Because I'm such a Hipster Pagan that I've come full circle, in recent years I've stopped disparaging New Year's Resolutions for being "too mainstream" and decided to re-embrace the practice. After all, the word resolution is a vast and complex universe in itself. Like words such as integrity, balance and attention, resolution can mean many things, and spending some time considering its nuances bears some surprising (and surprisingly delicious) fruit. So for those of you who might be on the fence about making resolutions for the coming year, here are some thoughts on what resolution means to me.
I wasn't exactly having any raging hot sex in my mid-twenties. What intimacy there was to be snatched between caffeine-addled swing shifts was difficult and desperate, and always over too soon. Why should love be so hard? The world seemed full of impervious surfaces -- concrete, steel and glass -- against which there was nothing to do but rip myself ruthlessly open to the possibility of contact. To make the foolhardy choice to stay soft and tattered; to refuse to be ground smooth into something polished, invulnerable, inhuman. To choose, each time, to throw myself once more into the harsh, cold waters where the restless waves broke against the rocks. Which might be why, these days, I am still so often surprised by the utter heart-wrenching gentleness of quiet, boring sex. It is a blessing I am still getting used to.
There are more of us out there than you think. We may not always be flashing our Pagan flair — sometimes we're wearing worn old hiking books and mud-spattered rain coats instead of shimmering ceremonial robes, sometimes we put aside our pentacles and wands for a good pair of binoculars and a sturdy walking stick — but we're out there. Walking the walk. Doing the work.
Going into the future is like going into the dark. That was the theme of our family's solstice ritual this year, as the nine of us (grandparents, parents, four kids and one cool step-uncle) settled down into a circle in the darkness of the living room. It was several hours after sunset on the longest night of the year, and the kids were antsy with excitement over unopened presents. I struck a single match, and began to weave our sacred space.
There's a lot of navel-gazing and turning inward in the Pagan and New Age communities, as people seek an antidote to the self-sacrifice and self-denial found in so many Christian traditions. But this focus on the self can so easily become an excuse to withdraw, to flinch away from the difficult work of putting down roots and reaching out to find nourishment and connection in others. Connecting with others always means an ebb and flow of energy, a willingness to give as well as receive. Establishing healthy, porous boundaries takes work — and when a person already feels drained and powerless, it can seem like too monumental a task to face. But by turning away from that task, by refusing that connection in order to "take care of ourselves first," we so often discover that we've cut ourselves off from our own deeper power. Instead of feeling rested and revived, we only end up feeling weak and even more vulnerable. Our roots are too shallow to feed our hungering souls.