncomfortable destiny.

For me..I hope what gets etched into my own face are crinkles of laughter around my eyes, and lines of welcoming smiles turning upward around my mouth. It’s not all perfect and it’s not always easy. But the “lines” on our visage actually have their origin somewhere deeper and closer to the heart, where the real stories are. And then we decide..

As an addendum to this story, I also met a neighbor of Mr. Grumpy Rock. His next-door neighbor Grumpy Rock Sleepyactually. He’s been listening to Mr. Grumpy’s Rock’s  low grumblings, and complaints for many years now. And he just closes his eyes and tunes out..his name is “Sleepy”. He’s very old, patient and tolerant. Good friends are like that.

***Need a Quickie? Check my Simply Sensuous Sweet Potato Supper/Snack on my foodie blog:   http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/a-quickie-simply-sensuous-sweet-potato-supper/

Spring Sprouting-in Praise of the Greening Spirit

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer. ~ Dylan Thomas

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Veggie Altar 1It has been a fierce and wild winter. Not so much a continuous snow here on the coast, but rather cold, and one major blizzard with the immense power of its furious Winds which buried us in heavy wet snow, shredded and took down trees and power lines, leaving many of us without electricity, heat, light and water for over a week.

Nature wields un-imaginable power that we ignore at our peril. Perhaps that is why the ancients, indigenous peoples and the pagani of the earth took such care to honor, celebrate and ritually appease that immense FORCE for life and death that is inherent in the energetic Greening Spirit of the Cosmos.

I have felt that so strongly this season. Perhaps it is because I am of a certain age and have witnessed, experienced  and gathered the teachings, challenges and gifts of many turns of the wheel of life, and I have not yet emerged from the spirit of actual winter this particular year. Perhaps it is because just recently, my own mother has passed and in the almost-spring phase of February and March when one starts seeds and seedlings indoors for the eventual garden,  dreaming of Life,  I have been rather  out-of-sync momentarily in the process of grieving. The great FORCE of the winds  and the destruction that it has brought with it, taking down and decimating so many young and elder trees alike, combined with the ending of my mother’s life had made me feel the inevitable far end of the spectrum of the opposites of existence: the visible and invisible, the great sound and the Great Silence, the Force that pushes Life UP! and that same force that breaks and  takes Life DOWN!.

Winter right now is at the very end of the cycle, saying “goodbye” just as simultaneously Spring is seemingly gently nudging us to wake up and say “hello” to the great  Life Force of the Greening Spirit that has had enough of stillness and frozen sensibilities, and with the greatest Force, thrusts us and all living things up and out of real or symbolic darkness into the New. It is for this reason we often in great excitement “plant” our spring bulbs or Narcissi and tulips, gladioli and daffodils with a sense of excitement: to participate and help  the process of birthing and renewal along…to see and smell GREEN and enjoy all the  fresh and vibrant colors that were asleep while grey, brown , black and white blanketed the earth for their allotted time.

This past week, because of the ruthlessness of the winds that took down so many trees, and the death of my mother, I went to the markets in search of a little prepared potted narcissus to bring home for an altar in honor of letting go of the past, and to honor the new, bringing the green, the color and the scent of new life into my “living room” itself. I needed to do that because I had been unable to cry and let the tears flow for all that had ended and demanded a goodbye. I was however quite surprised and  frustrated when I found just the perfect little pot with several miniature yellow blooms and buds ready to open, and then realized that I had left my checkbook and debit card at home by mistake and did not have enough cash on me to purchase the flowers! Oh how I needed to see and sense the Greening Spirit of Life on that special altar I had set up at home for comfort and inspiration.

Veggies 1I returned home and started to prepare dinner, going to a bowl filled with winter squashes, avocados, sweet potatoes, and garlic. And there..THERE..right amidst this bountry, was one large sweet onion…. sprouting green shoots, just like the narcissi! I truly had not seen it before in that state as I moved about the small kitchen preparing meals..how could I have missed this only onion on the plate, firm and hard still, but with the tall green shoots straight up, thrusting out of itself from the ineffable power of the driving Greening Spirit of Life wanting to flower and bloom! I had  missed bringing home the potted narcissi because instead here was an Onion, which if cut and chopped for cooking, brings tears, TEARS that are frozen behind the eyes, sometimes not even knowing that they were there in the first place.

The Universe and Great Mystery and I dance together, and I believe always that there is the potential dialogue between us if we pay attention and listen deeply. This was the perfect plant of life for my altar at this moment..a plant that symbolized both nourishment, an aid for the flowing of tears, and soon, a bloom as well..an onion that embodies within its seemingly solid and finished self..the spark of new life that mysteriously MUST move up and out….”the force that  through the green fuse, drives the flower…”

It is unstoppable!

