Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, 2010

Christmas is a Winter Solstice celebration. I linked to all my old Winter Solstice posts in my last post, Solstice Story.

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Christmas is still the center of my Mid-Winter celebrations. I feel deep resonance with Goddess centered celebrations on the Winter Solstice and celebrating Advent has grown into a very meaningful spiritual practice, but the celebration of my childhood is a sweet, secular Christmas. It is Christmas trees covered in tchotchke, awful pop music we wouldn't listen to any other time of the year, too much candy, wrapping paper and Santa Claus.

Please check out my post from last year telling the story of the birth of Jesus in the words of Luke. For this Christmas, though, it's a reposting of the story at the heart of My Christmas.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap—

When out on the lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blitzen—
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!
Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So, up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys—and St. Nicholas too.
And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack;
His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump—a right jolly old elf;
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Solstice Story

Winter Solstice

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 I woke up for the sunrise on Solstice morning and hiked up to the top of Council Crest. The day was grey and I didn't see much of a sunrise, but I did hear a story told by the sky and the trees...

Long, long ago in a time before there was either time or ago, all there was was the Darkness of the Divine. Out of this Darkness the Goddess formed herself and for almost as long as there had been just Darkness there was just the Goddess. Eventually, she came to realize she was alone, and then realized that she was lonely. Out of the one that was The Goddess became the Two, the Goddess and her consort the God. And they were happy.

Out of their happiness and their love sprang the myriad things. Out of their love sprang the stars and the earth, the water and the stones. Out of their love sprang the plants and the grass, the birds of the sky, the fish of the sea and the beasts of their land. Out of their love sprang rain and snow and the light of dawn and the still of twilight. All these myriad things were beautiful and rejoiced in their love of the Goddess and the God. And they were happy.

As time passed the God and the Goddess watched the drama of life play out on Earth. They watched plants grew and deer eat them. They watched deer grow and wolves eat them. They saw the vultures and flies eat the wolves' flesh after they died and the plants grow out of them again. The Goddess and the God watched this cycle, and the countless other cycles of birth and death and rebirth and saw that something else was needed in this world they had created. Just as the mouse sacrificed its life for the life of the snake and the minnow sacrificed for the perch and the fruit for the monkey, something or someone needed to sacrifice their life so that all the life of the myriad things could continue. And they were not happy, but they were at peace.

The God, the Goddess's consort, lover and partner, knew that it was his role to sacrifice himself for his creation. As he grew into the full strength of his power he prepared for his own sacrifice. Finally, despite the Goddess's sorrow, he chose his moment and sacrificed himself in a blaze of color and light. And they were not happy, but they were at peace.

The Goddess mourned his death and plant life seemed to die back in the face of her sorrow. The world grew colder and darker but the God's sacrifice had worked. Like autumn leaves mouldering under the snow to produce the next years light spring soil, his life force permeated all of creation. His sacrifice gave all things a chance at rebirth and renewal. And, miracle of miracles, like the cow elk in the early winter The Goddess found herself pregnant; pregnant with the God himself. And she was happy.

She grew larger in her pregnancy as the world sunk deeper into a winter hibernation. When it felt like the Earth could not be colder or darker, or the Goddess any greater with her child she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, to the God, to light and warmth and growth. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and held him close to her as he grew. And they were happy.

The Goddess was so happy with her child, with the birth of light and of summer to come that she wanted to celebrate. In her joy she created humans to help her celebrate, to keep watch over the year as the God is born, grows, becomes strong and fills the world with growing green and warm thing. The Goddess and the humans she created watch and celebrate as The God reaches his full strength, realizes his destiny and sacrifices himself in light and color. The Goddess and the humans she created watch and celebrate even as the Earth sinks into restful dark and cold, renewing and waiting. And again, we celebrate at the birth of the new year's Light. And we are happy.

These images are created by AlicePopkorn. Please check out all of her amazingly beautiful and spirit filled work on her flickr stream.

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Winter Solstice 2008: Good Morning Sun! and also Solstice Creche

Winter Solstice 2009: Christmas

The winter 2009 post Advent, Awaiting the Birth and the winter 2010 post The Dark of the Dark are also about Winter Solstice.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Dark of the Dark

Full Birth Moon

Full Birth Moon 2008: Outer Darkness and Inner Hope

Full Birth Moon 2009: New Year! and A Story for the Birth Moon

This post is also about Winter Solstice which I wrote about in the posts Good Morning Sun! and Solstice Creche in in 2008 and Christmas in 2009.

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December 21, 2010 was a dark night. Did you make it outside to view the full moon or the full lunar eclipse? Did you celebrate the longest night of the year, the winter solstice? We are lucky people to get to see all three of these heavenly events occur on the same night. The last time it happened was about 400 years ago.

Photo by Jezlyn26

I can't hardly imagine what it must have been like on that cold night in 1638. There were no electric lights anywhere. It was dark that winter, and most likely very cold. In northern Europe most people lived in homes that were very like the barns their cattle and sheep spent the winter in - low mud and straw buildings, perhaps with some timber supports, a thatch roof and a large stone fireplace or chimney in the middle of the building. People spent the long winter nights huddled around this one source of light and warmth, telling stories, spinning flax or wool, maybe whittling or working leather in the flickering fire light. One night, when it had been dark and cold for months, right before the great feast of Christmas, someone walking back from the barn or privy noticed that the full moon had a smudge on it. It looked like something was taking a bite out of the moon! As more people gathered to watch this horrifying, unnatural sight they were even more shocked when the disk of the moon, now fully darkened, turned a rusty blood red. It must have been a terrifying sight.

