Current Events, Holy Wild, Muse in Brief, Poetry & Music

Twice As Much Of Whatever We’ve Become

Twitter increased the character limit of tweets this week, from 140 to a whopping 280.

I have no strong opinions on this, honestly — it was an arbitrary limit dictated by earlier technology which spurred creative work-arounds, but the pure 140-character tweet (without pics, gifs or links) has been dead and gone for quite a while now. Some folks think this spells the end of the platform, but I doubt it.

More to the point is everything Twitter isn’t doing, changes users have been begging for a long time: better handling of abuse and hate speech, the removal of neo-nazis and white supremacists, protection from mobs of trolls and harassers.

Carlos Maza covers the complexities of protecting free speech on social media platforms in a recent Vox video.

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In light of these challenges (and Twitter’s inaction in rising to them with any coherent vision of what meaningful conversation might actually look like), bumping up the character limit to 280 seems largely irrelevant. What will we say in 280 characters that we haven’t learned to say in 140?

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Current Events, Holy Wild, Muse in Brief, peace, Poetry & Music, story

I Blame Trump on Game of Thrones



I Blame Trump on Game of Thrones

I wonder what Jung would have
to say about it, how for years now
we have saturated the collective
unconscious with stories of war,

collusion and incest, machinations
of political corruption, moral sickness
among the rich, while fire and ice
loomed, denied, debated. And now—

I know all the names of the players,
though I’ve never read the books
or seen the show, and I’ve heard
so many times the reasons why

it’s brilliant, the best, the most
throned of all the games, but
I have to admit, I’ve never heard
a single thing that made me want

to watch. Why spend time with
such monsters? Are we so bored
with singing love songs, playing
games of chance and skill where

no one dies? What makes us
think these stories can tell us
who we are? Violence leads on
to violence, and love to love.

I miss the days when we dreamed
of nameless striders in the wild,
gray-robed wizards, unimportant men
carrying the world up the mountain,

slowly, step by step, sunlight falling
on the stone heads of fallen kings,
reminding us that stories shape
the wilder, better life we long to live.

And remember, how he finally smiled
when he stepped onto the boat
at the very end, so ready to move
on to the Land of Valar across the sea

—or maybe it was Hawaii, sunny
and warm and full of waves,
where he went water-skiing every day
like a laughing metaphor for grace.

Conservation, Current Events, Deep Ecology, Holy Wild, Muse in Brief, Poetry & Music

Natural Wonder

Last week, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord. This poem is not about that.




Natural Wonder

In Morocco, the researchers confirmed,
hungry goats will climb into an argan tree
when they can’t find fruit at their feet
— clamber up and chow down,
ruminate a while, then spit the seed.
This is how it goes, what they call
dispersal, succession, the architecture
of regeneration: the corrosive juices of
the stomach, the bleating laughter, breaking
open and discarding what could not
otherwise long survive in an arid world —
first in the wild, then later, on YouTube.



Inspired by the article, “How tree-climbing goats help plant new trees


Photo Credit: “Argan Tree Goats,” by Mikel Santamaria (CC) [source]

Contemplation & Meditation, Current Events, Holy Wild, justice

Pieces

When I said I read an article somewhere about jigsaw puzzles, how they can help with the recovery from post-traumatic stress, I think maybe you thought I was being flippant, even silly. I was four corners and almost all the edges in on a puzzle of clown fish, a swarm of them in all the otherworldly colors (even green), but when I asked if you wanted to help, you only smiled. Articles aside, I didn’t quite want to tell you — we just weren’t that close — that since November I’ve been having nightmares about the president raping me and my friends. You seem like the kind of person who likes to stay on top of things, who reads all the newspapers, and resists the new normal with all the composure of a bleached coral reef. And that’s fine. Nightmares aside, I am handling my shit, I am putting the pieces of my anxiety each in their appropriate place, arranging them into piles on the table according to color and line. The thing about puzzles is, there’s a moment between when you have all the edges done, and when you have enough of the middle filled in to see what’s missing, what’s left. I’m almost there. And when I am, I expect, it will get easier to forgive you — for the smile, I mean, and for everything you didn’t do.

