Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stories are the Reason for the Season

Lately it seems that Goddess speaks to me just as I am waking up in mornings. It's as if I wake up already engaged in a conversation with Her before I even realize what is going on. This morning was no different.

I found myself remembering my Childhood Christmases and the stories I tell about them. Like the fact that I, being the oldest and having my own bedroom, seemed to be the gathering place for my other siblings on Christmas Eve where beginning about 3am we took turns going into Mom and Dad's room to ask if Santa had come yet. Usually after the 5th kid went in we were allowed to get up (most often around 5am!).

I found myself remembering the Christmases with my own children as they were growing up. I laid there watching the video play of David and Stephanie finishing up opening their presents and then together going down to the fireplace and bringing the stockings upstairs. They even did this the last Christmas we celebrated as a family (during the separation and then divorce) when they were 18 and 21! Here were these two adults running up the stairs, laughing, and then tearing into the stockings!

Memory lane did not end there! I found myself visiting the Story of the birth of Jesus; sweet and calm and the song Away in the Manger and Silent Night crept into my still sleepy mind! I saw many Christmas Eve Midnight services with candles lit and thinking how magical that night was. I love that story.

From there I remembered lighting Hanukkah candles and listening to the stories while spending time with my Jewish friends! Those Hebrew songs of the coming of the Light were truly full of hope and remembrance.

Oh and the story of the Winter Solstice: the Lady, the Great Mother of the Earth, gives birth to the Lord, as the child of golden sunlight. From his birth, the world begins to grow warmer and the days grow longer.

And one of my favorites is the story of Demeter being aided by Hekate goes into the Underworld to rescue her daughter Persephone. Such a wonderful story about the love a mother has for her daughter and how desperately she will search for her when she has been taken into the darkness.

Dark and Light are the themes for all the stories of this time of year that is for sure. And there are so many more than I was remembering in that in between state of sleep and wakefulness. 

But what I kept hearing was "It is the Stories that make us Rich People"! And there was the lesson to be learned. When we become turfy and believe that "our" tradition, "our" stories are the only accurate believable stories then we become poor in Spirit. It is the richness of each story, whether they be of tradition or of our own personal story, that brings color to the world. Stories are meant to be told over and over; they are meant to be sung and spoken; they are meant to be cherished in the heart. And each story has a message for all of us.

We become Poor in Spirit when we refuse to engage in another Story. We become Poor in Heart when we refuse to acknowledge the blessing of all the stories at this time of year; at all times of the year for that matter! We become colorless when we demand that there is only one story for a season!

So tell Your Story! Tell it as if your life depended on it. And if someone wants to argue that you are wrong to have Your Story; tell it anyway! The Wheel is Turning and hopefully that means that those who live in the Dark World of rigidity and closed mindedness will begin to see the Light of openness and acceptance! The Wheel is Turning; just like pages of a good Story!

Let's read them all together!

Blessed be and Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holding Light for the World

And that was his response!

"Love you and thanks for holding light for the world!"

This morning; the day after another mass shooting in the United States of America, I finally got on facebook; really not wanting to read all the comments, the rants, the opinions, etc. I just didn't want to see people take sides on the gun issue. No, I purposely stayed away from the social network yesterday as the news unfolded about the 20 children and 6 adults who were slaughtered in their elementary school. Yes, I watched the news which was worse I am sure, but I just couldn't watch and listen and read the accusations of this young man being "autistic" and whether that meant all autistic kids were killers; I just couldn't watch and listen and read the comments that people kill people not guns or how taking God out of the schools has caused Satan to run rampant. I just couldn't do it.

So this morning when I finally went on facebook, I began to have my fears confirmed and as a result I tried my best to come up with a status post that would be both insightful and yet say what was in my heart. I think I wrote and deleted about 10 of these posts. Initially, I was ranting about how easy it is to get guns and how hard to access mental health services. Then I began honoring the wonderful teachers and police and other first responders. I pulled in how patriarchal societies lend themselves to a culture full of hate and violence. But none got posted.

You see, it's not about any of that! But I just couldn't put the words to what I was feeling in my heart as once again we are bombarded by the media attention to another tragedy full of questions and no answers. What pushed this 20 year old young man to kill his mother and then go to her work and slaughter all those innocent people? What does a women need with 5 guns in her home (one an assault weapon)? Why couldn't he just take his own life if he was so tormented? Questions and no answers and no solutions to these terrifying events we seem to be made aware of on almost a daily basis now.

And there it was.

I have a very dear friend who frequently speaks very wise words to me. And this morning, he spoke one short sentence that said it all:

"Love you and thanks for holding light for the world!"

So, I went for a walk and let this sentence seep within my very soul. And I began to cry.

That is what is missing and slowly going away in the human race. We have lost the knowledge and the willingness to hold light for the world. We are so into what's in it for me, that we have lost our way in the wilderness because we have forgotten our real purpose as we walk this journey called human existence.

