The season of autumn is, for the earth, a time when life goes underground to sleep, to die back, and then to emerge in a few months into new life. I imagine that I’m not the only one, but it has the opposite effect on me: I come alive, energized by the crisper air, the scent of distant wood smoke, the sound of wind rushing through the dry leaves. I’ve noticed a difference in the last few years, however, in that I crave the sun, can’t get enough of it. Maybe it’s moving back home to silver-skied Oregon after having lived in sunnier North Carolina for over a decade, I don’t know. But I greeted the sun every day this summer with enthusiastic joy, sometimes even clapping my hands when I saw it, like a child!
Now I’m overjoyed to see the leaves turning yellow and orange and floating to the ground and pine cones strewn about the lawn where they’ve fallen from the cedars in our back yard. I’m thinking of ways to celebrate the coming holidays with intention and ritual more in keeping with my current beliefs. I’m imagining long cold days “stuck” in the house, sitting on the living room floor and working on my paintings.
Oh, every season is magical, isn’t it? I feel so grateful to live in an area that provides four distinct seasons. When I was little, living in central California, even Christmas day might be 80 degrees and we’d wear shorts and tank tops on the drive over to Grandma’s. I like having to bundle up in layers and boots now. Spring used to be my saddest season, stirring up years and years of childhood loneliness, and I would cringe at the sound of birdsong. But now birds, like the sun, fill me with joy when I hear them. I’m so grateful for that.
This is my first full day at home from the personal retreat I had at my parents’ house this week, where I was housesitting. I’m just now remembering, with a smile, how I complained about housesitting in my last post. This time it was marvelous, I think because I went with the clear intention to connect with Spirit and learn whatever small (or big) lessons nature would teach me. The draw was not the house–though it is peaceful and comfortable–but the yard, with its expanse of lawn ringed by deciduous trees, its acre of woods in the back, and the tremendous cedar sentinels that stand guard–those beautiful cedars. They are huge, their trunks rising hundreds of feet into the sky, twisting around themselves in gently swirling segments, having stood for hundreds of years, solid and sure, through the myriad changes around them. Long before I was here and long after I’m gone, there they’ve been and there they’ll be. They’ve come to mean so much to me. I use the branches they drop to make cedar smudge to burn for cleansing (it smells wonderful and doesn’t make me sick like sage does.)
As I discovered this week, they’re also home to chickadees and hummingbirds!
The first day I was there I fasted from my three primary addictions: food, the internet, and Netflix. There’s nothing wrong with any of those unless they’re what you turn to in order to meet emotional needs, and even that, sometimes, is not a terrible thing. For me, however, I had begun to feel controlled by all three, pulled away from the person I want to be by their insistence that I attend to them and not to the things that are, on a much deeper level, far more important to me.
Although I had removed myself from social networks, I still ran to the computer to search for information, to order library books, add movies to my Netflix queue, check my blog stats (even though I rarely write anymore!)–things that, really, can be accomplished once in the morning and left alone for the rest of the day. I would obsessively scour the new additions to Netflix and keep the television on for hours while I worked, muddying the quiet clarity that would have been more beneficial to my creativity. I would wake up in the morning thinking about what to have for breakfast, and while eating imagine what I’d have for second breakfast (at around ten-thirty: I wake at four in the morning, so it isn’t quite as bad as it sounds :), and then plan my lunch. It wasn’t overeating that was the problem, though I am heavier than is comfortable for me, but the obsession about it!
Fasting that day was so good. It helped me realize that I wasn’t going to die if I didn’t eat, didn’t search, didn’t watch. That I would be okay meeting my needs in healthier (for me) ways, such as sitting on the lawn staring at trees, watching birds, examining insects, gathering cedar needles, basking in the sun. I try always to keep open a dialogue with God, but in the quiet I could actually receive messages that would have passed me by otherwise. Little quiet messages like…while I was on the lawn in the sun, looking up at one of the cedars, I glanced at the grape arbor and noticed a spider on her web (all spiders are girls, right? :). She was smack in the middle of her web, lying there full-out in the sun, just like me! Or rather, I was just like her, and she taught me that when I take time to listen, to trust, prepare a place in my heart to receive sustenance from the spirit, I’ll receive everything I need.
I saw, perched on one of the feeders, a mother bird feeding seeds to her fluffy baby and then later, while I was talking with my daughter Torie on the phone, I saw a feather float across the lawn and into the brambles, where I discovered next to it the downy feather of a baby bird. Again I knew that God, in infinite aspect–mother, father, sister, brother, every form–is watching over me.
A chickadee came to visit me as well, flouncing and bouncing from branch to branch, pirouetting upside down on the branch ends, and fixing me with its bright eyes. I got to where I could recognize the flurry of its wings as it swooped behind me and then flew back to the cedar. In the bird book I looked up chickadee characteristics and found that they are “active, acrobatic, and frequently fearless.” I was delighted because that’s exactly what I’ve been wanting to be lately, and took the chickadee’s visit as a reminder that I can be what I want to be.
But it’s absolutely 100% up to ME to be it. I will get help from external forces if I open myself up to them, but that’s the kicker. I have to open myself up. I am the one. Me. I want to be a person who operates fully with an open heart and open mind, clear eyes and ears, connected to Spirit all the time, 24-7. I want to live creatively, acoustically, feet to earth and arms to sky, spanning both, like a cedar. I want to be light on my feet, sure of my body, able to run and hike and leap nimbly on rocks over the creek. I want to be natural, to demonstrate to other women–as I’m learning myself–that we don’t need masks in order to be beautiful. I want to celebrate men and women, our differences and similarities, helping us all see that we’ve become unbalanced regarding the yin and yang of feminine and masculine, and until we correct it within ourselves we can’t address it in others. We have so much potential, and we already have within us everything we need to fulfill it! Love to you all.