Once I had imagined that my journey would be like the Pilgrim’s Progress, where each adventure brings the hero closer to the heavenly city, but the Christian God with whom I had been intoxicated in my teenage years did not survive the theological studies I undertook to serve him (and it was a him). When I turned outward, angry and heartsick, to political affairs, I found that I was a failure as an atheist, too, for I could not cure myself of praying to a God I no longer believed in.
~ Joanna Macy, from the preface to Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
I am the one whose praise echoes on high.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I am the yearning for good.
~ Hildegard Von Bingen
This time of year we live on wintering grounds, where the birds take shifts of seasons. One group leaves for southern climes while another flies in to spend a few months with us. The hummingbirds have been gone for a couple of weeks now. I’ve not seen them yet but I can hear the tundra swans out on the water when I visit the Point. Between the departure of one group and the arrival of the next, there is a quietness that stirs the morning. As temperatures cool (even just a little, at night) and the fog begins to lift from water, wrapping clouds around the trees, mornings begin to liven up again with the sounds of wintering birds. Large flocks of robins and yellow rumped warblers roam the woods. Waterfowl settle in the marshes, the creeks, the rivers, and out on the sounds and bay. Birds from the north come to our waters, beaches, marshes, forests, and fields. Tundra swans, snow geese, sometimes snowy owls. Canada geese are here year-round, but it seems like we hear more from them during the autumn and winter months.
The fall foliage colors were dragging this year. I thought we might not see much color at all. Suddenly, on Saturday, there was a great burst of color. A celebration of autumn. A festival of endings while we hunker down and wait for another beginning. I don’t know what the next couple of months will bring. I do know that for the first time in four years, I feel hope. For the first time in four years, I was able to sleep without waking up in the middle of the night with my stomach in knots and my brain on fire with thoughts. I spent the weekend enjoying the enormous sense of relief, knowing that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. My biggest hope is that we don’t go back to sleep. We came pretty close to authoritarianism. I suspect the next guy with his eye on authoritarianism is going to be smarter than the guy that just tried that crap with us. In addition, there are big problems that are in need of solutions. Healthcare, climate change, reuniting children with their parents and immigration reforms, the deficit (thanks to the Republicans who manage to run it up every single time they’re in charge, at least since I’ve been old enough to vote), the pandemic and the problems that are going to worsen as a result of the pandemic.
As Rumi stated in the poem this blog is named after:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the door sill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
Please, don’t go back to sleep. Do whatever it is you can to see that we continue on the road towards hope, towards compassion, towards bringing out the good and best in each other.
On Saturday, just before they finally (finally!!!!) called the election, M invited me to go out with him on his boat. As you might recall, I don’t really like being out on the water. I get seasick and I much prefer to keep my feet on the earth, or at least very close to it. After a morning of refreshing Twitter obsessively in hopes of good news, I surprised M and myself by saying yes to the invitation. It was obvious I needed to get away. The universe must have approved of that decision. One last refresh of Twitter and there it was: the AP announcing that Biden is the projected winner. What was going to be a “get away from it all” had turned into a celebration of sorts. It was a beautiful day. The winds were light. And the bottlenose dolphins were swimming and playing in the water.
We went out to Jane’s Island. I’ve been to the state park, but never actually gone to the island itself because you have to go by boat or kayak or canoe or somehow by water. There were a lot of boats and people out and about. SUPs (stand up paddleboards), kayaks, watermen fishing, and a few canoes were parked on or near the island. We saw all sorts of birds out on the water. A variety of ducks, cormorants, and other waterfowl. I could hear the tundra swans, but didn’t see any. The highlight of the trip was spotting the dolphins. We saw them on our way out to the island and on our way back to where we started.
On Sunday, another beautiful autumn day, I went for a walk. My bicycle is in the shop for repairs, waiting on a part they can’t get because everything is on back order these days. They are going to try another kind of fix hoping they can cobble together a good repair with smaller parts that they can get during these uncertain times. (In case you’re wondering about things being on back order, there are numerous articles out there regarding how difficult it is to get some items — sometimes big items such as refrigerators — due to the pandemic.) The patch-up repair might last a month or six months or a week. Who knows? At least they are trying.
So, I’m walking these days instead of riding. I wrote this on social media (yes, I’m still there for the moment):
Sunday morning walk.
My walk took me past the Church-in-the-Shire. That’s not the name of the church but a name I gave it because of the way it is nestled between the trees of a forest and farm fields. It’s a tiny wood frame church. It’s probably an old church (quite a few churches in this area have been around in some form since the 1600’s), and mostly white (maybe all white). Certainly conservative. Judging by the number of cars parked around it, it was packed this morning.
I stopped for a while to listen as the congregation beautifully and wholeheartedly sang “Rock of Ages.” It truly was beautiful, as long as I didn’t think about the unmasked crowd not adhering to current restrictions in spite of the increased community spread of the virus in this area. This county is quickly becoming a hot spot. I suppose that is true of most of the country right now.
I listened and I silently wished them well, wished them peace, and in the words of our governor, wished they would “just wear the damn mask.”
We are singing and chanting in Gita class these days. On election night, we had a special guest speaker who led us in some chanting and singing. Being a somewhat shy singer/chanter, I did not offer up my own chant while in class, but have been practicing on my own and with the trees and birds. There is something cathartic about singing and chanting in such a way that expresses your feelings/emotions.
An interesting side note: According to Ted Andrews in his book, Animal Speak, the dolphin is associated with breath and sound. Sound, they say, is the creative life force, coming forth and creating all things (think the Word of God or the Babylonian goddess Tiamut calling things into being).
If dolphin has shown up… ask yourself some important questions. What are your words and thoughts creating for you? If unsure, when dolphin arises, you will soon discover. Are you getting outside and enjoying fresh air? Are you holding in tensions? Are others? When dolphin shows up it is time to breathe some new life into yourself. Get out, play, explore, and most of all breathe.
~ Ted Andrews
I reckon that’s about it from me on this warm and sunny Monday. Thank you for joining me on another meander. Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset. It’s scheduled for 4:55 PM. Bring a light jacket, but I don’t think you’ll need it.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,596) Calm seas, so to speak, when it comes to an afternoon out on M’s boat. 1,597) The intensity and richness of the autumn colors that suddenly showed up over the weekend. (Yet another lesson in patience!) 1,598) A lovely weekend of rest and relaxation. 1,599) Exhaling the breath I feel like I’ve been holding for four years. 1,600) Getting ready to dig in and do some work. There’s a long road ahead, with a lot to haul. We can do this (or, as Glennon Doyle puts it, we can do hard things). Are you ready? I am.