New Birth Moon
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I'm student teaching right now and it is possibly the hardest thing I've ever done.
What's so hard is the commute. A solid hour each way with the sun rising halfway through the morning drive and setting halfway through the evening drive - if I leave right on time, which I rarely do. It's a long, stressful drive and it leaves me exhausted every day.
What's so hard is how tired I am. To get there before class starts means waking up at 5am. I rarely make it back home before 7pm and then it's essentially make-dinner-pack-lunch-pass-out time.
What's so hard is how lonely I am. I don't see my friends, or really have much contact with them. My days are filled with strangers and people I'm not terribly fond of. And those long, long drives.
What's so hard is how stressed out I am. I have so much schoolwork, both for the student teaching itself and for my other classes. I'm behind in everything, and this knot in my stomach hasn't really left in a couple weeks.
It's all hard, and sometimes I drown in the hardness. Sometimes I can't see out of my own Debbie-Downer attitude about being tired and lonely and stressed out. Sometimes I cry. OK, more than sometimes.
The new moon we are celebrating this weekend is the Birth Moon in Annette Hinshaw's calendar and the Moon of Long Nights in the calendar Jessica Prentice lays out. The Moon of Long Nights is the month of the Winter Solstice, the month of darkness.
In her book, Full Moon Feast, Jessica Prentice discusses a number of authors and researchers who have looked at how the human body responds to light and darkness, disease and health, known and unknown. She says something I've stated before on this blog - that our culture is a culture of light and growth and bigger, better, onward and upward but our physiology needs rest periods. Too often we deny the darkness and fallow periods in life to the detriment of our psychological, spiritual and physical health.
What is interesting to me is not so much the darkness of winter, but other kinds of darkness. I have spent a number of years allowing myself to sink into that rhythm of the seasons and have come to quite enjoy the rest that comes with the long nights and wet days of winter. What I am experiencing right now, though, is a different kind of darkness, a dark time of a trial or that dark night of the soul some people experience when they feel so far away from god. It's just so hard.
Some days, I drown in the darkness. I am lonely and sad and tired and freaked out. I am being pushed and stretched and molded and it hurts. I think about staying in bed or of driving to Texas instead of to my Quiet Little Mountain Town. Some days I am sure my friends don't care about me and I'll never be able to do what is asked of me and it will all end in disaster. It is dark, and hard.
Other days, or other hours, I can bob up out of the darkness and feel the pull of the Birth Moon even in the midst of the darkness. The Birth Moon is the time when new light and new hope is born, even in the middle of the hard. I can see clearly, my head is on straight and I know this is all for the good. The hard is the call, it is the point of it all. If I didn't do anything hard I'd never get any better and this particular hard only lasts a couple more weeks. I am actually coping well and learning so much. And the sunrises, and the beautiful mountain valleys, and the leaves and the kids are all amazing.
On these days I feel so clearly and strongly my pronoic foundational beliefs. The Universe really IS a conspiracy to make me smarter, wiser, happier and better. The difficult is doing the exact same thing as the delightful; making my life more fully useful to god's purposes. I am being tested and trained in the crucible, but it is all for the best. Hard is the calling, hard is the name of the game. But it's still really, really hard.
My family's Thanksgiving tradition is to go around the table during dinner and say what we are thankful for. This week I had four different Thanksgiving dinners with four different "families" and four different delicious spreads of food. And at each dinner I said what I was thankful for; I am thankful for my friends and family who do love me, even if my monsters sometimes try to convince me otherwise. I am thankful that no matter how poor or disadvantaged I may feel, I can still buy gas, socks and chocolate ice cream. I am thankful for the hard. It really is working to liberate me from suffering, shower me with blessings and make me smarter, stronger and happier.
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For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
A Thanksgiving prayer by Walter Rauschenbush.
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** This winter was tough
and I got messed up in my calendar. The moon that this post was written
about -the Birth Moon - and the moon that it actually was according to Annette Hinshaw's
calendar - the Death Moon - are not the same. For more on my thoughts about this, see this
New Birth Moon 2008: Waiting
New Birth Moon 2009: Advent, Awaiting the Birth
New Birth Moon 2010: Winter is Dark, Yet Each Tiny Spark
I also talked about Very Hard Things in the post Very Bad Things and Our Lady of Sorrows.