These people, with no scientific understanding of what was going on, used their own world view based on the stories of their Christian religion and the memories and remnants of their indigenous beliefs, to make sense of their world. Throughout most of history and across most
cultures a lunar eclipse was a very bad omen. It foretold death, famine, drought, flood or some other tragedy. Anything that upset the natural cycle of events can be very scary and the blessed light of the full moon transforming into a blood red disk seems pretty terrifying even to me, and I have a scientific understanding of the phenomena!We are a diurnal species and our culture is a light focused one. We revere the building, doing forces of the sun and take comfort in the brightness and light the full moon, a reflection of that sun. We, children of our biology and our culture, are very yang - dry, hot, light, piercing - and tend to not know what to do with things that are yin - wet, cool, dark, receiving. Sometimes we ignore these yin forces while often we actively suppress them with fear or hatred.

Many of our traditions and holidays for this darkest time of the year center around lighting up the dark. In Jewish tradition candles are lit on a
menorah. In Pagan and Christian Europe lights are lit in the form of Christmas trees, candles in windows, yule logs and fairy lights. In modern times those lights have transformed into amazing spectacles of electric lights. We are performing an act of sympathetic magic - Oh, Powers of Light, if we light up the dark winter night will you bring the sun back and light up the world again? Please?! We modern people with a scientific mindset might laugh at this explanation of what we are doing, but for those people of the 17th century it was a clear requirement.

I am not against the probing, yang-ful pursuit of science or electric light s
pectaculars. Science allows us to know things about the physical world in a way that allows an emotional detachment and the lights cheer us in the dark nights. Yes, this scientific detachment can lead to a lack of wonder and awe but it also leads to a lack of fear about natural phenomenon. With our perspective from this side of fear we can build a better, more holistic view, of the world. Our atavistic, reptillian brain is terrified of the dark and we work hard to banish it. But that is not the only way.

In the book Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom Dr. Christina Northrup posits that our excessively yang, patriarchial society causes us to look at illness as a battle and every disease or symptom as an enemy. We "fight" cancer and "blast" tumors but in some ways the only victim of the war is our own selves. Dr. Northrup asks what if we looked at illness as a messenger? What might we need to learn that this disease or sympt
om is here to show us? The darknesses of night and winter have messages to bring us as well as the darknesses of illness and disease. In the story I posted last month, Night and Day, is a beautiful expression of this idea. In the story Day says to night "But I mistook your friendly shadow for that of death.... You, in whose silence and rest the very fountains of life are renewed"
What is the darkness of this time of year trying to tell you? How do you balance chasing the darkness away with cheer and lights with allowing yourself to sink fully into the darkness of the season? What do you need to lay down and let rest? What do you need renewed? How did you celebrate the darkest night of the year?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter is Dark, Yet Each Tiny Spark

New Birth Moon:

New Birth Moon 2008: Waiting

New Birth Moon 2009: Advent, Awaiting the Birth

This post is also about Advent, which I wrote about in posts Christmas (Winter Solstice 2009), Moving from the Season of the Dead (Full Death Moon 2009), and Solstice Creche (Winter Solstice 2008).

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You know the song, it's stuck in your head too...

It really IS beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The soft rock radio station has completed its annual metamorphasis into a Christmas music station. Lights are up on homes and buisnesses. When I first started seeing all the trees tied to the tops of SUVs around town I had visions of suburban dads out with shotguns hunting down their perfect tree and dragging it home. Now I see those perfectly chosen trees in front windows all decorated. And the parties! My social calendar is close to booked for every weekend until the end of the month with holiday parties of every stripe: christmas sweater parties, christmas light viewing parties, holiday cocktail and housewarming parties, holiday movie viewing parties, open houses and wassail and gingerbread making parties. Oh my! No wonder people get exhausted during the holidays.

As I've written about in the last two years I will be focusing most of my festive energy on the Advent season leading up to Christmas. My sister and I just moved into a new apartment and I am finally able to put my creche in the living area of the house. We also dug out a fun advent calendar she bought at Starbucks a number of years ago. It is made of cardboard and has reuseable drawers that she fills with little goodies for me each year. We are having a housewarming party this weekend and will decorate the house with lights and maybe a small tree as well. I can't wait.

The pastor at my Quaker church holds an open house every December and he and his wife decorate their little home to the rafters with Christmas decorations. She also makes dozens of different kinds of cookies. The first Sunday of Advent is my "liturgical year anniversary" of attending West Hills Friends and I finally feel like I am making friends there. It was so nice to have another opportunity to hang out with these people who are becoming a really important part of my life. I was talking with one man about how his family is celebrating Christmas this year and I realized that I don't have real plans for Christmas day... the fun is all in the season leading up to the "big event" for me.

Winter is dark,
Yet each tiny spark
Brightens the way
To Christmas Day.

Shine little light
And show us the way
To the bright, bright light
Of Christmas day.

From the Waldorf Clearing House Newsletter Archive, Fall 1981

Like last year I am decorating my creche according to the four realms of the natural world. The first week of Advent is dedicated to the mineral realm. Lynn Jericho, in her essay I am a Human Being, describes how the four "bodies" Rudolph Steiner identified are related to the four realms of the natural world. The mineral realm is associated with our physical bodies, the actual bone, muscle and skin that makes up our physical shell. She says the rocks have their own individual physical make up - there is a physical difference between granite and limestone, pyrite and quartz - but they have undifferentiated life, soul and spirit bodies. The mineral realm is related to our physical bodies and, in my mind, our physical environment. As we moved into our new house on Wednesday of the first week of Advent I saw that connection very clearly. We could see the "bones and stones" of our home, the blank walls and empty expanses of floor.

