Welcome to Samhain. Saturday’s Musings (1 November 2014) contains an introduction to the winter quarter and the start of the Irish year in the old tradition, in case you missed it.
During my retreat, I am editing and revisioning some older blogs from a time when there were only nine readers. I hope you find these words inviting (or re-inviting if you were one of those original nine.)
The winter quarter has just begun in the ancient calendar of the northern hemisphere. Last Saturday was All Hallows Day, the beginning of the New Year in the Irish calendar. We are in one of those liminal transitions, a thin place, where we can see both the lessons and tasks of the past season and the learning curve arcing ahead of us, inviting our spirits forward into the tasks and focus of the new quarter.
We have been gathering in and storing up our harvests. But as we have been doing so, it is possible that we have just been tucking them in around a lot of other stuff that is leftover from long-ago harvests. For most of us in this age, we don’t use up and run out of food or other possessions in the way our ancestors did, wondering always if the laid down produce would last through until the next growing season. So, it is likely that our gatherings have not gradually filled totally empty shelves. It is more likely that we have been rearranging already full shelves to find room for even more.
This is not necessarily a healthy habit to cultivate.
Before we get too far into a new quarter, let’s consider what we may need to cull and discard so that we do not gradually vanish behind all the excess. I suspect we have a good bit around us that is worn out, whether that is worn out ideas, worn out biases, worn out dreams, or worn out stuff. As a personal aside I will observe that the process of writing these posts has brought to consciousness a ‘knowing’ that has been hovering in the back of my heart and mind for many years now: I need to be considerably more intentional about clearing away and letting go. I accumulate much faster than I ever (willingly) notice. I accumulate stories, negative self-images, unhealthy habits, events on my schedule, commitments to friends, and material stuff – even with the “one in, one out” rule. Which means that I really need to do more than spring cleaning. I need to do summer, autumn and winter cleaning as well.
But it seems to me that letting go and passing along is more than simply creating order (of time, space, emotions, whatever). I propose that it has a larger purpose which is to free our energy, heart, mind, soul, body, to take up our unique vocation with enthusiasm and focus. It is about lifting our gaze from the forest or the trees (or the unwashed laundry, the stacks of unread magazines, the unfinished projects, and the unfiled papers) to a broader horizon toward which we can journey.
This is why our 24/7/365 addiction (and I use the word intentionally) to smartphones, tablets, and speakers in our ears worries me. Not only has the pace of interaction increased exponentially since my childhood, the number of interactions in an hour has become unbelievable. This not only provides a steady flow of stress hormones, but non-stop distraction. We spend so much time with the minutiae of other people’s lives that we forget we have one precious singular life of our own – a life that cannot be lived by anyone else. Our vicarious gluttony of every life around us (just like our hoarding and accumulating of other experiences or tangible stuff) sucks all the time and passion out of the challenging and miraculous unfolding of our own minutes and days and years.
I am wondering if the real issue is that we are afraid that who we are is not interesting enough to be worth our attention. I wonder if we are afraid that our unadorned soul is not glitzy or important enough. I wonder if we won’t take up our own vocation because everyone else’s looks more exciting. But how would we know? It is rare that we look up from our texting long enough to look into someone’s eyes and allow them to see what is behind ours.
I have a radical proposal for this week. I propose we put down the phones and tablets; I propose we risk putting them away – all the way away – for seven glorious days [In fact, I am doing exactly that as I spend one week in silent retreat with no technology to access.] I propose we take the bluetooth out of our ear and stick it in a drawer somewhere.
Then, I propose we look at the faces around us. I propose we talk directly to the people who are actually in our immediate vicinity (home, office, school, bus, grocery store). [I won’t be talking, but I will be looking. And I would note that sharing silence is enormously informative.] I propose we pay attention to all the time we suddenly have to inhabit our own minds and hearts, all the time we have to dream our own dreams, to feel our own emotions, to ask our own questions.
Here are some of my questions:
What are the harvest blessings I want to leave behind for the world?
What do I need to clear away so those will be visible front and center when I die?
If I had one more hour in each day, how would I use it?
What habit can I change that would liberate that one hour each and every day?
What is stopping me from changing that habit?
And here is my hope for this week:
May the One whose whole creation
is unfathomable space,
the dancing breath of atoms,
emptiness ready to receive,
may that One spin gaps in my busyness,
blow open the doors of my preoccupations,
and shatter all my distractions,
until I am the pure energy of curiosity
Make it so; oh, make it so.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2014, Immram Chara, LLC
Note: The ear of corn is a detail from the fiber piece Maize Mother which can be seen in the Archives.
Last Saturday, November 1, the seasons switched on the website and in the Etsy shop (from Lughnasadh to Samhain). New pictures went up in the home slider and blog slider, three new sets of cards (and prints from those photos) are available (as well as a set of Christmas cards), a new piece of art – as well as new pieces in the Archives – are featured. If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, click the link(s) and check them out.