It is so easy to blame all the "evil" in the world on the lack of or the excess of rules and regulations. It is too easy to blame all the "evil" actions of human beings on one religion or another being pushed out of government, schools, football games, high school graduations. It has become common place for human beings to point the finger at everyone else to solve the problems of this "evil" in the world while wondering why when pointing one finger at another there are always 4 pointing back at us. We are the solution.

And so my dear wise friend said it all in one short response at the end of our chat about what is happening in the world and where do we go from here:

My dear wise friend, Riley, said, "Love you and thanks for holding light for the world!"

And that is what I dedicated myself to do on my walk with Goddess! I dedicated myself to holding that Love, Light and Joy for a world struggling in the Wilderness to remember that they are to do the same! What would it look like if our purpose and agenda every waking day of our life was to do just that!

Most people would laugh at me, but most do anyway. I have been laughed at all my life for my "pie in the sky" "rainbow colored glasses" glass is half full not half empty" view of life! But it has served me well; as I worked with dysfunctional and wounded families for 30 years as a social worker, as I parented my children and as I survived my own abusive marriage.

But lately I have let that Light begin to dim as I too have watched the darkness of the world seem to overcome any light still there. I have wearied of standing by and watching what is happening in the country I live in; mixed up priorities; selfish decisions or the lack of decisions at all; turf issues; hatred; abuse, neglect of all creation; and violence escalating to a degree I never thought possible.

"Love you and thanks for holding light for the world."

"Love you"
"Thanks for holding light for the world."

My friend holds that light too as do many of my lovely friends. But on this day, He made sure he spoke those words to me to remind me that I do indeed still hold that light and I am loved! He made sure that he reflected back to me what he sees and I have been forgetting.

And so, I say to you:

"Love you and thanks for holding light for the world."

Now pass it on!

Blessed be!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just another Love Story?

This morning I was laying in bed in that post dream state; where you wonder whether you are dreaming or awake. I was thinking about the Christian Nativity Story. I know it well, having been a Christian for 57 years. As a child I was in Christmas pageants, we had a Creche at home and as my children came along they too participated in church events and put the Creche up each year. There are lots of wonderful stories around the Creche my children grew up with! Oh the one where my son put all his star wars figures in there along side of the animals, angels, Mary and Joseph and I even think he replaced baby Jesus with an Ewok! And the one where my daughter who was 6 at the time was showing the Creche to her good friend who was orthodox Jew and her friend said, "is that your God (pointing to baby Jesus)?" To which my daughter replied: "no, silly that is Jesus, we have the same God!" Oh and yes, then the New Year's Eve party my son's Senior Year of High School: I came upon his friends playing Chutes and Ladders (the kid's game) while using Mary, Joseph and a few of the animals for the game pieces! Yep lots and lots of Creche stories, but that is not what I was thinking about this morning!

This morning I was in that place between dreaming and waking and it was a very peaceful feeling. I was there as Mary was told she was pregnant; I went with her to see Elizabeth; I was there when she told Joseph and he hugged her and said that he loved her no matter what (yep...I know! not Biblical!). I traveled with them to Bethlehem and was watching as they were turned away from the Inn and went to stay in the Stable with the animals. I was present at the Birth of their Son and saw the Star appear in the Sky and the Angels sing to the Shepherds!

It is the Silence that has always been overwhelming to me when I imagine this night! And this morning, I was in a place of sheer peacefulness! As I laid there sharing this space with Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the animals I felt Divine Love! I never ever wanted to leave this place, but it was short lived!

It was short lived, not because I had to get up and get ready for work; no, it was short lived as I fast forwarded to what "the Church" did to this Love story! This story that is repeated over and over again as women give birth to the Divine! Yes, women bring into the world the Divine; which is each of us.

The noise became deafening as I saw Joseph have his dream to gather up his very young family and hi-tail it out of there as Herod had sent out a decree to kill all the boys in town hoping to get rid of the next King foretold by the wise men. And the power and control began and has not stopped!

Just another Love Story? It seems like that to me at times. Forget that Jesus probably wasn't born on December 25th and that the church picked this date to coincide with the Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice and Hanukkah celebrations. Forget that there is still conflict as to "the reason for the season". Forget all of that and think about the real meaning of this Story and others like it.

It is a Story of Love. It is a Story of each of our entrances into the world; whether they be in the dirty home in the projects or the best hospital money can buy. It is a Story of the Divine's entrance into the world each time a baby is born! And it is the Love Story of Her continuing to have faith in Her children to Live out that Love.

It's a shame that the writers deemed it necessary that Mary be a Virgin in order to affirm that being the only way a woman could take part in Creation of the Divine! It's a shame that the Church turned this Divine Love Story into a story of Jesus having to die so that the Divine would still love us worthless children! It's a shame that this Love Story became Just another Love Story lost among the rubbish of the theme of power and control throughout the life of this Jesus of Nazareth; just to be pulled out in the month of December and then lost again for another 11 months.

