Monday, November 16, 2009

Moving into winter and that feeling of being on an edge. I rake the dry leaves behind the house and stack wood, make applesauce and soups for the freezer, make grain mixes in big galvanized garbage cans for the farm animals. An instinct to gather and store that feels powerful and primitive.
In spite of the activity I experience a slow drawing inward toward the luminous silence of my winter soul. I love the season of Advent, the waiting for the birth of the Divine Child. This is not the conventional spirit with its reenactment of the birth in the manger..although I am delighted by the wonderful motley crew of our Sunday school children playing Mary, Joseph and the sheep, especially the sheep. This is the seasonal rebirth that is an indestructible hope contained in Holy Silence.
I am old now or at the leading edge of old age at least. I will be 67 this month and no longer able to pretend that I could, by just going to the gym more regularly, bring my body back into youthful control. That is over. I am forced to learn to love the wrinkles, spots and droops or spend precious time being dissatisfied with my physical self. My mental abilities seem to hold so far but I do lose thoughts and keys from time to time.
Yet, there is a fresh and pure consciousness that longs to be reborn in me in this season. I can get caught up in lists and gifts and menu anxiety, or I can welcome it by cultivating silence and pure awareness. I do this last in meditation but also in pausing as I climb the hill to the house and really looking out into the woods now bare and open or by stopping work in the kitchen to savor the brilliant orange of a squash as well as savoring its taste.
I have always found it difficult to slow down and have searched lifelong for practices that could help. All the drugs in the world could not do it. All the success in the world could not do it. All leisure in the world could not do it and this last surprised me. I find now that the simplicity of silence, regular chores done with attention, pausing to notice... these help me to wait for the birth of that Divine Child within in this season.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter Sunday

"In the bleak midwinter" is the first line of a familiar Anglican hymn, perfectly descriptive of this afternoon. It is a blustery day, deep cold and clouded over. The hymn is about the birth of Jesus.. the obvious metaphor of the Light of Christ breaking through the stripped down times when the world is colorless and bitter. As I begin to write this, the winter afternoon sun comes from behind the cloud cover and lights up the bare trunks and branches outside my window. They turn to brilliant gold, then dull back to gray and brown as the clouds return. Daily life, clouds, hymns, everything is a reflection of everything else. Is it all metaphor and illusion and a great cosmic joke?

I really think that the God in us is entertained when we play with images and ideas, when we see the illumination in daily things, when we feel filled with joy by something small. I look at my Shelties sleeping on the rag rug at my feet. They are never far from each other or from me. I feel in my own body the aliveness of their breathing, the lifting of their soft sable coats in rhythm and the little sighs of contentment. If I even begin to stand they will be instantly alert, up and ready to join me wherever I go. I read once that if you have Shelties, you will never again go into the bathroom alone. Very true and one of those divine jokes I think. The sun is doing its Light of Christ thing again. How very loved we are.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Post Time Irritation

It bugs me that the time of my posts is always four hours earlier than when I really wrote it.

Baking As Muse

I woke too early this morning, the result of going to bed too early trying to keep warm last night. Today we celebrate the life of a good man and a wonderful friend with an outdoor tribute and an indoor potluck wake. I baked a chocolate cake in a chilly kitchen, trying to pretend that "room temperature" for the butter and eggs was not 58 degrees. Thankfully the dogs and cat decided to go back to sleep so I had the house to myself and could just enjoy the pleasure of gathering and measuring and mixing, thoroughly enjoying my new stand mixer... a replacement for the forty year old one that finally gave up two weeks ago. I remember my second husband's first wife (I called her my stepwife) telling me that she cooked all night on the night after her mother died. I can understand that. Making something to nourish or just to give pleasure like this dark sexy chocolate cake I just made is so intimate. I am a strange feminist, cranky in my independence and insistant on equal respect, but I most enjoy getting completely involved in domestic tasks... cooking, handspinning, quilting and house tending. My daughter is the same, though she winces at comparisons to me. She is the ultimate urban woman and only endures the country and mountain visits out of love that I appreciate. She has a law degree, a super responsible job in academe but loves to bake and to create welcome and beauty in her home. She will marry this spring and is choosing a traditional wedding even though she and her intended are in their forties and very contemporary in their attitudes toward sharing tasks. It is wonderful we have choices and can create a blended life, from scratch to high tech, from picture albums to Facebook, from knitted sweaters to fleece made from soda bottles. It is all this crazy mixed up life and watching it with a little distance from myself and others is great fun.

Friday, February 20, 2009

First Morning

Cold sunrise over the mountains promising a bright day. The trees are still bare.. a period of waiting, hoping for little signs, warm spots of earth that show green and the tops of shoots. The sky these days is an intense blue but begins each morning pale with pink edges. The graphics formed by bare limbs and twigs frame cutouts of faded grassy pasture, rusty tin of the neighbor barn roof. Yesterday a purple crocus bud by the studio. Today, bitter cold and north wind. Spits of snow have dusted the leaves in the woods outside the window. This last of winter is a slow time teaching me patience and gratitude for warm rooms, soup, good bread and my woodstove.