Light A New Hearth Fire [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

HalloweenTree copy

Even during the summer we call it the Halloween tree. An ancient oak, gnarled and twisted, surely a home to gnomes and sprites, a rest stop for wandering spirits. An inciter of wild imagination. It watches our passage through the seasons, our walks though the woods.

Halloween has a history, an origin story. It has evolved and changed from a sacred to our now secular celebration. It once marked the end of the year, the line between the end of harvest time and the onset of dark winter, the day when the boundary between the living and the dead became soft and permeable. A liminal day when the future could be seen and told. Ghosts returned. People donned costumes to fool the spirits and speak for the future. Mischief was made. The hearth was stamped out and then reignited from the communal flame. With the sunrise came the new year and the boundary between worlds and the future was restored.

Costumes and carved pumpkins. Neighbors coming out of their houses for trick-or-treating. Corn mazes and haunted houses. We are not so different, not really. In this way, whether we acknowledge it or not, through our coming together to carve scary faces, through our meeting on the street to watch our children walk the neighborhood and perpetuate this yearly ritual, through our parties and dressing up, we light a new hearth fire to keep us warm and full of hope through the cold months of dark winter.

KDot Halloween Tree

k.dot at the halloween tree

read Kerri’s blog post about THE HALLOWEEN TREE

 

halloween box copy

 

 

 

 

See Your Angels

angelsallaroundyou-jpeg

Products with this and other images available at society6.com

One of my favorite rituals is the reading-of-the-calendar on the last day of the year. It is no ordinary peruse through an ordinary calendar. Kerri, every day, writes in her calendar the events, the important calls, the amazing sightings, the simple and the profound moments. The day we first spotted the owl, the ice circles in the harbor, the generosity of the clerk at the store; they find a spot in the calendar. The tough stuff is in there, too. It is a habit she picked up from her mother. Calendar-as-diary. With a hot cup of coffee and nothing but time, we read through and talk about the days of our life.

It is probably not surprising that our most common exclamation is, “I’d forgotten about that!” I’m always amazed at how many of the years happenings are lost in the stream of time. The review not only helps me remember but also refreshes my appreciation for all that we navigated, discovered, survived and created in a mere 365 days.

At our gathering that night I laughed when Mary Kay told us that she dislikes New Year’s Eve because it always makes her feel as if she hasn’t done enough. I recognized Mary Kay’s disdain because earlier in the day I’d levied the same judgment against myself. The ritual reading of the calendar put my self-judgment to rest. After reviewing all that we’d done in a year, Kerri looked at me (tired of hearing my endless self-criticism) and asked, “Now, doesn’t that give you a greater respect for what we’ve done?” Yes. It did.

Although we didn’t say it this way, we told Mary Kay and Russ, Linda and Jim, John and Michele that they had made it into the calendar. This year was tough for us and when I was ill, when things were going badly, they brought us food, they offered to carry some of our load, they showed up to shovel our walks. So, rather than thinking of the year as bad, in our ritual we read about year of generosities extended to us.

Mary Kay said, “But that was nothing.” Kerri responded, “That was everything! It changed our world.” We were reminded in our ritual that the world is changed for the better everyday, not by the grand gesture, but by the small things, the passing kindnesses. From the point of view of the doer, they are often too tiny to remember. From the standpoint of the receiver, they are monumental. Opening a door can change someone’s day. And who knows how far a kindness-ripple will travel?

From the archive: 'Angels At The Well.'

From the archive: ‘Angels At The Well.’ This painting is available at zatista.com

Fun products featuring details of my artwork are available at society6.com.

 

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No, Right!

662. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

The man in front of me in line calls me “Dude!” and affirms my statements by saying, “No, right!” He speaks in exclamation points and I like him a lot. He’s a free spirit although, like me, his hair is going grey and he’s traveled more than a few miles. He asked me if I make resolutions this time of year. I liked the question because it includes the possibility that I might make resolutions at other times of the year. I told him I make resolutions everyday right before I don’t keep them and he laughed and said, “No, right!”

There is a moment I look forward to when flying out of Seattle. It is the moment that the plane lifts through the clouds and punches into a clear blue sky; it is a cusp moment and I see that the clouds are local and temporary; the broad blue expanse is universal, ever present. Occasionally the plane rises above the clouds at the moment the sun rises. The moment before was grey and bleak and in an instant it is vibrant orange, turquoise, cold and clear shades of blue. Those moments are rich in paradox: they evoke quiet and excitement, a thrill that washes me in peace

I am more capable than ever before of living with my head above the clouds, seeing the universal and standing in awe of the color even when my eyes can’t see it. I know it is there if I open myself and breathe it in. “Dude! What are you thinking?” my line mate asked. “I think I’m going to fly above the clouds this year,” I replied. He wrinkled his brow at my odd resolution before nodding his head and saying, “No, right!