Upon entering and leaving my home I pass through the life of my garden. In about the time it takes for me to take three breaths, before I reach the gate my eyes catch something new, a surprise. Today a hummingbird feeds from the hollowed out “lantern” of a persimmon opened by the crows, feasted on by an assortment of others. Half its body disappears inside the fruit as it hovers and darts in and out.
Hummingbirds eat fruit. I never knew…..I watch and smile and remember the native bees that somehow found juiciness in the leaves and canes of the climbing roses after the blossoms were spent.
Just when the story seems to get thin, new possibilities. Resourcefulness.
As the winter descends this week and the fierce retail seduction sets in, we can succumb to sadness and feelings of deprivation, or take a breath, change the thought and proceed with gratitude, humor and joy…..more moments practicing builds resilience and resistence to the onslaught. Through the toughest times I have learned to say, “Watch for the miracles”.
Hold to the beauty of gathering together before descending into the cave of winter. Find and polish your favorite symbols, perhaps one candle not twenty, a branch not a tree, tea not champagne, if money is tight or you are already busy.
Symbolically winter is the time for sleep, poetry, renewal, dreaming, the North, the stripped tree as well as the evergreen and the dark giving way to the light. By savoring this time we are ready when the Birth and rebirth occur.
While our fearful, addictive culture says keep all the lights on, party and decorate, Nature says gather the Beloveds, stay simple, feast on what you have already harvested, believe.
Here is my Winter Solstice offering to you.
Thirteen crows perch
on the wires
above the persimmons.
These fruit have sung to me for months
with their bright refusal to be melancholy
I have watched their curves fill into sweet polished cheeks
their orange clarity against the dying leaves.
It is past Thanksgiving, almost Winter Solstice
and so the crows and I are gathered here
to a communion of ripeness.
Who will eat first
the raven priests or I?
Who will feast on these last fruits, robust
while leaves show their age
take one last spin to Earth
The persimmons glow.
They hold a star within,
almost too sweet
not orange, not apple.
It takes years
to bend the tough persimmon wood
into the tea boxes of Japan.
Yet these most prized.
I have written too long.
Up in the persimmon tree
five crows are feasting.
The fruit yields empty baskets
orange skins hold to branches
like tiny lanterns.
Some amazing photographs were published in the NYT. The subjects were ordinary acts by families and individuals. But when the storm Sandy swept them up they were transformed and ethereal and spoke to me of life’s transience and of what endures. I wrote this for a poet friend…little haiku to hold my thoughts.
Do not wait for great
Chop onions, sort laundry; write
when the heart says write.
The great storms are here
What if yours is the poem
Flotsam left behind.
Write in indelible ink.
Speak of our friendship,dear poet
How it survived all.
In our angst and advertising driven society so often I hear people self diagnose and identify with their diagnosis, “my depression” or “my OCD”. One of the things I like about Narrative Practice is the idea that the problem is the problem. You are not the problem. This allows for a collaborative problem solving and some interesting new possibilities. There are many ways for persons to engage in therapeutic conversations that strengthen and expand a personal knowledge of one’s resourcefulness.
Read about narrative practice from the originals. The Dulwich Center in Australia generously shares material in their library.http://www.dulwichcentre.com.au/what-is-narrative-therapy.html
I awoke this morning to the twittering of the tiny hummingbirds in the sage outside my window.
In my office hangs an etching of a hummingbird by Rosey Rosenthal from Los Osos,Ca.
The hummingbird speaks of highly focused attention, all that energy to be still and gather nectar.
There is grace in taking only what we need. We are not deprived because the sweetness is already distilled into nectar waiting for us. That was the work of the sun,earth and flower.
Life still is sweet even after trauma. It won’t stop the suffering around you to be still, to be kind to yourself but it will give you delight and strength to do your part.
For me voicing poetry and writing poetry is transformative. It requires presence and breath. It requires acceptance of one’s experience in this moment and gives the gift of a changed experience through the very act of reading or creating. Here is a poem I wrote about one such moment of awareness.
After this winter
of cruel stories
The hungry bandits.
To find frog eggs
lives to be yet sung.
The smallest frog:
the loudest croak.
I am still here.
It was the quietness of your voice
your hands in the dark pond
the sitting soundless together
that left me
with the soft cloak
and here is one from Rilke, traslated by Joanna Macy.
Part Two, Sonnet XXIX
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent Earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.