The Call of Autumn Equinox

 

Autumn Equinox occurs on Tuesday, September 22nd

at 6:30 am Pacific Time this year.

While Solstices give us an experience of full-on light or dark, Equinoxes invite us into a threshold of changing light. Because of this, there is an uncertainty, a not knowing as we move into the turning.

This is especially true now in the USA, in such a time of unknowns, changes, and uncertainty:

  • Our white supremacist culture is being rightfully challenged causing upset and confusion, amidst even more loss of Black life, but hopefully turning us toward justice;
  • Climate change is causing unprecedented wildfires in the West with huge loss of life, home, and wilderness, while more hurricanes threaten the south, winters are colder and snowier in the East, more frequent tornadoes and high winds erupt in the Midwest, and everywhere, temperatures continue to rise;
  • Covid-19 continues to not be contained thanks to an inept president, causing death and pain of disconnection from family and friends; and
  • We head into a very contentious election with threats of violence if the current president does not get his way…

As we move through the threshold into Autumn Equinox and live with all of these uncertainties, we move toward more darkness. But this is not all bad…

Darkness has its own logic, its own holding, its own invitation.

To rest. To slow down. To pay attention inwardly. To listen. To stop doing.

Wendell Berry says it this way:

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

We need to enter in to find the gifts of the dark, the blooms and songs…

We can’t find the gifts of the dark in the light.

We can’t find the gifts of uncertainty and unknownness when we think we know.

We have to be open to something new.

 

As we cross the threshold from light into deepening dark,

Autumn Equinox calls us to reassess our lives.

What’s working? What’s not? What changes are needed so that we can enter, so that we can allow something unknown and new to unfold?

A few things sing to me:

We can choose to make changes that allow us to walk in beauty more in our lives. No matter how uncertain, how much dark, how much confusion, each step we take can be done in beauty. (Read new blogpost.)

We can choose to create ceremony / living ritual to reconnect with Eairth’s autumnal rhythms.

In these complicated and uncertain times, with the darkness all around and growing, may you find support in the threshold, in the knowing that this turning toward dark is a natural expression of life here on Eairth.

With the seasons, we turn in, deep into dark, then back out again and deep into light. Perhaps this particular Autumn Equinox turning is exactly what is needed.

If you would like to join voices during these times, please join me for 1st and 3rd Thursday Chanting for Community, Healing & Hope or consider an in-person, outdoor contemplative Evensong service on 1st Sundays.

In the meantime, allow the dark.

Go dark. And trust the dark song, the dark feet, the dark wings…

Walk in Beauty

This blogpost was originally a sermon for a service I put together
for Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on August 16, 2020.
You can watch the whole service and find the readings that accompany it.

When Heidi (the musician I was working with) and I were rehearsing for this service, she asked me what the focus would be for my sermon. And as I answered, I realized that really, all of my work—paid, unpaid, personal or business, has been about this—about walking in beauty. No wonder I wanted to try to put it into words!

The titles I hold—Interfaith Minister, Sacred Musician, Spiritual & Life Coach, Yoga Teacher, and more—they are all different ways that I help myself and others walk in beauty.

For when we walk in beauty, our lives are more whole.

We love our lives.

We are kind to others and to ourselves.

We live a good life that is good for all beings, including Eairth.*

John O’Donohue says Beauty points beyond itself to the circle of belonging that holds everything together. When we experience it, we feel at home in ourselves and in the world.

This reminds me of a story I read in Trebbe Johnson’s book Radical Joy for Hard Times. David Powless, a scientist and member of the Oneida nation, was given a grant by the National Science Foundation to develop a process for recycling steel waste. His initial impulse was to go out and conquer the problem—to force the waste into a new form, but when he arrived at the waste pile to get a few bucketfuls, he felt something else.

From his years of ceremony, in which all beings are honored as part of the sacred circle of life, David had an epiphany that this waste was not something that needed to be forced into a new and better shape. It was an orphan that needed to be brought back into the circle of life. It wasn’t just an ugly manifestation of industrialism wreaking havoc on Eairth, but a rejected part of life that needed support to be brought back into the Circle.

The circle of life holds everything together.

This is a way of living and knowing our belonging that many indigenous peoples before us practiced and still practice today.

We are invited into this deeper experience of participation with all beings if we are to walk in beauty. When we are part of the circle, no-one, no creature, no part of the natural world, no part of ourselves, no earth processes, nothing is left out. We realize that we all have our place and each one is needed. When the circle is broken, we must do what it takes to re-home the orphans and make the circle whole again.

How do we do this?

