Sunday, August 1, 2010

Little Dogs

I have a little dog, well, at least what I consider a little dog.  She is a mix, rescued from the shelter, and weighs in at a whopping 30 pounds. Cerri is now a just a little more than a year old and brings us smiles each and every day.  During the hot summer days she loves to be outside just laying in the sunshine.  She soaks it up; she teaches me to just enjoy life.  I have watched her chase butterflies in the field and be curious about the bee hives, but last night she out did herself. You see, yesterday we celebrated Lughnasadh.

The celebration was not at our house but at a friends.  We knew we would be late and couldn't leave Cerri outside the whole evening on her lead, so we decided that it was truly time to trust her and leave her alone in the house.  No crate, no restraints, just doors shut and the gate to the living room put in place.  We were gone about six hours, not terribly long, but long enough for a small dog who isnt' use to the arrangement we left her with.  When we pulled into the drive we didn't see her little head pop up at the door - she must be asleep?  Not only was she asleep, but she was dreaming the way dogs do with her little paws moving rapidly as if chasing one of those butterflies in her mind.

However, it would not last.  Her peaceful slumber was interrupted by a noise... something outside.  Out of sleep she bolted, barking ferociously as she ran away to the safety of the dining room.  Damned if she was going to find out what it was but she should would sound an alarm.  We laughed, our opening the door had scared her to the point of hiding until she understood we were the ones making the noise.  Then there was joy, mom and dad were home and she was a good dog.  Outside she went to walk in the night air, Bill was with her as she wandered her domain.  That's right she is queen of the lawn as long as someone is with her to make sure she is safe. 

As the two of them enjoyed the outside I did a quick survey of the house that she had access to (tv room, dining room, and kitchen) to see if there was any "collateral damage" from our leaving her alone.  Only one thing was disturbed: the bag of dog biscuits.  It was tipped over and open with four dog biscuits strewn across the floor.  The way it looked I wouldn't have been surprised to see Cerri passed out from a biscuit high, little belly bulging, and burp come from her mouth.  If she had been a human teenager, friends would have been passed out with her on the couch, all of them denying that they had done anything.  Oh well, the bag wasn't empty, it seemed only a few biscuits had been eaten.  I picked up the few on the floor, put them away and decided that we needed a better place to keep them.

When Bill and the dog came back in it was time for bed.  Cerri hopped up on the couch and nosed her way under the pillow and into the corner of the cushion.  I was curious, what could be so interesting?  I looked.  It was a dog biscuit.  She hadn't eaten them, she put one away for a midnight snack!  I laughed and showed it to Bill.  He laughed and joked that we should check the chair.  I did. Another biscuit in the back of the cushion.  She was "burying/hiding" her food around the house.  We took both of stashes and watched as she became confused.  Burrowing into each spot with her nose she didn't understand where her food had gone.  It was hilarious. 

It was now time to go to bed and upstairs I went. Cerri followed, not an unusual thing, but then it happened.  She went to check on the next stash.  You got it, now there were dog biscuits in the bedroom.  I forgot that she has access to our room.  Not one, but two hidden biscuits were found.  I'm not sure if she has any other stashes in the house, but if she does we will find them eventually.  So my lesson for the day is, you never know when you will need a biscuit so you should hid a lot of them throughout the house just in case you get hungry.

I love my little dog.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Plant a Row

It feels like Spring today.  The sun is shining, the dog is sleeping on the driveway soaking in sun, the windows are open, and there is a lightness to the air.  Now if it would only stay this way for a while.  This is upstate New York however, so I think that we will enjoy the day and understand that there are a few more days of winter to come.

Today I received the first shipment of seed for the farm.  I am so excited!  I now have the cover crop for those areas we won't plant during the first go round, herbs and vegetables for the garden, and a pack of carrot seeds intended to feed the hungry.  The berry bushes will be here in due time, but it is the carrot seeds that I am excited about at the moment.  Excited because it was a surprise.  I didn't know it at the time, but the company that I ordered the cover crop and herb seeds from give away packets of vegetable seeds to their customers.  On the label, besides telling you what you will be growing, it asks that you plant a row for the hungry.  You are to give the produce to a food bank, shelter, your neighbor or anyone else that might have a need.  What a gift to give someone - I'm talking about me not the hungry.

