‘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.
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.
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.
December in Montana gave me a chance to renew a brotherhood and walk some remarkable country. The snowfall was significant and taught me new ways of walking. Returning to Georgia in January, the rivers run high and the land saturated from frequent rains; its a different sort of cold here.
Water, encountered in so many forms, has dominated my Winter, seeping even into imagination––into dreamtime.
In stillness reflecting light, in motion reflecting the creatures of light, water seems warmly engaged in a grand affair. With whom I cannot say, but an intimate devotion carries it through every conceivable state of being, or perhaps better said, that for this intimacy water conceives every state of being. Tomorrow I’ll bring this up with our Yellow-Bellied Alchemist, if he can spare the time, busy as he is, tapping the giant athanors we’ve been calling trees.
A new breach in an old long-forsaken dam uncoils a distortion foisted upon the Oconee river.Another chord reemerges from a river-time rhythm––intelligible, but entirely too subtle for the loud and crude to notice.The river clears her throat, preparing new disclosures from an ancient song.
Flow still burdened, sure enough––distortions upriver and down, skinned basin slopes losing ground with every torrent from a thunderous sky––but river-time prevails over our impatience; the river knows.Every dam is a pretense to be overcome; every exploitative abuse of the river’s earthy frame heals beneath living bonds of an unstoppable green, but this––bittersweet for us––is the creative work of a time mercifully beyond our destructive own.Listen deeply, you’ll hear the river’s oddly familiar melody, perhaps for the very first time; observe diligently, you’ll catch glimmers of Oconee’s own flowing glory.
Below the breach on the river’s muddy edge, a storm-gray feather quivers gently in an imperceptible wind.Heron, that old river guardian, strolled here before I arrived.Considering his mythic lineage, I suspect he’s conspiring new beginnings for this beloved river.
An amphibic chorus has erupted from our slumbering wetland borders––Spring Peepers at night, and Chorus Frogs at day; their cold waterbeds a-tremble like mercury beneath the generous light of this high lunar cycle. Daffodils verge on early golden detonations, while our Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flashes between big trees, busy keeping springheads open for a share winter’s Elixir.
Barren as our forests may seem to the casual eye, there remains an uncanny and powerful sense of the unseen.
By day we scan our landscapes and cityscapes stepping along a horizontal axis somewhere between hope and fear. Step outside on a cold and clear winter night, and you can’t help but go vertical. Some of our elders spoke of these night lights as campfires, where beings of the stellar domain gather to tell their stories. If you if ever get close enough to listen in, that’s a story I’d love to hear.
From the ancient lore comes a tradition of stepping across doorway thresholds with a deliberate mind. The forefoot advances with unformed anticipation, while the aft briefly lingers with grateful regard. Grace resides in the pause between, a blessing from an unseen source.
Solstice is our planetary threshold, spacious enough for all to freely cross; the southern legions come north––come they must, and go we will. In the intimacies of this grand affair––pole to pole––secrets are sometimes revealed, although usually overlooked for their subtleties. If you were otherwise engaged to notice our recent global passage––sun to sun––take heedful comfort in knowing that a solstice resides in the center of every breath. The lore instructs the attentive further, with an injunction to keep the door-stoop and threshold clear––a practice which speaks for itself.
On the archer’s range we deal with innumerable thresholds, one of the more apparent occurs at anchor-point, where/when a well drawn arrow reaches the nexus of tension between effort and surrender, time’s threshold otherwise called the present moment. If the archer eludes the hazard of hesitation and the temptation of haste, the “still” arrow ripens into a shot that falls from a bow like an apple from a tree.
In our August days, the afternoon Cicada buzz––the sound of southern heat––fades into twilight enchantments of the Katydid rattle. Rattles rattling through late summer nights cooling, then break into the wake of the silence––the dew-heavy webs strewn across meadow’s morning explain everything. You ought to see the spiraling arrow scatter these otherworldly pearls of dawn. And speaking of pearls, the Moon, as you know, swells toward another crisis, ahead of its fateful encounter with the sun.
A new student recently brought us a fine expression of traditional East African archery; it’s a bow crafted by a man of the Hadza people. The elegance of its effective simplicity, along with the deep cultural traditions which these people carry, favor a view that the Hadza bow bears a ‘source design.’ If so, it’s not off-mark to call it a Mother Bow. Such regard the bow inspires, that I carried it the other day on a walk around the Shire, introducing places of significance here. It’s clear that the bow is made for travel, and certainly expresses a lifeway shaped by the simple freedom of movement which can be difficult for the “modern westerner” to appreciate, restricted as we are by our mechanical modes and narrow (safe?) channels of travel.
To us the craftsman remains nameless, but the bow traveled a long distance in reaching our hands from his own; it’s a blessing on this place in accepting the grip. Tonight I’ll carry it beneath a Winter starfield, confident that Orion––that old hunter––will be duly impressed.
In the lore of America’s First Nations is the story of Earth Diver, a mythic precursor of our local Crayfish. Narrations tell of an age when the need arose for new land to appear above the primeval sea, but where such treasure could be procured was lost to the deliberating assembly. Crayfish raised the hopes of the clueless, speaking of a place where such mass could be found; reaching it, however, required the special talent of divers such as himself. The assembly consented to the project and Crayfish descended beneath the trembling surface of the sea. For long days he was missed, and as patience gave way to despair, a color change in the water heralded his return.
Lifting heavy claws above the water’s surface, Earth Diver brought forth the mass for new land; he did so by gathering and then piling clay from the deep-sea bed into a great mound which finally rose above the water’s surface. His service rendered, twas left to other mythic engineers to make the earth suitable for the beings & events to come. Today, Earth Diver’s Crayfish progeny demonstrate the talent of their illustrious Ancestor in the closing moon of winter, reminding us of all that’s gone before to make possible all that is still to come.