I’ve always been mystified by the zodiac and the identification of various animals and creatures from the stars whose points of light make up each sign. I could never see the how the ancients came up with the pictures they saw when they looked at the stars.
But now I find myself staring at my bedroom ceiling each morning and find myself picking out animals and people from the shadows created by my bedside lamp on the textures of the ceiling. Not unlike the game of identifying objects in cloud formations, I am well aware that I would have great difficulty getting anyone else to see the items that appear so clear to me. In fact, I often find that if I look away from the spot, I may never re-find the same item again until it magically reappears some other morning when the light is again just right.
And so, this early morning game on the edge of sleep and wakefulness has become my own practice in finding my daily zodiac reading for the day. If nothing else, it is a constant source of wonder and an exercise for my creative mind.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ~Mary Oliver
I’ve always loved this quote because it’s taken me years to understand that the darkness in my own life is a gift. It often does not feel that way at the time, but it is a gift nevertheless. And recognizing it as such in the moment, even when I can’t see it, makes the darkness easier to bear.
Today is Mindful Writing Day, sponsored by Fiona and Kaspa of the Writing Our Way Home blog. On this day, they are inviting people to mindfully observe the world around them and record their observations in a small stone, a “short piece of writing that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment.” There are no rules about the form of the small stone, only that it is short and comes from observation.
Over 1200 people, including me, signed up on their Facebook event page to participate today. They are also collecting submission of small stones to share later on their blog. These are my attempts to pay attention and record what I observe today.
I came across a post recently talking about icons as things that help us see through the everyday stuff of life to get a glimpse of the divine. The post ended with a question asking about what icons we have found in our own lives. I didn’t comment at the time because this isn’t a topic I had though about enough to answer easily, but the question has been on my mind ever since.
Today’s poem flows out of that pondering about the things that serve as icons for me in my life. There are so many things that stir my heart and soul and help me look beyond the ordinariness of life into the mystery beyond. The tragedy is how seldom I take the time to really notice.
I am not a big fan of spiders, and I am even less a fan of their webs—especially if those webs touch my skin. The feel of them with their stickiness creeps me out. And yet, I do marvel at the beauty of the those webs, particularly when covered in early morning dew that makes them glisten in the sunlight.
The dogged persistence of these creatures in creating such beautifully fragile structures is something that I can appreciate. It amazes how quickly they are able to rebuild their webs after one is destroyed using only these small threads that come from their own body—threads that are strong enough to catch their prey and yet remain so vulnerable to larger creatures and objects that pass right through them.
It reminds me of how easily the circumstances of my own life can be shredded by things much larger than I. When those times come, I have acted as the spider and rebuilt using the resources that I find within my self when I am forced to dig deep within. I am very fortunate to face such destruction and rebuilding much less often than the spider and to have much more outside support in the rebuilding process when it is necessary, but I am still inspired by the powerful image of her patiently rebuilding her life/web over and over again every time she needs to using the resources she finds within herself.
A few years ago, I was going through a difficult time and my world seemed unusually challenging. On top of that, my hard drive failed, and I lost quite of bit of my writing that I had not backed up elsewhere: several years worth of poems, essays, novels-in-progress. I was devastated particularly by the loss of a couple of poems that had been particularly meaningful to me.
I wrote the poem below during this time as a reminder to myself that laughter is best way to brighten my world when all seems gloomy and as reminder that I can always write more poems. I had forgotten all about this one until I found it scribbled on the back of a sheet of paper in a drawer tonight, and it reminded me once again about the need to find more reasons to laugh.
I am finding that the more accepting I am of myself, the more readily I laugh. The more I allow myself to play with my creative side, the easier it is for laughter to bubble to the surface. The more I embrace life, the more joy wells up and overflows as laughter. I am slowly rediscovering laughter, and I love it!
It’s beginning to really feel like Fall here, as the temperatures cool down, especially at night. I’m beginning to see the first signs of the season in the natural world around me as plants begin the preparation for winter.
On the one hand, Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, filled with so many delights and treats for the eyes and the senses. On the other hand, I become ever more keenly aware each year that this season heralds winter, which I find to be so challenging with its dark and cold. (I have a hard time really getting warm for months at a time!) So for me, Fall is perfect definition of bittersweet.
I’ve had mirrors on my mind all day after yesterday’s post where I mentioned Rabbi Sasso’s suggestion that God is like a mirror. I’ve never cared for what I see in a physical mirror. I also seldom like what I see in the mirror of the people around me, but that is often because I only consider them to be a mirror in those moments when they are annoying me because I know that my negative reactions to other people are really just reactions to the shadow parts of myself that I don’t like. As I ponder the idea of God as a mirror, I catch myself doing the same things. The first things that come to mind are the ways that I have viewed God negatively (i.e. as an angry judge) and the thought that this must be a mirror of what I’m like, not what God is like.
For the first time, though, my pondering of this today made me realize that in each mirror—a physical one, the mirror of other people (or situations or events), and the mirror of God—I only see the negative aspects of the reflections. I never see someone I deeply admire and wonder whether I admire that person’s characteristics or accomplishments because I have the same traits in my shadow that I am not using. I did ponder God as a mirror and credit that reflection with showing me the places where I act with love or generosity or healing. This inability to see my good points is part of what leaves me for hungry for outside validation in the hopes that others (including God) can see something that I can’t see in my reflection.
I am one of those people who mosquitoes just love. Anytime I am outside with other people, I manage to attract every mosquito in the local area, but they leave my friends alone. I spend a fair amount of time cleaning the koi ponds that are in my backyard, and even after spraying myself thoroughly with bug spray, I often come back in with up to 50 bites in one evening. They swarm around me nonstop, landing to take a sip every chance they get. After another encounter with them this evening (and another swarm of bites), I decided to write tonight’s poem about these tiny creatures that terrorize me so.
It has been an extremely dry summer here this year, and now that we have finally started getting a little rain again these last few weeks, I am finding myself appreciating the rain in a whole new way again. I woke Monday morning to the sound of rain on the glass roof of the sunroom that adjoins my bedroom. Rather than bemoaning the fact that my Monday morning commute would be slower than normal in the rain, I spent a few moments listening and savoring the sound of the gentle patterns of the raindrops on the glass. It’s such a soothing, peaceful sound and a delightful way to wake up.
In that space between sleep and wakefulness, the sound wove itself into dreamlike stories that brought additional delight. The poem below grew out of my listening wonder. Continue reading →