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.