Dancing with Darkness, Dancing with Light

Tonight the sky is clear and the air is calm. I’ve been working hard on the compost pile, washing buckets and jars, doing the good labor of keeping my home. My beloved cat is playing just outside the door, and the chickens are reliably putting themselves to bed. On nights like this when everything is so perfect it’s hard to even believe that we are at the edge of extinction. That about 24 species a day are dying out, that scientist say we are inhaling about a credit cards worth a week full of aerosolized plastic, I can’t feel it in my lungs but sometimes I’m a little short of breath, are my bronchi becoming filters for crystallized fossil fuel?

There is so much to contend with in our times, how challenging it is to stay open and present, as the world begins to crumble around us. And to also stay present to the incredible beauty that exists in each day, in fact this day may be the most beautiful day I ever know and all my days, and I don’t want to miss it.

I don’t want to miss anything, the way the dew gathers on the grass in the morning, the way my feet feel as they hit the cool and moist grass, how the grass tickles between my toes, the inhale of dawn air and the site of my tall friends the Doug Firs towering above me. The last few mornings the air has smelled so sweet with their aroma that I can barely take it. It certainly doesn’t smell like micro plastics in the air… But that doesn’t mean they’re not there. And it doesn’t mean they’re not in our waters, and in our soil.

The paradox of being is so intense, at times I feel like I will buckle under the weight of trying to figure it all out. And perhaps, if I try to figure it all out I will buckle. But instead of trying to figure, what if I learn to dance? To dance between the joy and sorrow, to be firmly rooted in my body, and the beating of my own heart, in the beauty that my eyes see, in the way my breath moves through my lungs, inhaling the scent of the Doug Fir incense on the morning air.

What if I learn to dance my way through days of work, and the heartbreak of witnessing so many endings in the elders that I serve, to dance within and between my own endings, all the women I have been and will yet be. I see my many selves dancing behind me. Me, rolling in the grass, childlike and free, me curled up in a ball weeping, me reaching my arms towards the sky, me holding my daughter when she was a baby and kissing her sweet face. All these ones that join together inside this one self, this one woman, this one body I call home.

Sometimes I wonder if this is really it? If we are living in the end of days, and no, I don’t mean the biblical end of days, that’s really not my cup of tea. But the end of all we’ve known, the end of the surety of the cycles of the earth, have we broken the web? The scientist say so, but in my heart the verdict is still out. What about the power of our prayers? What about those of us who sing to the dawn and implore the earth to live on?
Those of us who dance our prayers on her body with our firm, naked feet. Can she feel us? Does she love the feel of dancing on her skin?

I cast my vote for yes. Yes, our prayers matter. Yes, our songs and dances matter. Yes, our beloved mother the earth, feels our feet dancing on her body and rejoices. So many of us humans have forgotten how to praise, but not all of us, and even those of us who have forgotten, or who never were taught in the first place, can learn, and are learning again, how to worship life. I cast my vote for yes, because I cannot bear to believe the answer is no. I cannot bear to live in a world that is only dying, and I simply don’t believe that that is true. There is too much flourishing, too much beauty, too much synchronicity and grace, for ending to be all that there is.

In the face of darkness and destruction, in the presence of complexity and overwhelm, in the truth of brutality and extinction, I still choose to put my feet on the earth and dance. I choose to see the beauty of each day, and give thanks for all that is still flourishing, for all of the ways that life is still living, including, through me. The only answer I am sure of is that how I show up matters. That I am alive and on the receiving end of such incredible gifts, and that I can apprentice myself to the learning, and the open heartedness required to hold the complexity of it all, to be connected and aware with my eyes wide open to the beauty and grace present in this broken world. So, this will be my intent, my prayer, my offering. All that I have and all that I am I offer into the service of and the worship of this wild, green, magical home, we call Earth.

The Woman Who Weeps

I wake in the morning and pray for gratitude. In the darkness alone I feel only sorrow, even the birds songs, delicate and joyful, pierce me with their nearness, and the delicate nature of their singers, who hang now by a thread, species collapsing each day, the losses staggering. I can barely breath. I wake in the morning and the birds sing, and I weep.

Could my tears be a libation? An offering to the earth and her many children, an offering to my own broken heart, and to yours? I offer them as such, I of many tears, a woman who weeps, my lamentation pours forth in this time of trouble. I am witness and I will not look away. I hold a steady gaze through my tears.

How can a heart hold it all? This world we walk is so out of balance. Every which way lies a new disaster, a new ending, a new possible apocalypse. I try to remember the world never ends, she only begins again and again. I try to remember the transient nature of being, no-thing ever stays the same. I try to remember that the world has already ended for so many people, all across time. It ended for someone today, I am sure of it. How could it not? All over the world, individual and collective endings, sometimes it feels like it is all about to collapse. I try to remember to just take the next breath.

My name is Marianna. Mary from the Hebrew Miriam meaning something akin to, sea of sorrow, sea of bitterness. Or in some interpretations, longed for child. And Anna, from the Hebrew Hanna, meaning graceful one, of full of grace.  I am the bitter grace of the sea. I am the sea of sorrow. I cry salt tears for the whole world. As it all burns around me all I have left to offer is my mournful grace, my heart of sorrow.

Do not discount the power of weeping. It is said in some religions that the power of prayer is more potent when tears are shed. The sincerity of heart and the humbleness of weeping makes the Gods take notice, turn an ear to us.  The earth needs my tears, needs our tears, hell, you, reading this now may need my tears. I weep for you, wherever you are and whatever sorrow is lodged in your heart. In the words of the great Bob Dylan, “go on and give it me, I’ll keep it with mine.”  I will, I’ll keep it next to mine. Your sorrow nesting in my heart will cause no harm, the cult of happiness failed us long ago anyway and I walked away. Tears streaming down my face and my hair flying wild as a banshee.

I wake in the morning and the birds still sing, they seem to be saying “just do” – “just do”
And so I do, do. I climb out of bed and turn my face to the sky. I remember that I am a living emissary of my family line, and even if I can’t see the purpose, I have to show up for duty. I remember that my heart, broken as it may be is also broken open, and that means it is fertile ground for something beautiful to grow again. I wake in the morning and the birds sing, and I weep. And then I go to work. In the seeming impossibility of continuing this life as I know it, I go on, and the birds sing me to my car. I think ” I do not know if birds can cry, but am so grateful that I can.”
So the gratitude I prayed for in the dawn arrives, gratitude for the tears, my gift to life, my offering of one heart, broken open to the divine.

Mary_Magdalene_Crying_Statue