Monday, December 5, 2011
Dress babies warmly. Pack large picnic basket of hard boiled eggs, cheese, turkey, carrots, cashews. Lots of water. Drive babies and BFF through fog, across bay, into magnificent, sunlit, late autumn San Francisco. Hike through cypress and redwood, up and quiet and across and through. Not far, but with two small people, slow. Be accosted by rambunctious prickly caterpillars heedless of their own lives as they walk on our footpath, headless bird carcass, gophers, weird women dressed like Madonna circa 1988 asking to take your picture, and musky smells leaching from the forest.
Breathe in the view at Inspiration Point, but don't stop there. That's not why you came.
Cross the road. Approach the spire. Dead cypress wound into a tight coil by hands, thrusting itself stubbornly into the clear blue. Medieval. Is it the spire of dead wood that moves me? Is it the work it took to get here? The tiny details of our adventure? The intimations of love and intention that brought our four bodies to this place together? All of those things. We climb some felled trees across the road. We breathe in and pinch ourselves at the luck of good weather and a treasure found.
The Advent is a time of slow, deliberate spiraling inward, down to the things in our souls that are essential and sustaining. If you celebrate the Sundays of Advent you light candles for hope, joy, love, faith and light. You edge a little closer to the Truth every day. Forget shopping. Forget egg nog. This is the perfect time for Vision. Wind inside and see the light of your own being reflected back at you. Look, really look. The goodness may surprise you (though it doesn't surprise others. Everyone else knows how good you are).
I coil into myself, not recoiling from the world, but seeking the things I need to be part of this world, truly engaged. I want to emerge from this season fresh and strong. When I approach my burning bowl on Solstice and again on December 31, I want the gesture of release to be just that: a gesture. The work leading to an easy gesture happens slowly, loosening my grasp a little each day as I turn inward, inward, feeding the Light. Stepping into darkness.
A good friend shared with me this morning: live your sacred. I loved the thought immediately. But then I felt a little bit like I couldn't measure up. What do I hold sacred? I wasn't sure. It seems laughable that such a spiritually simple question could confound me so deeply, but there you have it. I mulled it over all day.
And then this day at the spire came back to me. So many things I hold dear: a quest, the outdoors, art, my children, friendship that endures and adventures, labrynthine quiet as we contemplated the space, the capacity of my body to take me where I wish to go, crazed caterpillars and animal carcasses and awe. Things that make my heart sing. I get it now. I live my sacred every day: making bacon for two little people buried in comic books and blankets on the couch, sitting across from my husband at dinner, bath times, sinks full of dishes, endless laundry and cooking, barbells, friends, saying good morning to the chickens, family birthday parties, unfinished knitting, dying gardens, muttered prayers, supplications, yelling, apologizing, hot cups of bone broth, piles of library books, hangnails, senile dogs, broken toilet seats, endless lists of shortcomings and desires and good enoughs - it's all sacred. It ties me to the world and to other people. It pushes me to dig deeply, to ask more of myself than I would were I alone. Today I turn inward because I want the things I bring back out to shine with magic and light. The world deserves it. My family deserves it. We all do.
How do you turn inward? How do you live your sacred?