Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21: Full Moon on the Solstice

Despite predictions of dire weather, this morning dawned clear, albeit blustery and with pale skies. Today, the Solstice, is the shortest day of the year, so any light will be welcome. In addition to its importance as a highly spiritual pagan holiday, this Solstice is special for reasons we can all appreciate, coinciding with a full moon and a total lunar eclipse. I heard on the radio yesterday that the last time a total lunar eclipse happened on the Winter Solstice was when Galileo was alive. Unfortunately, this lunar eclipse, a beautiful spectacle that turned the moon's bright face red, happened last night while a storm howled like a freight train around our house. But simply knowing it was happening somewhere up there above the tempest added to the wild magic of the night, even if I didn't witness it with my own eyes.

The astronomical significance of the day corresponds with an internal emotional shift, as well. Tomorrow the span of daylight will begin to lengthen again. We are turning once again into the light, and a little hope and optimism has begun to return to my heart. These past few weeks have been personally dark, and not just for the shortness of the days. A family friend barely survived a heart attack, another dear friend passed away unexpectedly, and we lost our beloved cat of sixteen years. Two friends were fired from their jobs this past weekend--who fires someone the week before Christmas? It seems like every day I hear another bit of bad news, either on the world/political front or in the life of someone I care about--an earthquake in Iran, fierce storms across most of this country, a local fisherman lost at sea.

But today we renew the solar cycle of the northern hemisphere. The light will grow, and the world will begin to seem a brighter place again. At least, I have hope that it will.

Above wind's night roar,
obscured by storm clouds and sleet:
Solstice moon, eclipsed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9: Signs

This morning we were importunately awakened at 4:30 by our old cat, who had an accident while lying in bed between my husband and me. After we stripped the bed and started a load of laundry, we were both up for the day. I'm not normally a morning person, so this was found time. I got in my run at the gym at the beginning of the day rather than the end. I called the vet and made an appointment. Then I got a call that the guy was finally coming to replace our broken microwave oven. So I had about an hour to do the errands I had planned to spread out over this day off. With the last load in the washing machine and the cat curled up on the couch (on a towel), I rushed off to Reny's.

I do a lot of my thinking while in my car. This morning my mind was full of my beloved cat, whom I adopted almost exactly 16 years ago. Her health is declining and various medications don't seem to be helping her. I looked up into the morning's beautiful blue sky and asked for some sort of sign, something to let me know that she'd be ok, or that I'd be ok if she's not. Be careful what you wish for.

Back home, after remaking the bed, taking care of some other chores, getting the kitchen ready for the microwave installer, and cleaning up the cat's latest mishap in the bathroom and getting her soothed and re-settled on the couch, two elderly gentlemen knocked at the door. They wanted to tell me about the life of Jesus. It being the Christmas season and all, that certainly seems appropriate. If you're Christian. Which I don't consider myself to be. So that's what I told them, kindly, reassuring them that yes, I have a source of spiritual comfort in these dark times, just not Christian comfort.

Just then the microwave installer showed up and I was distracted by that, but it later occurred to me in a moment of spiritual panic that maybe the visit by the two men was my sign. And I just blew it with God.

I'm watching the river flow between two snowy banks right now, thinking about how easily we can allow the mundane to distract us from the spiritual. But sometimes the mundane is the spiritual. If the divine is to be found in a book of stories about Jesus, then why am I more uplifted watching a flock of doves lift off the bird seed I scattered in the driveway?

Cat's soft white throat, purr--
this is my comfort for now.
And for tomorrow...?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5: Sunset Magic

Yesterday afternoon as my husband and I drove into Rockland via Old County Road to see a late matinee of the new Harry Potter movie, we enjoyed a magical moment that had nothing to do with the movie. The Dragon cement plant, the only cement plant in New England, dominates the horizon along Route One just south of the Rockland line. It was in full view as we headed for the movie theatre, and as we watched, the thick plume of smoke unfurling horizontally from its one tall smokestack turned pink. Hot pink against the backdrop of an otherwise clear, deepening blue sky. It happened suddenly, literally out of the blue. 

We lost sight of the pink smoke as we pulled into the parking lot, but by the time we got out of our car, the whole sky had been transformed by the setting sun. As we walked toward the theatre more pink streaks of sunset were filling the sky, blooming pinker and pinker, and the horizon glowed with one hot bubble of light where the sun had been. The smokestack smoke had turned purple. We lingered in the cold, enjoying the color display for a while before going in to watch a different kind of magic. I commented to my husband that it's amazing how a sunset like that can transform a landscape into something beautiful despite the combined visual presence of the cement plant, a blocky storage facility, a car dealership, and a nondescript, blocky chain hotel. He said he thought it was because all those things are man-made and therefore impermanent. 

A trick of nature:
from cement plant at sunset,
pink smoke unfurling.