Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween as Practice

I really like these thoughts by Traci Cochran:

Halloween as Practice

At a certain point, the summer of our innocence passes. The bright hope that spiritual practice might be a way for us to bypass suffering vanishes. The bliss we might have felt at the beginning gives way to the realization that the more we practice, the more we feel not just joy but also the 10,000 sorrows. The practice begins to feel a bit like Halloween.
Halloween is typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-an or sow-in), celebrating the end of the lighter half of the year and the beginning of the darker half. The ancient Celts believed this to be a thin time, a time when the border between this world and unknown worlds became porous, allowing the passage between worlds and levels to be much easier than it ordinarily is.
According to legend, one rite of Samhain in ancient Scotland was the dowsing of household fires. People would allow themselves to experience the darkness, lighting a new fire from a common bonfire. As we begin to understand that everyone suffers, everyone without exception, we begin to experience that common fire. We begin to be able to look at ourselves and others with kind attention. Our hearts begin to open to others and to ourselves, in all our guises and manifestations, even the most frightening.
Moment by moment, we begin to realize that waking up involves waking up to the truth of who we are, and that means the whole truth. A new kind of warmth and vibrancy and ease comes into our lives at moments (and let me stress again that this is a work of moments). We feel just as much as before. But there is also light and warmth, and the understanding that we are not alone in the dark.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Light falls so variously here

"Like someone who opens a door of glass
or sees his own reflection in it
when he returns from the woods
the light falls so variously here at the end of October
that nothing is whole or can be made into a whole
because the cracks are too uncertain and constantly moving.

Then you experience the miracle
of entering into yourself like a diamond
in glass, enjoying its own fragility
when the storm carries everything else away
including the memory of a freckled girlfriend
out over the bluing lake hidden behind the bare hills."

-   Henrik Nordbrandt,  The Glass Door

    Translated by Thomas Satterlee 

"Tonight as the barrier between the two realms grows thin,
Spirits walk amongst us, once again.
They be family, friends and foes,
Pets and wildlife, fishes and crows.
But be we still mindful of the Wee Folke at play,
Elves, fey, brownies, and sidhe.
Some to trick, some to treat,
Some to purposely misguide our feet.
Stay we on the paths we know
As planting sacred apples we go.

This Feast I shall leave on my doorstep all night.
In my window one candle shall burn bright,
To help my loved ones find their way
As they travel this eve, and this night, until day.
Bless my offering, both Lady and Lord
Of breads and fruits, greens and gourd."

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Trump Memes

Definition of meme:  a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Many on Trump.  Here are a few of my recent favorites:

and another:

and another:

and one more:

Enough for today.

Monday, October 28, 2019

a green thought in a green shade... quickly turning to gold

Even as Daylight Savings Time draws to a close,  I ponder these words about the garden:

"Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green glade ...

Such was that happy garden-state, ..."

-  Andrew Marvell, The Garden

"Why do plants have such a positive impact on us?
There are a number of reasons, including:
They have a predictable cycle of life that provides comfort in our time of rapid change.
They are responsive but non-threatening.
They form no opinions or judgments about their caregivers.
They soften our man-made environment.
They enable us to change or improve our environment.
They promote relaxation and tranquility."

-  Gardening - Therapy for Mind, Body and Soul, Proxima Health System, Atlanta

 "People are turning to their gardens not to consume but to actively create, not to escape from reality but to observe it closely.  In doing this they experience the connectedness of creation and the profoundest sources of being.  That the world we live in and the activity of making it are one seamless whole is something that we may occasionally glimpse.  In the garden, we know."

-  Carol Williams, Bringing a Garden to Life, 1998

Sunday, October 27, 2019

It's probably early to post this song, but

photo of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge by Marie Imagery

here it is.   I recently heard it again after a long time, and realized how much I love it:

Here are the lyrics.  You can hear him sing it on YouTube, I'm sure.

