Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ice Valance...

This morning I looked out my window just in time to see this sheet of ice pause before sliding off the roof.  I had just enough time to step outside & take this photo before it crashed to the ground.  A lace valance of ice...

The ground is covered with gray, slushy snow.  The air is filled with cold, grey mist.  The sky is one enormous, gray cloud.  I'm thinking it's time for a pot of Spring in My Step tea... Holy basil, Lemon balm, St John's Wort & more - an herbal mood lift!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Snow, sleet and freezing rain started falling here overnight. I woke in the middle of the night to the sound of ice hitting the window. Ice. Beautiful and dangerous. A reminder that we are still in the grips of Winter.

Finally, Hafiz has something to say to me today:

O my heart, make a wish for the coming of Spring.
That in every field there will be a thousand birds and a hundred roses will grow.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Earth and Straw

In the morning, as the light begins to spread across the meadow, I am delighted by the shadows and illuminations around the window in my sleeping room. I lie still and watch the walls move and breathe. The structure of this little house is so simple and organic – she lives.

The bones of the house are bales of straw, stacked like bricks for stability and balance. The outer walls are a lime plaster to keep the wind and wet at bay. The inner walls are sculpted of clay and straw. The scent of earth is always here. Sometimes I think I live in an earthen womb…

Hafiz is irritating me. I have read a dozen poems waiting for lines of joy and delight in the experience of being alive. Page after page hands me one critical thought after another. I’ll keep reading until I find something worth sharing…

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bridgid, Help Me Light This Fire

Only in the morning can a glass of splendid wine taste good
And throw its protective rays around the horizon of your house…
… the sun is coming up in the corner of the Winehouse.
Lift up your head. With the full moon on your shoulder.


In poetry, Hafiz uses imagery of the wine, wine-drinker and wine-house often. It’s not about indulging in alcoholic beverage. The wine-house is a metaphor for a sacred place, a place to pray and contemplate the nature of divinity. The wine-drinker is the one who is open in meditation. And the wine is the divine love received.

It’s cold this morning. My little house is chillier than usual because I was out last night & didn’t build a fire when I got home. By morning, the cold air from outside had fallen through the stovepipe, making it more difficult to light the fire. Cold air is heavy, and the little flames have to push hard to move that air back up through the pipe so that the stove will begin to “draw”. Only then will the tentative flames become a fire that can heat the stove and the house. Building a fire in a cold stove takes some patience and persistence. And some divine assistance is nice, too…

A fire-lighting blessing has been coming to me slowly. It’s a prayer to the goddess Bridgid, an ancient goddess from the land that now includes Britain (which is named for her – can you see that?). Some people say that Bridgid, Brigit, Bride is our Original Fire Ancestor.

Bridgid, help me light this fire.
Flames of heat are my desire.
Protect this house,
Keep it safe and warm
To shelter us from Wind and Storm.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Living in the Tundra

There is a film I have seen many times, though not for quite a while, which comes from the depths of memory sometimes. Nanook of the North. It is a documentary, following a traditional, nomadic Inuit family in the early part of the 20th century. We watch them build an igloo from blocks of snow. Not unlike the structure of my house made from blocks of straw.

The harshness of the landscape is striking in contrast to the comfort of the home, and the warmth of the hearth.

This morning, Hafiz says:

I heard the rumor You were coming, so I have been busy saying prayers.
I needed this respite of joy for my aching heart.
O Beloved, knock hard on the handle when you finally come to my door.
I have left the light on in the window, and this house is meant for You.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Illusion of Alone

I awakened this morning in the quiet of a snow-covered meadow. It will not be easy to leave my house today. Perhaps I will embrace the offer to stay home alone. It wouldn’t be easy for anyone to come visiting today. Probably no one will.

And yet…

The meadow is full of life. Feral cats watch my every move. I give them food and goat’s milk, croon over them and tell them how lovely they are. Some of them let me stroke them while they drink the milk. Hundreds of Juncos are wintering here. They perch precariously on the tall grasses. Juncos live in the Arctic during the warmer seasons, so they are under the impression that it’s warm here. Foxes cavort in the meadow and hunt along the stream. Hawks and owls and turkey buzzards soar overhead. I’m sure mice are hiding in the meadow, but I rarely see them. I think all of my predator neighbors make them nervous.

From Hafiz this morning:

The seas and oceans all come from the source of a very small stream.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Bucket of Ashes, A Bucket of Wine

O Winebringer, bring us a bucket of wine,
For, it is morning and the dew is falling from the sky.
Friends, drink all the blood from this bucket…


In the pre-dawn light this morning, I carried a bucket of ashes out to the place where the new labyrinth garden will be. Snow is arriving here later this afternoon, and I wanted to spread wood ashes over the newly prepared beds to add nutrients to the soil. There is no wind today, so the ashes will stay until the snow covers them. Then as the snow melts, the water and ash will become part of the soil – nourishment for the plants that are not yet here…

This new garden is a gift to Hecate. An offering to a Goddess who watches over us during the times of our Underworld journeys, our Winters. She knows more than most about the richness of ashes. And then, She holds Her lantern aloft for us when we are ready to emerge…

Monday, January 10, 2011

Morning Metaphor

This is the third morning when I find myself sharing a small part of my daily devotional practice, which at the moment includes meditating on a poem of Hafiz.

Hafiz was a mystical Persian poet who lived from 1326 until 1390 CE. The poems are full of love and longing for union with the divine. They are written in metaphor, in beautiful code, making them rich with imagery and mystery. Perfect for contemplation.

The lines this morning include:

O morning breeze, bring your happy face as soon as you can
To the Beloved’s Street!

I find the experience evoked by the lines to be so accessible – the joy of feeling the gentle morning air on my skin…and yet it means so much more.

Today I am reading it to say something like:

O divine messenger, O muse, touch me with sacred inspiration
In this place where I sit to pray and meditate!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Divine Devotion

This morning I lit a stick of Radha incense to begin my meditation time. Radha is the beloved partner of Krishna. Friends of mine who are part of the Ramakrishnananda Ashram told me once that they had been taught, “Krishna is Divine Desire. Radha is Divine Devotion.” Inseparable. Reflection. Paradox.

From Hafiz this morning:

Oh pilgrim, come and look into the mirror of this glass of wine! …

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter Mornings with Hafiz

Winter is naturally a time for going inward. The cold and dark keep us close to the comfort of the hearth. The quiet offers us a space for contemplation.

For many years, I have maintained a private, daily personal spiritual practice. It changes as I change. It’s an organic practice because I am an organic being. There are aspects of my daily practice that are similar from one day to the next, one month to the next, even one year to the next. Meditation. Movement and Stillness. Singing and Silence. And yet, sometimes I am working in the garden as part of my practice, or preparing herbal medicines, or knitting. It changes.

This winter, part of my early morning practice is reading translations of the poetry of Hafiz, and I am feeling called to share some of the words I am pondering. Perhaps daily. We’ll see.

Here is a line from the poem I read in the darkness of the early morning today:

No one knows in which shell the precious pearl does hide.