On the 21st of June, the Northern Hemisphere celebrates the longest day of our year.
Under the bright Sun
Let us warm ourselves
Among the blossoms
Let our souls be nourished
In harmony with Sparrows and Bluebirds
Let us lift our heart's song
Under the waning Moon
Let us take rest
I stop to smell the flowers
I know they won't last long...
Written by Erin Pfahler
“... character -- the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life -- is the source from which self-respect springs.”
Joan Didion, On Self Respect
I have grown to love the sentiment of the New Year.
In my adolescence I was fervently against what I considered the absurdity of the Gregorian calendar, and celebrating a day as seemingly arbitrary as January 1 as any sort of New Year's Day --
Luckily, I am continually learning to shed my attachment to fighting battles that are of little importance, in the grand scheme.
I would rather welcome in this acknowledgement of New Beginnings, and allow the day and the sentiments surrounding it to remind us of something meaningful and useful.
Each day is a new day.
Each moment is another opportunity.
With every single breath, we are blessed with a chance to Begin Again. To find our way back to ourselves and the intentions we bring to our lives.
The Winter Solstice may be my favorite day of the year. As time passes on, I grow ever more grateful for this day which calls us to honor stillness, darkness, quiet and reflection. In a hurried world, slowing down is a powerful and deeply needed medicine.
It as with honor and gratitude that I share this yearly ritual with friends near and far so that we may all take time to align with the rhythm of the season, and allow ourselves the gift of The Sacred Pause.
On the 21st of December, the Northern Hemisphere celebrates the darkest, longest night of our year.
As this season flows, we acknowledge the circadian rhythms of our sacred planet, and how our body, mind and spirit respond and reflect to the patterns of our universe.
In our present times, we are often encouraged to abandon these natural tendencies.
We feel busier than ever; with such heavy, demanding loads in direct opposition to what the world calls for, many of us fall into illness, and seasonal emotional fatigue and sorrow.
The earth sleeps beneath a blanket of snow and the thin veil of cold air.
Tonight, let us honor the stillness and the darkness; let us, too find rest, respite and quiet, in communion with the web of life, knowing the sun will soon make our days long and our energies high once more.
"To be wise, we have to examine our intention to ensure that it is free from delusion. The ends do not justify the means. If our actions will bring harm to others, even in the service of some 'good', they are almost certainly deluded. If our actions do not come from a kind heart, from loving courage and compassion, they are deluded. If they are based on a distinction between "us" and "them", they stem from delusion. Only to the extent that we act from the wisdom of no separation, understanding how we are woven together, will our intention bring benefit." (Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart, 264)
When I first became a formal student of plant medicine over a decade ago, I immediately fell in love with the medicine of burning plant material -- smudging, as it was introduced to me. I was transported into one of my childhood memories of building and burning a fire made of hard and soft wood, pinecones and dried needles, and the feeling of comfort, protection and purification that accompanied the warmth and beauty of smoke and flame.
As I embark upon my 33rd revolution around our sacred Sun, I am overwhelmed by the many feelings that accompany me at the beginning of another journey. 33 years feels like a long time as I weigh it in my human mind -- then again, I feel, for the most part, in better physical health than I can ever recall feeling, and although I am blessed to have experienced some incredible things in my time on this planet, I certainly don't feel very wise or particularly accomplished. As I assess the reality of this miraculous existence, and that 33 years is, really, not very much time at all, it seems perfectly understandable that, to quote one of my favorite songs by Railroad Earth, "I still got a long way to go"...
That said, I have been meaning, for quite some time, to sit down and provide my loved ones with an update on what I've been up to over these past adventurous 12 months, and just where it is I am headed. I'm not sure I have answers, but I'll try....
While out on a medicine walk with my canine companion, Güstav and I crossed paths with this beautiful Coyote...
Her behavior struck me; though I have the utmost respect for one of the most adaptable species on our planet, and have always known Coyotes to be curious, inquisitive and fearless, this one seemed to be carrying a very important message with a sense of urgency and deliberation ...
Molly Jo Stanley
Educating for Mindfulness and Sustainability