February is nearing its end, and so begins Spring: cold, misty air to greet your lungs and fill them quickly at the door in the morning; a rambunctious symphony of lacey new blossoms on tree limb and bush-tip; and liquid, golden light that transcends description, beaming steadily from the south-east. My son loves to play in the light-beams that fall across the floor, and each morning I delight in his delight in newly discovering these patches. The rain has returned, making these moments quite stolen in the morning, and still it helps me to forgive this wee one, for if we did not wake up *so early* today, surely we would've missed this joy. The rain has returned, but it is of a different character. They tell me that we're in for another punch this weekend, the weathermen; but I am excited for it, to learn this part of the watery side of California's year. Winter rains were a constant parade of dampness and drear, and even *I* felt a tinge of cabin fever by the ends of it all. The storms would roll in, one after another, with barely a reprieve. But just as my husband promised, these Spring rains are different: there is more reprieve and less gloom, for the flowers seem to store the light they received between squalls and out they beam, despite the rain's heavy loam.
I am tired today, as I said, but I am content too, glad that we took the time to wander this morning in all the glory of it. I managed to capture these images from our Unruly Tangle just before we set out. I had also intended to take more photos of our surrounds, such as at the top of the hill we call our "street" (I'll forever wonder just what it all looked like before civilization sullied its little sweet peaks and valleys)... Yet as I turned the carriage around and despite the sun's intensity, the rain began, and I opted out in order to get 'round the block and soak the morning in before the real storms of the day began.
The turning of the New Year brought with it an inner urge of mine to look deeply and contemplate this life: where I've been, how I've been, and I guess most importantly, who I've been.
Not surprising that I would take up this enterprise: at the end of 2007, my little son turned 1; and in mid-February, our family "celebrated" 7 months warm & safe in our own abode after a flood in our mountain cabin sent us packing rather prematurely into the world, as we endured a wandering homelessness that lasted roughly 5 tedious months. Next month, in March, I will celebrate my 38th birthday. And as I leave the fog of new-mammahood and reenter the world with a clearer mind, I've been much considering what my work life might look like after all the changes that occured in the last 2 years. So, the time for inner-visionion and re-visioning is ripe! I began with a great book-- Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sher. She provides such a fun way to look more closely at the interests that envigorate your life...and, for "Scanners" as she so names us, she provides so many creative ways in which to manage all of them. I have been one to have so many "great ideas", only to follow too few into fruition; so I am very grateful for Waverly Fitzgerald's School of the Seasons site directing me to this tome. I had NO idea how many things interested me, and how many projects I really have laying-in-wait! Now I have a new sense of a career ripening. It is an exciting time.
Next came a grand, if not scary, opportunity: an invitation from my little Zen sangha to give a "Way-Seeking Mind Talk". The challenge of the talk was to relate my path to and within Zen, throughout my life, within the context of "suffering". This makes sense, I suppose, from the standpoint that Buddha began his own quest as a means to end suffering once and for all...Yet for myself, I rather stumbled upon Zen, or rather, it upon me; and so, trying to fit my tale within this context at first seemed forced and inorganic. And yet, lo and behold, after weeks of reviewing my spiritual life, piecing together a tale and rehearsing it (mostly at night, laying in bed, not sleeping) over and over, of course the talk I *gave* turned out much differently than I had "planned". And what I discovered about a point I have been suffering upon for a couple of years now matured into a deep understanding during that talk, and became a port from which I could embark in the world in a fresh and vibrant way. So unexpected! And yet, here now I am. Finally, as a means to celebrate Valentine's Day and our own upcoming 3rd year anniversary (of our first date), I made for my husband and myself a photo album celebrating our life together, from the period when we first met and connected as friends, to the latest photo of our Grinning Maniac, Oisin G'Dea. Seeing all of these photos really brought back such rich memories-- some exultant, some depressing, some just happy in an every-day sort of way. It was an amazing process.
What I realized from all of this is that my life has been blessed my such a cast of characters, least of all which includes myself, for I have changed in so many ways over the years from my birth in 1970 to my son's birth in 2006, I can hardly call myself "the same person". It is such the divine paradox that we consider ourselves as "just ourselves" as we journey on down the line, and yet, who is this person, really? If we look closely, what could we call each character? Along this theme then, it is for your enjoyment (and mine!) that I have chosen a few photos that illustrate four different characters of my self throughout this life of mine. The young one, so quiet and serious in her "I want it just like the real Indians" teepee; the happy-hippie college girl, grateful to find an earthy and fun existence (with her cat, Flea!) in sweet New Mexico; the newly-ordained and completely exhausted Koubai Teishin, contemplating a new koan, new complexity and new hairstyle; and finally, mama p, standing in reflection in the window overlooking the tangled wood of a garden, where she stands on so many days and so many nights rocking her son, and dreaming.
Rain and rain, rain and rain. That is how I say it to my son: noun and verb, adjective and adverb, all rain, all about rain, all the time...
The rain fills my window, both in streams on the pane as well as droplets from the clouds. The drops are in a steady stream at the moment, and so it feels more like a waterfall from the sky than "just rain".
Rain and rain, rain and rain.
Last night we celebrated Imbolc, the Celtic winter-is-almost-over/first-sign-of-spring festival which is dedicated to Brighid. Being the patroness of hearth, forge and flame, Brighid's Day ceremonies involve fires and candle-flames, and ours happily included both: We lit candles all about the house, first extinguishing all our electric-powered lights. This was the greatest delight of our young one! Then after saying a blessing over our food and thanking Brighid for her gifts, we ate and repaired outside for a small bonfire, fed most joyously by the sod brick my Love brought home with him from his last trip to Eire. The smell of the sod burning was delicious. And true to Irish legend, Cailleach granted us a clear, crisp sky last night, a break in the rain for her to gather her firewood and us to light Brighid's flame.
So it seems that our winter here on the Pacific coast will last a bit longer, rain and rain and rain and rain. This morning's light was lovely in all that wetness, allowing me to capture a lovely still of our celebration-table yet laden with a Bride's Bed and our wedding bells.
'Twas also a fine light to capture All That Is Awakened in the bright green chaos of my back garden... It does not mind the rain, or lack of rain; it does not mind the color, or the wetness, or that tangle of branch and leaf. Clear sky to fireside, one moment into the next and next, Rain and Rain, rain and rain.
Oisin G'Dea's mama, wife of an Ruaphok Gaiscíoch; lover of the creative life, nomadship and stewardship; zen priest, gardener, artist, writer, herb-crafter, counselor and dreamer... I've lived in the inspiring high-desert, mountain-punctuated New Mexico & Colorado ~ misty redwood-coated coastlines of Northern California ~ strangely elegant riversides in Southern Maryland ~ snowy, busy Greater Boston ~ lovely and welcoming Hilltown Massachussetts.