The Diné or Navajo Nation walked the Beauty Way Path. Patricia Anne Davis of the Navajo Nation Justice Department says walking in beauty means to consciously live in and with the natural order of life—finding meaning and sustenance in contact:

  • with the Directions: East, South, West, North
  • with the Elements of Eairth: air, fire, water, earth
  • with the seasonal energies: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
  • with our maturing: through the life stages from child to youth to parent to grandparent.

All held by the Center representing the hearth of home, the spiritual family love.

Finding beauty, seeing beauty, making beauty, walking in beauty not only maintains the circle of life, but makes sure we keep our place in it.

From our Western tradition, the poet Keats said it this way: “Beauty is Truth and Truth is Beauty—that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

When we walk the Beauty Way Path, we have a much greater chance of knowing this on Eairth; when we do not, we might miss it.

Let’s consider Keats’ words for a moment: Beauty is Truth and Truth is Beauty.

How amazing is that? I immediately go cosmic and think of the beauty and truth of the Universe—of the incredible, unfolding powers that created our solar system and planet Eairth and make life possible, even now as things are collapsing.

I think of the Beauty of words and thoughts from the Truth of one’s experience, spoken and written. Of the Beauty and Truth expressed in music, in art. Of the Beauty and Truth in each action and moment if we only have eyes to see it…

 

And, indeed, Beauty comes down to how we see life.

Do we see it, as I still sometimes do, through our personality-clouded eyes? Or do we see clearly through the eyes of the heart?

As an Enneagram type One, my habitual, less awake way of seeing is about seeing what’s wrong, not what’s beautiful. I like to fix things, make them better, help return them to Beauty. (Not always in skillful ways, though—my husband doesn’t usually want to know when he has put something in the wrong, unbeautiful place.)

There are many ways we see without seeing Beauty:

  • Perhaps with too-busy or distracted eyes that don’t take the time to land and take it in,
  • Or maybe with pre-occupied eyes, that look but don’t really see,
  • Or perhaps with inner-turned eyes, dwelling on some deep thought or inner sadness, frustration, or fear…

If we had a Beauty Way tradition like the Diné—of ceremony, prayer, and intimate participation with Eairth—we might not find it so difficult to feel Beauty’s loving embrace.

But we don’t. In our evolution into “modern” humans, we thought we had to leave that behind in order to develop an objective science. We wanted to find and know our place in the universe, but we plundered Eairth and her other living beings to do this. Because of this, we “moderns” don’t understand how to live in the natural order of Eairth’s ways anymore.

We have learned to think that Beauty is not here with us, but out there somehere:

  • Created and performed by artists
  • Hung in museums, found in magnificent structures, idealized in models, celebrities, and beautiful people
  • Or in a perfect view of nature
    • The Salish Sea with Mount Baker rising behind
    • The stunning layered landscape from the top of a mountain
    • The giant cedars, doug fir and hemlock of old growth forests.

While that kind of Beauty is real and nourishes us, I’m interested in cultivating ways we modern humans can participate in Beauty every day.

One of my favorite practices that have shared with clients over the years is called “Beauty sees Beauty.” When I first started practicing it, I would take a slow walk and everything I saw, I would say “Beauty sees Beauty.” Over time, I incorporated this practice into my life, including other senses as well: Beauty sees Beauty, Beauty touches Beauty, Beauty tastes/hears/smells Beauty…

Try it on right now with me.

Just look around wherever you are and let your eyes alight on something—even something that you would not necessarily call “beautiful” and slowly say out loud or internally “Beauty sees Beauty.” “Beauty sees Beauty.”

What happens inside of you?

For me, my heart leaps, lights up, comes alive, a smile comes on my face, warmth infuses me. I receive the Beauty of what I have seen and I receive my own Beauty, of Beauty seeing Beauty.

As O’Donohue says, “The human soul is hungry for beauty: we seek it everywhere…” Why not land in the present moment and be with Beauty right now?

This practice returns us to the Beauty Way Path. For when we receive Beauty in ourselves and all around us, we want to walk in it. We want to live its natural order, we want to make choices that continue the circle of life, of Truth, of Beauty.

The other wonderful part of this practice is that it reaffirms that not only what we are sensing is beautiful, but that we, too, are part of this Beauty.

Beauty recognizes Beauty.

Our unique and individual Beauty is a necessary and vital part of the circle. “Though sometimes ,” as Galway Kinnell reminds us, “it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness…”**

Many of us come to our adulthoods with wounds, with broken places from not being seen or understood, from intentional or unintentional abuse. We need to be retaught that our lives, our thoughts, our feelings, our being is beautiful and part of the circle.

