Breaking Open at Break Up

It was magic. In the morning my labyrinth was covered in snow. In the afternoon it had appeared. It was the first day that felt like warmth in the air again, a warmth that stopped me, and willed me to stop and turn around in all directions to see from whence it had come. It was as if someone had broken into winter and with great stealth and in rich stillness, the earth reappeared. The solid ground was still there under the months of heavy snow cover. The sodden leaves strewn across the labyrinth spoke of the distant fall. The broken branches littering its circuits bore testimony of winter storms. Yet now the spiraling paths in the labyrinth were appearing again, the paths unchanged as I expected, yet NEW.

I hear anew each night the toll that the COVID19 virus is taking on the world. More deaths, more hospitalizations, more cases, more frustration, more anger to open up business again (busy-ness) again, more doubt, more grief. And each night I hear of more kindnesses; food deliveries, drive-by parties, donations of masks, medical personnel volunteering to return to work, artwork on sidewalks, donated online sessions of music and spiritual and social healing. A willingness to close down, to shelter in, to not fly, to stay 6 feet apart to save lives. All so new to a ways of life now, all part of what is here now.

The ground is soggy with the melt and the snow that still clings outside the edges of the labyrinth is mushy and soft, just like my heart these days. I pull on my breakup boots, feeling the ritual of that act that marks spring in Alaska. Stepping into the labyrinth, new questions arise as I walk the loopy spirals to the center. Do I risk getting the virus by staying in contact with my children and grandchildren? Or do I savor this time with them when they are out of school and wanting to be with me, even though it could possibly be the “death of me”? Am I afraid of death? Or afraid of the idea of it? Better safe than sorry? Or take care with good precautions and not let my life be run by fear? Is this a time to face the challenge of taking better care of self than of others? Yet isn’t this a time for love as its never been before in the world? Won’t I be protected and held? Aren’t I healthy enough to withstand the virus if it does come?

Amid the churning, churning, churning of these questions in my mind, there is something else here. A rising sense of being quiet comes as I walk and turn and wind to the center of this sacred path. It takes its time, it slowly reveals itself. It is a quiet that is greater than the questions or the fear or the doubt or confusion. It’s not the satisfaction of getting clear answers. It is simply stillness again.. as another way of being. The psalmist said it simply as “Be still and know that I am God.” As psalmist, I write,

You ask me to be still, O Beloved as the world weeps.

You ask me to trust when I cannot know if the virus will strike me down.

You ask me to be and not to do.

To stay home, go within, shelter myself, and simply be still.

That simple.

Be still.

I listen as you wish me spring,

as you bring me spring again.

It’s Time to Howl

I met a woman from Mill Valley, California last night online as part of a course I’m taking called Live the Sacred Blessings of the Women Mystics and Goddesses. After the teaching portion of the class, we were put into breakout rooms on Zoom. (seems to be a big part of my life now) As we were ending the session, she mentioned that she needed to go because at 8:00 it was time to go outside her door and howl. Taken aback, I said, “Did you say howl?” ‘

“Yes,” she said. “The whole valley does it at 8:00. It just seems the time in our world to howl. Howl for anger, frustration, joy, connection, grief, or whatever comes up. We just go out and howl.”

I’ve been wanting to write something about this time in the life of the world right now as the pandemic has rearranged our routines, our assumptions, our awareness of mortality. But it seems so MUCH is being written and said. Yet this is what I want to put out into the world and put into my life. I just want to HOWL right now. I want to howl that people are dying alone; I want to howl that my fellow sojourners on this planet are without work. I want to howl that my best friend has metastatic cancer and the chemo isn’t working but I can’t sit by her bedside; I want to howl that my mom broke her hip and is confused with dementia and I can’t fly to be with her or enter the locked down rehab facility; I want to howl that my sister has pneumonia at a time this is more than dangerous for her to leave home; I want to howl that I have to check myself all the time when I see another person first as a possible carrier of a disease instead of a human being; I want to howl when I can’t see my grandkids because their mom works in a medical clinic. I want to howl at all that we just don’t know yet about this virus or how we should adequately respond.

And then…. I want to howl at the full knowing of how precious my family and friends are to me especially NOW when I can’t hug them and go to them. I want to howl at the beauty of the moon and all it teaches about light the darkness. I want to howl at the great space that has opened in my heart as I have this time to meditate and inquire and write and just be. I want to howl at the pussy willows just beginning to bud and the way my labyrinth is slowly appearing in my yard as the snow melts. I want to howl that I never felt so close to the chickadees in my bird feeder and how they too have never flown so close to me and landed by my chair. I want to howl at the mountains draped in white and the way Eagle River flows clear in the spring as the ice hangs on a foot thick on the banks.

I want to howl at being a human being that can live a life so rich and full of potential and that a tiny tiny virus can kill me. Tonight and every night at 8:00, I’m going to. I am going to howl in my valley.

I listen to see if you will howl too. Join the wolf pack.

The Words I Would Miss

Sometimes when I’m reading or listening to conversation I will hear a word that turns up the corners of my mouth. A little thing called joy arises. And I say that word again and again, feeling it in my mouth, noticing how the air moves or how my lips accommodate to pronounce it. More than pronouncing though, it feels like announcing, “Here is a word that I never knew I loved until I heard it.” There is no rhyme to why I like a word in this intimate way; it isn’t the meaning. It isn’t the length. Or certain sounds that letters make. It is as if I’ve seen the soul of that word and why it absolutely must be in language. Who said it first? What compelled that exact word into existence? Why do I hear it and feel it resonate in my heart? I love the mystery of it. Below are a few of the many that I hold cupped in my hands like a cherished gift. And say when I move closer to who I AM.

Suffice. Impeccable. Nuanced. Similitude. Preposterous. Incandescence. Segue. Luminosity. Plethora. Flourish. Voluptuous. Labyrinthine. Bereft. Mythos. Solace. Shimmer. Quintessential. Speculate.

Do you love words? Do you have those you know in this way? I’d love to hear them. Please share below in the message box.