Saturday, April 27, 2019

Asherah of the Redwoods

I call and invoke you,
Old Mother Redwood –
Come and be my Asherah.
I will make you a shrine
as my foremothers did
in the terebinth groves
of the holy land.
Before Yahweh knocked down
your posts and poles
and usurped your seas,
Before your hilltops were razed
for the building of fortresses,
Before the men decided that
all power must be delivered
by their hands,
Before your daughters were forced
to cover their heads,
You raised the wildness of spirit
and delivered oracles,
You offered your breasts 
to feed the people,
You rose from the deep earth
to the high heavens,
glorifying and demonstrating
what we all have to do –
Praise the green and growing earth,
Sink down our roots
and raise our spirits,
Nurture all and stand tall.
I ask with yearning heart -
Be my Asherah,
here on this land,
at this time,
for the need is great,
and I vow to stand
with and for You.

Monday, April 8, 2019

It Begins With a Call (Part 30): Sitting in the Elder's Seat

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt - oh, happy illusion -
that I had a beehive
in my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old bitterness.
                  - Antonio Machado

We had dinner not long ago with some friends, and the after-dinner conversation rolled around to times we may have hurt others and the times we have felt hurt or betrayed.  It was interesting timing for me because I’d just worked a dream in my dream group in which a group of 13 or 14 men I knew all knocked on my door to serve me with legal papers, and I felt terribly hurt. 

What wound up intriguing me about this conversation was the question of why we continue to carry episodes of old hurts.  I can think of some situations from 40 years ago (at least) in which my hurt feelings, if not fresh, still spring up when I remember the triggering events.  Most of these concern friendships, and especially the loss of friendships.  There are other memories of feeling under-appreciated, especially in work environments, that I can almost brush off with a smile now.  Why do we hold on to some painful memories?  It’s almost as though I (I won’t speak for anyone else) keep them, resurrect them from time to time, in order to feel righteous and wronged.  And then there are the people who used to be friends who resent me for reasons either real or at least real to them.  

What can we do, or do we even want to do, to let the old hurts go?  In Machado's dream, the bees transform the bitterness into sweetness and the container for the sweetness.  What are these bees, and how do I find them?  Can you forgive simply by wanting to forgive?  Can I let go just because I’d like to let go?

Maybe better questions to ask myself are:  What do I get out of holding on to bitterness and hurt?  What could these emotions teach me, if I really considered them? 

I think this strikes me now because I am taking seriously my mandate to see the glass half-full and change those neural pathways. I know I will fail if I simply try to pretend that everything is just hunky-dory, singing “La la la la la!” while skipping down the road.  That has always been my complaint about New Age thinking.  Everything is not sweetness and light.  I want the change to be real.

Asking the feeling what it has to teach me, I hear that I always wanted to be seen, loved and valued.  But more than that, I have wanted to be special, the special one.  It’s not easy admitting this.  If I blame the other person for not recognizing my specialness, for not appreciating me enough, I continue to hold onto a distorted view of my place in the world.  It’s not that I don’t believe that we are all special, carrying our unique gifts and talents that need to be given.  But we need to just give those gifts, no matter how they are received. 

I was fortunate and blessed to gather a group of close women friends to help me acknowledge this year’s big birthday.  Preparing to turn 70, I wanted to consciously face this turning.  To embrace it.  To, as my dear friend Leona used to say, sit in the elder’s seat.  I hope the ritual was useful for my friends; it was powerful for me.  I knew when the tears came as I offered wishes and blessings to each woman that something definitely worked, at least for me.  As an elder, I want to bless.  I know how much we all need to be seen.  None of us ever gets enough appreciation, right?  But for true elders, it is the seeing and blessing of others that is the real work.

As Michael Meade has spoken about the need for us each to turn away from the wounds of our childhood and face the door we will all eventually go through, I realize that part of that for me is letting go of those old stories, the old bitterness.  I don’t have time for it.  And it inhibits my ability to see others.  I also offer apologies to anyone I have unwittingly offended.  All of this is important and necessary for me now to truly see the glass half-full.

I have to say my 70th birthday was probably my best ever.  My children gave me the most amazing day of treats followed by an incredible surprise party.  Then my dream group celebrated with me on my actual birthday.  And then came my ritual.  I feel well-fed on all levels and hope I can be true to following this call of elderhood service.

Thanks to Janis for the photo!