We are that orphan that needs to be welcomed home. My own inner work and my work with clients always involves this.

David Powell saw this in the steel waste pile. St. Francis in the sow.

And Trebbe Johnson invites us to see the beauty in broken or wounded places.

An environmentalist, Trebbe’s work focuses on how we can be in relationship with places on earth that have been devastated by human abuse.

It’s all about allowing the place to touch us, to see with the eyes of the heart and open to the Beauty that is still there. Yes, I may be scrambling through a clear cut, but just look at those foxgloves standing tall and waving on the slope! And here’s what looks like an entry to an animal’s shelter tucked under that stump. And everywhere, new growth shooting up.

 

Beauty sees Beauty.

Yes, the heart aches with the loss, the grief, the fear, the anger—and suddenly, something amazing happens, a threshold is crossed and Beauty arises—we are able to perceive the Beauty that is already here, everywhere.

This is not something we can make happen, but we can practice. We can show up, open up, soften up, and be available to the moment. One of my teachers calls this making ourselves “accident prone to grace.” For only in this moment, in presence, is Truth and Beauty.

People tend to want black-and-white Beauty—to evaluate the standards of Beauty and judge how beautiful a thing is. To judge like this is to step out of the circle and see ourselves or someone/something else as “other.”

If we soften our gaze, and allow our hearts to open… If we sustain our gaze and wait and practice, even in the most devastated places and people, Beauty sees Beauty.

Beauty is big enough, inclusive enough, vital enough to include everything, even the broken, wounded, abandoned places. In fact, it is often in the wound, in the vulnerability that we find a deeper meaning, a richer experience of Beauty. We move from “view-finder” prettiness to a Beauty that touches and opens our hearts.

John O’Donohue says “to participate in beauty is to come into the presence of the Holy.”

That is what it feels like. As Beauty opens—or our eyes awaken to it—we perceive that everything is sacred, everything is whole, everything is included in that wide embrace.

I created an e-book for my clients called Welcoming the Sacred. It’s packed full of simple practices we can do in our everyday lives to bring us into the moment and welcome the sacred, the True, the Beautiful.

Trebbe Johnson finds this sense of sacredness when she practices what she calls “Guerilla Beauty.” After spending time gazing, seeing the Beauty in wounded places, she gives a spontaneous gift of Beauty, created from whatever materials are available. It may be stones piled into a cairn, sticks, leaves, and flowers in a mandala, root sculptures, a story or a song… But giving this beauty to the wounded place moves her past feeling separate into relationship with the place—as she says, “to give beauty is to marry the world, outside and within.”

For, when we do this, we take our place in the circle of life. We perceive ourselves, our lives, the wounded places as full of Beauty. And if we perceive this Beauty, we will walk in Beauty with each other, living a good life in a wide Circle that includes not only all humans, but Eairth and all her creatures as well.

May you walk in beauty,

May we walk in beauty.

* Eairth = Earth and Air
** from his poem St. Francis and the Sow

Summer Solstice 2020: Letting Go into Light

It’s Summer!

We are celebrating more light, more warmth, and more time outside (for those of us with Covid restrictions lifting).

But really, the Summer Solstice (June 20, 2:43 pm PT) represents not only a time of peak light, but the beginning of the turn toward peak darkness again...

Light will start to fade as the wheel of the year begins to turn from full Summer toward Fall, and eventually Winter…

Most of us don’t want to think about that. We want to enjoy Summer’s bright, long days of warmth.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, where Dave and I moved last year, this is our first June and we have now been initiated into “Junuary”—beautiful growing light and flower-filled days mixed with grey and chilly rainy days. Not at all like St. Paul, MN where we moved here from, where June meant full-on Summer with ever-growing heat. In some ways, this mixed weather helps me not get too attached to the idea of never-ending Summer weather… 

So, if the darkness is going to start growing again, how

about we take the time to let go into light right now?

The light is here, now, fully.

How can we be here, now, fully, in the light?

How can we see clearly in the full-on light?

How can we embrace it, live it, be it?

How can we revel in this season of light AND at the same time know that it is fading again?

That is part of what makes summer precious—what makes us value the light all the more. We know it will fade. We will move back into the darkness…

This reminds me of a practice I’ve just started from a book called The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young. He calls it “Just Note Gone.”

To practice, you pay attention fully to anything arising with one of your senses. And you keep concentrating on it until it is gone. Then you notice, in its absence, what is there.

Thursday morning, one of the times I practiced, I was listening to the water filling the carafe. When I turned it off, I paid attention and listened to it as it slowly stopped dripping.