Current Events, Holy Wild, peace, Poetry & Music

#WritersResist: Bring the Fire Down

Remember To Look Up

Bring the Fire Down

Move through the hills unrolling
dense and shifting green below the night,
touch earth — between justice
and mercy, between nakedness and warfare,
between all that you would not do
and all you have done, unknowing —
move through the water to the streambed,
move through the mountains to the heat,
move through the empty sky, crying.
To touch the slick, smooth rocks wet
with life and blood and water;
to walk the land; to kiss the deep
echoing heart of the offering well.
Move your compassion. Move your peace.
Move slow and solemn in darkness
and do not be afraid, though their power
burns to brightness, busy, churning
life upon life, grinding colors from their bones
to paint their eyes — move, you beauty,
move, you simple world. Reach up
with your remembering. Reach up with your
longing. Reach up with your being
and your making and your singing
strength into the storm; reach up with all
the detail of the in­between, the tragic
and the torn; reach up to touch the sacred
flame exalting in the midnight earth,
reach up to touch the sun as she is rising;
reach up to show your hands are empty;
reach up to leap your dance on holy ground,
the hills unrolling, the whole earth breathing
— reach up your love, and bring the fire down.


This post is part of #WritersResist. Thank you to Melanie, for spreading the word.
Photo Credit: “Remember to Look Up,” by Cat Burton (CC) [source]

Current Events, Holy Wild, Mythology & History

Can Clowns Save Our Souls?

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“He was nobody in particular, yet everybody all at once.”

— Conrad Hyers

It is said that the Irish god Manannan mac Lir likes to travel in disguise. He roams from town to town, sometimes entertaining kings with heavenly music, other times baffling onlookers with clumsy feats of buffoonery. “One day I am sweet, another day I am sour,” he declares, as if to explain away his conflicting reputation as both wiseman and fool. His disguise is a familiar one: a hat full of holes, shoes that squish with puddle water when he walks, threadbare striped clothes, a cloak of many colors that shimmers like mist in the sun. It’s a wonder we don’t recognize him immediately. Figures like him have been with us since the beginning, holding up a funhouse mirror to our ordinary lives, mocking our heroes and transfiguring our bums. In short, Manannan mac Lir is a clown.

Clowns need no introduction, says professor of religion Conrad Hyers in his book, The Spirituality of Comedy. When they appear on the scene, everybody recognizes immediately what they are. “There are clowns who are silent and clowns who are subtle, but there are no incognito clowns.” And yet clowns are, by definition, difficult to define. Almost defiantly contradictory, they take upon themselves the myriad aspects of human society and human nature, throwing all of these elements together in astoundingly irreverent and incongruous ways. “In a kaleidoscopic identity,” Hyers writes, “the clown is many people and many moods, formed and reformed out of the same disparate pieces of humanity.” The clown is the Everyman, recognizable despite or, more accurately, because of his make-up and his mask. The clown is the familiar stranger: the god who travels in disguise under an assumed name, yet whose reputation always precedes him.

Big Shoes To Fill: A Walking Contradiction

Over the past few months, we’ve watched this pattern of embodied contradictions and oscillating opinions play out in real-time as a Creepy Clown Epidemic took the American media by storm. In earlier articles, I traced the evolving nature of this phenomenon — from the Phantom Clowns of urban legend, to the mischievous Stalking Clowns confounding police, to the public backlash and its impact on the professional clowning community. As media coverage returned again and again to this strange but eerily familiar figure, interpretations of the Creepy Clown’s meaning have swung back and forth, each new claim reacting against and building upon those that came before it. Were the clowns real, or just a hoax? Old urban legend, or new media meme? A coordinated effort by marketers, or a grassroots trend of rumors and copycats? Attention-seekers, or anonymous pranksters? Political commentary, or frivolous distraction? Harmless fun, or serious threat? Criminals, or victims?

The answer, of course, is all of the above…. and then some. “Clowns are not ‘simply’ anything,” Hyers writes. “The clown as ‘Everyman’ is the representative of the many-sidedness of our existence and the tensions between sides — not any side or set of characteristics. The clown is omnivorously human.”

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This undiscriminating lust for life in all its forms can itself be disturbing (think: the exaggerated mouths and the smiles full of sharpened teeth in so many of today’s creepy clown Halloween masks). There is something unsettling about the clown’s willingness to poke fun at anything, to upset the status quo. We might wonder: is nothing sacred? Yet throughout history, the spiritual role of the clown has always been that of trickster, the Wise Fool who can challenge social norms and bring the shadow-side of ourselves and our community out into the open to be confronted, laughed at, integrated and transcended.

