Awaiting Joy

The_Joy_of_SongI  feel deeply blessed, for I have had the opportunity to learn from, and work with, shamans and healers from many traditions and parts of the world. At the center of their practices and lives is the necessity of speaking up for those who have lost voice, including the Earth; feeding, clothing, and educating those who cannot do so for themselves; and awakening joy in oneself and those whose lives we touch.  They showed me that kindness, gratitude, and Joy are the sacred heart of living and healing. I am profoundly grateful. Continue reading

Caring for Earth: A Gift and A Burden

Winter BerriesIt has been snowing, intermittently, for most of the past week. We have also experienced freezing rain, sleet, and, very briefly, just plain rain. It is warm, compared to the historical norm, resulting in the periods of mixed precipitation rather than just snow. Had it been all snow we would be housebound.

I’m sitting by the wood stove. It took a while to get it roaring; now the heat is finally taking the chill from the house. I appreciate the deep warmth that comes from burning wood, and the high-efficiency of this stove; we get warmth while using relatively little fuel. The dancing flames are a bonus.

My parents remembered the winter evenings of their youth, spent by open hearths, with fondness. Stoves and fire places were not efficient; they required many chords of wood be gathered, split, and stacked each year. Families carefully managed their lands, maintaining the health of the trees, water, and soil upon which their lives depended. To run out of wood for cooking and heat was to suffer, and in winter, to risk death. Gifted persons felt and respected the pulse of the land, dreaming the flow of energy and information through the biosphere; this helped them survive difficult times. Continue reading

Advent: Waiting with Mary

Snow_Heavy_BoughsToday is the third Sunday in Advent. Now the nights are long, and snow covers the ground and bends down the trees. The cold has settled in. These are the conditions that are celebrated in carols and text at Christmastide. They are also the imagined context for Mary’s long journey of pregnancy, and , with Joseph, to Bethlehem. Continue reading


SnowfallToday marks the second Sunday in Advent. Yesterday was a day of rain and snow, with temperatures in the mid-thirties. This morning is cold with broken cloud. As I type the snow line is working its way down the mountains.Last night darkness fell early, even by our northerly standards, giving us a taste of how short the days must have seemed to the early European Christians. Surely they readily drew parallels between their traditional concerns with the waning sun, and the new religion’s focus on the brightly shining son of god. Were not they somehow the same, at least in metaphor and experience?  Continue reading

Advent: In the Gathering Darkness

Snowy-BushThe Winter Solstice arrives next Sunday, the last Sunday in Advent. Outside, the season’s first real snowfall is winding down. The world is wrapped in white, a shield from the intense cold of the last week.

This morning I wrote letters responding to two young people who have experienced violence. Each had written me about the lasting effects of that violence, wondering how they might go ahead with their lives in the face of immense darkness. They are dear people, their hearts filled with goodness and caring. Continue reading

Advent, Part One

winter-pond.jpgAre are now firmly into the first week of Advent. This is a time of waiting. We await the first deep snow, the quiet of mid-winter, and the arrival  of spirit.

The woods are noticeably hushed, the hunters and treckers having departed and the skiers having not yet arrived. Only the chirp of the occasional bird, usually a Chick-a-dee, and the whining of the wind in the treetops disturb the growing silence. The stillness holds an edgy sense of anticipation, of imminence. Continue reading

Christmas Draws Nigh

Light in Winter's DarknessThe Solstice is past. Advent draws to an expectant close. Christmas Eve is nigh. During  Advent we are encouraged to slow down, to contemplate the miracle of birth, and the suffering inherent in the Christmas story. The story says a child is born, and as with each child that enters the world, hope is renewed. Yet the story also speaks to great cruelty and acts of genocide. In this season we are asked to acknowledge and hold both.

It seems terribly difficult for the dominant culture to face the great darkness inherent in our collective history.  First Nations people know the larger culture to be embedded in violence, as do other people of color. Perhaps 100 million Indigenous people died as a result of violence against them in the past 250 years in North America alone. Untold Africans and African Americans share hat experience. Thousands of children of all races die each year, victims of gun violence. disproportionately, those children are children of poverty or color. Continue reading