When it stopped, I had the distinct and calming sense that in the stopping of the sound, the return to momentary silence, that there was a return to something deeper, bigger, a holding container of sorts. In the cessation, there was a returning to Source.

Then in the evening I was leading my Chanting for Community, Healing & Hope and during a pause after a song, I felt it again. A sense of returning to a vastness out of which the next song would arise. I felt at home, safe, at rest, content.

Shinzen describes this return as a reunion with the womb of creation, with the Unborn. There is contact with something that is not a thing, that has no form, out of which all things come into being.

So, as you let go into the light, what would it be like to Just Note Gone?

With senses wide open, take in this beauty, this light,

this delightful season of Summer, and stay with

each moment until what you are sensing is Gone.

Feel what remains when it’s gone. Relax into that.

Let go into the light and receive the support of God, of True Nature, of the Universe that is always holding, that is always supporting us.

How do you let go into this ever-present support?

Image by by Larisa Koshkina on Pixabay

New chances to sing with me–in person and virtual!

Chanting for Community, Healing & Hope, 1st & 3rd Thursdays via Zoom!

Evensong, July 5th at Chetzemoka Park, Port Townsend

Fires at Beltaine

Today, May 1st, Beltaine or Beltane, is a cross-quarter day that marks the approximate halfway point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. It is a time of celebrating the growing light. Tradition has it that great bonfires were lit on hills to bring the sun’s light down to earth so that the earth could be fertile and support our living.

We are in the time of growing light, and at the same time,

in quarantine, feeling, perhaps, endarkened,

not as available to the light.

I know I have been stressed during this time of staying home during the pandemic.

While I am very grateful to have work that I do from home, my work got busier, which has been hard! I have felt a bit out of sync from the rest of the world, with so much talk of extra time to go within, to rest, to dream and transform. I’m working extra hours and it’s been hard to find a sense of balancing in my already full life… And this is nothing compared to what healthworkers on the frontline are facing!

No matter what our situation–no work or too much–

this time of pandemic highlights how we manage our stress,

how we get caught up in our personality patterns…

I’ve noticed my less-healthy type Oneish ways:

  • I bought into an old “work hard and fast because it’s all up to you” pattern.
  • Then I found myself bringing this too-fast pace of thinking and moving into my home life–rushing through daily tasks, not taking time to really listen, interrupting my husband more (already a difficult pattern between us)…
  • And I found that I didn’t really know how I felt because there wasn’t time to feel deeply–there was too much to get done, competently, quickly…  Not feeling much does not make for nourishing connections as you can imagine.

Maybe your personality stress patterns are different and you are distracting yourself with more screentime or losing yourself in books or talking with friends. Or postponing getting stuff done or spinning your wheels worrying as if you could just get a sense of control if you think about everything…

But that’s just it.

We can’t get control.
There is no control to get.

We humans have lived under this illusion that we are in control of Eairth for a good 5,000-10,000 years, and this pandemic is showing us how false that is.

We can try certain things to mitigate the spread, to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, but we can’t control the pandemic.

Perhaps we are waking up to see that we can’t control Eairth as climate change has been indicating for many years.

That we can’t control life. Even though we try in our different stressed-out ways. Our ego personality thinks that if we just do/be in a certain way, everything will work out.

But it’s not true.

No matter how hard I work to do a good job or you try to be peaceful or someone else worries about finding a solution, we aren’t, ultimately, in control.

The good news is, though, that there is

something greater than us that is.

Some call this God or Goddess. Others call it True Nature, the Great Mystery, Higher Power, Love, or the Universe. It doesn’t matter how you call this. Or if you do.

We humans, who have been flailing our way, using our big brains to invent and discover amazing things (and destroying our Eairth home along the way), are part of this bigger power. We are its big-brained, self-aware human expression.

So, we can rest back into this, trust this, let this unfold life,

and stop all our personality attempts to control the situation.

Or, at least, we can try!

Miranda MacPherson, in her book The Way of Grace, suggests asking the question: “What’s holding me right now?” to help us become aware of all the support everywhere–the chair, the floor, the building we are in, the air we breathe, the ground, the interconnections we have with people and animals and plants… We can allow ourselves to rest in this.

I sing every Tuesday evening on a zoom call with Songlines, the community choir here in Port Townsend. This past Tuesday, we sang one of Laurence Cole’s songs about gratitude. Every time we express thanks, we have a chance to be aware of this greater holding that we are not in control of.

As Laurence says, “Be the one in whom nothing is lost and you will gain the whole world and a soul besides.” We can open ourselves to look for all the little and big things around us to be grateful for–the sun rising in the morning, food on the table, a home to live in, Spring, a chance to live another day… Nothing is too small to give thanks for.

