About Me

My photo
I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 1

November 1 - just getting around to writing and the day is almost over.  It has been lovely, increasingly muted fall weather today.  And it is a day I associate with a "turning" in the year.  In Celtic tradition, this day is Samhain, the beginning of the new year, celebrated as the harvest is complete, as the days begin to shorten visibly.  And indeed today, busy with office work most of the day, I barely got a walk in before nightfall, though it was quite lovely -- Rock Creek Park and the Georgetown Branch trail at twilight.  At this time of year,  when the dark comes, it seems darker. It is why the spookiness of "Halloween" feels right at this time of year.  Halloween is, of course, All Hallows Eve, and November 1 is All Saints Day - a festival that I've always particularly enjoyed since I've been an Episcopalian and so part of a liturgical church.  We won't celebrate the day until Sunday at my parish - but I've been aware today, and praying for the faithful departed in my life as I've thought of them, with gratitude. The influence and memory of those who have gone before me, and whose example has guided me spiritually, is very much on my mind this time of year.   It also happens, oddly, that November 1 was the birthday of David Jones, the poet and artist whose work and ideas have been so thoroughly formative for me).  A number of family members in my family and family of friends have just died in the past couple of weeks, and so that border between the worlds does seem thinner today, as we enter a time of year when the world feels like a "thin place," the trees growing barer, the leaves, thinning out, still lovely orange and red-gold,  and the sky often so dramatic late in the day.

I'm thinking about my friend Esther de Waal's reflections on  the Celtic cycle of celebrations -- November 1 for Samhain,  Feb 1, St. Bridget's Day,  May 1, May Day, and August 1, another Celtic harvest time-- and how they bring us into what she calls the "border country" of our lives, inviting us to be in tune with the rhythms of nature rather than the artificial rhythms of our "plugged in" lives.  (I think her reflections on this are in her little book called To Pause at the Threshold: Reflections on Living on the Border   .I've  been very aware, today, of what T.S. Eliot calls "time not our time" -- that passage of the seasons of nature and the church year (it will be Advent less than a month from now, I know), the holiday season (my children will be home for Thanksgiving in November, and beyond that Christmas and the other New Year.. . .)  And so the year is turning, and I with it.  I welcome the darkness, which is another country in its way, the thinning trees and opening sky,  the mystery of the passage of the time and the borderlands where we glimpse other dimensions of life, beyond the busy-ness and occupation  of our daily routine.

No comments:

Post a Comment