The second week of Advent is dedicated to the plant realm and our life bodies. Our life bodies are the rhythm that brings animation to the otherwise inert physical body. Plants have both an individual physical body - roses are different from redwoods which are different from dog woods and ferns - and an individual life force. The rose bush in my front yard grows differently than the rose in your yard and each tree has a different feeling to it, but the soul and spirit bodies are still communal. The soul of a rose belongs the same to all roses no matter where they grow. During the second week of Advent we started to settle into the rhythm of our new home. Where does the furniture go and how do we navigate around it? Which drawer holds the silverware and how early in the evening do we need to turn the heat on in the bedroom so it will be warm by bed time? I decorated the creche with sprigs of holly, Douglas fir and cedar from the neighborhood and burned sage and sweetgrass throughout the apartment in an ancient ritual of purification and dedication.

During the third week of Advent I will celebrate the soul forces of our home, which are correlated to the animal kingdom. Animals, with their differentiated soul bodies, have individual perceptions and can make decisions. They have relationships. Most likely we will put up art on the walls and the house will start to really have a lived in feeling, especially after our housewarming party. Humans are the only beings that can have a fully developed spirit body, the body that experiences the divine eternal. Lynn Jericho says the spirit body never truly incarnates, it only illuminates. Perhaps we can be lucky enough to fill our house with enough love and laughter to occasionally get flashes of the spirit life of our new home. Living fully in the Christmas season seems as good of a way to get there as any.

I light four candles on the wreath, all made of holly green,
For you and me, and all who shall be,
Four candles now are seen
We await on earth the holy birth, and upon the boughs of green.
Our hopes arise with every flame, four candles now are seen!

Attributed to Mrs. Marsha of Shining Star School and the Waldorf Home Educators Yahoogroup.

How are you striving to live fully in the Christmas season? Are you decorating or baking for the holidays? What do you know about Steiner's thoughts on the fourfold human being? Does any of what I've written or you've read elsewhere ring true to you? What's your favorite Christmas carol?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wear it As Long as Thou Canst

Full Death Moon

Full Death Moon 2008: Full Moon in Taurus

Full Death Moon 2009: Moving from the Season of the Dead

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Winter is here:

A large pale moon above a frosty field in the morning sun.

Big wet snowflakes drifting through the light of a street lamp.

The complex, geometric beauty of frost edged leaves in my garden.

The thud of frozen leaves hitting the shed roof as they fall off the fig tree.

The shock of cold when you open the door, the ache in your feet by the end of Meeting.

Seriously, winter is HERE.

Usually, in Portland Oregon winter is more about dark and wet than it is about actual cold. Sure, what cold we have is that bone chilling damp cold, but the thermometer rarely shows truly frigid temperatures. This week, though, we are experiencing a rare arctic blast with hard frost and ice, a little snow and a high of only 30 degrees. Winter is not joking around.

Winter is a time when we become very aware of our needs. We are in extra need of warmth, shelter, food, light and friendship. Resources run thin and the elements take their extra toll. As we become aware of our own needs we are often nudged to be aware of the needs of others. The plight of needy people in our own communities seem to loom large over us as well during this time of the year. My morning commute often takes me past people begging for money on street corners and I sometimes drive past the crowd of men and women outside Portland Rescue Mission on my way home from work. When I say my evening prayers, or give thanks to god for the warm and dry places in my life I am often reminded of these people who lack what I am so grateful to have.

These unmet needs of others can feel so overwhelming if we let them. This last weekend the pastor at my Quaker meeting gave a typically irreverent and witty message, this time about our responsibilities to our community. He used the terms diffused responsibility and shared responsibility to illustrate the difference between those burdens we all pick up together and those we leave to others to pick up. He said most of us are like zebras who flee when the lion comes out of the tall grass hoping it will be someone else's responsibility to become dinner.

We Quakers, though, like many other people who feel the presence of god in their lives, try to listen to what responsibilities god is calling us to address. There is a famous Quaker story about the time William Penn asked George Fox for his advice about something that was bothering him. George Fox founded the Quaker movement after receiving his vision on Pendle Hill and forming his convictions regarding the light of god in all people. William Penn was a young aristocrat who had converted to Fox's upstart religion and was concerned about his sword. All noble men wore swords in those days but Quakers were pacifists and believed in not carrying weapons so as not to provoke violence. Penn asked Fox what to do about his sword, most likely hoping for some rule or guide to follow. Fox did not provide him such an easy answer and instead said "I advise thee to wear it as long as thou canst."

Living in the wider world of ours with all of its issues and problems also requires us to choose to take responsibility or choose to leave responsibility for someone else to deal with. Like Penn we are allowed to wear the sword of our own lives and our own needs, leaving responsibilities to the poor and needy for others for as long as we can. Eventually, though, we need to set down our sword, pick up those burdens we are able to, and do what we are can with them.

  • My Meeting held a food drive during the months of October and November and we raised over 2000 pounds of food for Neighborhood House, a non-profit community group in our neighborhood. As part of our community celebration during that time members of our congregation created a labyrinth out of boxes and cans of food.
  • I also recently joined an organization called the Harry Potter Alliance, a group using imagery and language from the books by J.K. Rowling, plus a healthy dose of competition, to organize people to fight real world problems. The current campaign is a petition to get Time Warner to use all fair trade chocolate in their Harry Potter merchandising. They call it the Starvation Wages Horcrux and hope to raise awareness of fair trade issues in chocolate production and get a large corporation to make the responsible choice with its products (p.s. Click on that link, sign the petition and Hufflepuff as your house. We have a chance to win the house cup!).
  • This week my sister felt compelled recently to solicit donations from our friends for New Avenues for Youth, a homeless youth shelter in Portland. They are asking for donations of warm clothing to help kids who are living on the street stay warm and safe this winter. We have two giant garbage bags full of sweaters, socks and tshirts to be dropped off.

None of these actions alone are going to solve the problems world hunger, economic justice or crushing poverty by themselves. They might, however, make life a little better for one person somewhere in the world. We can't take on all the world's problems alone but we can, however, cultivate our habits of gratitude and giving, fill our hearts with stories of people who have given more than seems reasonable to others, and encourage others to give what they are called to give. Together, perhaps, we can change the world for the better.