So, let’s light our Beltaine fires to call down the sun’s light!

We can’t control the light, but we can be the ones who call for it, yearn for it, align with it with our practice. And if we practice together, our beseeching is all the greater!

Let’s practice connecting with this primordial holding instead of trying to control life. For only in touch with this deeper holding will we, ultimately, be safe no matter what happens.

Find more practice ideas.

How do you practice, what fires will you light?

life-death-life

stump feeding new life, with close-up of lichen

I’ve been thinking a lot about the
Life-Death-Life cycle recently.

That’s how Clarissa Pinkola Estes names it in Women Who Run with the Wolves—this ever-regenerating, ever-cycling pattern that permeates the universe and all existence.

It is the energy of the Wild Woman in Estes’ frame—the instinctual upsurging of life that naturally peaks, dwindles, and returns to Source to feed the next upsurging.

It is the cycles of living—we are born and learn through the stages from childhood, adolescence, mothering/fathering, loving, creating—and at the end of each stage, we die to our identification with that stage and move into the next, growing into new life.

It is the cycles of the seasons—from the new growth of Spring to the vibrant, flourishing of Summer and to the falling, waning and drawing in of Fall, and into Winter, where things return to rest, to compost, to mysteriously and ultimately be reformed into new life.

As a species, we experience this cycle on a macrocosmic level.

Our human life story starts way back with the big bang 13.8 billion years ago. And the death of stars led to the creation of the planets, Earth among them, with conditions that supported life to grow.

Our ancestors—from first amoebic life forms through fish to mammal to ape to proto-humans and including indigenous peoples today—live(d) WITH Eairth.**

Their lifeways honored and respected Eairth, not taking more than they gave, living in such a way that Eairth’s elements of air, fire, wind, and earth were not harmed. In this way life, for all Eairth, not just humans, could flourish.

It’s hard to say exactly when it first started, but as far back as settled agriculture, we can see how humans begin to take more than we returned to Eairth. And since then, especially with the Industrial Revolution, this unsustainable pattern has continued rapidly.

While it may look like humans are flourishing—and we certainly are manifesting the creativity of the universe in all the innovations and developments our minds have been able to discover and create—we have exceeded the carrying capacity of our own planet home.

We see this in the death that is happening all around us—from melting glaciers, to more and more extinctions, to climate chaos.

Our planet, and all her inhabitants are moving into the Death part of the Life-Death-Life cycle.

That means that we, the human species that caused this to happen, are moving into this cycle, too.

In Estes’ language, we must call on our inner Wild Woman to help us through.

She knows how to return to our roots.

She knows how to navigate death as part of the greater arc of life.

She knows that with death comes loss—necessary loss:

    • Loss of human-centered ways of living
    • Loss of the excess we think we need to live
    • Loss of the hyper-individualistic orientation we think is normal
    • Loss of our too-busy-to-practice or connect attitude that keeps all of this going.

Just like the blizzards in St. Paul where we used to live, when our neighborhood came together to shovel each other out from under 2 feet of snow, these Death times can bring us together again.

The goodness of our human nature can be cultivated and practiced.

We can invest more in meaningful relationships, in community building.

We can return to participation with our more-than-human brothers and sisters and find ways to get into right relationship of respect and honoring.

We can consume less, reforest, clean up our messes, and help to restore any amount of balance possible.

And, ultimately, as Wild Woman knows, as Eairth’s seasons know,

We have to move through Death for there to be new life,
for Spring to come again.

We don’t know what will survive, but Life will have its way. Spring will return with new life in some form, in some way…

How will we navigate these intense times of the Death cycle?

** Eairth = Earth and Air

Embodying the Transcendent

Image by by Larisa Koshkina on Pixabay

“The purpose of life is not to transcend the body,
but to embody the transcendent.”
~ The Dalai Lama

That’s not what I tried to do most of my life!

I tried to leave my imperfect-in-so-many-ways body to find a place in heaven, where things were perfect, I was told…

I tried born-again Christianity, anorexia, perfectionism, following the ideals of my family, my culture, my partners, and my EnneaType, to name a few big ones!

And none of it transcended me. I had my moments of feeling uplifted, transported, even angelic… but it wasn’t enough.

I still felt caught in a body. Caught in my moods. Caught in my habitual thoughts.

And my striving to always make myself and life better was hard on me and on those around me.

Being introduced to women’s work helped me to start filling out the picture a bit.