When the deer has bedded down
And the bear has gone to ground
And the northern goose has wandered off
To warmer bay and sound
It's so easy in the cold to feel
The darkness of the year
And the heart is growing lonely for the morning
Oh, my Joanie, don't you know
That the stars are swingin' slow
And the seas are rollin' easy
As they did so long ago
If i had a thing to give you
I would tell you one more time
That the world is always turning toward the morning
When October's growin' thin
And November's comin' home
You'll be thinking of the seasons
And the sad things that you've seen
And you hear that old wind walkin'
Hear him singin' high and thin
You could swear he's out there singin' of your sorrow
Oh, my Joanie, don't you know
That the stars are swingin' slow
And the seas are rollin' easy
As they did so long ago
If i had a thing to give you
I would tell you one more time
That the world is always turning toward the morning
So the darkness falls around you
And you hear the north wind blow
And you hear him call your name out
As he walks the bitter snow
That old wind don't mean you trouble,
He don't care or even know
He's just walkin' down the darkness toward the morning

Oh, my Joanie, don't you know
That the stars are swingin' slow
And the seas are rollin' easy
As they did so long ago
If I had a thing to give you
I would tell you one more time
That the world is always turning toward the morning
It's a pity we don't know
What the little flowers know
They can't face the cold November
They can't take the bitter snow
They put their glories all behind them
Bow their heads and let it go
But you know they'll be there shining in the morning
Oh, my Joanie, don't you know
That the stars are swingin' slow
And the seas are rollin' easy
As they did so long ago
If i had a thing to give you
I would tell you one more time
That the world is always turning toward the morning

If the "Joanie" in the song is Joni Mitchell,  then I am all for it.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

I yearn to be in Paris this October

Here I am in October 2004 at a cafe near Sainte-Chappelle. 

I have been to Paris four times:  Summer 1970, just through it on the train;  Summer 1976, for just four days, with students on a foreign study trip; October 2004, for 19 days , on a Heritage trip with the Daughters of Charity, and in March 2018, all month, staying at our Motherhouse.

The weather in March was blustery, rainy, and cold, but I still loved being there.  The weather in October was much better, but I was tied up in talks and meetings and side trips, and only had about two days when I could wander around on my own. 

So I would love to go back.  Between the strictures of my community and my own health problems, I will probably never go back. Still....

Here are some photos from the 2004 trip and a few from 2018:

October 2004

in the Motherhouse garden. Note the green trees and my lack of sweater or coat.

March 2018, in Le Bon Marche

in the Musee d'Orsay

rue Cler

at Shakespeare and Company

Monmartres in the fall.  Not my photo,  but somewhere I have not yet visited.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Halloween Lore

This interested me: the Irish brought the custom of Halloween to America.  You might know.

"The Romans adopted the Celtic practices as their own. But in the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.

 The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween.

    The thrust of the practices also changed over time to become more ritualized. As belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more ceremonial role.

    The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates.

    The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling. 

On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.

    The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree."

On the way to Halloween

Although I am a Christian,  I have a part of me that is drawn to the ancient Celtic intuitions.

That part of me loves this time of year.

Here are some words from that ancient Celtic intuition:

"The Lord of Life Greenwood Man will now adopt his position as Lord of the Underworld, the dread Lord of Shadows. 

 All around leaves are changing color and falling from branches , with life itself retracting back into roots and bulbs .

 Not destroyed , but moved to another plane for the Winter , to rest , to recuperate in order to be re born.

 This is a time to draw in our energy , and prepare for Winter. 

  The colours are not provided by flowers, and yet the Earth is surrounded in color ... 
the colors are of harvest and reflect the colors of the harvest an animals too. 

 As Samhain or Halloween arrives, so does JackFrost, making mysterious veil patterns on our windows, reminding us of his cleverness and intricate work.

   Caileach, The Crone, the Wise One, The Oldest of the Phases of The Moon, has devoured the God so that she can rebirth him. Her womb is the Underworld.  

 Samhain is a time of transformation and of looking inside ourselves, a time for introspection. 

 It is also a sombre time of remembrance, when we remember and honour those who have died.

  On this date the difference between the planes is at its lightest and we invite the dead to join us to feast.

 We can contact those who have died in all years gone by and we call upon ancient men and women to help us at this time."

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Theater of the Absurd, or Donald Trump's Republicans?

If they're riding on his coattails, they are swinging wildly!