What responsibilities have you been feeling called to shoulder as winter closes in? How do you connect with god as she is found in other people? What organizations do you support as they work to help poor, sick or oppressed people? How is winter showing itself in your neighborhood?

Friday, November 12, 2010


I have not written about Martinmas before, though it is associated with the cross quarter day I call Halloween. Here are previous posts about Halloween:

Halloween 2008: When the Veil Between the Worlds is Thin

Halloween 2009: What Do You Really Want to Be?

Halloween 2010: Doggy Heaven

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It is the day of Martilmasse,

Cuppes of ale should freelie passe;
What though Wynter has begunne
To push downe the Summer sunne,
To our fire we can betake,
And enjoye the crackling brake,
Never heedinge Wynter's face
On the day of Martilmasse.

Martinmas is another one of those fantastic holidays that most Americans either have never heard of, or only heard of through Waldorf schools. In both European countries like the Netherlands and Germany as well as in Waldorf schools around the world Martinmas is celebrated by retelling the story of St. Martin of Tours and by holding evening lantern walks. Last year I felt the deep calling of the Michaelmas celebration and this year I am feeling the same way about Martinmas. The more I read and think about it, the more beautiful and meaningful it is.

The young man who was to become St. Martin was born in about 317 A.D. in what is today Hungary and grew up the son of a Roman cavalry man in the area around Lombardy in Northwestern Italy. He became a Christian as a young man after Constantine made it the state religion but before it became popular in the military society Martin was a part of. Though he became a founder of monasteries and famous for exorcising demons the story most associated with St. Martin is the episode of the beggar and the cloak.

painting by Gustave Moreau, circa 1882

The story is told in many ways by many authors but the main elements are always the same. On a cold winter night St. Martin rode into the walled city of Ameins in northern France, and passed by a beggar huddling in the cold. Martin, having nothing else to give the man, took off his own scarlet cloak, cut it in two with his sword and gave half to the beggar. That night Martin was awoken by a vision of Christ proclaiming, "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me".

Rudolf Steiner, in a lecture on Easter, mentions that the Festivals of Christmas, Easter, St. Johns Day and Michaelmas fall a number of days after the point of the solar calendar they are aligned with. He says this is because the spiritual nature of the season comes to it's peak a few days after the earthly peak. For instance, solstices usually fall on the 21st or 22nd of December and June but Christmas is Dec 25th and St. Johns Day is the 24th of June. Martinmas, the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, falls on November 11th just a few days after the solar Festival of Halloween at the very end of October. Martinmas is associated with this ancient festival date and has been celebrated in similar ways throughout European history.

The holidays of All Saints and All Souls Day are the christian calendar equivalent of the part of Samhain or Halloween dealing with our Beloved Dead in the other world while St. Martin's Day is associated with another part of the season - preparing for winter. We prepare for winter by kindling and protecting our inner flame, sharing that flame with others and also protecting others with gifts of food and clothing.

In Britain there are many folk traditions relating to Martinmas, mostly relating to the harvest of animals and preparing for winter. During medieval times Martinmas was when herds were thinned before the winter, rents were paid and hiring fairs would be held for servants and workers who wished to change their employers. In some parts of Europe a goose was the proper meat for a Martinmas feast but in England beef was the centerpiece of the feast. Wilson's Almanac book of days for November 11 has many more interesting stories about ancient traditions in Europe and Britain relating to Martinmas, including many poems and sayings. Besides the old English ballad excerpted above my favorite is this piece of weather augury:

Ice before Martinmas,
Enough to bear a duck.
The rest of winter,
Is sure to be but muck!

The Martinmas lantern walk celebrated by Waldorf schools as well as families in the Netherlands, Germany and other parts of Europe is the visible ritual signifying our kind ling and protecting of our inner light. This light was sparked at
Michaelmas time and has grown, hand in hand with our courage, into the light of love and faith Martin showed sharing his cloak with the beggar. We protect our little flame in a beautiful lantern and parade it around, singing songs with our brothers, sisters and neighbors. As the outer light of the sun wanes during these days of late autumn and early winter we take pains to protect our inner light so it can grow.

photo by Rounien & Rjabinnik
How are you nurturing your inner light in these darkening days? How are you sharing your light and helping to kindle and protect the lights of others during this season? What about the story of St. Martin of Tours speaks to you? Is there any part of it, or of other ancient traditions that do not speak to you? Have you ever made a lantern to show off your light? Will the ducks of Martinmas be wading in the muck by Christmas where you are?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Night and Day

New Death Moon

New Death Moon 2008: Time as a Circle

New Death Moon 2009: The Soldier and Death

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Night and Day, a Parable from Nature

In old times, long long ago, when Night and Day were young and foolish, and had not discovered how necessary they were to each other's happiness and well-being, they chased each other round the world in a state of angry disdain. Old northern tales say that they each rode across the sky in a chariot pulled by a beautiful horse, Night’s with a frosty mane, while that of Day had a shiny one. Moreover, foam fell from Frosty-mane's bit as he went along, which dropped on the earth as dew, and Shiny-mane's mane was so radiant that it scattered light through the air at every step. 

And thus they drove on, bringing darkness and light over the earth in turn—each pursuing and pursued; each thinking that he alone was doing good, and that therefore the other, so totally unlike himself in all respects, must be doing harm, and ought to be got rid of altogether if possible. Of the two, one grumbled and the other scolded the more, and it is easy to guess which did which.

Night was gloomy by nature, especially when clouds hid the moon and stars. She was really broken-hearted at the exhaustion produced all over the world by the labours and pleasures which were carried on under the light of day. She would receive the earth back as if it was a sick child and she a nurse, who had a right to be angry with what had been done to it.

Day, on the contrary, was amazingly cheerful, particularly when the sun shone and never troubled his head about what was to happen when his fun was over. On the contrary, he thought his fun ought to last for ever because it was pleasant and was quite vexed when it was put to a stop.