I came to realize that there are ideals up there and there is the reality right here. There is the way I want things to be and the way they are—physical, sensate, relational…

Getting into loving relationship with the inner Feminine helped me be here, in this body, in this life, in this relationship, in this Eairth.**

Not always striving for something that my mind had cooked up about the way things should be out there somewhere.

Meeting the Enneagram also helped because I got to see nine different ways of being in the world, and the myriad of individual expression within each. It broke open my idea that there was one perfect way (the ideal of my type, type One).

So, you might ask,
HOW do we embody the transcendent?

By doing our work to become a clear, open channel.

We can’t embody it if we are not living, sensing, feeling, touching, breathing, moving, resting, loving, … being in our bodies.

So, it starts with opening that channel—with releasing tension and habit that keeps us from sensing ourselves as human creatures, with learning to ground so we can feel our belonging in Eairth.

As continuum teacher Susan Harper offers,

“Gravity is a spiritual force of belonging that says I have a place for you and it is right here!”

Our place is right here, in this body, in this Eairth. Embodied (In-body).

Usually we have to work a lot with our constrictions of heart and mind, too, in order to become more embodied. We have habitual ways of feeling and thinking. Perhaps we worry or plan or emote or get frustrated or give up—these patterns block our ability to be present, to be an open channel.

As we become more embodied, we can offer a home to the transcendent, right here, in this beautiful bodysoul, expressing through us. It is here that heaven can find a place to live in us.

For as Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells us in Women Who Run with the Wolves, “Our work is to show we have been breathed upon—to show it, give it out, sing it out, to live out in the topside world what we have received through our sudden knowings, from body, from dreams and journeys of all sorts.” (p. 29)

The way I most experience embodying the transcendent is when I sing. I feel as if I am taking beauty and inspiration and giving it physical form through and in me.

Artists of all kinds do this most clearly, but so do animals and plants and everything that lives, to the extent that it is embodied.

For what better purpose for a life than to marry heaven and Eairth and so to live fully alive, fully inspired, fully present in this precious time we have here in Eairth?

What practices support you in embodying the transcendent?

** Eairth = Earth and Air

Winter Solstice 2019–emerging into light

Winter Solstice occurs this year on
Saturday, December 21st, 2019
at 8:19 pm Pacific Time.

This is one of the most celebrated turnings of the year in the Northern Hemisphere as it indicates the beginning of the return of the light as Eairth begins to rotate so that every day, the Northern Hemisphere tilts more toward the sun. The daylight hours begin to grow and the sun rises higher into the sky.

“It is sometimes said that we are born as strangers
into the world and that we leave it when we die.
But in all probability we do not come into the world at all.
Rather we come out of it in the same way
a leaf comes out of a tree or a baby from its mother’s body.
We emerge deep from within its range of possibilities…”
~ Barbara Holleroth in A Chosen Faith, p. 16.

And so it is on Winter Solstice that we can re-enter once gain this feeling of emerging out of the deepest darkness of the year…

Out of the soft, enveloping holding of the fertile womb of creation.

Out of the dark, spacious, luminous void.

Out of the starlit nights of dreaming and visioning.

We emerge within the possibilities of the darkness,

Within the not-yet-made manifest,

Within the imaginal, dream of Eairth.

Not separate,
but made of this darkness,
of this fertile ground
and vast void of creative possibility.

As the light begins to grow again and our dreaming takes form, let us still remember the gifts of the darkness, allowing ourselves to be shaped by them, made by them, created, birthed into this new light from within them.

On this Winter Solstice, I invite you into a brief ritual to re-enact this emergence from within the darkness into the light.

Start by sitting in the dark and breathing. You might like to listen to a guided grounding meditation, or to read/practice the Thich Nhat Hanh breathing meditation from my last blogpost. You may also want to spend a little time in silence, just being with the dark.

When you are ready, light a candle and contemplate these questions either in your journal or out loud, perhaps even with a friend:

What has the darkness been dreaming in you?

What fertile ground within is preparing itself to grow?

What possibilities want to emerge and be born through you into the growing light?

And how will you practice allowing the fertile darkness of possibility to come to fullness as it takes form in the light through you?

Eairth = Earth and Air

Image by Rene Rauschenberger from Pixabay (cropped)

Breathing in the Morning

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.

I’ve been practicing with one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s breathing gathas* every morning lately. It feels good to have a quiet morning practice that is about connecting with my bodysoul (body, heart, mind, soul) first thing in the morning.

Breathing in, my breath grows slow.
Breathing out, my breath goes deep.

I follow my breath down through nose, throat, chest, abdomen, pelvis, pelvic floor, sitz bones. Through head, heart, belly, into ground. Through softening face, breasts, belly, yoni, into earth.

