Take a Moment: A Meditation

As I begin this blog post, I am sitting in bed, sipping coffee. It is early morning.

A series of waves of Canada geese are going overhead. I can’t see them, but I can hear them crying into the sky as they make their way onward.

I think of Mary Oliver, of course, and remember that I do not have to be good. That here on Earth, there is a place for me in the family of things.

As that youthful sage (and paragon of white privilege, to be honest), Ferris Bueller, would tell us: life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

So take a moment today. It doesn’t have to be long.

Sit where the sun (or the rain, or the snow) can touch your skin, and feel it. Close your eyes, and listen for the birds, for the little sounds of Life going about its industrious unfolding.

Then open them and look at the great bowl of the sky, at the trees, if you can see any, bare though they may be. See how the branches tremble even in the softest breeze, quivering with anticipation of another cycle of leafing out and blooming and seeding.

Watch the grasses and weeds, persevering through sidewalks or perhaps notable by their absence in the cold. They will return.

They always do.

Know that yours, too, is a part of this dance. Breathe in, knowing you are made of all of this, and offer your share to the great wheel of growth and change and time: we are born, we live, we die. It’s that precious middle part you are doing now; feel it to your toes and fingertips, cold though they may be.

Know that you are a unique expression of the mighty Universe, and go forward with kindness towards all things.

Look for the beauty: it’s there. Find it.

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Burgeoning

It’s definite now: the light is stronger, the days are longer. Here in the northern hemisphere, winter is passing, and spring is coming on.

Where I live, in coastal Northern California, the very first wildflowers are the milk maids, and they are already gone now, faded to buttercups and hounds’ tongues and shooting stars: the survivals of what once was a landscape carpeted with flowers in the spring. European grasses have forcibly taken over our hills, but the native flowers yet persist.

And the introduced species, the narcissus and daffodils and acacia; they, too, are daubing the green carpet of the winter hills with gold and white. They speak of Spring, as well.

Soon, plum blossoms and apple flowers will follow.

Spring, we say, is a time of renewal. It’s an obvious observation; the world stirs from slumber and bursts with color and life. Light returns and birds flock in. The long, cold time of hibernation and hunkering down against the bitter winter is finally over.

It would be lovely if we could all be so blessed as to experience such transformation, such renewal every year. But life is not so well-tuned to our seasonal metaphors; people die in springtime and are born in winter; we suffer setbacks in the lazy days of summer and achieve strides as November’s weather howls.

Yet this year, I am happy to express that spring has come for me at last. Following well over a year without regular work, I am once again employed.

It is nearly March. Soon we will be celebrating the holiday of childhood and innocence, of colored eggs and candy and childhood games. Though my days are now filled with responsibilities away from home, I remember to do my morning observances, and to plan for a High Spring Sabbath celebration later in the month.

For not all Pagan rituals must be Deep and Dark and Intense. This one is light and happy, reminding us that lightness and happiness are as intrinsic to our path as is the intensity and the grappling with the hard truths of life.

As I write, the season of the February Sabbath, which I know as Riverain, has been particularly vivid. We have had torrential rains and my region is flooded; just getting to my workplace was an adventure today, with roads submerged and whole towns isolated by creeks and rivers bursting their banks.

But the waters will subside. The land will continue to green to a brilliant emerald. Spring will leap as it never does in years of drought—for water, after all, is the life-giver.

Spring lurks beneath the surface of the waters and sprouts from every morsel of soil. The New is on the rise.

Tiny sprouts are now growing from the seeds I planted at an Imbolc ritual this year. They will go in the ground when less endangered; meanwhile, we tend them carefully.

May your Spring be as fruitful, and may you nurture as carefully the new and wonderful that comes to your life.

Contemplating a Red Moon

Last night, 2019’s only lunar eclipse took place: a spectacular “supermoon” eclipse. We watched it from our back yard, watching the Moon slowly darken into a ruddy ball, and then, dramatically, the bright edge of ordinary Sun-lit surface burst into being and steadily reclaim it.

Lunar eclipses are really cool. Astronomical events as a whole are really cool: meteor showers, eclipses, transits, and particularly that extraordinary rarity, a prominent comet visible to the naked eye. Whenever possible, I take the opportunity to experience these phenomena, as they bring home in a visceral way that we are on a planet, in space, and there’s a lot of other stuff going on out there.

Until three years ago, when I was forced to move, I lived in a rural setting. I knew the passage of the year by the changes in the trees, the choruses of frogs and crickets and coyotes and turkeys, the ripening of the crops. Now we are in a suburban neighborhood and, though it’s pretty good in terms of light pollution and silence, it’s harder to keep hold of that knowledge that all the time, things are happening. 

That mountain may look as it did yesterday from a distance, but it isn’t. Countless changes have been made, as Life does its thing and all the individual creatures go about their tasks.

As a Pagan, I do my best to keep this in mind: Nature is hard at work here, every day. The great beauty of an eclipse, a sunset, the breathtaking flash of a heron overhead, the rainbow, the lightning strike: these are the “postcard moments” in a panoply of activity that carries on unseen and incessant. Nature casts weather across the land and sea, stirs dust and seeds and migrating spiders high into the air and over distances. Animals eat and mate and complete their cycles; trees and plants turn their solar collectors to the life-giving Sun, powering the whole enterprise.

It’s magnificent and ordinary. It’s Sacred.

Having a Pagan practice helps me to remember this. My daily observances at my Focus bring me into recognition of the wonders of this world, this life. I hope, as I age, that I will never forget how miraculous it is to be here, to be a part of all this.