"Cruel Night," he exclaimed, "what a life you lead me! What trouble I have to take to keep your mischief in check. Look at the mists and shadows I must drive on one side before I can make the world bright with my beautiful light! And no sooner have I done so than I feel your cold breath trying to come up to me behind! But you shall never overtake me if I can help it!."

"I doing mischief which you have to keep in check!" groaned Night, quite confused by the accusation. "I, whose whole time is spent in trying to repair the mischief other people do: your mischief, in fact, you wasteful consumer of life and power! Every twelve hours I get back from you a half worn-out world, and this I am expected to restore and make as good as new again, but how is it possible? Some wear and tear I can renew and refresh, but some, alas! I cannot; and thus creeps in destruction and death."

"Hear her," cried Day, in contempt, "taunting me with the damage I do, and the death and destruction I cause! I the life-giver, at whose touch the whole world awakes which else might lie asleep for ever. She, the grim likeness of the death she talks about, and bringing death's twin sister in her bosom."

"You are Day the destroyer. I Night, the restorer," persisted Night, evading the argument.

"I am Day the life-giver, you Night the desolator," replied Day, bitterly.

"I am Night the restorer, you Day the destroyer," repeated Night.

"You are to me what death is to life," shouted Day.

"Then death is a restorer as I am," exclaimed Night.

And so they went on, like all other ignorant and obstinate arguers; each full of his own one idea, and taking no heed of what the other might say. How could the truth be got at by such means? Of course it could not so they persisted in their rudeness. And there were certain seasons particularly when they became more impertinent to each other than ever.

For instance, whenever it was summer, Day's horse, Shiny-mane, got so strong and frisky that Night had much ado to keep her place at all, so closely was she pressed in the chase. Indeed, sometimes there was so little of her to be seen that people might have doubted whether she had passed by at all, had it not been for the dew Frosty-mane scattered, and which those saw who got up early enough in the morning.

Oh, the boasting of Day at these times! And really he believed what he said. He really thought it would be the greatest possible blessing if he were to go on for ever, and there were to be no Night. Perhaps he had the excuse of having heard a whisper of some old tradition to that effect: but the principal cause of the mistake was, that he thought too much about himself, and too little about his neighbour.

Soon, though, she had her revenge; for when it was summer on one side the globe it was winter on the other; and then it was her turn to boast, as it was in winter that Frosty-mane came out in all his glory. During that season Night kept up a sort of murmuring triumph, "Good, good, very good: this is something like rest at last; now worn-out Nature is recruiting herself to some purpose. Now weary muscles may gather strength instead of giving it out. Now all the secret forces of Nature are at work, and exhaustion is being repaired on every side. Now trees and plants may keep their gases for themselves, and waste and consumption cease, for the wear and tear of life have stopped. Ah, if it could but cease for ever! Then the world would be renewed, indeed, and giant races of man and beast and plant arise!"

And so things went on till a check came, and it came in a very odd way. It is not always very easy to tell the exact causes of change even in one's own mind, much less in other people's, so I do not pretend to trace the whole process out in this case.

But Night and Day did grow wiser as time went on, for there is no squabbling or boasting going on between them now. One may conclude that after the first flush of feeling cooled down, they were better able to look round them and judge dispassionately of each other. And, lo and behold! they discovered at last that there were two portions of the globe, the poles, where each had their own way for six whole months at a time, and that yet the brilliant consequences which they had insisted would occur never took place.

On the contrary, those were the dreariest and most desolate portions of the whole globe,—barren wastes of ice and rock, where both animal and vegetable life were at the lowest possible ebb. In vain did Shiny-mane drive round and round that frozen horizon with a light that was never interrupted: where was the promised Paradise which was to follow?—the foliage, the flowers, the fruits, the precious crops which should have adorned this unchecked reign of Day, where were they? Day, the life-giver, looked down upon a kingdom without life!

And it was the same with Night, when her turn came round. In vain did Frosty-mane distil his dews. They were useful—at least Night thought so—everywhere else; but here, what did they avail? Here was the unbroken rest which was to recruit and refresh all Nature: now her secret powers might work as they pleased: but where were the giant races of man and beast and plant that were to arise in consequence? Night, the restorer, ruled, but over a kingdom where there was nothing to restore!

They had made a terrible mistake, that was clear; and if they did not at first see that there must be other and more important powers at work, besides theirs, or the good old earth would not be what it is in most places, they must be excused. People cannot grow quite wise all at once, and they had made a very good beginning by learning to distrust themselves; that being always the first step towards doing justice to a neighbour.

"I called you Day the destroyer, bright and beautiful friend," murmured Night, in her softest tones; "you who bring light over my shadows, and make my good deeds known to all men. Day, the life-giver, forgive me, and return at the seasons appointed. Touch the earth with your glory from time to time, lest all things perish from its face, and it and I are forgotten together."

"But I mistook your friendly shadow for that of death," answered Day, with his sweetest smile, though tears trembled in his eyes as he thought of the injustice, causing the brightest of rainbows to span the landscape below: "and that was a thousand times worse! You, in whose silence and rest the very fountains of life are renewed. Ah, while earth remains what it is, an everlasting day—a day without night—would be destruction! Dear friend, forgive me, and ever and ever return."

"There is nothing to forgive," whispered Night, as she came round once more. "And death also may restore as I do," added she tenderly; for the harvest moon was shining upon long fields of golden corn, some waving still, some gathered into sheaves; and she felt particularly hopeful about everything.

"Anyhow we are friends—loving, helpful friends," sang Day.

"Friends—comforting and abiding friends," echoed Night, in return, as the weary world sank on her bosom; eyes closing, limbs relaxing, and flowers folding, as if the angel of rest had come down from heaven.