Reciting each couplet inwardly with the breath 5-10x each, I align my body and soul.

Aware of my body, I breathe in.
Relaxing my body, I breathe out.

Good morning, I see you, tension in my jaw, tickle in my right forearm, ache in my left sacrum, pulsation in my left calf. I greet you, body’s intelligence. I welcome you, all of your sensations, just as you are.

Calming my body, I breathe in.
Caring for my body, I breathe out.

Just sitting here and breathing is caring for my body. Just my loving, interested attention for what is happening right now in my bodysoul. What a simple gift I can give myself of calm, ease, and care.

Smiling to my body, I breathe in.
Easing my body, I breathe out.

Smiling to my body, I breathe in.
Releasing tension in my body, I breathe out.

A half-smile on my face, I feel the ease of acceptance and welcome reverberate through my bodysoul. I smile to people to show my warmth and so also to my bodysoul, who responds with a warm easing of held places, a melting into this loving holding.

Feeling joyful to be alive, I breathe in.
Feeling happy, I breathe out.

There is a simple joy in just sitting here. Just breathing. Just being with my bodysoul. A subtle, deep happiness might visit me, deep in my bones, in my flesh, in my bodysoul. What a precious gift it is to be alive right here, right now!

Dwelling in the present moment, I breathe in.
Enjoying the present moment, I breathe out.

I am here. Dwelling in now. Abiding in whatever arises in my bodysoul, in my life, in my breath. I dwell here now. “What shall we eat for breakfast?” my mind pipes up. That’s for later. Now I return. Now I breathe in the nourishment of this present moment. Abiding here. Abiding.

Aware of my stable position, I breathe in.
Enjoying the stability, I breathe out.

I am aware of my deep stability in Eairth. I know, feel, sense how Mother Eairth is holding me close to her, hugging me with gravity into her core, her groundedness. Her ground is my ground. Her stability is my stability. I am cradled, supported, held, centered here.

I bow, ending my practice, one hand on heart, one on belly.

As we move with Eairth toward winter, we can align with winter’s slower rhythm by taking up practices that help the bodysoul embrace quietness and feel the stability and support of ground.

Starting your day this way sets you up to carry the quiet support with you so that you stay centered and able to meet what arises in the day with ease. Even 5-10 minutes in the morning can help.

What morning practices
support you in this way?

*  Breathing Meditation: versions from from Thich Nhat Hanh’s books Planting Seeds and Blooming Lotus.

**  Eairth = Earth and Air

presence-full time

Stepping outside with a task in mind,
I move with intention toward its completion.
Subtly and completely, my perception shifts,
and instead of allowing my mind to dictate the doing,
my body opens—to the front and sides and back—
adding a fullness and a wholeness into my doing.

My perception of time slows.

I am here, still moving, doing, completing, focused on task, but not so intensely. I take in the day, the garden, the birds, the light, the air. Perhaps I move a bit more slowly, more body-fully.

I still move with intention. My body, heart, and mind participating in a sense of embodied presence as I continue my task.

This experience is not time-stopping or mystical. It’s utterly ordinary—and different from my normal way of moving headlong into task.

It’s a moment of being in touch
with timelessness.

The timelessness of our inner experience.

The timelessness of Eairth.

The timelessness of the cosmos.

The timelessness of the Divine, of True Nature,
of the Goddess.

We don’t have to search for this in books, in classes or retreats or teachers… The portal is always NOW, in our precious bodysoul.

To the degree that we are present, there is only now. Yes, things still need to be done, but they occur in this timelessness moment, in presence, in touch with a truer, deeper, wholer sense of self.

This reminds me of a beautiful, simple song by Annie Zylstra, Weaving the Day. If you are a member of the facebook group Village Fire, you can listen to it here.

Weaving the day, weaving the day
The river will run and find its way
All is well. All is well.

The river isn’t rushing along to join the ocean. It’s finding its way as it flows. So can we move through our days, finding our way in presence.

Dropping the head into the heart and body, and opening to the flowing, full, timelessness of now.

From this place we can be in touch with “a sense of the natural unfolding of a day, of a season, of a year, of a life.”*

The presence practices I offer in my free e-book Welcoming the Sacred are about this—suggestions for how to meet the moment and enter it with more than head-centered intention so you can be more present throughout your day, whatever it brings.

Consciously aligning with the seasons, as we will practice in my upcoming Fall women’s mini-retreat, connects us with the natural unfolding of Mother Eairth through her changes over the year.