For me this should be the most powerful message: not the Cross; but the Woman bearing the Divine into the world surrounded by all of creation! That is the miracle; that is the magic, that is the meaning of Life! For if we stay here in this peaceful silence, we will actually know that we are all Divine; we are all bearers of this Divine DNA that has as it's signature markings: LOVE!

But alas; it's just another love story and power and control knock on the stable door and unfortunately we welcome them in and set up their bedroom right next to ours and the drama begins and the Divine Love Story is forgotten.

It really doesn't matter what Love Story you tell at this time of year; whether it be the Winter Solstice, the Birth of Jesus, the Kwanzaa celebration, Hanukkah or your own; it is important that we speak and live Divine Love.

It is possible! How do I know? Well, let me tell you about the Goddess I do know! She is you and me and as such we have the DNA to live Divinely! It is our choice! 

  So, take time during the next few weeks and sit with Divine Love! Imagine it however you wish to imagine it, but sit and let Her fill you to overflowing and then open Your Heart and let Her Juices flow from you out into a world that has forgotten how to Live Love!

And most of all LOVE!

Blessed be!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Gift takes time

So, the first Yule I was here I went on a walk in early December looking for a pine cone for my first Yule altar. There is this tall pine tree on my way to the Lake that has large pine cones at the top. You know, those really large ones that you buy in the store with glitter and cinnamon on them? I paused and gave thanks for her and then asked if she would kindly drop one of her cones for me to add to my altar. I did this every day until Winter Solstice and never was there a cone under the tree.

I have done that the past three winters. And when a cone never was found under the tree or even around the tree I figured that she did not want me to have a cone. So, this year I bought a bag of cones from the store and put them around the apartment and planned to put one on my Yule altar, but when I put my Yule altar up I didn't put one of those on it.

Last week before going to NYC with my sister, which was a blast by the way, I took my usual walk around the apartment complex and down to the Lake. As I passed the pine tree I gazed up at the numerous cones adorning the top of the tree! There were so many and I was happy to see them but this year I did not ask or desire one of the cones. I just stood in amazement at this tree and the cones holding on so tightly.

And then I looked down under the tree and there it was!!!!! A perfectly formed pine cone nestled right by the trunk of the tree in a pile of leaves from the oaks standing beside her. I must say it took me a minute as I was caught off guard. There was a cone! I hadn't even asked this year and there it was.

Aren't the best gifts like that: hoped for and desired and then when you stop asking and desiring it shows up at just the right time?

Now, here was the problem. The tree sits below the path to the Lake which meant I had to get off the path and carefully walk down a very slight incline to get to this cone! I paused, trying to decide whether I wanted to try to get the cone and chance sliding in the leaves down the hill! I paused, wondering if I even got to the cone if I would be able to get safely back up to the path. I paused and gazed up at this magnificent tree who had a gift right under the her but now I had to trust myself and her enough to go and get it!

One of the branches from the oak beside her was reaching out for me to grab hold of as I carefully went to get the Gift! I got there safely and then took a deep breath as I realized I now had to get back up to the road. Now, it really wasn't far but the ground was covered with leaves which were slick and I am not always as sure footed as I once was. But there was the arm of the oak tree waiting for me to grab hold and up I went with my Gift in my hand!!!!!

She is perfect! I thanked the Pine Tree for the gift and all I heard was Remember!

I continued my walk to the Lake and sat on the swing with The Gift in my hand. Remember?

And there it was as always; a message in the Gifts that Gaia has all along our path.

I needed to Remember that just asking for something did not mean it was time for it to come into my life.
I needed to Remember that expecting something to be delivered in my time was expecting the Universe to never have my best interests in mind.
I needed to Remember that some Gifts take time to come to me and that it is the child-like waiting that is as precious as the Gift.
I needed to Remember that the Surprise is the icing on the Cake of Life!

But most of all I needed to Remember that most of the wonderful Gifts of our Lives are nestled just off the Path we have chosen to Travel. And when we see them, we must trust that the Gift is meant for us, but it means accepting the call to come off that Path for a Time to receive the Gift Goddess has waiting for us! 

And when I am afraid to step off that path, there will always be someone/something else to reach out a helping hand so I am not afraid! A helping hand (or branch in this case) to help me stay up right and give me that bit of trust I so desperately need to grab hold of the Gift just out of my reach on the Path I am on!

So, that is my Gift story as we enter this holiday time of Gift giving and receiving! There are messages wrapped up in them all! Some come with ribbons and shiny paper, some come in the mail and some are snuggled in that pretty bag!

And some are under a Pine Tree!

Blessed be and Happy Yule!