And friends they were and remain, though long ages have passed away since the time the old northern tales tell of; and though now the wise men will not allow that Night and Day drive round the world in cars with horses to them. Perhaps it is really true that the earth is a dark ball, hanging in the openness of space moving slowly round the shining sun, but spinning like a top all the time itself, so that first one side and then the other faces the brightness. But no matter which way the changes come. Night and Day are the work of the Lord; and, like all the other "works of the Lord" have a voice, and say many things worth listening to, especially now that they are no longer young and foolish. Listen only, and you will hear. And which speaks you can surely guess, for they praise each other now and not themselves. One sings—

"Dear Night, whom once I dreaded as the dark end of life and enjoyment. Dear Night, whom now I know as the forerunner of life renewed. Welcome, blessed restorer; take our worn-out child to your bosom. All her day-labourers grow weary, for a portion of life goes from them, in the toil of limb and of muscle. Restore what thou canst and mayst, let the rest remain in hope; for the mercy thou bringest now, foreshadows a greater in store. Oh, type of the mighty change which must one day pass upon all; of the deep mysterious rest in which all things shall be renewed; of the needful, hopeful death which quickens unto life! Dear Night, my sister and friend, the twilight shades approach, and I see in thankful peace your darker shadows beyond."

And the other answers in turn.

"Dark and secret my mission; men call me Night the gloomy; but I hold in my bosom the germs of a glory full of hope; hiddenly working within, till thou, the life-giver, returnest, to break through the mists and shadows, and touch my nurslings with light. So, at the first creation, at the touch of the first young dawn, lo! gleams of life universal were lit all over the world, and Nature, amazed, awoke in songs of thanksgiving and joy.”

**** **** **** **** **** **** ****

I love this story. I love the imagry, I love the language and I love the moral. Night and Day, like ourselves so often, think that if everything were one way, our way, life would be perfect. That isn't so, and The Goddess knows it. In her infinite wisdom she has made Day AND Night, Winter AND Spring. In what ways do you question the wisdom of the divine, or of nature, or of the universe? Have you ever had a nasty reminder that Her wisdom is more wise than yours? Or have you ever had a pleasant reminder? What are you doing to prepare for the "deep mysterious rest in which all things shall be renewed; of the needful, hopeful death which quickens unto life!" that Winter brings just as Night does?

The story Night and Day is written by Mrs. Alfred Gatty and is found in her book, Parables from Nature, which can be read at Gateway to the Classics. I have edited the story for length and in doing so slightly changed it in a way Mrs. Gatty may or may not approve of. Please do read the original here.

The photo of Mt. Hood and the moon is by the amazingly talented photographer Lucas Mandar. Check out his photos on Flickr here. Thanks!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Year Two Complete!

Can you believe it? I've been blogging at The Wheel and the Disk for two who years! I am so proud of myself for seeing this project through so far. I am also really excited to continue on this next year and excited to learn more about those of you who are here with me on this journey.

I feel like I have learned so much and the blog has been a really valuable creative outlet for me. In this second year of blogging I have been successful in posting for every month and every festival, sometimes more than the "required" new moon, full moon and festival posts. I love all the stories and poems I have included this year, and am especially proud of my own creative writing. Lovely Luz, my February First story from last winter, is one I am especially proud of. I learned all 8 festival names years ago when I was first learning about neo-pagan practice and am happy to report that I can now name all 13 months in this Soli-Lunar calendar as well. 

The third time through anything is the time when you really feel you have mastery of something. I am excited to draw on my writings from the last two years and do some more synthesis of my thoughts about each month and festival this year, while leaving room for whatever comes up or whatever perks my interest. My Ramadan post, though not strictly within the structure of this calendar, is one of my favorite posts from last year. Starting with the New Death Moon post later this week I will be adding links to each post to the corresponding posts from previous years. This should be an easy way to let all of us look back on my past thoughts on the moon or festival and start to see reoccurring themes.

I would also, this year, learn more about who is out there reading this blog. Last month as I went through the process of writing a personal mission statement I wrote the statement "I will develop and nurture relationships with people I can be open with about my relationship with god and who are actively cultivating their own relationship." Just the fact that you are reading my blog you are someone I want to connect with and nourish a relationship with. I am not writing this blog to you or specifically for you, but I am also not just writing it for myself. If I was doing that I would make it private and not risk baring my personal thoughts to the world.

If you are a follower of my blog, or even a casual reader of my blog, I would love to hear from you! Comment on this post and let me know what you love about my blog and what you want to see more of. Leave me a link to your blog and I will be sure to read it and comment. Share what nourishes your connection with the natural cycles and divine influences. Share your favorite recipe or a beloved poem.

So here we go, year three. The wheel turns, and moon waxes and wanes, the sun's energy ebbs and flows. And I keep writing.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Doggy Heaven

The lights were off except the gently glowing moon shaped night light. She had told him a bedtime story, they had said their evening prayers and they had sung their usual goodnight songs. Just as the night’s silence settled over the room he fidgeted under the covers and said, in a small, sad little boy voice, “Mama, I miss Lucky.”

“I miss Lucky, too, baby. I’m very sad that she is gone.”

“Mama, where did Lucky go?”

“I wonder. Where do you think Lucky is now?”

“I think Lucky is in doggy heaven,” he said with the finality only a five year old can have.

“Mmm, yes. I bet you are right.” Silence settled over the room again. They could hear dry leaves blowing along the sidewalk and an owl hooted from the trees behind the house. A dog barked somewhere off in the distance.

“Mama, what do doggies do in doggy heaven?”

“I wonder. What do you think Lucky is doing?”

“I think she’s chasing squirrels. That was always her favorite thing to do.”

“Yes it was,” she said with a smile. “Do you remember that time Lucky pulled the leash right out of your hand? We had such a hard time getting her to come back.”

