Saturday, December 28, 2013

The love that binds us

Some say we protect that which we love....

...because when we love something, we take it into ourselves, and it somehow becomes part of us, to be sheltered and nurtured and cared for and helped.

Others say what we love will save us...

...because love for other creatures brings meaning and joy into our lives, rescuing us from aloneness in this world.

The works of video art embedded below speak to the oneness that connects life on earth, the love that binds us all in an intricate and ancient web of existence.

And, like love, they are heartbreaking in their beauty. If you do not tear up at least a little while viewing them, you are made of sterner stuff than I....

"The Awakening" is part of a dance, film and photography project for monarch butterfly conservation. I am happy to say they exceeded their initial Kickstarter funding goal a couple of days ago, but I'm sure there will be future opportunities to chip in.

I post it here in honor of the three monarchs I raised last summer.

Moving for Monarchs: The Awakening from Moving for Monarchs on Vimeo.

The "Ashes and Snow" video by Canadian filmmaker Gregory Colbert is described as "a poetic field study that depicts the world not as it is, but as it might be—a world in which the natural and artificial boundaries separating humans from other species do not exist. The viewing experience is one of wonder and contemplation, serenity, and hope."

A consecrated Earth is always the paradise I imagine--a kind of Eden, with humanity's relationship to the all the world's creatures restored--it would look a lot like this stunning film.

I don't even want to think about a world without Monarch butterflies, or polar bears, or gray wolves, or elephants, or bees. And yet, to turn a blind eye, to refuse to see what is happening and do nothing is unloving and wrong.

I do not know how it has happened that so many have forgotten that we--humans and all other living things--are all vital characters in an enduring love story old as time. Our well-being and survival are knitted together, blood, breath and bone...encoded in our genes in ways we cannot yet measure, yet that are nonetheless real as the love that binds us.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A blessing of bones

LAST NIGHT, I was blessed by the Old Bone Mother.

In her old hands, she carried reindeer bones. Click! Clack! They rattled as she prowled through the dark stone cavern-space where we sat.

Bones scratched over scalps, rested over hearts as the Dreamers dreamed their way along twisting inner paths, anchored by the pulse of the Drummers.

In the Celtic lands She is the Cailleach. The Unmaker, the Uncreator, the Unwinder, the Remover. Her breath blows cold on the back of the neck in the Dark Time, She throws boulders that make mountains, She brings the fierce cold, She is an elemental force as She moves through this world, collecting what needs to be Taken.

She Takes.

(This was how the story was told to me: She Takes.)

Deep beneath the sacred mound of Sí an Bhrú, Newgrange, in a dark womb of a chamber, She sings as She knits together the bones of those and that which have been Taken, reshapes them to live again on the earth in new form.

Because of Her, nothing is lost to the world, not ever lost, not truly.

And in this space, where the Old Bone Mother paid a visit to the Dreamers, a trickster-shapeshifter-shaman of a man told us: "We are given two great gifts in life. The gift of being created. And the gift of being uncreated. Throughout time, throughout culture, how we respond to these two gifts becomes our religion."

The Cailleach's blessing is to take from us something that needs to go. It is too soon to know what is gone from me. So many things I no longer needed, that I wanted to push out the door like a houseguest overstaying her welcome by months or years.

Tears overflowed, silently. My heart overflowed, silently. This went on for a while. And then I felt at peace.

Last night, I was blessed.

Last night, the drum was alive under my palm. Though stored away for long years, it still had not forgotten how to sing, how to vibrate and shiver its skin in answer to my hand, resonating for long moments in the humming silence. I played the drum, the drum played me, for a moment all one and the same.

I have walked the passages of Newgrange, Sí an Bhrú, in body. A dozen years ago, in the springtime, when the lambs frolicked and the Cailleach slept.

Did the echoes of that mystery plant their seeds in me then? The potent magic of the Irish-green grass, the druid sun tracing gray stone spirals, the paradox of timelessness amid great age, those stay with me.

But if I am a drum, one beat was struck on me that day at Newgrange, resonating over years until the same hand last night struck me once again.

Maybe it is as he, the shapeshifter-shaman, said: "We are all Drummers on the Skin of Mystery."

Mystery is rattling in your ears, striking Her fists on your bones. When She strips you bare to scour you and refashion you, when you are uncreated and lose your identity, your trappings, your anger or your way, say to yourself it is a gift.

She Takes, and it is a gift.

Last night, this is how the story was told to me. And then, how I told the story to myself.

And now, I tell it to you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kindredness & kindness

I've been applying for a lot of jobs lately. But in my heart, I want my life to be branching like a tree, silhouetted in bare grace against the winter sky. No more trammeling myself into spaces that feel small. No trying to impress, convince, persuade. Trees, stones, water, birds...nothing on this earth ever tries or wants to be other than itself, except for us. They just are.

I mean, look at the trees, stripped to the bone. That essential being-ness of trunk and branch is like a song traced against the sky, a quiet refrain repeated from tree to tree. Each a living being, and also a branching map of its own life. Like a human, specific to itself in its particulars; and again like a human, akin to others of its kind. Unique...yet not alone.

