Thursday, November 20, 2014

Feasting, toasting, brawling, boasting

Today is my last free day before Tuesday when I'll put myself through the humiliation of airport security, get on a big plane, then a small plane, and at last find myself standing on the Oregon landscape, greeting my siblings - all of them this year! - their spouses, my niece, nephew-in-law, and their two kids, plus the three dogs, of course. My sister has rented a "party van" so we'll only have to take two vehicles up the mountain to the cabin where we celebrated Thanksgiving last year.

We have two cabins this year, within walking distance of each other. This should help everything since as I remember from the last time we all gathered, my family generates a lot of collective energy. Sometimes there is hilarity, sometimes head bashing, sometimes both at the same time. It will be nice to have a way to escape the intensity, if needed.

The last time I saw all my siblings was at my nephew's wedding. It was a really fun weekend seven years ago. Last night I was thinking this is our first gathering as old people. Last time we were definitely middle aged.

Time whips by so fast. Nothing illustrates it as clearly as gathering with people you've known all your life. Just like everyone who has ever lived, I don't feel as old as I am. I like the way I look these days better than I ever have even though I am quite a ways past juicy, slender or pretty. I feel like at last I look like myself. I definitely look like a woman in early old age, a baby crone. So do my sisters. They look great, but you can definitely see the passage of time in their faces, too.

Life is short, yes it is. This is the prevailing thought form as I gather my wits prior to this journey.

Ah the holidays! I'm proud, also relieved, that I've learned how to actually celebrate them, rather than hiding in my room all resentful and bitter like I used to. For heaven's sake.

I greatly look forward to seeing my family, and to the beautiful air, the gorgeous views and the stars up on the mountain.

Feasting, toasting, brawling, boasting - this is what happens when my family gathers. The holiday season is here. Bring it on!

The trees at Crescent Lake, Oregon, taken last year. We'll be in the same place this year. I can smell the air already.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Late Fall early Winter Mashup

Not again in this flesh will I see the old trees stand here as they did, weighty creatures made of light, delight of their making straight in them and well, whatever blight our blindness was or made, however thought or act might fail.

The burden of absence grows, and I pay daily the grief I owe to love for women and men, days and trees I will not know again. Pray for the world’s light thus borne away. Pray for the little songs that wake and move.

For comfort as these lights depart, recall again the angels of the thicket, columbine aerial in the whelming tangle, song drifting down, light rain, day returning in song, the lordly Art piecing out its humble way.

Though blindness may yet detonate in light, ruining all, after all the years, great right subsumed finally in paltry wrong, what do we know? Still the Presence that we come into with song is here, shaping the seasons of His wild will. 

~~Wendell Berry 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The end of the haunting.

I heard live music last night - bluegrass. Fun.

Yesterday at last I broke free of the haunting.

Oh yeah. I've been haunted by my ancestors, especially in the last few weeks. I knew it on some level, that I - and even my friends - were channeling something not quite right. And there were the mystical experiences. I kind of got it, but still, until I put away the ancestral pictures yesterday, I didn't have the right words to describe what I've been doing. After I cleaned up the ancestor altar and put the pictures in a drawer, the mist cleared. I've been haunted. Good lord.

It isn't the first time I've been haunted. During my years with the Civil War soldiers, I was haunted then, too. Oh my. With the dead soldiers, as with the dead ancestors, I wished desperately to send healing back to them. I wanted to help, but what happened was I got sucked into the energy, not intentionally, even with the Civil War guys. I was pretty ambitious back then. Also much more grandiose than I am now. Let's see - the Holocaust vs. Reya - who will prevail? The Civil War vs. Reya?  It was like Bambi Meets Godzilla. I had to try, but for heaven's sake. I got in over my head.

Well, I'm not the first, nor will I be the last person to experience a haunting. I believe on some level, the people who are passionately devoted to battle reenactments are haunted by the same ghosts I kept company with during the early 2000s. Same goes for Hasidic communities; I mean, they're haunted by the Holocaust dead. Some are more intensely haunted than others of course. The books of remembrance about old shtetl culture mention hauntings all the time.

I always tell students that it's not healthy to hang out too much with the Dead. A little convo here and there is great for us, inspiring and a little scary, an awakening to the preciousness of life - or it can be - but, too much time spent with the Dead is draining. Look at anyone who hangs out with the Dead all the time, including funeral people of course, but also those who work in morgues, cemeteries, forensic doctors, that sort of thing. They may be the nicest people you ever met, lively, too, but there is a gray gloom around all of them. There is.

Of course it is the destiny of some people to care for the Dead. Somebody has to do it. I'm grateful, though I sometimes feel sad when I notice the impact of over exposure.

In fact for the last few weeks I've had that gray gloom all around me. I noticed I haven't been taking many selfies. I look off in these pictures, not quite myself. Well. I have not been. I haven't felt well, it's no wonder I haven't looked so good.

It's over now, though. As soon as I put the ancestral photos away (with love and respect) - that was yesterday - I felt better, more energetic, cheerful, curious and not so damn worried. What a relief! Whew.

Farewell, fine gazing globe.

It's cold in DC today, very windy. In fact the wind blew hard enough to knock my green gazing globe off its stand. It shattered into a million pieces, a great lesson in impermanence. It wasn't cheap and you would think I would be mad or sad that it broke, but I felt not a second of sadness. I've had one foot in the next world for a few weeks. I've been halfway through the looking glass. The gazing globe falling and breaking is, to me, a signal that I'm back on the right side of the mirror. The portal to the wormhole of history is closed.

L'chaim, y'all. Carpe diem. Be here now. Shalom.