In his exploration of the clown as a cultural and spiritual figure, Hyers notes that there are two distinct manifestations of the clown as a mediator of opposites. The more “complex and ambitious” type of clown, Hyers writes, is the solo clown, who brings these opposites together in his own person and contains the tension of polarity within a single figure. The motley, multi-colored outfits of these clowns speak to this radical inclusivity of contradiction. “If they wear oversized shoes, they will like as not wear an undersized hat. If they give themselves a gaudy smile, they will probably also add a tear. If they are graceful one moment, they will likely be jerky the next.” They might take exaggerated care to tiptoe across the stage, only to trip noisily at the last minute; or precisely measure the swing of their giant hammer, only to miss the nail and smash their thumb instead. One day sweet, the next day sour.

478px-paul_cezanne_060But there is another kind of clowning: the comic duo. Here, polar opposites are exaggerated and separated, embodied in two different characters who are nevertheless bound together, played against one another to hilarious effect. From the Koshare spring-summer clowns (sprouters of grain) and the Kurena fall-winter clowns (maturers of grain) of the Jemez Indians, to the suave Whiteface and clumsy Augusto of the medieval French pantomimes, such pairs are well-known throughout history. If one is tall and thin, the other will be short and stocky. If one is a wild risk-taker, the other will worry and fret. If one is restrained in word and deed, the other flails about and never shuts up. We see these odd couples everywhere in modern times, too, in comedy pairs like Harpo and Groucho Marx, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Penn and Teller, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Troy and Abed… the list goes on and on.

To these pairs, we might add: Patch Adams and Pennywise — the “caring clown” and the “creepy clown” of modern American culture. Perhaps we need look no further to explain the Creepy Clown phenomenon than our culture’s changing view of the clown, from the ambiguous trickster of sacred ritual to mere kids’ entertainer:

Before the early 20th century, there was little expectation that clowns had to be an entirely unadulterated symbol of fun, frivolity, and happiness; pantomime clowns, for example, were characters who had more adult-oriented story lines. But clowns [are] now almost solely children’s entertainment. Once their made-up persona became more associated with children, and therefore an expectation of innocence, it made whatever the make-up might conceal all the more frightening.

Everywhere we find them, clowns are walking contradictions, polarities set in dialectical motion so that we may (re)discover our own wholeness. “Our whole being is put joltingly together by the simple device of slapping opposites against one another,” writes Hyers. With our recent overemphasis on the innocent fun and “light side” of the Caring Clown, perhaps it was inevitable that the darker Creepy Clown would eventually come calling.

One Clown, Two Clown, Red Clown, Blue Clown

But why now? There is something unique about the Creepy Clown Epidemic this year. Although the cycle of clown sightings has recurred fairly regularly since at least the 1980s, there seems to be a deeper sense of urgency, uncertainty and anxiety that has driven this fall’s hysteria.

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You don’t need to scratch very far below the surface to discover what it is. Almost from the beginning, commentators have noted the strong parallels between the Creepy Clown hype and the American presidential election, in which many aspects of an increasingly polarized and dysfunctional political system are on full display. Art and film often anticipate and illuminate these trends through their social commentary. Take, for instance, the recently-released Rob Zombie horror movie, 31, which one reviewer describes as “perhaps unintentionally relevant” in the current climate:

[T]he free-loving carnies and the carnage-loving clowns all arguably ought to be on the same side, as they’re at the same level of income, and loosely connected to the whole notion of traveling shows. But they’re not, and indeed, it’s partly because some on the clown side are racist, sadistic, abusive, horrible people. Regardless, though, they’re all being played by rich jerks for some minor amusement, and even once they realize this and have a chance to break the cycle, or heaven forbid, fight the actual system, they can’t stop. They just hate each other too much, while the rich go back to their rich lives unburdened.

Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist at Botany College in New Zealand, links the rise in creepy clowns to two rising forces in the US: social media, and a fear of otherness. “Social media plays a pivotal role in spreading these rumor-panics which travel around the globe in the blink of an eye,” he says. “They are part of a greater moral panic about the fear of strangers and terrorists in an increasingly urban, impersonal, and unpredictable world.” Politicians have often played on the fear of otherness to rally their base and “get out the vote” on election day. We might even see in the Republican and Democratic candidates an echo of the tragicomic duo, a pair of opposites vying against each other, each one “playing the mask” of political showmanship while also trying to radiate personable authenticity. All of this might explain why Loren Coleman, who posited the Phantom Clown Theory, notes that creepy clown appearances often coincide with the election cycle.

new-york-daily-news-clown-1Still, this year’s election season has been one of the most vitriolic in recent history, with one candidate in particular invoking (and provoking) xenophobia, racism and misogyny as defining aspects of his campaign. For some, the explanation for this year’s creepy clown craze can be summed up in two words: Donald Trump. Yale School of Drama professor Christopher Bayes describes Trump as “all illness and artifice,” saying, “There’s something poison there. It feels malignant, and it freaks us out.”

