From my window. …

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There is this tree that I pass daily – twice!  I started noticing that there are always these birds in this tree — and only this tree.  This area is a stretch of road along a body of water named “Long Pond” right next to Lake Ontario in Rochester, NY.  After I saw this tree of birds a few days in a row, I decided to stop and take a picture.

I could not figure out what kind of birds these were so I took a closer picture:

IMG_0962And then an even closer picture:

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I still could not figure then out, so next I took a short movie clip that you can see by clicking on this link:  http://youtu.be/KcWB1zXL5II

(Note that the music playing seems to fit well — I’d love to take credit for it, but it was quite by accident!)

After all this I am thinking …. Loons?????

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From my window …

IMG_0969As I was driving home a week or so ago, just after sunset, I saw this through my windshield.  Now, I could tell you all about the refraction of light through water droplets or ice crystals but knowing those details just don’t seem to take away from the magic of the experience.  I even pulled over and got out of my car to take this picture — and so did a woman in front of me!!!

Then, as I turned to get back in my car I saw this across the street:

IMG_0975Again, knowing the science behind it somehow just did not take away from the feeling of awe in the experience!

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Soul Triduum

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The view through my window tonight as the sun sets.

 This Halloween has been an interesting one for me.  For some reason, it has given  me cause to stop and think a little more about the holiday.  For most recent years I have pretty much ignored Halloween.  No longer having young children, there was no need for costumes and candy.  In the last few years in which I handed out candy, it was mostly to older youth who mostly  did not even bother to dress up in any way.  Along with the handful of neighborhood children who came to the door, there were those who came into the neighborhood from other neighborhoods.  Those from out of the neighborhood were often distinguishable by the fact that they were being driven around.

Unless you live in a small town, this tradition of going from house to house for a handout of candy doesn’t seem to fit our society.  I recall those years when people were placing pins and razors into the treats that they were handing out.  Since then, there are more and more community-based activities to which children wear their costumes and get treats.  This seems to be a reasonable solution to the problem of members of our society who find some amusement or some other self-fulfilling reason for hurting children.

No longer having a young child or being actively involved in groups with young children, or even living in a neighborhood with children within walking distance, I have been able to opt out of participation in the costumes and candy scene.

Maybe this is why I have had the time and inclination to think about Halloween more than I have in the past.

I will not go into the whole history behind Halloween – a quick Google search can enlighten one desiring this information – instead, I will look to my own recent history. Across cultures, Halloween is about death.  In the last 18-24 months, death has been very present in my life.  Although I, myself, have not been called to come face-to-face with my own death, it has been around me.  Many around me have have found it to be their turn to become acquainted with this experience from which none of us is exempt — as much as we and our culture may try to deny that it is so.

So this Halloween, I have given much thought to death, to those who have gone before me.  Some I have known intimately, others were acquaintances.  With each passing of a life, I have had to come to terms with my own understanding of death.

At Easter, Christians celebrate the “Triduum” — the three days from Jesus’ death to his resurrection.

I think from now on, I will celebrate a Soul Triduum from Oct. 31- Nov. 2.

In 2012 I attended a 3 day memorial celebration for one of the founders of the school at which I have studied for my PhD degree.  The idea of the three days was taken from cultures (unfortunately  I don’t remember which ones).  It was explained that the first day was a day of remembering — a time to come together to share stories of the recently deceased.  The second day was one of recognition — a day in which the deeds of the person were recounted, the accomplishments of their lifetime, the legacy that they leave those of us who remain.  The third day was the day to send the deceased on their way into what lies ahead for them.  During this memorial of one of our school founders, it was explained that the person who died had been, in his later years, an elder of our particular academic society.  We were taught a a chant reported to be a lament for the dead from the Zulu people.  It was explained that with this chant, we were chanting our dearly departed from elderhood into ancestorhood.

I was particularly struck by this idea.

So, for me, I am going to look at Halloween as the time to remember the people I have known who have gone on before me.  Our society focusses on the “ghoulishness” of spirits.  This certainly has developed even further with our fascination with zombies.  The whole idea behind costumes was to evade spirits who would do us harm.  I, however, choose to look upon spirits still attached to this realm with compassion rather than fear.  I will focus on remembering all I know who have died and hold all the dead with compassion.

November 1st is All Saints day in Christianity.  In Catholicism it is a day to venerate those who have died and have been officially recognized as saints by the Church.  I, however, believe that the communion of saints includes all who have died and have successfully moved “into the light”.  On November 1st I will recall the accomplishments of those I know who have passed and I will hold a compassionate intention for all who have died and honor the presence they once were in this world.

November 2nd is All Souls Day.  I don’t know if I am accurate in this or not, but it has always felt as if “Saints” were more important than “Souls”.  Souls were all of those who who had died, but were not recognized by the church as “holy”.  I adhere to no sense of hierarchy here.  I imagine that there are many unrecognized saints.  On this third I will recognize all who have passed as ancestors be they personal or communal, known or unknown.  I will hold the intent that those of us still here in this realm will learn from those who have gone before us, show gratitude and sing each one into ancestorhood.

And through this all, I shall hold the thought that I will also move into ancestorhood one day and today I need to tend to the legacy I will leave behind.

May all be well.

