Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

–So it doesn’t hurt to have a national day dedicated to it, even if that day is fraught with problematic symbolism.

In about an hour, I’m going to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. She’s doing most of the cooking, including the traditional b-i-r-d; we’re contributing a parsnip soup that was my father-in-law’s recipe and my signature Russian tea cookies, from a recipe my mother found ages ago. It’s funny that while I’m a huge chocoholic, my Personal Festal Dessert Recipe is something with no chocolate in it whatsoever, but I don’t know anyone else who bakes these cookies, and everyone seems to like them.

I am thankful for my family today: For my husband, my stepdaughter, our dear friend J. who is hosting the dinner, my birds Rembrandt and Sandro (yes, they’re family), my mother-in-law, and my late father-in-law.

I’m thankful to have a comfortable home, a job I like and can feel good about doing, a sensible and likable boss, and good relations with my co-workers.

I’m thankful for writing, music, books to read, my Amazon Kindle, good health, health insurance, for streaming online video of the science fiction series and British telly that I love. I’m thankful for the wonderful world of Livejournal, Dreamwidth, Tumblr, WordPress, and blogging in general.

I’m thankful for the presence of the god Antinous in my life, for the friendship of so many wild and tame birds, for my magical teachers and the way of Western magic, for the trees that surround me even in the heart of downtown, for the various gods and goddesses who have kept poking into my life and refused to give up, for all that I have learned from Buddhism.

My life is very good, and so much of that is sheer gift. I believe that’s true for all of us. We work hard and we strive, we try to create the life we want, but if we succeed, we owe so much to good fortune, to friends and family who have helped us, to the sheer gratuitousness of the universe. Therefore let us be thankful.

I’m also thankful to the First Nations people of this land who tried to teach my European ancestors how to live here rightly, and probably did keep them from starving. Their graciousness was poorly repaid, and the debt still stands. I vow to be mindful of it.

I wish all my readers a happy Thanksgiving and much for which to be thankful.

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“Neither Pagan nor Mahamedan nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.” – Thomas Jefferson, quoting John Locke

Be careful with those fireworks. Enjoy your festal food. Remember those who are not free. (Thanks to Jason at The Wild Hunt for the quote.)

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I don’t really have a personal connection with Veterans’ Day.  One of the many variable and uncertain stories of my father’s life was whether he had fought in the Second World War; he was of an age to do so, but sometimes he said he hadn’t, and sometimes he said he had.  I’m not sure if my grandfather fought in the First World War; he died when I was only four.

My husband’s piano teacher, who still lives in the neighborhood and is a friend of the family, served in Korea.  He doesn’t talk about it.  I can think of one person I know who fought in Vietnam, but we are not intimate.

I have a number of online friends, all of them women, who have served in the Armed Forces, at least three of them in the field.  They do talk about living with the repercussions of that experience.

It is Veterans’ Day here in the United States, Remembrance Day in Europe.  It is also the feast of St. Martin, the Roman soldier who gave half his red military cloak to a freezing beggar who was actually Christ, and who became a priest, later a bishop.  And it is Cet Samhain, little Samhain, the end of the Samhain festival, when the Otherworldly gates close and things begin to go back to normal.

People are dying now, in Iraq and Afghanistan, who will be remembered on this day for years and decades to come.  I wish that we might say, with St. Martin, “I am a soldier of Christ: I cannot fight.”  In the meantime, what can I do but stand quietly with those who do remember loved ones on this day and give them space to remember and grieve.


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See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(I John 3:1-3)

I went to Mass yesterday for the first time in months, for a number of reasons. First, so that we could take my mother-in-law to brunch afterward; it was her birthday. Second, so I could be present for the baptism of a friend’s child. And third, so I could hear the choir sing Tomas Luis da Victoria’s “O Quam Gloriosum” Mass and motet, and William Harris’s setting of “Holy Is The True Light”, which I quoted yesterday.

During the sermon I pulled out my journal and pen. I have heard many sermons over the years; few preachers can say anything which I haven’t already heard, and to them, I will listen, but in the meantime, it never hurts to think about the readings for oneself. As always, my attention was caught by the lines from John’s first letter that were read as the Epistle of the day.

We are God’s children now; we don’t know yet what we will be, but we will become like Christ when he reveals himself. How? why? We will become as he is because we will see him as he is.

This is mysticism, this is contemplation, this is theosis. Who are the saints? They are those who have realized that they are to become as gods, not on their own merit, not by grasping like Adam and Eve, but by letting the light of Christ their God shine through them. “Turn to him and be radiant, and let not your faces be ashamed,” as Psalm 34 says, as the Prayerbook Office for the day assigns to Evening Prayer.

Not grasping, not clinging, but emptying oneself to be filled by the Christ nature. Not grasping, not clinging, uncovering the obscurations to discover the radiant Buddha nature.

Holy is the true light.

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Holy is the True Light, and passing wonderful,
lending radiance to them that endured in the heat of the conflict,
from Christ they inherit a home of unfading splendour,
wherein they rejoice with gladness evermore.
from the Salisbury Diurnal by GH Palmer

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Today like every other day
We wake up empty and scared.
Don’t open the door of your study
And begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do
There are hundreds of way to kneel
And kiss the earth.

I looked for this poem of Rumi’s this morning because it perfectly captured how I felt upon waking and what I needed to hear to go forth and get on with my day.  The equinox is here again, the day of balance between light and dark.  We know that if light and dark are in combat, this time dark will win; the dragon will overwhelm St. Michael, at least for six months.

Let me try another metaphor.  If the Lord of Light and the Lord of Darkness, St. Michael and the Dragon, are not enemies but lovers, perhaps I can say that the Dragon will be the dominant partner for a while.  Perhaps the Bright Lord with the spear will go into the darkness underground, as some Pagans say that Persephone leaves her mother on this day and goes home to the land of Hades, her husband.  The darkness dominates now, but not forever.  At the spring equinox, the same will be true of the light.

In the Neopagan Wheel of the Year, this festival, which Druids call Alban Elued, is the last before the New Year.  But in the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah often falls close to this equinox, and I still tend to think of September as a new beginning for personal reasons.  The academic year begins anew; the choir season in churches begins anew.  Because these things closely affect my husband, they affect me, too.

I find myself beginning again.  Beginning to be a druid again. Beginning to be a magician again. Beginning to be a writer again, flooded with new inspiration for my fiction.  Beginning to bring druidry, writing, magic into the context of Buddhist practice and the altruistic motivation, bodhicitta, the goal of enlightenment for the sake of benefiting all beings.

I had strange dreams last night–in one, I was being attacked by a snarling, talking house cat–and have had uneasy sleep all the past week.  I woke frightened in the dark this morning.  But the music of Fats Waller was playing on the alarm clock, and my husband went looking on YouTube for videos of the great pianist to share online.  It’s hard to remain empty and frightened with Fats mugging shamelessly for the camera while his fingers work effortless miracles on the keys.  I walked to work and now I’m writing this entry.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

I wish a blessed autumn-tide to all my readers.

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I do most certainly approve of a holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.  It’s a tribute to the whole Civil Rights Movement as well as to a noble individual.  However–

  1. I think it should be on April 4th, the day of his assassination, of his martyrdom, really, for what he believed was the will of God–equality for all–rather than on his birthday.
  2. I do find it strange that to honor the man, we close the schools and libraries where one can learn more about him and his movmeent, even though that gives me a paid day off.

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