Monday, December 28, 2015


Doesn't one always become reflective in the waning days of the year?

I have the added inspiration of my Solstice Fire, during which I ceremonially burn slips of paper bearing the words for things, emotions and circumstances which "no longer serve."  This year, I had quite the stack of little squares of paper.  As always.

There is one word that I seem to perennially burn in my ceremonial fires:  FEAR. 

Fear has been my constant companion since I was old enough to know it, I think.

I am afraid of everything.  Illness.  People.  New experiences.  Old experiences.  The dark.  Being alone.  Not being alone.  Name it, and I have some deep-seated fear of it.

When it comes time to reflect upon what I'd like eradicated from my life, what I need to burn in my Solstice Fire, Fear is always at the top of the list.

I write it down.  I throw it in the fire.  I watch it burn.  And it never goes away.

This year, I experienced an epiphany of sorts about fear. 

Every morning, in my daily salutation to the Spirit, I turn to the East, the direction I have chosen for Heron--that aspect of the Universal Spirit which, among other things, focuses upon balance.  And one morning last week, I believe Heron whispered to me that inhabiting my fear and allowing it to inhabit me is not a balanced way to walk.  If fear walks next to me every step of the way, it does not require more than a nod of acknowledgment.  Even if it jumps up and down, begging to be recognized, I do not have to embrace it, focus on it, or even look at it.  And I certainly don't need to allow it to possess me or lead me. 

In other words, like the apostle Paul's "thorn in the flesh," my fear is not going away.  So the only solution is to learn to manage it.   

Let's see how this new understanding guides me in the coming year.       


Monday, December 14, 2015

Never Forget: Newtown, December 14, 2012

This is a repost of a piece I wrote in 2013 and posted at Better Terms...

The internet is a great place to "never forget" things.  Every September 11, the ether becomes clogged with misty photos of two tall straight buildings, overlaid with transparent images of a gently rippling star-spangled banner,  along with the stern words "Never Forget" in a bold and uncompromising font.

When December 7th rolls around, we are exhorted to never forget the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, even though that military atrocity took place over seventy years ago, in a completely different world.  

There are folks in the southern US who have passed "never forgetting" the "War of Northern Aggression" down through generations like a cherished family heirloom.

We are sternly admonished to never forget any military attack upon our "innocent" selves by a political enemy.  We need to hold on to those feelings of shock, horror and hatred.  We need to cultivate them, tend them and cherish them, haul them out annually on the anniversary of the dastardly deed, and let the world know we Never Forget, so the world had better watch out.

I find it interesting--and appalling--that in a culture such as 21st-century America, where we seem to have the political attention span of a fruit fly, we nevertheless pour enormous amounts of energy into remembering decades-old acts of war, the better to nourish our personal hatreds, xenophobia and prejudices.

But when one of our own--a middle class white boy with a distorted life view and an assault rifle--shoots his way into a school building and assassinates twenty babies and six teachers who gave their own lives in an effort to protect the innocents, we forget.  

As soon as humanly possible, we forget.

Because to remember these babies, shot to pieces by a kid with a weapon that no private citizen should be able to get his hands on, would call upon us to act.  It would force you and me, Mr. and Mrs. Joe American Citizen, to make a stand.  Not just to be part of a grumbling mob of patriotic rabble-rousers that calls for an enemy's blood, and then huddles behind the young people who comprise our military and pushes THEM into harm's way. Remembering Newtown would call upon us to defy, every day, the forces in this country who have decided it is in their financial and/or ideological best interests to maintain a free flow of weapons of war into the general population. Remembering Newtown would cause us to live with the nearly unbearable knowledge that we ourselves could fall victim to a nut with an automatic weapon, anytime, anywhere.  And we aggressively do NOT want to know that.

No...  When it comes to events like Newtown or Columbine or Aurora, the best we can do is shout for a week or two about how these things would not happen if EVERYONE were allowed to carry loaded guns around. And then throw a blanket over that story, stomp on it to make sure it's dead, and hurry on to the Next Thing.   

If this is not a prime example of entirely misplaced priorities, I would like to know what is.  To hell with "never forgetting" wars and military attacks.  Get over it and move on.  But if there was ever a thing in the world to Never Forget, Newtown would be it.

Never Forget.

Let it sink into your bones and change your life.  Then do something.