Since getting older I have developed a new appreciation for time. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, and then...months fly by. Things I should have done are still not done. Life always seems to get in the way of living. I want to be more mindful, I need to stay on top of things and I should prioritize better than I do. Life, after all, does not stop to indulge us and then continue when we are ready to jump back on the donkey cart.
The Book of Common Prayer contains a prayer of confession that contains the phrase:"...by what we have done and by what we have left undone...". It is addressed, of course to God, and it continues with all the wording appropriate to proper breast-beating and remorse. I don't believe I need to go quite that far here considering the things I have done and left undone during the months since I last posted, but it does bother me on some level that I have neglected to keep up with things, especially since I made the declaration that this blog would be based on my own spiritual journey. It's a bit like breaking a promise made to a friend, and I rarely do that if I can at all help it.
So here's my excuse: I'm easily distracted and lazy. And once again, I forgot the password to my blog account, so I suppose that also makes me a tad irresponsible, too. Did I mention that as time passes and I get older my mind seems to wander and I occasionally ramble? Okay, maybe getting older has nothing to do with it, but I do become easily side-tracked by the sights and sounds of everyday life.
For which I do not apologize. Did I mention I am wont to ramble? I did? Just so you know.
All this time has passed, and suddenly, it's Autumn again. Thank God and Whomever keeps the Universe running, I am here to see yet another Autumn. It's my favorite time of the year. "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower", according to French philosopher Albert Camus, and I couldn't agree more. I love being in a part of the country where there are actually four distinct seasons. I love the crisp snap in the air, the smell of wood smoke as it burns in fireplaces, the carpet of crunchy leaves beneath my feet as I walk, and even the foggy grey skies in morning. I do not love the extended cold and darkness or having to use artificial light as much as is necessary this time of year. I've had to curb my candle-lighting habit as of late because I adopted a cat that was suddenly orphaned. Supreme Resident Feline lives up to the reputation of her people for curiosity and plunges head-first into everything- including my terra cotta Jack-O-Lantern and reproduction mercury candle cups. To avoid singed whiskers and fur, I have replaced the live flame wicks with a battalion of battery-fired candles. Their random flicker pattern is pretty but leaves something aesthetically wanting...but at least the cat is safe and free to explore at will. It has been 12 years since her predecessor was euthanized due to age and infirmity, something I still have momentary regrets over, even though I know it was best for both of us now. Cat-proofing the apartment has been on-going, with all of my live plants being re-homed, and being more mindful of leaving things out that could be harmful. ( My Himalayan Salt Lamp is resting in a large Ziploc bag, it's fate undetermined at this writing.)
Thanksgiving is a couple weeks away. I'm always perplexed by it's contrasts. On an American national holiday set aside for giving thanks for our many blessings, we whip ourselves into a frenzied exhaustion fixing a blow-out meal containing items we don't fix any other time of the year; the doors to our houses of worship that used to host ecumenical or interfaith services are for the most part closed on both the eve before and the morning of the holiday; Thanksgiving Day Parades featuring a drum major cartoon turkey, comic book heroes, marching bands and skimpily clad female baton twirlers...and Santa Claus... are anything but that. Unless it's done at the table, there is nary a word of thanks involved. Our impersonal giving is limited to dropping a few coins in the bell ringer's kettle outside the local grocery store. I have yet to figure out what the hell football has to do with it, other than there being a captive audience of bored family members sitting in front of the tube in a tryptophan induced coma. With the decline of the family farm in this country, there is no harvest home to raise a song to, and once more, Christmas has become a creeping malignancy thanks to savvy marketing.
As much as I have become disenchanted with living in a place that is ten miles beyond the "There Be Dragons" mark on the Flat Earth map, I am thankful to have this remoteness available at times. I love being able to wake-up to the sound of pigeon's wings flapping, rustling leaves in the wind,and occasional owl, and train whistles in the distance. I love seeing the landscape that defines the heart of Appalachia. I ache over the number of abandoned buildings falling to ruin around me, but at the same time those places have become like old friends ( or at least landmarks). There are days when I am even thankful for the gonzo, typically Southern, over-the-top, annoying Christian fundamentalists that surround me because they remind me of what I could conscientiously never be, which in turn, makes me embrace and define my personal form of spirituality even more.
The inner journey continues...
Sunday, January 11, 2015
First it was Autumn, and I am always drawn in by the colorful drama of Nature. Autumn was busy here in the little ghost town I call home. We have agrarian-based festivals-pumpkin festivals, for heaven's sake-and I am all about anything that involves that bright orange globe. I have quite the Halloween collection, and most specifically, Jack-O-Lanterns.
In the blink of an eye it was Thanksgiving. I think Thanksgiving gets a raw deal in our modern day life, sandwiched as it is between Halloween and Christmas. The general public seems to cruise right by Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, it was the gateway to Christmas. You didn't see anything about Christmas until after Thanksgiving because once upon a time in America the day was actually reserved for giving thanks...and they went to church. I am a huge proponent of liturgical ritual, and Thanksgiving is just about the only time you you are going to hear me carping about public worship.
Up until the beginning of the last decade, churches held interfaith services where the community came to give thanks for the blessings we enjoyed and shared in as Americans. Usually this was the night before Thanksgiving because the next day was filled with meal preparation and visiting relatives. Even before that, individual denominations would sponsor a Thanksgiving service early on Thursday morning- and we all actually got ourselves out of bed, cleaned ourselves up, and trotted to the nearest house of worship to sing a round of 'Harvest Home'. I'll grant you that the majority of us no longer live or work on farms, but we certainly profit from the activities of those who do, and I believe it's a right and decent thing to give thanks at least once a year for the bounty they provide.
After all, it is Thanks-giving Day and not National Sleep-in-Front of the Football Game Day.
As soon as I cleaned off the remains of Thanksgiving dinner from the table, it was, quite literally, Advent. I am one of those people who actually observe the four weeks of waiting and don't just pop into church to watch them light the candle of the week. Somewhere int here I remember Hanukkah to honor my Jewish ancestors and the Winter Solstice-because axial tilt is the real reason for the seasonal celebration before it was co-opted by the early Christian leadership who realized they were never going to completely eradicate the merriment of Saturnalia and other year end celebrations.
The meaning of Christmas has changed for me over the years; now it is a time of remembrance of relatives who died years ago and carrying out the few family traditions they left. Christmas reminds me where I came from and who I still am at my roots. It's a time to breathe a sigh of relief that I've gotten through one more year and am heading toward another with hope.
So much for the last four months. The point of starting this blog was to talk about my journey, not that of others. It was to show how imperfect being human can be. And I am an imperfect being, no doubt about that. It is something I am willing to claim and be responsible for: here I am, warts, scars and all. Limping into the New Year, weighed down by more baggage, blinking after emerging from the ever present darkness and in search of the Light.