Thursday, November 15, 2012


Goethe’s final words “More light”  Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that’s been our unifying cry, “More light”,  sunlight, torchlight candlelight, neon, incandescent.  Light to banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refridgerators.  Big floods for the games at Soldier’s Field, little flashlights for those books we read under the covers when we are supposed to be asleep.  Light is a metaphor, “Thy word is a lamp under my feet”  “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”, “Lead kindly light, amid the encircling doom, lead me on”,  “The night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on”,  “Arise, shine, for thy light has comed”.  Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light.

Some of you might remember this passage from an old TV show called Northern Exposure.  This was the episode where Chris-in-the-morning, the town seeker, artist, radio DJ, says these words to introduce his piece of art, one that consisted of just about every light appliance and light bulb from the town, all strung together and lit in the town square.

As we come down the month of Novemeber, we experience the shift from daylight savings time, we  notice the early darkness in the evening, and we begin to feel the darkness of winter sneaking into our consciousness.  Although I have come to really love this time, a way of being BEAR and lumbering into my various caves of experience, a way of choosing to be more still, more introspective and contemplative.  Some find this darkening time hard to manage.   The question would be, do you have the Seasonal Affective Disorder, or is it a discomfort with the life at our interior…the “darker” places within all of us?

If we imagine what winter might be asking of us, would we find that we are invited to sit with those less comfortable places within…if just for moment or two?  To use the quilting layers of dark, perhaps as comfort to us, to make a safe place to explore, again, just a little.

I believe that our tenure here on the planet is an opportunity.  An chance to do many things, strengthen our bodies, develop our minds, expand our perspectives, learn to love deeply, and yes, make some peace with our inner demons.  So in that “light”,  I request the honor of your presence in the soft night, again, for just a minute each day, to be still, to be quiet, to tolerate our jagged edged parts and surround them with our consciousness, and bring the gifts of that moment back into our personal daylight.  A call.  A small Hero’s Journey, (Joseph Campbell).

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Carl Jung: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”.

Go softly .

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Butterfly Heart

Photo: Monarch butterfly on a flower
I recently traveled a few miles south of here to the Pismo Beach area where there is a Monarch Butterfly Grove.  This is a place where these elusive creatures come each year to winter, rest and breed in the Spring before they head North again.  They are here from 6 to 8  months.  Just beginning to arrive now, there were not many of them, but I stood talking to a docent for a bit about their lives.
They cling to the leaves of specific eucalyptus trees, but do not eat all winter as their metabolism slows.   As you can see from this second photo, they clump together, probably to keep warm. They don't move around much but as temperatures change they raise or lower their position on the tree relative to temperature.  The ones that arrive in the fall from west of the Rockies travel up to 3,000 miles.  Most of the western Monarchs end up all along the California coast.  The ones east of the Rockies head for Mexico.  They feed on Milkweed on their trip south and fatten up (yep, fat butterflies!) and do not eat again  until after they breed.   The new crop emerges and heads to the foothills for the fresh crop of Milkweed.
What I found amazing about them is that it takes 4 generations to make the round trip from Canada to Southern California and back.  So the ones that arrive here will live for 6-8 months hanging in the trees, breed and die.  The baby generation will make it to foothills but will only live about 6-8 weeks, (not months).  Each generation follows the Milkweed production to the north also living only 6-8 weeks, until next late summer when the fourth generation begins their journey south.  The lifespan of the "winter butterflies" is greatly different given the climate and temperature.   There is little know about how the great grandchildren of the butterflies that leave here in the spring navigate and return to the same trees that their great grandparent butterflies left 4-6 months before.
  There lives are so elusive and short.  But they are lead, in a direction, not knowing their fate, but are pulled and fashioned to make this extraordinary trip, linking them to those that go before and after them.  It puts me in mind to trust, believe, yield to the instincts within me, to listen for the call, whether it be to Milkweed, Ocean, taking a new path today, or just to sleep later this morning.  We are all part of something.  Like the Monarch, we may not be able to see the end of the journey, but we must pay attention and do our part of the journey as best we can.

Key words:   We belong to a process much greater than our own little lifespan.  
Pay attention to what you are here to do.