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November 1, 2014

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I had had every intention of keeping with this blog this year, but a misinterpretation of post I had written just made me lose my motivation.  This  misinterpretation also significantly impacted a relationship in my life and for this I am deeply sorry.

For me, the whole thing is that I feel as if there is still some sort of feeling that I was in the wrong with what I had written, but I just don’t accept this.  The misinterpretation involved thinking I was writing about a situation that had not even happened yet at the time of the post I had written.

Perhaps part of me was particularly wounded by the idea that anyone would even think I had done what I was supposed to have done.  Even though it seemed as if all was cleared up once I explained, it has never really felt as if I have gotten out from under the incident.  Even though I had, in fact, not done anything inappropriate, it is as if I have never been able to come out from under the umbrella of suspicion.

But, I am now going to try to move beyond this.  I am going to move forward with my original intent, and this blog entry back into the blogosphere.

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Solstice Sunset 2014

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ImageI I think I jumped the gun with posting about sunsets!!!!  Here are 4 pictures of the sun setting over lake Ontario as seen from Western NY on the summer solstice in 2014.  In the last picture, the black dots in the sky are birds, not stuff on the lens!

We now begin inching our way from the longest day of sunlight to the shortest 6 months from now.

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Sunsets.

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Photo I took of the sun setting over Lake Ontario.

There seems to be something about sunsets that attract people in general.  There also seems to something a little bit more alluring about watching the sun set over a horizon.  For me, that horizon is generally over water.  For others it might be over a desert or slipping behind a particular mountain range.

While I was studying in California, I noted that at sunset I would often stand on the beach watching the sun set and there would be dozens of other people doing the same thing.  All simply standing and looking in the direction of the sun as it set.  We were all just dark figures against the light of the setting sun.  As the last sliver of the sun disappeared, these figures would slowly leave the beach.  It felt as if we were all engaged in some sort of ritual.

When I spend time at a cottage on the shores of Lake Ontario, I nearly always take time to sit and watch the sunset.  I took this photo on June 15, 2014.  I was reflecting on how, by the end of summer, the sun will appear to set behind the tree on the left side of the photo.  This set me to thinking about all the things I know about the tilt of the earth on it’s axis and how the daily hours of  sunshine is increasing, but will soon begin to decrease after the summer solstice.  At this time of year, the sun does not set until nearly 9pm in this particular place.  Six months from now it will set around 4pm.

This set me off on a reflection of the cycles we live out in our lifetime.  I am not sure there is any part of our life that is not impacted by cycles.  But this particular cycle of lightness and darkness is something we experience every 24 hours.  As I sit here this evening after the sun has set, I am aware that I sit here with artificial light to dispel the darkness.

I wonder what impact it has on our individual psyche, this being out of sync with the rhythm of light and dark in the place in which we live.  What is the result of soul living within us being out of sync with soul around us?

There is much to speculate about the impact of the denial of darkness.  But for now, I consider the simple experience of watching the sun set.  There is something about this daily experience that reminds me that I am a part of something that is much larger than I am, much larger than all of us put together.  In fact, it makes me ponder the idea that there is a reality that is so vast that there is no “I” of which to be aware.  There is something about the ritual setting of the sun that raises my consciousness of the idea that despite all that divides us there is this single daily event that unites us.

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Photo I took of the sun setting in Carpinteria, California.

 

 

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Taking Flight.

ImageI have been musing over the visit with the Great Blue Herons this past weekend.  Today, I notice that I feel a tug.  A tug toward being freed from the tethers of this earth.  How I wish to be free from what holds me here!

Perhaps part of today’s thoughts arise from the experience of having had some money stolen from the inner-city store front I help run.  We exist as place to help youth gain employability skills and to bring healthy food to an area that is designated a food desert. To say we run on a shoe-string budget would be optimistic.  We may not be able to continue past this coming August.

This is not the first time I have experienced this type of theft.  In all reality, it is a part of the price of “doing business” in an area of poverty.  I am long past being angry about such things.  I just feel disheartened.  Particularly in this instance for the only possible people to have taken this money would be those who are a part of our program.

It is the betrayal of trust that is the worse of all.

I cannot help but reflect on the question, “why do I do this”?  What possible difference am I making? I think of some of my colleagues who work in foreign communities to promote peace and healing, but return to their own secure homes away from these places where they work to bring about change.  I am sure they face their own challenges, but right now I am feeling how difficult it is to try and bring about change in the place one lives.  A place from which there is no secure refuge.

For sure, I do have the ability to move away from this area.  But despite the number of times we have been stolen from and have been vandalized, there are people within this community who are working to achieve a better life.  And this better life is not just about increasing economic resources and moving away, but building positive relationships with the people around them.  This is what keeps me here, despite my so called white privilege that endows me with the inherent ability to move out of these circumstances.

But this is one of those days that I think I am living an illusion and it is futile to think that things can be any other than what they are. I feel as if there is no way I can be other than “other”.  If I were to capitalize on my white privilege, I would be found guilty of hubris. If I try to be the positive change I would like to see … then I am that white person who can’t possibly understand.

It is this constant tug of war between ideologies that I wish to escape.  The idea of spreading wings, taking flight and gliding toward the horizon toward realms unknown tugs at my very soul.

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