Opinion piece by David Leonhardt   NYTimes

The House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry into President Trump have both Democratic and Republican members.

post from The Hill:

House chairman asks sergeant-at-arms to 'take action' after Republicans bring electronics to secure hearing

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday asked the top congressional law enforcement official to "take action" in response to GOP lawmakers bringing electronic devices to a secure facility while disrupting the deposition of a witness in the impeachment inquiry.
In a letter to Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said that Republicans’ decision to bring cell-phones into the room, known as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), violated security protocols established by the intelligence community to protect classified information.
"This unprecedented breach of security raises serious concerns for committee chairman, including me, responsible for maintaining SCIFs," Thompson wrote.
Thompson asked Irving to make unspecified moves to make the security protocol clear to all House members.
"As such, I am requesting you take action with respect to the members involved in the breach. More broadly, I urge you to take House-wide action to remind all members about the dangers of such reckless action and the potential national security risks of such behavior," Thompson wrote.
Lawmakers typically use the SCIF to discuss sensitive information in a facility that is designed to be protected from foreign surveillance.
Impeachment inquiry witness depositions have been taking place in the SCIF, which is located two levels below the basement in the Capitol Visitor Center.
At least 30 House Republicans entered the SCIF on Wednesday morning to demand access to the witness depositions, which are currently restricted to members of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees leading the impeachment inquiry.
The deposition of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, eventually began later Wednesday after a five-hour delay.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said that he collected lawmakers' phones and brought them outside the room in adherence with protocol.
"You certainly want a secure environment, but at the same time I think everybody wants to hear exactly what's going on," Meadows told reporters.
A number of House Republicans who entered the SCIF sent tweets from their official accounts while still in the facility, though some later clarified that the tweets were sent by staff.
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) shared audio of a phone call "live from the SCIF," but he clarified that he was making a call from a secure line inside the facility because lawmakers had to hand over their cellphones.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

An Addiction to Gardening

The Sleeping Gardener      Gary Bunt

"An addiction to gardening is not all bad when you consider all the other choices in life."-  Cora Lea Bell

"This garden is no metaphor ─
more a task that swallows you into itself,
earth using, as always, everything it can."

-  Jan Hirshfield, November, Remembering Voltaire

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

I have been younger in October

Here's a poem from one of my favorite poets, W.S. Merwin:

The Love of October

"A child looking at ruins grows younger 
but cold
and wants to wake to a new name.
I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows
and the wren laughs in the early shade now
come again shining glance in your good time
naked air late morning
my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
in the sun."

-   W. S. Merwin,  The Love of October

Monday, October 21, 2019

On the crazy variety of my present reading

My Modernity in Literature class is currently reading  Slaughterhouse Five  by Kurt Vonnegut.

I loved this book when I read it fifty years ago.  Today I am reading it for the fourth or fifth time, for this class, and I understand it on so many deeper levels than I did at 21. 

I am reading Beloved by Toni Morrison  for a women's book discussion group to which I belong, in Gettysburg.  First reading for me,  and it is very slow going.  It's revelatory and gut-wrenching, and beautifully written.

Then, on the recommendation of an old teacher/friend, I am slogging my way through the Mueller Report.  I knew much of it  ( as much as I have read, which isn't even halfway) from other readings and editorials and the redoubtable Rachel Maddow, but reading it pulls out some facts and stun me.

 and then, there's Volume 4 of the Voyager ESL series - Reading and Writing for Today's Adults.
I am working through this with B,  down at the Frederick Literacy Center.  We've been at it for more than a year, and she is very faithful and bright.  She also works full time in Housekeeping at one of the local hotels, so her time is limited.  I love working with her.

More on all of these later.  Must go.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

October in my world

The aromatic aster is in full bloom right now, and the bees just love it.   That's a lantana in front; even though it's an annual and I have to plant it every year, it's worth it because of the butterflies.

the bees love the Anise Hyssop, too.

The Butterfly Weed is just about done, but it has been beautiful this year.

"Little Joe" pyeweed is done now, too,  but what a favorite with the Swallowtail Butterflies!

Oriental Lilies and Hosta, back in mid-June

Yellow Swallowtail on native Phlox, late July

One of the many "volunteer" sunflowers

Now, on this rainy Sunday, with the temperature at 55, we have not yet had frost, but as Shakespeare said,  "Summer's lease has all too short a date."

Now I'm drinking tea and burning a pumpkin spice candle someone gave me, and looking at some hypnotic Autumn photographs online.

Barred Owl    photo by Deb Campbell

full October moon     photographer unknown