‘Tumultuous’ comes to mind, a word to characterize the departing year. Grace was never absent, but the sacrifices made, the loved ones lost to illnesses of body and mind, the confusions that still abide––its a bitter, bitter drink to imbibe. But I’ll raise a toast to the grim face of the passing year, to its liberating disillusionments, alerting us to the painful distinctions we cannot ignore; to its estrangements that made us strangers even to ourselves. A toast to devaluations that left us asking what our time is worth; a toast to the soulful distillations of an alchemy preparing us for god-knows-what.
When 2020’s hand was called, his cards turned up––all the world to see––in spite of the ill-will, bluster and balderdash, we found among us healers, magnifiers-of-light and grace, a new coin of the realm, a new language heard; its for us to speak and share.
Here’s to that new language, here’s to learning the value what we have––all we have––this invaluably abundant living, breathing moment.
In other words:
Kinglet’s winter kingdom––stript to the bone,
But this flame-crowned bird
Takes of marrow.
Dear Rovers, Archers, Friends,
This year the introspective nature of Autumn bears the gravitational tragedy of a global
pandemic, strengthened with a score of uncertainties that linger. For many of us, no
matter the age, its been a lonely year and so its with the lonely at heart that this
newsletter comes out to you. Considering all that has transpired in recent months, if we
were to distill the message we’d most like to hear, its probably on the order of, “Help is
on the way;” a pledge of simple clarity which would resonate like a grand bell chiming
in a mid-winter morning. We offer these words to you, and repeat them, “Help is on
So many of you have been on “our way” this year––thank you!. The help, trust and
support you offer nourish a confidence that our little archery school plays a creative role
with a touch of healing grace in our hometown. More than that, you inspire us to look
ahead, to possibilities emerging in the light of incoming dawns. Consider this an
invitation or a challenge to share your thoughts, your visions and aspirations in archery
and in this beloved life––it would clearly amplify our own.
On the Range,
Stevn & Jonathan
Radiant light, soft as a feather, flowing, descending, with cool breeze – the wind sweeping succulent warm flower’s charm in subtle coolness. Drummer sings and tall grasses dance – silver slivers of light joining all to one. The smell, the light, “buzz-buzz” & “sheeeooohh”. Snaking vines ascending in spiraling arcs ever upwards, the heights broken by sapsucker rings like primordial tattoos. Who sips from these forms? All the while mosquito sucks – comfort denying & body reminded. Laughter – an echo of pure lightness. The leaves turn, emerald green to faded yellows, the brown crunch under tiny sneakers. Fly, “fly onwards”, “Where do we go?” – Indeed.
– After School Ruminations
Thank you to all our Rovers, parents, friends, families, neighbors, bloggers, and archers new to the practice for making this chaotic season a reminder of what is possible. May we all continue forward in peace.
Our Shire New Year ignited with a late afternoon sundog and a contorting rainbow which resolved into an convergence of opposing arcs. Simmering in a stew of pinks eluding definitive names, the sun became lost in a skyfield of purest, colorless light––like a radiance “behind the sun.” Disarmed before the visionary scene, we reclined in winter’s meadowgrass and in silence.
Imagination’s dominion selects fine tealeaves from the harvest of this occasion. We’ll share a cup when you come; the taste will say it all.
December twilight, and a waxing moon looks over my shoulder bored with another obligatory ode. But tonight I’ve got a date with Orion; its a long drive, but he’s got a cool dog and a fine bow––he lost that silly club years ago. When we’re done with Taurus––I owe him that––we’ll rove the starry woods, provoke the coyotes to howl, stalk the Great Bear then settle an old score with silver-tongue––Draco will be expecting us since he’s got something of ours.
The Line-of-the-mark establishes an archer’s orientation on the range, the intelligible path his arrows fly at release. Easily overlooked in practice, the simple act of taking a stand is fundamental. Only then can the range be defined––brought into view. If the range is hosted the archer listens for permission coming in the declarative, “All-clear!” Over and above safety concerns––the words announce an empty range––an insightful archer hears the declarative resonate as a question, “All-clear?” Heard in this way, the archer reviews her state of mind, to gage the clarity/emptiness suitable for success. Without clarity, the objects of mind are like so many gravitational bodies distorting the arrow’s flight, while the Hart eludes the archer.
Peer into a water-bowl and you’ll have a suitable reference for an ideal state of mind. Agitate the water and reflection is shattered beyond recognition. Patience restores the stillness allowing the image back into view. On the range a comprehensive singularity is the goal we have in form and in intension. “Wait and see,” is sound advice on range and off.
Cycles, like the rise and fall of ocean tides, come and go. Obvious as this is, we’re prone to resent the fact, in favorable circumstances, to the point of illusion. Things and situations that reach to us through intention and struggle often become “objects” of devotion; we give them the possessive pronoun, while in moments of clarity, we might see them as barriers to growth––limitations on creative evolution.
In the archer’s praxis, we spend effortful time with the draw––to “get it right.” Focused so, we may forget that the draw’s resolution is found only in the release. More often than not, there’s residual fear as the new archer “stands” on the precipice of “letting go.” The archer might “freeze,” which is entirely reasonable considering the tactile sensation of the bow’s resistance––a wonderful potency in held potential. The fear has an inverted twin which triggers haste, and the arrow launches from a careless hand.
The whirlwind of tension that rises with the draw, is tethered at anchor-point––eye of the storm. For the attentive archer, a dynamic stillness can be here found. Its a fortunate encounter, an actionless instant––bud to bloom––when an arrow flies with kinetic vibrancy, with breath, with life; its profound to notice. On the Archer’s Green “there” becomes “here” again, when intention’s arrow meets destiny’s Mark.
Rain can spoil an archer’s day, while conspiring with a writer’s muse. Such was tournament day. Decisions taken, plans made, grounds prepared, practice and practice on the Archer’s Green, as our intentions, like raised flags, came into sharp relief. But rhythms more comprehensive than these prevail––sometimes dramatically––and so the geometry of one possibility, with all the effort to bring it forth, dissolves. Disappointed, we’re humbly dismissed from the stage, hopefully with a measure of gratitude.
In dreamtime last night, I was with an archery student beside a stream pool. I began to remove egg-blue stones from my quiver, preparing to place them into the water. I paused while we considered how she could take them home to incubate, but it seemed untimely. So into the pool the blue egg-stones returned.
“Not only is there an alchemy of sacrifice, there’s also an alchemy of gratitude.”
Our vigil nearly done; the fire embers drowning in ash. We watched the full moon go new, then suddenly wax again––a month coiled into 5 hours. We fed our fire on pine knots and burned our way through the dragon, arriving safely on another shore––the moon shared a few secrets along the way. I was worried about her, cut off from the light of her beloved sun, but in her red-pearl fullness, she was blushing with another light––one entirely her own. Somewhere near the heart of the dragon, I found that prayer is light.