Category Archives: Winter

THE MONTH OF DEEP DARKNESS

December 10, 2017

WISHING YOU A KIND AND QUIET DECEMBER…

…She closed her letter with this wish for us. The words jumped off the screen and lodged themselves in my heart which for days had been stressed, angry, afraid, and lost. Really lost.

I have only written two or three blogs this year. A handful of journal entries. Maybe a writing exercise here and there. What writing I did was mostly focused on writing  curriculum, powerpoints and handouts for the classes and workshops I led, working with educators examining Restorative Justice in Education.

The nature of my work calls me to invite, encourage and sometimes challenge educators to engage in self-reflection and to embrace some deep changes of heart and mind. I cannot do this if I am not regularly looking at the issues in my own life that obstruct or waylay my ability to remain in a heart and mind-state of kindness,  compassion and peace. I have to live very present, releasing resistance and fear, and embrace the Courage to live honestly, and to engage in the change that our world so desperately needs.

As the months of 2017 rolled along, everything seemed to get harder. By August, I was dissolving into tears at the slightest provocation. It became more and more difficult to even read the headlines in the news, none the less the articles. Never-the-less I was scheduled to lead three significant workshops in August. One of them was for 40+ school administrators looking at the attitudes and practices of Restorative Justice in Education — why they make sense and have the ability to transform school climate.

But in September I had no contracts. No longer distracted, no longer having to put one foot in front of the other no matter what I felt like, I rapidly unraveled.

I was lost. Angry. So very, very angry. Some days I didn’t even know what I was angry about. I wanted to climb out of my own skin. I found myself envying my dear mother who just turned 90 and probably won’t have to endure this world too much longer. The darkness was so heavy, I could physically feel it squeezing my chest and churning in my stomach.

I said to my husband, “Imagine if someone was incessantly running their nails down a chalkboard and no matter what, the noise won’t stop…that is how I feel inside my skin.”

Some days were better than others.

One day I was driving my mother to her eye doctor appointment. All day I had felt like a hurricane was battering my insides. It was violent, unrelenting, loud and screaming. But on the outside, as always, I was trying to smile and be cordial and do all the right things. It was exhausting.

On my way to pick her up I’d thrown an SOS out to the Universe…and now, as we drove down the road, a Bald Eagle flew over, briefly following my car… then moving on. In the Indian world of Animal Medicine, this is significant. It indicates that our prayers are being carried to the Creator.

And nearly every day since, some help has come including the quiet kindnesses of my husband and a homeopathic remedy called Rescue Remedy for fear and anxiety! (btw, it works!)

But most of all, this lovely closing wish in a brief note:  Wishing you a kind and quiet December.  In the moment that I read it, peace flowed over me, head to toes, and then began to fill me up on the inside.

It is the darkest month of the year. And given the state of the world, and the headlines in the news each day, it feels like the darkness is so deep that whatever light exists is obscured by deep fog. Even so, everywhere I go there are bells jangling and lights and sales and crowds… And I repeat to myself my new mantra:  a KIND and QUIET (i.e. PEACE-FILLED) December).

Slowly, I feel this heaviness lifting. I offer gratitude for the Light and goodness that is shining in the Darkness. I stood by the stream that tumbles down the bluff behind my neighborhood the other day, marveling at how during this monochrome time of year the water gets to do art. The ice forming along the edges and over the rocks; amazing, beautiful art that will be different tomorrow and the day after.  I released my heavy heart and all my worry and fear and rage into the stream and let it be carried away. And the water reminded me that “resistance is indeed, futile”. That the key is allowing the flow of my life, honoring my life.

I didn’t blog this year in part because I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to be able to write what would bring joy, and courage, and strength to my readers. I wanted to write something funny.

I had so little of any of that to offer.

But now, in the darkest month of the year, during the deepest darkness we have known in this country in a very long time, I offer you this little sip of hope; this little sprinkle of joy; this small peace: please create a kind and quiet December. Do what you need to do to make it so. Maybe if we all would be kinder to ourselves, we could be kinder to our partners and to our neighbors and to the tired clerk at the store. Maybe if we took the time we need to just stand quietly under the trees, or next to the frozen stream, or looking out over the city from the hill — the screaming inside the cells of our skin would stop.

No matter what those who currently hold power do to this world, there are people to love. No one can prevent us from practicing kindness, or choosing gratitude and joy. No one except for ourselves. Myself.

Wishing you a kind and quiet December. Wishing you a year filled with kindness. And may Peace fill up the space inside your bones.

 

 

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

January 19, 2017

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD…

You know the song…

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces, of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do
They’re really saying, I love you.
I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more, than I’ll never know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…

…Actually though, the music that surrounded me was the whisper of my skis, the happy songs of some little birds flitting about in the sunshine, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing softly through my ear buds as I glided through the woods…

I keep stopping, just to absorb the beauty surrounding me. Perfectly pristine white snow sprinkled with sparkly glitter stretches smoothly out before me. It is marred only by the ski tracks. Sparkling and blue shadowed, it covers the floor of the woods like a frosted cake–one can only guess what lies beneath the smoothly sculpted mounds and gullies. Here and there I spot the tracks of deer and tinier creatures. A rabbit. A squirrel? Some sort of tiny mouse, his long tail marking where he scrambled.

It is quiet here. The loudest sounds are my skis and the crow singing some happy crow song. Vivaldi is light in my ears, and I glide on. I top a small hill, and as my skis carry me down, my eyes rest on the trees. The white birch, touched by the sun, are like white neon poles standing among the rest of the undressed forest of dignified charcoal greys and browns and black. Here and there small groups of green-needled pine keep watch while the others sleep. As I glide by, I breathe in their breath and I am grateful for them.