And there will be a flower on one of those green shoots eventually..a globe of purple or some secret onion color…the promise of Spring, the power of the Greening Spirit and renewal will soon be here. Is ALWAYS here!

I am grateful for the way the Great Mystery and I play together.

Veggie Altar 2“And remember this: SPRING is the secret work of winter.” ~ John O’Donohue

**Note: you are invited to check my other blogs/sites:

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://lunchandlearnseminars.wordpress.com

http://www.thegreeningspiritmysteryschool.com

Solstice/SOULstice: 3 Paths to Navigating Through the Dark Season Part 2- The Secular Path (Cultural Rituals of Beauty)

 

Warmth, Love, Hospitality Reside Here!

The Secular Path: Cultural Rituals of Beauty

It is dark. It is cold. It is harsh outside and the colors of Nature..black, white, grey and brown..are not hospitable. The sometimes death-like stillness can often be unnerving, altho on a good day or after a blanketing snowfall, the silence can be exquisitely peaceful. There can be all sorts of winter fun, but it is the darkness…the  cold and long nights… that wear us down,  as we try to remember with hope, that in time,  warmth, light and the greening will return.

The Secular Path and its Cultural Rituals of Beauty have much to offer us in the Dark Season, starting around the Solstice time and through the next few weeks of celebratory events, for it is at this precise time that we may begin to lose hope of the Sun’s return in spring, and we must make the choice to either “be Scrooge”, or to seek, find or create meaning and beauty until then!

There is a thinking about the word “Secular” that often places it on a continuum with “Sacred” on the high end, and “Secular” on the less admirable end. But as I am using it, it is the word that refers to various ethnic, historical and contemporary seasonal traditions that are expressed through gifts of the creative imagination and the arts. Its myths and practices are not based on a particular religious or scriptural tradition, but rather draw from the experiences of the human appreciation for the spirit of the natural season, our common humanity, and the attitudes of generosity and goodwill in dark times.

If in fact there is a continuum, I would put the Commercial Path on the low end, The Sacred Path of Mystery on the high end and The Secular Path in the middle. The middle of the continuum is the proper place for the Secular Path, for its arts and creativity can be tilted either towards the Commercial Path as a tool of  Illusion and Persuasion for consumeristic ends, or incorporated towards the Path of Sacred Mystery to Inspire. In the middle, it serves as a Path  Beauty, Fun, Celebration, Surprise and Childlike Delight all by itself.

The Secular Path  during the dark season offers us refreshment through art, music, myth, storytelling, theatre, ritual, decorations and much imagination. There is a spirit of generosity, entertainment , and a touch of magic to tide us over until the harshness of the dark and cold gives way to the more lasting light of spring.

Some “goodies” of the Secular Path of the Winter Season are community tree lightings, writing Christmas cards for the yearly re-connection /update with friends and loved ones, festive decorations  indoor and out, photos with Santa, parties and gatherings of a celebratory nature, performances of plays, ballets and theatre like the yearly Nutcracker Suite, The Christmas Carol, The Christmas Pops, beloved literature like A Child’s Christmas in Wales, contemporary films like “The Polar Express” and “The Snowman”, food and toy drives for the needy, imaginative and creative art installations and non-religious but seasonal music of all kinds from the lovely Ukranian Bell Carol and medieval motets to the “Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire”. Something for everybody in the spirit of the interplay of dark and light, cold and warmth, isolation and community, lack and bounty. Goodwill and “Light-ness” in general.

Solstice/SOULstice and the two weeks of celebration and community that follow is a rich time that can bring deeper meaning to our Lives and our journey through the ongoing cycles of the year.

For a wonderful example of Secular creativity, delight and surprise..very techno-contemporary..check this link to experience a wonderful artistic creation for this Season of Darkness. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_9AYqhaw64     “Snowflake and Bubble”   (load fully..there is music and movement!)

http://youtu.be/wp_RHnQ-jgU  Random Act of Culture Flash Mob.  (This one merges the Secular and Sacred Paths.  No matter what religious tradition, this is Beauty, taking place at a  secular venue)

Part 3 tomorrow:  Solstice/SOULstice:  The Path of  Sacred Mysteries (Religious and Pagan Tradiitons)

Christine Phoenix-Green 2010

*** Please visit me at www.thegreeningsspiritmyseryschool.com  site for an unfolding exciting project!

 

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