My seed company gave me the gift of giving.  In turn I will give the gift of food, but what a wonderful way of "paying it forward".  They asked for nothing in return, only that as their customer I take a small amount of time and do something for someone else.  What a wonderful thing to do.  I think I'll ask my grand children to help out as a special project that we can do together.  That way they will learn the joy of giving a gift, of helping someone in need, and be able to spend time on the farm "playing".  All the way around everyone wins.

I was waiting for a robin to show up or the blubs to peak out of the ground to have it feel like spring.  I think a small packet of seeds does it much better and will have a much longer affect.  So, go out and do something for someone who could use a helping hand.  It will get the feel of winter off of your bones and make you smile as if it is always sunny outside.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Day of Reflection

Today is my friend Teresa's birthday.  Teresa passed 20 days ago to begin her walk with the ancestors and I miss her deeply.  She was/is my guide and mentor in so many ways, not all of them understood by others and that is okay.  I know that she still stands by me and guides in a manner that only those that have passed through the veil can - with love.

She joined another friend of mine, Bill.  He passed in the winter a few years ago after a long battle with multiple illnesses.  Today I know that the two of them have met in passage even though they had never known each other in life.  I know this because I know both of them are good kind people; wise and always looking to the future.  Both of them have come into conversation in the past week and so I know that they continue to speak to me in their own silent ways.

In a way they have both been teaching me these past three weeks since Teresa's passing; teaching me to stand on my own.  I always have, do not get me wrong, but I have always had a point of "fear" in doing so.  What? Fear? Of course, we all have fear.  If we didn't then we wouldn't be human.  I think that what they have been trying to tell me is that it is okay to have fear, it is okay to be unsure, it is okay to feel weak and unable to move forward.  When that happens you need to look deeply within yourself and find the core of who you really are and hold that tight.  The warmth you feel is love, a love that no one can take from you and that has been built with the help of friends and family. It reminds us who we are and why we do what we do. It is the love of all those that have gone before us and understand that the work we do isn't easy. 

So here is to Teresa and Bill, I miss you both. I'll see you both in journey and we can talk then.  In the mean time... Bill people are fascinated by the title you gave me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


This has been a difficult week for me with the passing of my friend.  Teresa now walks on the other side of the veil, most likely busier than ever, watching over all of us.  But now I begin to find peace in her death.  I did not know how or when it would come, but I can sleep better now that we have honored her through her last rite of passage for this life. 

Last night we honored her, not for the final time, but for the last time while she was with us physically.  Now it is time to honor her as an ancestor.  She would smile at that, not snicker or scoff, but smile and possibly giggle.  She can no longer deny the titles or designations of wisdom that we will give her.  She truly is an ancestor, one we are very willing to receive advice, wisdom, and solace from.  She was and is my friend and it was my honor to participate in last night's ritual.  It was the beginning of my healing and for that I thank her deeply.

I did not know how powerful the ritual would be, how deeply it would impact me.  But it did.  I know that I do not do the readers justice in giving only snippets of a ritual here, but that is all that I am willing to share, that I'm willing to give.  I will only say that when a flame is snuffed out it leaves a darkness that cannot be imagined until you feel it.  I felt that darkness last night and the rebirth of her soul in the flame of spirit.  Her release was sweet; my release has begun.

I thank you Teresa for all you have taught me, for all you have laughed and cried over, for all you have given, and for all that you will continue to do - in this life and in the next.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blessed Imbolc

I suppose that things have changed over the year to bring us back to Imbolc.  The dog is sleeping by the woodstove, enjoying the warmth that it gives.  The sun is trying to peak through the clouds to help warm the earth so that the flora and fauna of the farm can begin their annual awakening.  And here I am, sitting on my couch listening to the quiet that can only occur in the country, wondering what to cook for dinner.  It is a slow day full of activity.  Subtle activity.

