Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Solstice Eve #phenology

Tomorrow is the shortest day, longest night, of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. A few weeks later, days grow longer again, but by minute increments. It will be several weeks after that before we know if today's pre-Solstice thaw is in addition to or instead of our North Country's traditional January thaw. If current near term forecasts hold, we may get a very untraditional Christmas rain this coming weekend.

'tis the season to light one candle
Photo by J. Harrington

Presents are piling up around the tree. I think most (all?) of my shopping is done, in large part thanks to abundant assistance from the Better Half. Christmas around here is both Christmas and the Son Person's birthday. Christmas ends at noon when the birthday officially begins. I'm looking forward to some down time next week. That's when I'm going to focus ("Do or do not. There is no try!," as Yoda firmly informs us) on writing down some personal goals for 2017. Whatever they turn out to be, their essence will be seasonal and organic instead of simply numeric. They'll probably involve poetry, photography, writing, Minnesota, trout, fly-fishing, water, local food, community and economy and lots of the other topics that show up in these postings. I'm thinking that the overriding goal will be along the lines of tightening linkages among and increasing focus on those themes. For example, do I want to concentrate enough on photography to create and sell greeting cards with my photos on them? Maybe Santa will deliver some presents that will help sort out some priorities. I do know I don't want to spend the next four years focused on a defensive battle without spending more time enjoying what we're defending.

light more, if you can
light more, if you can
Photo by J. Harrington

In anticipation of next week's activities, I'm rereading Poetry As Spiritual Experience. Solstice Eve and a few days before Christmas seem like the right time to do so. It became clear that I was following a path intended for me in these times as these words came into focus:
"As spiritual poet Robert Bly described our time: "... the impulse for reverence endures.... Reclaiming the sacred in our lives naturally brings us close once more to the wellsprings of poetry."...
"Robert Frost said that poetry doesn't so much tell us anything new, but reminds us of things that we need to know but forgot."
A little further on, I reencountered The Prayer of St. Francis. The last time I had read The Prayer, it was in Kent Nerburn's book Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace. For this season of the year, and these times of our lives, I'm grateful to have rediscovered such wonderful companions. I hope you and yours find such wise and caring companions now and in your futures. (And, I would be severely remiss and violating the spirit of this season if I didn't call to your attention this story of Nerburn's: The cab ride I'll never forget.)

Making Peace

By Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
             ‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
                                   But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
                                       A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
                                              A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

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