Saturday, December 10, 2011

Living in Relationship

Full Death Moon

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During one of the last really difficult times in my life I found myself on a bus in Providence, Rhode Island right around this time of year, in fact. It was a terrible, dumb night and I looked out the window to see a sign on top of a cab that read, "Sometimes you're the pigeon, and sometimes you're the statue." It felt apt then, and it still feels pretty apt.

Life is hard and sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. Once again, I feel like I am being shown and asked to work through the same situation over and over again in various aspects of my life because it is just that important right now. The situation this time is all about relationships. How do we live in relationship with other? How do we form and nurture relationships when we come from very different kinds of lives? How do we nurture relationships as our lives change? How do we address issues we have with other people's actions and values within the context of relationships?

This is the darkest time of the year when days are short and cold. The Earth has breathed her soul back in, bringing back the experiences gained from a summer of living out in the cosmos to be worked into wisdom in this dark time. This inward motion pulls the creatures that live on her surface into various kinds of rest, repose and reflection. Some creatures are sleepy and dormant, others have actually died, living on only in their seeds or eggs that will burst forth in life as spring warms them. Humans, too, feel this pull to be indoors, introspective, dreamy or reflective. In some cultures winter is the time for story telling, retelling and recreating the narrative of the culture's beginnings and values each winter. In the Christian calendar this is the season of Advent, of waiting and preparing for the birth of the savior at the darkest dark point of the year. In my eclectic pagan theology, it is the time when we are also waiting, working on the wisdom we gathered during the last year's cycle and waiting for the new birth of the year at solstice.

As we consciously and unconsciously work through all the things we experienced over the last season of growth and harvest we discern patterns and come to conclusions about how our life is and how we want our life to be. The really tricky part comes when we have to make decisions about how to act on any of these conclusions.

At West Hills Friends the first light of advent was called the light of the prophets. Prophets are in direct relationship with god and speak up to their community about what they know. Their speaking up often puts them at odds with the people around them and can even sever relationships with people they used to be in strong relationship with. When Abram got word from Yaweh that he was to leave his home in Ur and travel to another land, it meant leaving behind everything and everyone he had known from childhood. John the Baptist was beheaded for his prophesying and Joseph Smith was run out of town (er, three of them), tarred and feathered and finally murdered for his prophetic visions. Being true to what you see, what you know and what you believe requires great courage and faith; courage to act despite the uncertainty and faith that you deserve to be heard, no matter the outcome.

The second light of advent this year at West Hills Friends was dedicated to the Angel Gabriel and those who receive his word with wonder. Our pastor told the story of Zachariah who, when told that his wife would become pregnant in her old age, asked how that would be and was promptly struck dumb. Many people consider this a punishment on Zachariah for questioning the Angel, but our pastor pointed out that Mary asked the same question and was not silenced. Zachariah's silence, our pastor argued, was a gift. He didn't have to explain himself, he didn't have to expound on his experience and he didn't have to defend his actions, belief or wonder. I see parallels between Zachariah's silence in the face of mystery with the silence of plants, the correspondence for the second week of advent in the Waldorf tradition. Plants and trees stand tall in the face of all the glory and mystery that is life on this planet.

Sometimes, as we wrestle with how to be in an authentic relationship with other people that is true to our own needs and beliefs, but also loves and honors the other person's innate humanity, we wrestle with these polar positions of speaking and being silent. How do we speak our truth with courage? When do we stay silent in the face of wonder that is god incarnate in another person's life? When do we speak up to protect our own integrity and how do we stay silent when we don't understand what is going on?

This month's full moon, the full moon in both the Death Moon and the Moon of Long Nights, is asking us all these questions and more. The full moon was fully eclipsed over much of the world on the night of December 10 and it feels like that eclipse brings even more questions and mysteries. As we spend these last two weeks sinking further into the darkness before the solstice, we might find ourselves wrestling with these questions. How do we live in relationship with other people? No one knows how to do it, but we all have to do it.

Moon photos by lamentables and jpstanley. Click on the photos or their names to see more of their amazing work. Thanks!

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** This winter was tough and I got messed up in my calendar. I wrote this thinking it was the Birth Moon but it was really the Death Moon. Since the post itself is more about the Moon of Long Nights, I just changed the tags and labels. For more on my thoughts about this, see this post. **

Full Death Moon 2008: Full Moon in Taurus

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

Full Death Moon 2010: Wear it As Long as Thou Canst

The Full Birth Moon post in 2010, The Dark of the Dark is also about a lunar eclipse.


Sarah said...

Can I get an Amen?! Thanks for the thoughts Alyss.

Alyss said...

You know I've been thinking about you, Sarah :) But thinking about lots of other things, too...