With his uncanny appearance — the fake spray-tan, the wild orange hair, the gaudy sense of fashion, the overblown blustering and weird gesticulations on stage — Trump is the quintessential creepy clown. Equally preoccupied with stoking fear of outsiders and resentment towards insiders who’ve supposedly rigged the system against him, he is not easily categorized according to our usual understanding of political and cultural identity. Instead, he hides behind a mask of populist “everyman” rhetoric to conceal crass self-interest and, perhaps, something even more sinister. In light of numerous allegations of sexual assault, including the rape of a 13-year-old girl and his possible connection to drug-fueled sex parties with underage teens, it’s hard not to see Trump as the “killer clown” who leers at children on the playground and tries to lure them into the woods. Even his caught-on-tape boasting about how his celebrity allows him to assault women — “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” — seems like a sickening callback to the serial killer-clown John Wayne Gacy’s confession, “You know… a clown can get away with murder.”

Clown as Savior and Escape Artist

How do we rid ourselves of these creepy clowns, real and imagined?

First, it might help to know that much of the Creepy Clown hysteria is driven by media coverage and, like all such trends, it will eventually die down on its own (especially once Halloween and the election are over). Professor of psychology at Evergreen State College, Bill Indick explains, “That’s why it comes in waves. The media propagates it, creates it, feeds it and at a certain point, gets tired of it. The media then digests it and eliminates it. And just as quickly as it started, it’s over.”

We shouldn’t necessarily see this as a criticism of the media’s short attention span, however. After all, that is the clown’s deeper spiritual and psychological role in society: to help us confront our own contradictions, bring them to consciousness, and integrate them. Hyers writes:

What we are reluctant to acknowledge, but what the clown fixes on, is that we are composed of and dream of contraries. We fantasize about complete freedom and complete security, rugged individualism and social harmony, amorous adventures and marital bliss, higher wages and lower prices, something worth fighting for… and peace and tranquility.

The ever-shifting media narratives — about clowns, and about everything — can guide us through a process of navigating these contradictions, swinging from one perspective to another, discovering the complexity of the stories we tell about our all-too-human lives. Hyers notes that clown performances often end with the clowns being chased off stage, driven out of the shared community space and sent scurrying back into the mists of chaos from which they came. “What has been welcomed so clamorously, must also be put to flight somewhat ingloriously,” he writes. “The clowns who have indulged us vicariously, must also vicariously pay a price for their profanities. The scapegrace becomes the scapegoat.”

clown-session_laura-cuttierBut at the heart of this process is a longing for wholeness and a renewed sense of unity. With his colorful patchwork antics, the clown reconnects “the many fragmented shades of our existence, if only by tossing them laughingly side by side and calling their ephemeral combination a link between the heavens and the earth.” Liminality and impermanence are all part of the play. The clown straddles, skips and stumbles over the lines we draw to separate the mundane and the sacred, “mudhead and godhead,” order and disorder, stability and change, inside and outside, life and death.

In this way, the clown is also a psychopomp, leading us through fragmentation towards resolution and the redemption of a richer life. Says Hyers, “[T]he clown resembles a ghostly apparition from the spirit world, paradoxically seeking with grinning death-mask to renew life and revive our slumping spirits.” Why should we be surprised, then, to find ourselves brought face-to-face with this paradoxical figure during the season of ghouls and goblins, when the veils between the worlds are thin and the dead mingle with the living?

So maybe the solution is actually quite simple: to rid ourselves of the creepy clown, we need only rediscover the deeper complexity and ambiguity of the clown as a sacred trickster and spiritual guide. To live more courageously and playfully in the face of our uncertainty. To remember to hold our desire for categories of right and wrong, good and evil as lightly as we can. For though we might try to follow where the clown leads, we cannot hope to pin him down or hold him still. It is only when we stop insisting that the clown be just one thing that he is free to become the multiplicity of being that he really is.