“Yeah! She ran and ran chasing every squirrel in the park. And remember when we took her to the river and she found the dead fish and rolled in it. She was so stinky and you didn’t want to let her in the car.”

They laughed and she replied, “Yeah, I do remember that. I bet there are lots of dead things to roll in in doggy heaven. What else do you think dogs get to do in doggy heaven?”

“Eat popcorn. And potato chips.”

“Oh yeah! An all you can eat popcorn and potato chip bar! And tuna, too, right?”

“Yeah! And there is a big field full of old bones to dig up and bury!”

“And she will never never have to play with dogs that scare scare her, or hear fireworks or get in Daddy’s truck. Lucky Lucky.”

He laid quietly for a little bit, but not sleeping yet. They could hear cars driving by outside and rain starting to fall on the pavement.

“Mama, what if I forget Lucky?”

“You won’t forget Lucky. Every year we have a special festival to remember the people and animals we loved who have died, remember? You know how next week is Halloween, right? Then the day after Halloween we have our Day of the Dead dinner.”

“Yeah. We decorated the nature table with pictures last year, and lit a candle at dinner.”

“That’s right. Last year we had pictures of Great Grandpa from World War II and of Grandma’s Grandparents on their farm, and my favorite piece of crochet from my Great Grandma. Remember how we also had a picture of my childhood dog? We can put a picture of Lucky on our nature table this year and tell stories about her during dinner. She is one of our Beloved Dead now, too.”

“Can we put some dog food in her bowl, like we make a plate from dinner for our Beloved Dead?”

“Haha, yes. We’ll have to keep the cat out of it, but we can do that.”

“Mama,” he asked again, after a moment of quiet, “who will take care of Lucky when she is in doggy heaven? Who will scoop out her dog food since I’m not there? And who will open the door for her or wipe her paws off?”

“Oh, don’t worry about that, baby. The Goddess will take care of Lucky while she is in doggy heaven.”

“She will?”

“Yes, every day they will go for long walks and Lucky will get to do all her favorite things. Every night The Goddess will make sure Lucky is tucked into a warm, soft dog bed. And every morning Lucky will wake up younger than she was the day before. Soon, Lucky will be a little Lucky puppy again.”

“We didn’t know Lucky when she was a puppy.”

"No, we didn't. But The Goddess did, and she will take care of Lucky when she grows young into a puppy again. And then, before not too long, Lucky will be so young she’ll be ready to be born again.”

“Will she come back to live with us, Mama?”

“No, baby, she won’t. She might be born another dog who gets to love another family. Or she might be born a person who gets to love another dog. Or she might get born something else. I don’t really know, only The Goddess knows that.”

“I think she’ll be born another dog and she’ll have another little boy, like me. Only this time the little boy will have her since she is a puppy and she’ll never have to go to the humane society.”

“I bet you are right.”

There was silence again in the room. She listened to him breathing, knowing he wasn’t asleep yet. She kissed his forehead and smelled his little boy smell.

“Mama, I miss Lucky.”

“I know. I miss Lucky, too.”

Drawing by Zlaika. Check out more on her Flickr stream.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog
by Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Lucky died on Monday, October 25, 2010. My dad found her at the Oregon Humane Society in August of 2005 and she lived 5 happy, happy years with us. She was old and sick and though we are all grieving and sad, she is no longer stuck in her failing body. Good bye, Luck-a-muck.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Rains Have Come

I am the autumnal sun
by Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature
-- not his Father but his Mother stirs
within him, and he becomes immortal with her
immortality. From time to time she claims
kindredship with us, and some globule
from her veins steals up into our own.

I am the autumnal sun,
With autumn gales my race is run;
When will the hazel put forth its flowers,
Or the grape ripen under my bowers?
When will the harvest or the hunter's moon
Turn my midnight into mid-noon?
I am all sere and yellow,
And to my core mellow
.The mast is dropping within my woods,
The winter is lurking within my moods,
And the rustling of the withered leaf
Is the constant music of my grief....

When I was back east earlier this autumn my brother in law accused western Oregon of not having real seasons. I retorted that we do so - the early wet season, the wet and cold season, the wet with flowers season, the dry with green grass season and dry with yellow grass season. In fact, that's five seasons which makes one more than your lame Mid-Atlantic climate can claim. He was not terribly impressed. The seasons have shifted in what seems like the blink of an eye and it is no longer the dry with yellow grass season. The rains have come and it is now, very much, the wet season.

This part of the wet season, though, is spectacular in Portland. The wooded hills above town are a mix of Douglas fir and western red cedars, which don't change color, with big leaf maple which turn bright golden yellow this time of year. The street trees in town turn a wide mix of fantastic colors. There are many deep purple leaved plums, sweet gums turning yellow and red, oaks turning blue and even a good number of Japanese and red maples adding their reds to the mix. Across the street from my work are some trees, and I don't know what they are, that are exhibiting this amazing range of colors that seem to fade across the tree - still green on the lower branches and the north side of the tree, yellow and orange in the middle fading up to scarlet on the top and southern side. Even some individual leaves seem to shade from green to yellow or yellow to red. We may not have colors like they do in New England, but we have colors enough for me.

One of my favorite things to look for in the mid to late autumn is the way the light changes. It is coming in at a lower angle so the reds and yellows of the foliage seem that much brighter. It bounces off the dew and mist, made all the more dramatic by the late sunrise that no coincides with my morning dog walk. Even the light at night is more dramatic. The full moon this month lit up the park like daylight one night and two nights later the fields were almost as bright with city light bounced off low clouds. In the spring it seems like the colors are coming out of the ground as the earth itself wakes up from it's slumber. Low flowers are the first to show color and then it creeps up into the higher branches of trees. In the autumn the colors are streaming down out of the heaven tinting the tops of trees first and only later the ground as the leaves fall.

