Monday, June 22, 2009

Lazy Days

We are in the lazy days of summer.

My body feels lazy,

my mind feels lazy,

even time seems lazy.

It creeps by with no real outward sign that anything has happened. The days stretch, so that night and day no longer balance each other, and we go to bed with the waning light, and wake up to the waxing light.

It is so hot, no one wants anything more than fruit and sandwiches to eat, and so there are no real meals to break up our day.

It seems like one long heat-filled summer day, interspersed with vignettes of children splashing in water, trips to the store for more fruit, and the little games we find to pass the time during the hottest parts of the day.

It tastes like strawberries and smells of chlorine and bug spray, and feels like...well, we all know what it feels like.

The solstice has passed though, and the days will begin to shorten again, bringing with them the coolness of the dark.

And soon, time will begin again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Standing People

I found a book at the library about an ancient indigenous religious tradition of Japan called Shinto. I know nothing of it, so I decided to read a little.

One of the foundation principles of the tradition is the importance of the natural world. Shinto leaders have been at the forefront of the movement to stop deforestation in Japan, and then, to reforest. Because of this, Japan ranks as the third most successful reforested nation. The land around Shinto shrines is covered in trees, a symbol of the importance the Shinto tradition places on them.

But what caught my attention was not just that Shintoism teaches the importance of a healthy ecosystem, but that it is believed that you can actually contact Kami, what we would probably refer to as the energy of God, through trees. I read the sentence over and over because I finally had found in words what I have felt for so long.

Is this why when I see an old, thick trunk, I am drawn to place my hand on it, almost as if I can absorb the wisdom this tree must have gained over hundreds of years?

Why I can almost feel the consciousness of the tree? Why it hurts in my chest when an old tree is cut down or dies from disease?

The Native Americans also had this reverence for trees. In many Native American dialects the word for tree can be translated as "standing person". I find this to be so fitting.

Because when the wind blows, and the branches creak above me, and the leaves rustle, I do feel as if I am listening to an ancient, sacred conversation between energies I cannot even begin to truly understand.

Because of this, at least one tribe that I know of would not use a living part of a tree. They harvested the dead parts for their wooden items.

And so I have to think that if two different indigenous peoples across the world, whose cultures were saturated with spiritual practices, have come to the same conclusion, that trees are have some sort of consciousness and sacredness unique to them within the natural world, that perhaps they are right.

But mostly I think this because I have felt it in the depths of my own being, felt beyond words that our spiritual selves can be known more fully in the presence of those which have known the elements, breathed the air and drank the water of this earth for centuries, perhaps even millenia.
The Standing People.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Hail Mary, full of Grace

I was discussing theology with a friend today who was raised in a Protestant tradition and she asked me the question I have heard many Protestants ask:

"Why do you pray to Mary?"

I gave an answer that involved the idea of praying to a feminine energy, and that Catholics often pray to different saints, etc, etc, but it didn't seem to fully express why still, even though I do not consider myself Catholic, I love to gaze upon statues of Mary, and I still find comfort in uttering the most sacred words of the Hail Mary.

The Lord is with you...

To me, Mary is a Mother. The ultimate symbol of a Mother, and there is something about the love a mother has for her child, the bond between them, that feels so holy. And yet, in many religious traditions, this is not really mentioned or seen. For whatever reason that I cannot figure out, the religions of the world are patriarchal, and have done their fair share in aiding in the oppression of women.

Blessed are you among women...

And yet, here is this one aspect of a major world tradition that doesn't just recognize the importance of a mother, but basically worships it. Because this is something I struggled with becoming a mother -- that as a woman, you can't really be out in the world like a man, affecting things in the same way. And yet, by raising the next generation, you are influencing things immensely. There would have been no Ghandi without his mother, and no Ghandi Jr's without his wife raising his 4 children while he gave himself to India.

And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus...

There would have been no Buddha, or Mohammed, or Moses,

Or Jesus. Mary brought him into this world physically, and then raised him, guiding him on his path to his destiny. Her life is intimately woven with his, just as every mother's is intimately woven with her child's life forever.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners

So, speaking only for me, I guess what I find so comforting about gazing upon a statue of Mary is that I can see there the spiritual truth of what it means to be a Mother, the transformation that occurs in our very souls when we hold these divine beings in our arms for the first time.

Arms outstretched as if to invite anyone suffering into them, with serene eyes and a compassionate face, beautiful in its simple smooth features, I feel my soul being reflected back to me. And just as Mary's arms are forever frozen this way, I know too my arms and my heart will never close to my own children.

Now and at the hour of our death

I have known no other love so devoted, so overwhelming, so pure as I have experienced loving Noelle. And if Jesus taught that a sign of spiritual enlightenment is unfettered love, then for me, becoming a Mother is where it starts. And as I open my heart more and more to this love, I feel my heart opening to others that are not my children, a growing compassion for suffering. All I have to do is imagine that they are someone's child.

Mary symbolizes this to me.

There just has to be a place for that.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Chasing Magic

Noelle and Cousin Emma

I have not written for awhile. We found out we are expecting, and after the initial high of that realization wore off, in came all the physical feelings of sickness, but also alot of emotions to deal with.

I knew I always wanted a sibling or siblings for Noelle. This was my dream. And yet, after the elation came fear and sadness, feelings of loss. Would Noelle be ready? Would she be okay? Would I become completely engrossed with the new baby and leave her feeling lost? Or am I so strongly bonded to Noelle that I will neglect the new baby and fail to bond properly?

Did I make the right decision?

It has been recently that I have found a beautiful, overarching feeling of peace and calm. The feeling that everything is as it should be returned, and I have been able to see again all the wonderful things a sibling will bring our little family.


Right now Noelle has two parents with alot of love and alot of time. She is, quite honestly, overindulged. I think this is okay right now, but I do think eventually there would need to be some balance, the ability to see that there are other people in the universe with other needs that at times may come before hers. She will learn selflessness and compassion, and I think we will be able to better establish boundaries with two or more to look out for.

A Routine.

There is just so much time right now. I have tried to establish a routine (more than meals and bedtime) several times, but there is just alot of time to work with. I think having a second will allow us to follow a better routine, to keep the family in a nice, discernible rhythm.

A Constant Companion.

Sometimes I watch Noelle playing with her little toys, talking and cooing to them, but now I see something different. In my mind's eye, I see a little baby sitting beside her, smiling and clapping its hands, as she shows them all the things her little toy can do. And I see the sparkle in her eye from the excitement of having someone to share it all with.

And most importantly, Friendship.

I watch Noelle with other children and I am always so amazed at how differently she plays with them than with us. There is such a vibrant energy between them, and a subtle communication that almost seems like they are dancing. One leads for a moment, and then the other, and they never break rhythm. It is magical to watch, but it always left a little bit of a lump in my throat before because I knew I could never play with her like that, that we lose some of the magic when we grow up.

Now when I see it, I feel a deep satisfaction, because I know sooner than later she will have someone she can play with day or night. And she will have somebody that can understand her like I never will. Someone whom she can go to after Stephen or I or both have come down on her for something, and she is feeling alone and upset, until she finds her brother or sister and they smile at her and declare,

"Let's go play!"

And she will run side by side with them, leaving all her cares streaming behind her as she once again races to find the magic.