So, the more presence we weave into each day of each season, the more presence we weave into our whole lives. We find our flow, opening more and more deeply to a bodyful and mindful life.

How do you weave presence
into your day?

From Inviting Silence by Gunilla Norris, p. 90.

Welcoming Fall

Autumn Equinox was
last Monday, September 23rd
at 12:50 am PT.

This is the time when the dark and light hours are approximately even and marks the turning into more darkness as we head toward the Winter Solstice.

Why mark this transition at all? In a busy life, it can seem like just one more thing to remember, one more thing to do, to fit in…

But since taking on the practice of living with the seasons, I find myself more in touch with life, more in touch with Soul, with True Nature (God / Goddess / Great Spirit / Higher Power / Truth / Love), and more in touch with Eairth (Earth + Air = Eairth).

The seasons reflect not only the changing light and weather, but also the plants that grow, and the felt, energetic sense of life. Fall feels different from Spring or  Summer or Winter. There’s no getting around it, even in places without dramatic seasonal changes!

This amazing, shimmering, fierce, luminous, creative, mysterious Eairth has been developing over billions of years, creating more and more complex forms of life and consciousness. Its precise seasonal rhythms are simply one more expression of the universe’s creativity in earthly form.

These days, I can’t distinguish True Nature from Eairth.

And I love that this way of naming the Divine includes nature. Our nature is True. Nature is True. We are of God/dess, Love, Great Spirit, Higher Power. We are of Eairth. That is True Nature.

The creative unfolding of the mystery is One, experienced here in physical and energetic form as Eairth. And as such, it, and we, are sacred.

We humans embody the flowering of Eairth’s consciousness. As we are an expression of this consciousness, so are we intimately connected with the seasons. Why would we not want to align with Eairth’s seasons as they are also our seasons, affecting us energetically whether we know it or not?

So how do we align with
the season of Autumn?

What does this season invite us into?

On the physical-energetic level, plants and animals (have) come to fruition as we enter this season—they fruit/flower and seed. And then they prepare their dens for hibernation, conserve their energy, or die back, moving toward Winter. All of Eairth’s inhabitants partake of Summer’s abundance in Fall, completing their maturation, coming to fulfillment, harvesting food and putting it away for leaner days. And we get to celebrate this harvest! It is a time of gathering in and feasting, in preparation for leaner and darker times.

On the psycho-spiritual level, we also assess and feast on our interior harvest as we transition from Summer’s light to Winter’s dark. We slow down to contemplate, to truly face and embrace the outcomes of our lives. Did projects, plans, practices, desires come to fruition? If so, we acknowledge, appreciate, and celebrate. If not, we look with clear eyes and warm heart to understand what happened. Perhaps we need to grieve and/or re-calibrate, releasing hopes to make space for something new. Or perhaps simplification and re-prioritization is necessary before taking our next steps.

While nature’s season of Autumn comes predictably once a year, I learned from The Way of the Happy Woman work that we move through the seasons regularly in our lives, not always in alignment with Eairth’s seasons.

Women have a chance monthly with their hormonal cycles. The moon moves through every 29 days. We all move through the seasons of our lives from youth to elder. And each project we take on, in its wholeness, takes part in each of the seasons as well.

In Dave’s and my big project to move
to the Pacific NorthWest,
you can see all the stages clearly:

We first had the idea of moving here, talking with my parents about their next steps as the house got too big for them to manage easily. And we thought about it, planned, got the soil ready for new things for a few years. (Spring—new beginnings, new ideas, freshness.)

Then for a good year, we moved into an ever more intense Summer mode of doing the work, of accomplishing—renovating, packing, working hard to meet our goals and deadlines for house sale and move.

After landing in mid-July, with boxes in the basement and a temporary home in the guest room, we entered into the Fall season of our big project. We are here, enjoying the fruits of our labor, noticing regrets—loss of friends, place, community—and celebrating being in this beautiful, new home. We are also in the midst of this huge transition. How will we make this our home—find new community and friends and place? How will we make our livelihood? How will this be to accompany my parents as they age? What do we need to prioritize now? How do we need to adjust our plans to meet this reality?

Once we get more settled, Winter ‘s invitation to slow way down, to go within, to dream, and vision will give us plenty of time to live with and dream with all of these questions, to be ready for a new Spring, which may or may not coincide with Eairth’s season of Spring.

This way of aligning with the seasons gives hope!

So far, as Eairth’s seasons continue to model for us, after Winter always comes Spring. We can rely on this orderly and integral progression, plan for it, and be ready when our Spring arrives, just as we are ready to plant and be outside and welcome Eairth’s Spring.

How do you align with
the season of Autumn?