Over the next 5 days, we’ll be posting some pieces that will offer a place of reflection as the Christmas rush bears down. As one who doesn’t really have any religious tradition affiliation, the season for me is more about the natural rhythms of the earth. This is the fallow time of year, where the dormant seed is resting before spring to life in a few months. You’ll be seeing pieces about animals and people, some personal stories, some happy and some rather poignant. But, all will offer way to get the reader back in touch with his or her humanity, a chance to step back for a minute to regain one’s footing, and maybe offer ways to renew the spirit by nurturing the dormant seed through the dark days.
For many of us this year, it’s been a very harsh time of disappointment. But, in some ways, it’s more than mere disappointment. If you are of a certain age, you might have the feeling that a trap door that you didn’t know about suddenly opened and sent you falling into a dark hole. It was unexpected and we are still reeling from the shock. Things we had fought for are now being tossed aside for by people in a party that is no longer our rock.
The only way to handle this may be to step back and connect with what matters. Goodness toward people and all living things. Supporting each other and those who are going through great tragedy. We have to remain human in the face of what seems to be a huge machine that is trying to mow us down.
I already had planned the four pieces that will follow, but it was this first post that came together in my mind just yesterday morning. A lot of things happen when you’re just coming out of sleep in the still darkness, before the dogs are up and the birds have arrive. Yesterday morning in the dark, a name from the past floated into my mind. And as I thought of this person, I knew I had the start of my series of posts for the days before Christmas.
Remember Mattie Stepanek?
He’s gone 4 years. A memorial has been built in his home town. Oprah Winfrey was heavily involved with his flash of fame, but I never watched her back then (and I don’t watch her now). I remember seeing Mattie on with Larry King several times. Larry King, someone else I don’t normally watch these days, was quite sincere in his admiration for his young guest and his mother. In those quiet visits, without an audience and hype, Mattie recited his poems, talked about his illness and tried to inform the public about what the disease he and his mother suffered from was all about.
Of course, it was easy to see what the disease was doing to both mother and son; one didn’t need a name to understand that. With a breathing tube and confinement to a wheelchair, and stories about repeated hospitalizations, one had to wonder from the source of this little boy’s strength and insight that seemed to flow out of him as if by some miracle.
Visiting the website maintained in his memory, one of his poems stands out. It’s one of his most famous, I suppose. I connect with it because of its reference to the Moon. I love the Moon; it’s on this blogsite’s mastead. The Moon is an archetype, of course, for the feminine. These are trying times for women who feel they are facing the destruction of what they thought were gains and who may be experiencing a crushing fear that years of struggling seem to have been useless. Some may pray or some of us may look to the Moon as something we might find worth hanging onto.
In her brilliant book, “Jungian Symbolism in Astrology,” Alice O. Howell, a former faculty member of the C.G. Jung Institutes of Los Angeles and Chicago, has this to say about the feminine archetype:
As women somehow know and men fear, females have an incredible access to strength and natural wisdom if left to their own devices. People in ancient times saw the feminine as the triple goddess: maid, mother, and hag. I see them as one enfolded within the other: bud, flower, and fruit.
Notice the words, “if left to their own devices.” And there’s the rub–keeping our power and the freedom to use it. Accepting what life brings our way…but looking beyond to find our strength to deal with it all. Hearing the voice of the Moon may be our anchor as we go forward. We still have the capacity to flower and bear fruit.
In the meantime, read Mattie’s poem about the that early morning time, when the Moon’s wisdom is left for us to help us as we begin to face the stresses of the day.
When the moon sets
Over your shoulder
As the sun rises
Bright towards your face,
What’s in the middle?
Your life is.
Filled with choices
For each moment, each place.
We live between the
Past and the future,
In the moment of our
Here, now, today.
Can we cope with the
Daily life stresses?
If we humbly accept.
We must pray.
© Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek
Used with permission from Hope Through Heartsongs, Hyperion, 2002
“Remember to play after every storm.”–M.S.