Photo Credits:
• “Untitled,” by Neys Fadzil (CC) [source]
• Jimmy Stewart, Emmett Kelly, The Greatest Show on Earth, 1952 [source]
• “Shove tuesday (Pierot and Harlequin)” by Paul Cézanne [source]
• “8.11.2010 clown 209/365” by Phil Roeder (CC) [source]
• Frontpage June 17, 2015, New York Daily News [source]
• “Clown Session,” by Laura Cuttier (CC) [source]


Daily Prompt: Eerie

Holy Wild, Pacifism, peace

Memorial Day, Motherland and Blood Sacrifice

memorial-day_david-yu

This post was originally published on my former blog, Meadowsweet & Myrrh, on Monday, May 31, 2010.


It’s Memorial Day here in the United States, and I find myself, once again and as usual, deeply ambivalent.

As a Pagan and a pacifist, as a peacemaking Druid, I know that I am not naturally inclined to celebrate holidays of militarism, patriotism and nationalism. This is simple and straight-forward. I find it easier to celebrate the values commemorated on Martin Luther King Day — those of social justice and the sentiments of equality and community, as well as the grief of injustice and of dreams mown down by hate and violence — than the adolescent indulgence in triumphant glorying and loud reveling that occurs each July on Independence Day.

Yet unlike these others, Memorial Day leaves me feeling disconcerted and conflicted. Every year, all through this holiday weekend I read passing comments and thoughtful reflections alike on the True Meaning of Memorial Day, all repeating and revolving around this singular, pervasive notion: that we must “honor the memory of the soldiers who fought and died for us.”

Honor is such a powerful word, and death such a vital reality. But there is a kind of emptiness, a hollowness echoing within that expression, one that takes for granted what our relationship is to the dead, what our responsibilities are to the living, what honor and memory truly look like, how they function, what they require of us.

There is a part of me that hears this edict, this charge to honor our dead soldiers, and responds with bewilderment and uncertainty. What could this statement possibly mean? What does it mean to honor these dead, and how do we do it? How do we demonstrate or act on this honoring and remembering? Far from rejecting the notion of such honor as mere misdirected nationalist pride or wrong-headed militaristic chauvinism, it seems obvious to me that something else is going on here, something similar to — and yet so different from — the process of grieving.

But when it comes to questions of how to respond to the cultural demand to “honor the soldiers who died for you,” I find that the problem is not so much that I do not want to comply, but that I literally do not know how. Assuming, of course, that our honor and memory should take a form other than silent complicity in the continuing violence and militarism of our government — what should my honor look like?

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More than anything else, I have come to understand Memorial Day as a day about families, shattered or wounded by loss, about children whose parents never made it home from the front lines and, perhaps most poignantly in the shared psyche of our culture, about mothers still mourning the death of their children. Those who would rage at me for my ambivalence (some would say cold-heartedness and ingratitude, though they would be wrong) do so, I believe, not really for the sake of the dead, who are by now beyond caring, but for the mothers whose hearts have been broken, whose tears might not even yet be dry on their cheeks, but who have rallied their strength, their courage and even their grief in order to “soldier on” here among the rolling hills and fecund valleys of the safe-guarded homeland, the soft and self-giving heartland that opens itself to sacrifice for the sake of life. It may be the soldiers who die, but it is inevitably their mothers, and their families, who survive to suffer and grieve, and yet sustain and carry on.

It’s no coincidence, I think, that our holidays of war and violence — Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day — occur during the lush, fertile months of the year, during seasons of growth, warmth and sunlight, culminating with fruition and harvest. At the height of summer, we see how death and sacrifice lay just under the surface of thriving, squirming life.* It is during this time of the year that we celebrate and honor (in repetitive, often shallow or thoughtless ways) the deaths of “service men and women,” who no doubt themselves played no small part in bringing about the deaths of uncounted and unremembered others while they lived.

In this way, we forge and reinforce this half-unconscious connection between the violence of war and death, and the prosperity and nurturing lushness of the protected heartland. This is the cultural archetype of the noble, grieving mother, who forever gives freely of herself so that others may prosper: it is she who gives life to the son, though he will grow up to break her heart and abandon her loving arms to go off to war; it is she who becomes the first teacher of this son, showing him what strength and courage look like through her unending patience and unconditional support; it is she who shares the risks of war and willingly accepts the burden of living with the wound that loss and death will surely leave; she who must, in the end, watch her children die even as, in her life-bearing role, she gives birth to new children and new possibilities for the future. She is, in short, the archetype of the motherland. She is the very thing, we are told, that our soldiers fight and die for. And she is us.

