December 19th, 2008

alan - purple flowers

Good Morning!

It is raining and still dark though it is almost seven.  I light a candle to accompany me as i sit at the computer looking out on blackness and listening to the rain.

This is an introspective time.  I believe it is important to honor that.   Sunday will be the shortest day of the year, a sacred day in my opinion, a day to say to ourselves, okay what goes on in the darkness, deeply churning sweet dreams inside.

Everest is called by those who live there, the "churning stick of existence."  It is believed all souls circle it when they die.  Steve's mother died when I was up in the mountains there, out of all contact for a month, and yet, I felt her, felt her release.

I think it is important to turn out the lights this time of year and sit in candlelight and firelight if that is possible for you.   Cook those long-simmering recipes.  Bake.  Nurture yourself.   Hold words like pearls.   Write haiku, 17 syllables with meaning just for you.

I also think listing forty things that you have done, will never do, and still want to do is important, because it prioritizes your life.  I realized this morning I will spend more time in Inverness and Point Reyes this year, go to more museums.   That is not a luxury for me;  it is a necessity.  What will you do today to nourish yourself.  Write it down.  List it here or in a private, special place.   Don't forget to nourish yourself during these holidays.  You are the most important of all.

Think of Santa.   He doesn't do much up there at the North Pole.  The elves do the work.  He orchestrates a little, checks some lists, drinks hot chocolate and eats cookies, and then, he drives a sleigh.   Be kind to yourself.   Be Santa.

Yesterday I was in the East Bay on Fourth Street meeting a friend and then, Chris.   Santa wasn't busy, so kept waving at me to come in to sit on his lap or be with him in his sleigh.  I was tempted but didn't do it.  I realize now I should have.   Be with the Santa in yourself.  Ho, Ho, Ho, merrily along your way, and give time to sip the rich, deep darkness of these days.   There is richness in the deep, sweet nourishment in the dark.  Be the kindness that lights the way!

Alan - sunrise - Palm Springs area

another -

I enjoy these for some reason, though it does seem some people have a great deal of time on their hands. One version of this one said, "Keep Christ in Christmas." I can't really imagine that Christ expected his message to be used quite like this. Enjoy!!

Book Cover

from Writer's Almanac -

It was on this day in 1843 that Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, whom Dickens described as "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner. Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire." In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge learns the Christmas spirit of generosity from three ghosts who show him his past, his present, and his future.

Dickens' previous novel, Martin Chuzzlewit (1842), was a flop, and he was strapped for cash. Martin Chuzzlewit was satirical and pessimistic, and Dickens thought he might be more successful if he wrote a heartwarming tale with a holiday theme. He started writing in late October and worked hard to get it done by Christmas.

At the time of the book's publication, the celebration of Christmas was somewhat controversial. Puritans in England and America argued that Christmas was a holiday left over from the days when pagans celebrated the winter solstice. Many Christians felt that the extravagance of Christmas was an insult to Christ. But A Christmas Carol was a huge best-seller in both England and the United States, and it set the tone for Christmas as we know it today: a season of generosity, feasting, and merriment.

ayer's rock -

Yehuda Amichai -

I am reminded today of the poet Yehuda Amichai.   If you don't know his book Open, Closed, Open, it is a beauty and a worthy placement on your inner and outer shelf.

The Amen Stone

Yehuda Amichai

One my desk there is a stone with the word "Amen" on it,

a triangular fragment of stone from a Jewish graveyard destroyed

many generations ago.  The other fragments, hundreds upon hundreds,

were scattered helter-skelter, and a great yearning,

a longing without end, fills them all:

first name in search of family name, date of death seeks

dead man's birthplace, son's name wishes to locate

name of father, date of birth seeks reunion with soul

that wishes to rest in peace. And until they have found

one another, they will not find perfect rest.

Only this stone lies calmly on my desk and says "Amen."

But now the fragments are gathered up in lovingkindness

by a sad good man. He cleanses them of every blemish,

photographs them one by one, arranges them on the floor

in the great hall, makes each gravestone whole again,

one again:  fragment to fragment,

like the resurrection of the dead, a mosaic,

a jigsaw puzzle.  Child's play.

That is the introduction to the book.   I thumb through now, once again.  It is so beautiful, this book, this man, every poem a touching stone for something deeper of understanding and connection.

I love these words:

And there's all this talk about Till death do us part.
Even death will not part us, it will bind us
somewhere in the universe
in a new encounter that has no end.

And there is this:

Longings are the fruit.
Words and deeds that truly happen
are the flowers of the field that wither and fade.
The fruit remains a while longer, bearing the seeds of longings to come.
The root lasts, deep in the ground. 


And all the while messengers keep running back and forth
to my childhood to retrieve what I forgot or left behind
as if from a house that is about to be demolished,
or like Robinson Crusoe, from the slowly sinking ship
to the island - so I salvage from my childhood provisions and memories
for the next installment of my life. 

Book Cover

I love to laugh -

Okay, so we think it's cold here and it was down below freezing the last few nights and I did lose some plants, and we may look like wimps, but I did have to dig out my coat and gloves yesterday that I usually only wear when I go to NY and CT in the winter and our houses are not well-insulated and so, this last week, we bond in cold, and those of you with your blizzards can laugh at us. It is all relative. :)

Enjoy and savor, whatever your weather today.

space - orion nebula

Sometimes -

I received a Holiday card from Jane today with this hope for the new year, and wish for me and the world.  I share it with you and wish the same for you, for myself, and for the world.  


Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don't go, after all,

from bad to worse, muscadel

faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,

sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war:

elect an honest man;  decide they care

enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.

Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go

amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.

The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow

that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you.

Book Cover

Unity flames -

When I went to Nepal, I was surprised that there was no word for thank you in the Nepalese language.  Performances of art and music were considered spiritual.  There was no clapping or need for names on the program.   Now, I pick up the book Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes, Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett.


“One of the things about Piraha that immediately fascinated me was the lack of what linguists call “phatic” communication – communication that primarily functions to maintain social and interpersonal channels, to recognize or stroke, as some refer to it, one’s interlocutor.  Expressions like hello, goodbye, how are you?, I’m sorry, you’re welcome, and thank you don’t express or elicit new information about the world so much as they maintain goodwill and mutual respect. The Piraha culture does not require this kind of communication.  Piraha sentences are either requests for information (questions), assertions of new information (declarations) or commands, by and large. There are no words for thanks, I’m sorry, and so on.”


I think the language we use with others is the language we use with ourselves.  If we are constantly in a state of counting and accounting, how does that affect our lives?  Mother Theresa spoke of the loneliness of people in the United States.   Does continual thanking distance us, separate?  The Nepalese view what they do, what we would say thank you for, as life, as process, as flow.  They don’t need praise or censure.  Energy circulates, lives. 


I consider that today as we enter even further into darkness. Is there a place to accept that our mood may darken or lift, even as our desires and needs, when perceived as one giving and receiving, unite in a perception of dark and light as one?