So what changed?  Well, last year I had no dog.  My old girl passed four years prior and I didn't have the heart to move another "best friend" into her place.  But our new puppy is not a replacement; she is an addition to the family that is unique and original.  She may have four legs and fur in common with my old dog, but beyond that they are as different as any two people.

I am also now living on a farm.  I moved from the city to the country and am so happy that I did.  The quiet solitude allows me time to think, time to grow, time to just be myself.  There are pressures, but they are different here.  Now I worry about when I should be looking to plant my garden and how far apart to plant the berry bushes.  There is no more worry about the store across the street being robbed or if it alright to leave my car on the wrong side of the road for and extra hour.  The quiet here is complete.  It hits the soul and the mind all at once and engulfs your senses so that you understand that all is well and your world, my world, will is fine.  It is okay to go slow, there is no need to rush.  Time passes so quickly here, but it is measured in work accomplished rather than by the ticks on a clock.  Here I feel whole.

And then I have changed.  I no longer hold the same job, I left it behind me.  I have rested, am resting, in the quiet solitude of winter in Central New York.  The snow has blanketed me for a few months and will continue for a few more.  But I do not sleep and leave all thought or activity behind.  Far from it.  I am working on who I am and who I am becoming.  I am evolving, or as I once heard say, I am a human becoming because I am a work in progress that will never stop.  To be a human being means that you have stopped evolving, stopped growing, stopped becoming.  That is not what has happened at all.  If anything I am doing more now that I ever have in the past.

And that brings me back to Imbolc.  It is the promise of what lies under the surface of the snow.  The promise of what has been waiting to be born again in the light and warmth of the spring.  It is there, we are there, and now is the time to appreciate all of the potential we have at our finger tips to begin living and growing as the seasons begin to warm.

May you have a blessed Imbolc.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The wind is creating a new world outside my window. It takes leave of the lake and descends on the land in crushing bursts, unpredictable to anyone walking the land. I watch it move outside the protective glass. The trees violently lurching back and forth when hit with the silent force from the west. Snow dancing in wild cadence across the field eradicates the trees on the other side from sight. I am surrounded by a world of chaos that is driven by an unseen master. The wind does not kiss the earth today; it rips across it with icy blows.

Cold snow, it bites my skin in frenzied bursts that I know are coming but cannot prepare for. I am now in the middle of the dance, but I can’t hear the music that gives it rhythm. I can only stumble through the frenzy trying to anticipate which way my dance partner wants me to move and then do so accordingly. The entire time I push forward, wanting to feel the air around me and at the same time focusing on the moment when I can once again enter the calm on the other side of the window pane. Departure from the solitude of my home was necessary; the fuel that keeps me warm and comfortable is held in the barn across the way.

As always, in order to obtain calm in my life I cross a chasm of confusion to find what will sustain me. It is only out of chaos that order can be found, and so, into the wild dance of winter wind I go. Tonight I will sleep well in the warmth of my home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Food for the soul

Yesterday brought "new" friends, new experiences, and new laughter.  This last week I was formally appointed to the position of Pagan Chaplain for Syracuse University.  This is such an honor and an achievement beyond words.  But this is also just the beginning of a wonderful new learning experience.

Yesterday was my first official Chaplains meeting.  I was introduced to both old and new friends as the "new" chaplain.  I know most of the chaplains, but most of them have not bothered to know me.  It amazed and amused me who had taken the time to get to know the religious leaders/advisors and who had not.  After all, I am the pagan who holds ritual on the quad, who would have thought that there would be official recognition of us!  I did. I always did. 

At some point I knew that this would happen, I just didn't know when.  But back to the laughter.  As the meeting progressed those that had not noticed me in the past nine years of my service now could not avoid me.  Here I am with a seat at the table and enjoying every moment of it.  I am not the only newbie this time--the new Dean is also in attendance.  Tiffany is not officially the Dean unitl March 1, but it is always good to get a head start in a new job and after yesterday I think she really needs it!  Not that she is not competent, not at all.  Rather the early interaction will help her get a handle on the very diverse personalities that make up the Chaplancies of Syracuse University. And I felt for her.  I have the luxury of being the "odd" religion and no one has any notion of what it is I am going to be doing.  The evangelical minister told me he would be interested in getting to know what it is I believe cause he knows nothing about "pagan".  That one surprised me.