The sun and the sky are a watercolor wash of blue and buttercream. A few clouds, thinly transparent stretch across the expanse. They look like they are melting into the icy blue water of the sky.

At the overlook, I lean on my ski poles and look down on the harbor of my city and beyond to the Great Lake of Gitchi Gummi. Such a busy busy world down there with its ships and train yards, tall stacks spewing white steam marking the  industrial plants, business buildings clustered at the center of the long narrow stretch between these bluffs and the water, and houses and highways and bridges spanning the harbor–little tiny cars zipping back and forth. The sun gilds the water golden. It is another water color painting.

“Remember this,” I whisper. “What a wonderful world! It’s so beautiful–so breathtakingly, achingly beautiful! Whatever comes, remember this. Show up seeing beauty no matter where you find yourself. Make it. Create it. Show up with Love. It is all around you, all the time, just looking for a way to flow into the world. Remember this.”

SPRING

March 21, 2015

WE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

According to the calendar, Spring arrived yesterday. The snow respectfully packed his bags and departed, running down the gutters, disappearing into the dirt, gathering into puddles to complain a bit. The creeks have broken the winter seal and are merrily plunging down the hillsides, roaring through the culverts, climbing over boulders, shouting at the sky.

The departure of the snow has revealed dead, brown grasses, empty gardens, debris left behind by careless folk. Everywhere is muddy, smelly, and barren.

There are hearts whose landscape is chilly, blustery, muddy, without color or softness or sweetness, locked in the stubborn grip of dark Winter’s harsh and frosty presence.

Deep inside the Earth and the tree and at the bottom of streams, magic is stirring. Spring is quietly waking up the World. We who have weathered the winter anxiously wait for Her to get up, take her shower, get dressed, put on a bit of make-up, a bit of jewelry, and come to breakfast.

Deep inside a winter worn heart sometimes this same magic stirs. A tiny spark of life flickers into form, gently nudging with toes and elbows, whispering, “Wake up! Please, wake up!”

Sorrow and pain fill the world and deep darkness is desperately trying to devour the Sun. Still, the Earth faithfully spins out Her annual journey around Her lover, the Sun. He does not falter in smiling warmly down upon Her because the Love that made the world is an unquenchable fire in His heart. Some days the rains fall gently down, softening the Earth. She lifts her arms and drinks it in. See? The spring flowers are returning, pushing up from the earth, bursting from the buds upon the trees and shrubberies.

So might a heart choose to wake up again; opening to the fiery warmth of Love and the gentle rain of Grace. Dormant seeds begin breaking open, filling up the hills and valleys with Joy and Beauty. Darkness is diminished as it shrinks back from this new Sun that just ignited in the world.

On such days, the skirts of the Universe swirl in a happy dance.

WINTER COMETH

November 11, 2014

WINTER COMETH IN THE MORNING…

Snow. Storm. The Winter King has arrived halfway between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice.  Of course, here in the Northland, he’s pretty much expected anytime once the cutouts of jack o’ lanterns come down and the pictures of Pilgrims and turkeys go up.

My husband, David, took a photo yesterday while shoveling and posted: “Winter, embrace it or move!” He took photos and brought in wood for the fireplace. I made gingersnaps, soup and bread. Today we went skiing.  IMG_2817

FaceBook was full of postings today about the weather and the snow–love it, hate it, celebrating it, forgive it. There were pics of cozy fires burning in wood-stoves, people baking cookies and gathering to watch movies.

Of course, there were also the sad reports from those who crunched their cars skidding down hills, hit the ditch spinning out on icy highways, nursing strained muscles from shoveling. Then there were the disappointed folks who missed classes and meetings and dates.  Shops whose sales were bleak and empty tables at the restaurants.

My nephew, Nathan, was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. Growing up he visited relatives in Minnesota every summer, but only a few times did he come in winter. The first time he was six years old. His four year old sister thought all the trees had died. Down at the park that they played at in the summer Nathan was awestruck by the fact that the water in the river was hard and we could walk on it. “Where did all the turtles go, and the frogs?” he wanted to know.

Fast forward a dozen years. He and I are driving down the steep hillside of Duluth, snow piled up on the boulevards. “You know,” he said, “one of the things that is so weird about you guys here is that you’re always talking about the weather. Everyday. Constantly. Everyone comments what it feels like, good or bad, or what it’s going to be like tomorrow. You even have channels on TV just for weather!”

“You don’t discuss weather in Bogota?”

“No. Never.”

“But you have weather reports on your news programs, right?”

“Nope. Nothing. I never heard people talk about weather until I came here.”

“Huh. Wow. Is the weather so boring in Colombia?”

“Pretty much. It’s always the same. We have rainy season and dry season. Temperatures vary a little. But not too much changes.”

Of course, Bogota is also full of flowers. Everyday. All year. Looking out my window this morning the neighborhood is frosted with white. Not a sprinkle of lacy powder, but the eight inch thick stuff, piled, drifting, blowing. Two days ago there were swaths of gold and burgundy mums in my garden. Shrubs still sported red and yellow leaves mixed with the fading green. The mountain ashes held their scarlet berries up against a brilliant blue sky. The birch had shed their golden leaves into piles on the still green grasses, their white barked limbs glowing in the sunlight. Some apple trees up the road where I went walking, though naked of leaves still held golden apples. I ate one; still sweet and crisp. It was the last of Autumn, the colors bravely holding their own as the season slowly faded.

Two days later it’s a black and white world. The only natural color: some red berries, russet leaves clinging hard to a few trees, the green of pine needles the blue sky.

Yep, we Northerners talk about the weather. No two dFirst Skiays quite the same, interesting and full of surprises. Up here Nature is constantly busy parading the cycle of life through our midst, keeping us on our toes, flexible and changing. To be truthful, most of us wouldn’t have it any other way!