With the change in the weather comes a change in eating habits. Gone are the salads and light snacks of late summer and come back are stews, baked goods and hearty braised meats. Last week I went to the local health food store and came away with a dozen apples, a pound of bacon and a pie crust. The checker guessed I was going to make an apple pie that afternoon and she was right, but there's more. It was a bacon apple pie. Oh, yes, what better way to combine the fruits of the field with the fruits of the pig farm. It was, indeed, everything I could have asked for and more.

Bacon Apple Pie

1 double pie crust recipe - home made or store bought
4-6 apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
Lemon juice - about a tbs
3/4 lb of bacon, smokey and salty
1/3 cup white or brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon plus other spices, if you would like
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbs butter

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the bacon into 1/4 inch chunks and fry until quite done but not crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper toweling. Reserve grease for another use.

*If using home made pastry lay half of it into a pie pan and roll out and then cut the other half into strips to use for lattice. If using store bought pastry defrost it completely and then turn one of the pans worth out onto a cutting board. Roll the pastry flat with a rolling pin and slice into strips for the lattice top.

* As you slice the apples toss them with lemon juice to keep them from browning. When you are ready to assemble the pie drain the apple of any extra lemon juice and then toss with the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Some recipes call for a tablespoon of flour to get tossed in here too. I don't use it but you might like it.

*Start to layer the apple slices into the bottom pie crust. When one layer of spiced apples is in sprinkle some of the bacon bits on top. Add another layer of apples, more bacon and then a third layer of apples and bacon. You can pile the apples quite high in this pie, tucking them in and laying them well to form a solid mound. Dot the top of the pile of apples with butter cut into pea sized pieces. Sprinkle some sharp cheddar cheese over this if you are being really decadent.

*Follow these instructions to create a lattice crust on top of the pile of apples. Crimp all the edges well and place the pie pan on a baking sheet and then place in the preheated oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the pie is very fragrant, you can see bubbly juice coming up through the lattice crust and the crust itself is nicely browned. Poke the pie with a knife to make sure the apples are tender then remove the pie and let it cool a bit. All pies are just as good at room temperature or cold and it will hold together better if you let it cool a bit. It will be worth the wait.

Note: a key to this pie, besides the copious amounts of smokey bacon, is to pile the apples really high in the pie pan. The lattice crust does a great job of sinking down on top of the apples as they cook and decrease in volume so it is important to start with what seems like too many apples. Nobody wants a too-skinny bacon apple pie.

How is the season changing where you are? Have you noticed the change in the light, or in foliage or in the rains? How do you stay warm these days? Have you ever tried a bacon apple pie or created some other brilliant baked concoction?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Useful, Beautiful or Loved

It is the Sorting Moon, the time of year when the harvests are being brought in and it is time to decide what to keep and what to get rid of so that limited resources can be used well in the coming months. In agricultural communities this would be a time to harvest livestock so the winter hay supply could feed the breeding stock through the winter. In other communities it would be the time to check and re-check everything in the root cellar to make room for the new harvest and ensure that no "one bad apple spoils the barrel." On a larger scale, like that of a project or a business it is time to go over what success and failure came out of the plan and decide what to keep for the next cycle. On more macrocosmic level it is a time to look over what your life has been like and what you have learned from your lessons recently so you can meet new challenges with a full understanding of what you already know.

I've been feeling the energies of the Sorting Moon in a very real and insistent way. I have been on a serious stuff purge this last week. I have sent bags of stuff to the thrift store donation center and composted or tossed a fair amount of stuff out of my fridge and cupboards as well. A core principle of both Waldorf Education and Quakerism - two movements I've been finding a lot of inspiration from lately - is simplicity of living. People are often drawn to Waldorf education because of all the beautiful things like wooden play kitchens and hand knit toys. All of these things are, indeed, lovely but Rudolph Steiner was quite adamant that the best things for children to play with were natural, found materials. Quakers can also get bogged down in stuff, though those do tend to be things like books or free trade coffee varieties. Both Quakers and Waldorf teachers know that a house or room full of things is not very conducive to being present, calm or creative. Just last night I cleared off a shelf in my bedroom that had become cluttered with junk. When I got home from work today I felt a great sense of peace just looking at that shelf. Like a part of my brain that had previously been busy looking at all that stuff now got to rest and just be.

I've also been thinking about junk and treasure in a larger perspective - my whole life. Carrie over at The Parenting Passageway is adamant that a family vision statement helps families stay on the right track of mindful parenting and not get tossed around by fads or urgent but less important things. Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that a personal mission statement gives us a foundation to make "daily decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives." At first I felt really lost in the idea of writing a personal vision statement but a few google hits later and I had some good ideas. My favorite resource has been another Steven Covey website, the Franklin Covey Mission Statement Builder. Its free and appears to have no strings attached and most importantly, is good. It walks you through some really deep questions about your life and gives you a good rough draft of a personal statement.

The next step is the real Sorting Moon work; taking all those words and values and thoughts and winnowing them down into a concise piece you can really live with. I've been working on mine for days and am not down to a one page letter yet. Its a process of deciding what is really important and that is hard work. During the summer we were washed in the light of the universe as we worked and played outside. As the days get shorter and colder it is appropriate to bring the spiritual insights gleaned to work at this gargantuan task of identifying what is really important in our lives.

There is that old saying in self help circles that you shouldn't keep anything that isn't useful, beautiful or loved. It may sound cliche, but I think it is a useful measuring tool for deciding what really is worth holding on to. This time of year even the trees are getting rid of the outworn and unnecessary. What are you sorting out this month?
*** *** ***
The photos show of the pure simplicity found inside traditional Quaker meeting houses. The top photo, taken by Pete Reed, is of the Jordans Meeting House in the U.K. The second photo is of the Ramallah Meeting House in the Palestinian West Bank, one of the only Quaker Meetings in the middle east. The photo is by delayed gratification. Please check out these photographers' other photos.