And then it happened, the discussion turned to food.  Not just any food, but the need for potlucks, breakfasts, luncheons, and other gatherings so that the Dean could get to know the diverse group that she had just been placed at the helm of.  I didn't realize that other spiritual paths placed so much emphasis on breaking bread together!  But wait, the other chaplains, well most of them, were laughing under their breath.  There were snickers, chuckles and then the laughter began to grow.  It wasn't the other paths, it was one man continually working in a meal for the group to be paid for by the new Dean!  It was funny, almost to the point of being sublimely ridiculous.  I couldn't believe it, here was a group of individuals from multiple spiritual paths in one room and it all boiled down to the desire of one man to feast.  I love it.  If we can get past the feeding of the body just think what we can do!

The next meeting will be interesting I'm sure, but it isn't for a bit.  The semester should be an educational experience that at the moment I'm sure I can't even begin to fathom.  I'll keep you posted, but in the meantime I think I'll have some lunch.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Silence of Snow

I sit in my living room and listen.  There is no noise, there is only quiet.  But it is not a silence, it is a quiet that gives voice to snow. We have much to be told by the snow.  Not just the realization of cold and inconvenience, but the lessons of nature in all of its manifestations.

I look out the windows and watch the snow fall; it is a gentle descent to the ground for the most part.  On occasion the wind causes disruption to the pattern through a chaotic dance of chance.  Creating drifts in some areas while leaving the protected space beneath a tree relatively snow free.  But there is no "snow free" area in reality, only small oasis' in an otherwise desert of white flakes.  The dog finds those safe havens, the less deep pools of frozen water.  She has to in order to take care of her own needs.  And so the snow has spoken to me saying that even when things may seem overwhelming and unmanageable there are places of relief if you look hard enough.  Sometimes you need to create these spaces, but nature will provide the opportunity.

The snow speaks to me of obligations fulfilled and promises created.  Nature has taken care of us in the past.  She gave us light, warmth, food, air, the ability to walk freely and enjoy the smells and sounds of growth, and the freedom to enjoy all that she is.  She has fulfilled her obligation of giving us a time to run.  It is our turn to wait while the land slumbers.  This is our half of the obligation, to allow the earth to rest and take care of its own needs.  We have been given the tools and the sustenance to take care of ourselves during this time.  That was our agreement with nature, give us the warmth half of the year allowing us to gather strength to move forward and in return we will take care of ourselves while you sleep silently under your blanket of white.  The obligation given last year has been fulfilled.

A new promise is created.  One that says I will return and once again allow you to feel the warmth of the sun on your face, but at the moment let me rest.  Our half of the promise is to be understanding and appreciate the slower tempo of life that winter brings.  It is not necessary to always move quickly; spinning faster and faster until we lose control of who we are becoming.  Snow intentionally slows us down.  It restricts our movements when we try to navigate through it, forcing a change in clothing that both protects and limits our bodies.  We can resist this slowing if we wish, but to what end?  Is it not better to slow down on occasion rather than always run through life?  If we listen to what the snow says then we find the answer.  Be encased in your cocoons and emerge in the spring refreshed and whole, ready to move freely in the sun.

So I listen and hopefully I understand what it is that the snow is trying to tell me.  I look forward to warmer days when I can work my garden, watch my grandchildren run, and move freely unencumbered by layers of of clothing.  But for now I sit back and watch the snow fall gently, silently, to the ground gracefully rocking back and forth. I will enjoy the warmth of the hearth inside my home and enjoy the beauty of the white sun of winter as it crosses the sky.  I will walk out at night in the darkness and see crisp, clear starry heavens and find the winter's constellations.  I will not bemoan this time; like the earth I will replenish the soul and enjoy the depth of winter that in truth is necessary. 

I suppose that is the greatest thing that the snow tells us to remember. If it were not for this time, there would never be a spring.