Saturday, November 20, 2004

Denning up

While today, the temperature climbed up to the 50-degree mark, less than a couple weeks back or so, it snowed hereabouts! So we know, just as those cute wee chickadees with their snappy black caps, the deer, squirrels and other critters know, full-on winter is on the move toward us quickly.

All the signs are there. Days are shortening, leaves are mostly gone, certain birds such as robins are no longer around, and like the geese, have flown to warmer climes. There have been more than a couple actual freezes, flurries and big winds. It may have hit 50 degrees today, but tonight 25 degrees is predicted. It’s coming.

In human terms, we have shut water off to the outdoor hoses, re-winterized the house, and finished off essential tasks on “the list” that had been put off all summer so we could play. I have covered the tender young rosebushes by Manitou’s grave (see “Sanctuary” in the archive to read a bit about Manitou, a special 4-legged) grave and my herbs in the garden. We’ve pruned what trees and shrubs needed it. All our firewood is here and most is stacked.

It’s all second nature to us after all these years. Just like it is all second nature to the critters.

As winter approaches, some thoughts come along. Next week Thanksgiving will be celebrated here in the U.S. The full moon is the day after that and I’ve been considering the thoughts I wanted to foster and offer up for amplification during the coming fullness of the moon:

Like me, I am sure many feel concern for a number of things going on in the world right now. Some may have issues that are pressing within, or in their own home; some may have community concerns, while others may see the bigger pictures and feel deeply concerned about our country and world.

The only way I have ever found effective, to begin to find the antidote and solution to such concerns, is to take stock of what resources I have with which to work. The only way I have come up with, to do that inventory accurately, begins with counting my blessings. I usually find a lot of resources that it has taken my whole life till that moment to develop, and then there is the wisdom of timing for effectiveness. It’s truly amazing when in times of stress how long-stored help will come from within.

For instance, within a day or two of the election, the shock had finally begun to draw away like clouds do after a storm, from around my head and heart. One of my dogs and I were out walking, and I was just trying to wrap my mind around things. I looked up and found that we were standing where, because the trees had lost their leaves, I could look over across the valley to see neighboring mountains. The clouds, just like my thoughts, were moving quickly across the sky and I watched their shadows pass over the land in patches of light and dark. What I saw took my breath away. I actually remember gasping an in-breath.
And then it came to my mind in a burst:

“This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

With that I will state that I was not always a Pagan and as with anything: experiences over time, lessons learned, hardships, joy- the valuable stuff stays with you, either consciously or unconsciously, to be referred to one day. This bit from within the United Methodist Liturgy in which I participated till after I was married, popped into my head after the passing of at least another quarter century since then. What impeccable timing!

I felt touched by a deeply loving Compassion, and suddenly felt more connected to Strength and Power within myself; as if a weight had been lifted. You just never know from whence good answers, relief, or solutions may come. I felt I could move forward unimpeded. It felt unusual to me, to feel better so quickly; almost “not right”, but then, who am I argue?

With that let me add that as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am counting my blessings and I do have so many. I plan to work with my gratitude, writing it down on paper, and then burning it on the upcoming full moon to begin the process of transformation from gratitude to action in the world, because as I look at the future, sadly I see folks in need falling through the weakening social safety net. Imperfect as that safety net is now, it is likely to be further weakened by those in power now. I see it will be up to ordinary people to care and act from that caring.

I am taking this upcoming holiday and the full moon’s pull on me, to form ideas about how to move forward, and plan for actions. So far I know this much: We will be less consumption-oriented for the Solstice/Yule/Christmas holiday. I have figured out some homemade gifts, and am moving forward gathering supplies to work with. Gifts that are bought will be simple.

This choice to exercise less consumption over the holidays is an act of Resistance to those who value “ownership” and view the needy as weak and the rich as the chosen blessed. I will not support the coming Social Darwinism. I will not participate in a Dickensian future of poor houses, and debtors’ prisons, indentured servitude or child labor. I will instead, take stock of my life and myself and choose to recognize my resources and the ways in which they can be utilized.

We can ALL make a plan (perhaps around the Thanksgiving feast table) to start reaching out to make a difference starting with the holiday season. Keeping neighborhood eyes open for signs of need while honoring dignity can support elderly neighbors who live alone. Adopting a grandparent in a nursing home can open hearts and minds and create joy especially if kids are also involved. Buying a bag of groceries for someone in need to leave anonymously after knocking on the door, can work out. Bringing pet food and supplies to animal shelters helps. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or your local Head Start Center, homeless shelter, or animal shelter can be rewarding.

If resources are such that monetary donations can be made, then doing so for such programs as CARE in memory of Margaret Hassan is another thought. Donating to crisis pregnancy organizations or to Planned Parenthood could make a difference. Donating clothing for winter months: still-functional boots, hats, mittens, coats, and other clothing can even save lives. Donating to the local food pantry is also important. These things take our resources and gratitude and transform them into right action in the world.

In preparing to den up for the coming winter, knowing what the resources are and making sure those resources are adequate and safe-guarded is mighty important for ourselves and our families, and our communities too. With the coming harshness of winter and of the times, the solutions to holes in the safety net may entail the counting of blessings, the guidance of gratitude and recognition of resources, and how those things may come to bear in our families, our communities and our world is high Art that we can practice, and a practice that will make our denning up more inclusive and perfect.

(I want to acknowledge that this blog entry contains some inspiration from friends who shared some ideas about acts of kindness that any individual or family can do. Without them, this blog entry would not have come together so completely. Thanks guys!...Joyce)






30 Comments:

At 12:30 PM, Blogger BrStarr said...

Nice thoughts. And I really enjoy the trip to the mountains I get everytime I read your blog.

I'm probably imagining it incorrectly and seeing the views of the local mountains I know, but still it's so refreshing.

 
At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joyce,

Loftmama here. I love reading your blogs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your attitude about the holidays really spoke to my dh and me. I think we'll adopt the Resistance attitude and resist consumerism this year as well.

Reading this, I can almost smell that fresh, cool, crisp Adirondack air. As we contemplate a move to your neck of the woods, reading about your winter Adk life inspires me. Keep writing.

 
At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Been reading your posts on Bartcop Forum and L.A. since forever. I like the picture you paint of mountain life. I'm a city boy but one day I'll spens time up there.

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At 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi MM, lovely thoughts! Once upon a time when I used lived in upstate NY, we used to go to a lovely restaurant housed in an old, yet highly remodeled wooden house, "The Unwind Inn". It had the best Martinis in the world, really! Everytime I think of 'denning up' that place comes to my mind, though I haven't had a Martini in years. Maybe the cozy atmosphere, the view of the trees, the verandas around the restaurant, the semi-darkness and of course the vast ammounts of snow all around it conjure the safety of a den for me. Denning up in an inviting, warm and cozy place with good Martinis and wonderful food...that's my idea of denning up and of course a good cache of books.
ceres

 
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