Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joy seeping in

Gryphon is next to me on the couch, sleeping underneath a quilt. This is his favorite way to sleep, completely buried in covers, preferably with a warm body next to him. Earlier this evening he was lying alongside me with his head resting on my belly, and the baby was kicking more than I've felt in days. (Either the baby has had a mellow week, or the kicking has become less novel, so I notice it less.)

Earlier still today we took a walk through a beautiful, spirit-filled state park. The leaves are turning. There was no one else around, so I let him spend some time off leash. It's so fulfilling to see him begin to enjoy himself more, bounding in the dead leaves, or even walking on leash beside me, his head alert but relaxed, his tail lifted, a spring in his step. It's like joy is seeping into him. That capacity for joy after all the hardship in his life is a basic spiritual lesson for me. It's a holy thing to witness.

We spent my lunch hour on a quilt in the backyard (how grateful am I that I live in a place where I have a 5 minute commute to work? incredibly grateful). He wandered the yard a bit, and rolled in the grass on his back, and sat next to me to share my apple. I had a magazine with me to read, but I spent most of my time watching him and rubbing his head and belly.

In many ways it's been a hard week. I've felt dissatisfied and unsure of what I need. I've been weepy. I've felt lonely and isolated. My job is mostly boring me. I've had a couple of minor disappointments. I've been anxious about the state of the world. The equinox was particularly intense, energetically. (The penumbra of Mercury moving retrograde, perhaps?) I've felt spiritually disconnected. And yet. I've been blessed by this wonderful new relationship with this sweet dog. My spiritual practice has been to spend time with him.

Today while we were walking and I was watching him and thinking about his blossoming, I thought again of one of the most important lessons for me of the last several years. I credit Lugh, my first dog, largely, as well as the mystery school and my ever-deepening relationship with my beloved life partner. The role of care and loving attention in enabling a being to flourish cannot be underestimated. It is crucial, as essential as clean water. It's such a simple thing, so potentially abundant, something any of us can do. Cruelty, willful ignorance, and neglect sadden me more and more as I grow older; my willingness to tolerate those things diminishes. To care for one another in simple ways; to offer respect, love, attention, and a spirit of nonjudgment to this person, this animal, this tree, this soil...I'm tempted to say that that is all we need.

A little reminder

"Is there a Goddess living in your backyard, watching out for you and only you? What luck! You should be happy."

(Anne Johnson)
(Photo found here.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Decorating for Samhain, Target edition

I was at Target this morning checking out their Samhain decorations, and I heard a college kid say, far more loudly and self-importantly than was warranted, "can you believe they have the Halloween stuff out? it's hardly the middle of September." My second thought was, well, yeah, kid, where've you been, marketing has been getting out of hand at least since you were born. But my first thought was, it's almost Mabon, of course we have to start decorating for Samhain next week. (Hey, I'm not the only Witch who gets itchy to decorate and celebrate this time of year.)

Target is usually a great resource for fun, inexpensive, elegant or kitschy Samhain decorations. I love picking out a few things every year. This year, alas, the choices seemed thinner and tackier than usual, and the prices a bit higher. (I appreciate kitsch, but I hate tackiness.) I bought only this kitschy-but-cool altar to the Horned God and a (faux) snakeskin lined tray in black (couldn't find it on-line), the latter more for year-round glamour than Samhain per se.

(These pumpkins--also in green--were handsome, but I didn't know where I'd put them. I might've been tempted by these if I'd seen them. I love these, but $25 for 10 lights? Ooo, but I didn't see these.)

Where do you go for fun, tasteful Samhain decor?

Update: I got two big, full, beautiful hardy mums in different shades of rusty orange at the grocery store this (Sunday morning). Those are for the front porch.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The beauty in brokenness

Molly, still recovering from a seriously broken arm, has written a beautiful post inspired by some photos her daughter took to depict life on their farm to a far-away friend. Rather than take picture-postcard photos that try to convey a glossy and complete picture of the farm, Molly's daughter Elizabeth took photos of fragmented imperfection: September tomatoes, a cabbage with torn and bug-eaten outer leaves "reflecting the actual effort required to become a cabbage," her disheveled younger brother asleep on a screened-in porch. The photos and writing capture the beauty of this time of year between Lughnasadh and Mabon.

Elizabeth’s pictures suggest there is no obligation to strive for something other than what is or to strive to explain everything fully. They have an acceptance of transience. the illusive, and the natural processes that break down everything except the loving eye that bears witness to this brokenness.

Most growing seasons, I spend much of my time in the gardens working to bring the plants to their full and ripest point. I love this peak moment when I find it in a Flower, but these pictures reminded me of the beauty of things past their peak, broken, or imperfect.

Flowers never try to hold onto this peak moment, because going to seed is as important to them as their peak moment of beauty. Unlike our culture, they make no effort to hold onto some impossible moment of eternal youth. And this surrender is not a loss. The gardens have a deep beauty and gravitas as they pass into fall and winter. Plant architecture may be broken, but in fall, the gardens have great heart and wisdom.

In previous growing seasons, I too often fixated on “garden problems”, racing from one to another to clean things up. This year, I had to go wabi sabi on myself. In my brokenness, the path of least resistance was to look for the beauty in things just as they were. This proved so much easier than expected. The untended beauty of gorgeous volunteer Flowers as well as weeds reminded me, just as my broken arm reminded me, that sometimes the light shines best through a crack in the vessel.

No matter how much our minds might tell us the glass is half full, when we are forced to stop and really look at it, the glass is always overflowing. Nature always overflows our cup. Life always overflows our cup.

Read the whole post, and see the sweet photographs, here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

His dark materials

Via Bookslut, a list of Philip Pullman's favorite books.

I can at least say that I own and have intended to read The Book of Disquiet and Rilke's Duino Elegies; that I've dipped into The Gnostic Gospels, Maus, and The Varieties of Religious Experience; and that I've heard of many of these titles and most of these authors...

...uh, but I've got some catching up to do.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Pagan church 2

When your lover makes you brunch: organic pancakes with butter and maple syrup; bacon from local, humanely-raised pigs; local apple cider, unpasteurized! (If you're from an apple-growing state, you probably drank it as a kid, but it's nearly impossible to find now.)

Pagan church

Yesterday, Adonis, Gryphon, and I took a morning walk, first to the neighborhood coffee shop for iced mochas, then up into the neighborhood gorge. We passed several churches and enjoyed the singing and organ music coming through the open doors. It was Gryphon's first trip to the gorge, though we have fond memories of taking Lugh there and letting him splash in the cold water on hot days.

Gryphon has poor eyesight, probably owing to malnutrition when he was a puppy. The three of us waded into the gorge where the water is gentle and just deep enough to cover our feet. Then Adonis carefully led Gryphon on his leash on a short path through that section of the gorge. Since it's sometimes slippery on the rocks, I opted to stay where I was and watch them. The second time around, Gryphon was off leash, slightly more confident, but still following close at Adonis's heels, even gently touching Adonis's heels with his nose, Adonis guiding him by hand over some trickier parts.

I stood in the lush, green, rocky gorge, hearing only the sound of the water over the rocks, feeling the cold water running over my feet, watching my beloved partner gently guide my beloved dog through the green-filtered sunlight and water. And I was filled with joy.