Rolling Hills

I honor the land in which and from which I was born, a land that I love deeply. I witness each spring, summer and autumn the dance of death and life taking place, rising up from the moist decay of mud and earth, shining through every bug-bitten leaf. I understand both intellectually and palpably, with my whole body, this relationship between the destructive and the progenitive, and the fearlessness it demands. I know that it is important to honor the strength and courage of the archetypal Great Mother, embodied in the life-sustaining and deeply vulnerable earth. It is important to celebrate our own capacity to withstand death, to bear witness to life as much as to bravely bear life itself. It is important to acknowledge our potential for destructive acts, to remember the real eventuality of our own destruction, and to engage with these possibilities in ways that render them creative, generative and meaningful. And it is important — by the gods is it important! — to grieve.

So many of these themes express themselves in Memorial Day and yet, as I said before, what we experience now is also tragically unlike true grief, honor and memory. What begins as a natural urge to honor and adore the heartland, the motherland of our birth and living, has become increasingly distorted, usurped in the name of the fatherland, the patriarchal nation, the government and the military. What we elevate and honor now is a kind of pathological disjoint that keeps us safe and cut-off from the violence occurring overseas. It is based not on the fearlessness of self-giving life, but on the paranoia and xenophobia of manipulative isolation and imperial bullying, the desperation to escape or postpone death at any price. We have substituted courageous living once again for the disturbing practice of blood sacrifice.

Through our praise and support, hardly less than compulsory in today’s political climate, we raise our military troops and armed forces to the role of temporary kings, investing them with idealized visions of strength, nobility and goodwill that they often fall short of truly possessing (those who succeed in embodying these projections become “real men” who are Army Strong™, while those who fail suffer debilitating stress and shame, leading to self-destructive behaviors, even suicide). We send these soldiers off to kill and be killed in order to secure our own stagnant luxury; through our complicity and patriotic rallying cries, we slaughter and dismember those very “service members” upon whom we have lavished such fantasies and flattery. And when they return to us, we consume them: their images, their trophies and memorials of war, all the while exploding pseudo-bombs above our heads from which these very real soldiers — these humans beings who come home to us wounded in body and soul — too often flinch and shudder. For good measure, we slaughter millions of cattle and pigs and throw their flesh onto the fire. This is the Fourth of July, the holiday in which we celebrate not our interdependence of the living community, but the independence of the nation-state, bought at such a high price.

And so, Memorial Day leaves me with deep feelings of ambivalence, frustration, and grief. The weather today has shifted through moments of heat and intense sunlight, and unexpected hours of rumbling, trembling heavens piled high with thunderclouds letting loose their torrents. While the cyclical nature of the seasons, the dance of life and death in nature, is one that brings with it the promise of new possibilities to experience love, gratitude and beauty even in the depths of difficulty, darkness and pain — the repetitive blood sacrifice of militarism and modern warfare promises little more than a nightmarish future of escalating violence. The debt owed to those sacrificial victims grows ever greater, the security for which they died ever more tenuous, and the past becomes bloated and heavy with abuse, denial and regret.

How can we possibly heal our wounds and overcome our sense of loss — how can we mourn openly and honestly — in such a distorted, unhealthy and unending cultural frenzy? How can anything grow in a field so thoroughly soaked with blood?

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[*] Meanwhile, it is during the cold days of winter, those long hours of darkness during which we huddle together around flickering fires, our vulnerable skin bundled against exposure, that we remember and celebrate the values of peace and fellowship. On the darkest night, we honor the rebirth of light and the ideals of love and peace that will carry us through to spring. It is when we are most directly and viscerally confronted with the darkness and the silence and the cold of deep winter that we understand the vitality and necessity of peace, and we gather together, stringing up lights of our own to burn fiercely and lovingly in the night.


Photo Credits:
• “Memorial Day Commemoration,” by David Yu (CC) 2008 [source]
• “Memorial Day Weekend,” by Bill Dickinson (CC) 2012 [source]
• “Rolling Hills,” by Matt Hintsa (CC) 2006 [source]
• Baker County, courtesy of Baker County Tourism [source]