I’ve spent much of the day musing on hope, and on perseverance — what it means to continue on in the face of adversity, in the face of hurt and pain. As so often happens for me, multiple seemingly-disconnected items came in over the transom throughout the day, each piquing a different part of my brain, each cross-pollinating to make me consider the question from a new angle, or with a new exigency.Continue reading “Preparing the ground of hope”
I hit a wall last night. We’re just a bit past the ten-month mark in the pandemic, and I have been weathering the storm reasonably well — sure, there have been up-moments and down-moments, but overall I’ve been riding the wave, keeping my chin up, whatever metaphor you like.
Over the past week or so, though, it’s all started to weigh on me much more than usual. A couple days ago, in a meeting that was about my professional future, I told the friend and colleague I was meeting with that at the moment all I wanted to do was crawl into the woods and be a hermit, leave every last thing behind. I’ve been keeping busy since March with work, with making music, with organizing the work of Three Cranes Grove, with trying to be a strong pillar for everyone I come into contact with. It’s what I do. But eventually the steam runs out; the wave crests; the pillar fractures from repeated blows.
Rehearsals with my beloved chorus start again on Sunday, and I dread them.
Some workdays I write three emails and otherwise I scroll Facebook and play games on my phone, and I call it good enough.
My altar goes untended, except when scheduled ritual comes around and duty calls.
The festival of Imbolc — one of my favorites, a warm, glowing jewel in the heart of winter — is in a week, and I don’t really care.
I’ve known more people in the past month who’ve been sick with COVID, who have died of COVID, than in the nine months before.
And yet also, I’m so exhausted from worrying about the virus, so tired of taking precautions and weighing risk, that I neither feel like I have any good instincts anymore, nor care to.
I finally broke down last night and just sobbed, barely able to get a word out. I wish I could say that I immediately felt better, that there was a release and a lightness. I did feel better, but it wasn’t the lightness of healing; it was the lancing of a boil, the quick gush of pain spilling out. The only lightness I felt was emptiness.
But I went to bed, and I slept well for once. I woke in the pre-dawn, hours and hours before I’ve been tardily dragging myself out of bed for the past few weeks, made coffee, read. And at a chapter break, I glanced up and realized the first light was breaking over the land. I stood outside in the freezing chill and words of praise poured out of me — not fine poetry, just a rush of emotion.
Bright star of morning, arise in my heart
Bright star of dawning, fill me with light
Bright sun of earth’s light, warm me, inspire me
Bright star of morning, arise in my heart
This isn’t an easy “it gets better” post; you don’t have to simply open your soul to the beauty of the world and you’ll be healed of pain and doubt. That’s utter tripe. I’m still tired, and sad, and apathetic, and overwhelmed, and I still want to crawl into the woods and leave all of this behind. But the sun came up, and I saw it, and it gave me a feeling that wasn’t despair for a bit, and that was enough for right now.
I remember, when I was first exploring druidry, that many authors I respected and learned much from wrote reverently about the importance of learning and knowing the local ecosystems. I agreed in principle, but what a tall order! I’ve always loved nature, but I’d never made a concerted study, and as a young man I’d moved a thousand miles from home, where I still am. It seemed like too much, too high a barrier on top of learning a whole new way of prayer and worship, so I didn’t bother.Continue reading “Circumambulating home”
It’s snowing as I sit typing this, here in Columbus. This would normally be a fairly uninteresting opening most years: it’s February in Ohio, after all. But this has been a very warm winter for us. That’s true for much of the country, of course, and for the globe, but I’m feeling it especially poignantly right now, since the winter storms that have blanketed friends in the upper Midwest, the Northeast — even the northern half of our own state — have encountered an unmoving bubble of warmth in Central Ohio, and at best only rained. Continue reading “The Cailleach, finally”
CW: suicidal friends
This morning, during my walk to work, I pulled out my phone and idly thumbed at Facebook, and then came to a dead stop in the middle of the sidewalk. A friend had posted in a private group: “Everyone, you need to reach out to this other one of our friends; he’s in crisis, and we don’t know where he is.” Panic. Worry. Fear. I called our friend; I texted when he didn’t pick up the call.
But then, the obvious immediate moves done… what do you do? The authorities are already notified, people who know his habits better than me are looking… what do you do? Where do you turn?Continue reading “The god you already know”
My grandmother died last night.
I write a lot about death, to my sometimes surprise, but this isn’t a post about death, or dying, or about the Ancestors. This is a post about prayer, about the technology of prayer, and about the communities that sustain us. Continue reading “Praying through the internet”
As I was walking home yesterday, a major front was blowing in. Low rainclouds had covered the sky all day, but the strong winds that had picked up toward the end of the workday were breaking them up, shooing them eastward to reveal a shifting tapestry of mid-level clouds, puffs and gauzes limned orange with the last rays of the setting sun. And as I curved around the high school football field, I glanced up just as the clouds parted to reveal the crescent moon, low above the school’s roof.
* * *
I wrote our ritual script for Samhain, which was a joy to do, even if it was also a lot of work — I think there’s something extraordinarily beautiful about creating liturgy. But after the events of the past week, we knew we had to call an audible. This is my recreation of what I said, mostly off the cuff; it’s the closest thing to a sermon I’ve ever delivered in ritual.
Yesterday, in Pittsburgh, a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue. It was morning services, and there was a bris, a celebration of new life. That gunman killed eleven people. I want to say their names: Continue reading “The enormity of the world’s grief: racial hatred and tikkun olam”
I feel like the longer I practice druidry, the more I sit and talk with the gods and spirits, the more I have to sit with uncertainty and contradiction, the more I have to let go of my own knowing. Not that I don’t have my own will or direction — I do, and I don’t truck with spirits that would deny that — but rather I have to keep accepting that, smart as I may be, I often don’t know better. The spirits aren’t omniscient or infallible by any means, but they are very old. They’ve seen a lot, far more than I have or ever hope to.
But still, it’s hard to let go. At Three Cranes Grove’s most recent high day ritual, when we asked “what do the Kindreds ask of us,” we were told, fairly unambiguously, that they wanted… joy. Seriously? Continue reading “Hard joy”