Along with the job seeking, one of the things I've been doing rather than writing blog posts is gathering photos of crones. Over and over, I am struck by how so many of their faces shine with joy and radiate such love and acceptance. I feel wrapped in an embrace just by looking upon their beautiful faces. How diminished we would be without the grandmothers and their wisdom--a cauldron of power that has distilled over the course of many-years-lived into its bare-branches-against-the-sky essence.

By looking at photo after photo of women who are wholly who they are, I hope to honor that essence in others and nurture it in myself. It's a kind of choosing. A kind of reminding, envisioning, invoking: This is the kind of woman I want to be, how I want to grow old. Like a grand, twisting tree, like a wrinkled and happy and lovely old woman, enough in myself.

I've been thinking what a gift to the world that kindness is. How powerfully it affects us when we are touched by another's kindness, and how we long to be accepted and to belong. That longing must always be there, underlying surface-dwelling things, like a tender nourishing stream beneath the tangle of tree roots.

It is never so clear that the longing exists as when a stranger unexpectedly smiles at you, or a small child you do not know reaches out her arms toward you and laughs, just at the sight of you. Suddenly, you feel yourself light up from within, a welling of joy and gratitude for being seen for who you are: Nothing more and nothing less than a human person walking in this world, over this ground, under these stars and these clouds, following a path and singing a sometimes-brave, sometimes-wavering tune as you go.

Mary Oliver wrote, "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." And "When will you have a little pity for every soft thing that walks through the world, yourself included?"

It takes such a small act of kindness to ourselves or others to swell that small, unseen, tree-rooted stream, and to feel its nourishment. Then compassion arises feeding healing tears, as we accept ourselves and are accepted by others, at the root. That is how our hearts expand, sending out tendrils and branches toward others, like a beautiful tree during the crone-time of winter, still swelling buds and green with life within.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Popes, planets and politics

Last night, we headed to our local second-run movie theater to watch Elysium, described thusly:

"In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the planet's crime and poverty, and they critically need the state-of-the-art medical care available on Elysium -- but some in Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens' luxurious lifestyle."

Generally, I avoid films and books that present bleak visions of the earth's future. The premise that humanity and the planet are doomed, that we are fated to be victims of the worst parts of ourselves...this overall seems to encourage us to be powerless and passive in response to this perceived inevitability.

And in that way, it seems to me such creations may enable these grim futures even as they decry them. Surely we can imagine and create a more positive, hopeful scenario for humanity to strive for? What is this unhealthy fascination with violence, cynicism and darkness? (I do believe I've become a Pronoia-ist without even realizing it. I thank Rob Brezsny.)

In any case, the injustices and inequalities portrayed in Elysium are all too real. Money rules in a capitalist society. The government, the economy, our cultural beliefs and values, the way hundreds of millions of us live our lives--all based on a socio-economic system that puts money at the center and marginalizes humans and the earth our home.

Of course we each can try to live and act from different values. But the systems in which we function are themselves based on a fundamentally flawed relationship to the earth and other peoples--the culmination of centuries of conquering, consuming, destroying and discarding.

Not only are lives and our humanity diminished by these impoverished and destructive systems; most horrifying to me is that they are systematically destroying the life of this planet. But it doesn't need to be this way; for thousands upon thousands of years, human societies were human- and earth-centered.

And that is why I am so inspired and moved by Pope Francis's powerful denouncement of our morally bankrupt financial system. Even on the page, his words ring with Truth, compassion and righteousness.

I am not a Catholic, but this is not a matter of religion; it is a matter of that which no religion owns: ethics, morality, compassion, justice. Humanity. In our most positive sense, not our least.

Pope Francis writes:
"Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.....
The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule."
YES to that a thousand times. When righteousness speaks with such a powerful voice, it makes us feel part of something larger, unites us in a joint cause...we have suffered so many losses, yet perhaps all is not lost. Humanity is so close to overthrowing the current paradigm, and we need words like these to lend support and shape our thoughts and actions.

Read the apostolic exhortation in its entirety here.

This, too, came floating across my screen today. The first commandment really encompasses all the rest; but ten makes for a nice symmetry.

Earth's Ten Commandments

1. Thou shalt love and honor the Earth, for it blesses thy life and governs thy survival.

2. Thou shalt keep each day sacred to the Earth and celebrate the turning of its seasons.

3. Thou shalt not hold thyself above other living things nor drive them to extinction.

4. Thou shalt give thanks for thy food to the creatures and plants that nourish thee.

5. Thou shalt limit thy offspring for multitudes of people are a burden unto the Earth.

6. Thou shalt not kill nor waste Earth's riches upon weapons of war.

7. Thou shalt not pursue profit at the Earth's expense, but strive to restore its damaged majesty.

8. Thou shalt not hide from thyself or others the consequences of thy actions upon the Earth.

9. Thou shalt not steal from future generations by impoverishing or poisoning the Earth.

10. Thou shalt consume material goods in moderation so all may share Earth's bounty.

And here is a slightly different version, enhanced by music and visuals of our beautiful planet:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...