If you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual in a culture alternately obsessed with and ashamed of sex, this dream might give you some idea. The self-consciousness of performance, the noisy aura of social commentary and expectation like a constant hum overlaying the visceral physicality of other people's bodies and your own. And the way performative sexual intimacy can gradually give way to something more comfortable, more tender, given enough time and gentle consideration.
Writing in a group setting is different, much more like praying together. Or sitting together in meditation. Being present to each other in-process, witness to the very act of discovery and composition, soul-deep in the chaotic waters of creativity. This is writing as a spiritual practice — a kind of sacred deep listening, what Karen Hering calls in her book Writing to Wake the Soul, "contemplative correspondence."
"There are two paths to transformation: the way out-beyond and the way deep-within. Either way will work. But it's no good to stay here wavering between the two, weighing which one asks the least of you."
A leap day altar, and more excerpts from my altar-a-day challenge...
To dig my soul-toes deeper into this fertile soil, I’ve decided to pair my Word of the Day practice with reflections on the #UULent Photo-A-Day challenge. My Word-of-the-Day calendar is full of verbs. The #UULent reflections are mostly nouns. Each morning, I sit down and craft an altar that expresses an aspect of these two words in combination. I'm looking forward to discovering what intriguing combinations I'll spiral through over the next six weeks!
An animist is never alone, not really. But if the world is so full of people, then where does that leave me, your friendly neighborhood introvert? There are days when the more I hang out with people, the lonelier I feel. What is it that the natural world offers that I cannot get from my fellow human beings?
Inside Out is a modern-day story of the shamanic journey into the Otherworld, a journey of both self-recovery and self-discovery. Does sadness have a purpose? Is it just a "negative" emotion that helps joy shine more brightly? That's the question that this movie challenges us to explore, and the answer is more complex than you might expect!
It takes a long time to understand why she left.
She'd arrived one day with a burst of rain, a glint of sunlight on wilting ice. She'd come with mud and wind and trampled dogwood petals pressed into the cracks of the sidewalk, with quickened breath and light, with the smell of cheap wax candles burning well past midnight... And then one day, just as quickly, she was gone again.
This post is about small things. It's about moments that we take for granted. There is no big revelation here. I took a bunch of pictures of my cat and put them on the internet. I write this post in defiance of the expectation that only big revelations matter. I write in homage to the repetition of small rituals, in honor of grounding and self-care.
This post is about the simple companionship of ordinary objects and creatures and beings, and the way their presence shapes our lives even when we think we're not paying attention.
A part of us is always paying attention.
I was still pretty young the first time I heard an animal speak.
It was a lazy summer morning, and I was curled up on the back porch with a book in my lap. All around me in the yard, the birds were singing... and then I saw, only a few feet from me, a robin. I tried to still every part of me — heart, body and mind — quieting even my thoughts so that I wouldn't startle him away. Then the voice spoke, precise and articulate, nonchalant, almost amused.
It must have all happened in less than a minute. My reasoning mind struggled to make sense of what I'd experienced. But the words still echoed. Had it all been in my mind? No more than the stars are in the sky.
Snowshoeing opens up possibilities for exploration that ordinary hiking can't. With a sturdy pair of snowshoes and eight feet of snow, winter is the perfect time to rise above ordinary obstacles and move deeper into the heart of the forest.
To walk is itself a kind of ritual, a practice that changes us in subtle and significant ways. To move through the land, we have to be attentive and responsive to it. To survive these cold months, it's not enough to stay hunched in front of our computer screens all day long theorizing and debating. We must become apprentices of this goddess, Winter — to truly know her and her work, we must go out to meet her beneath the trees.