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I'm distracting myself from current events by organizing my pictures...this is from when Chickadee went to work with me!

I’m distracting myself from current events by organizing my pictures…this is from when Chickadee went to work with me!

In the simmer pot:  Thalassa’s Yule Blend

*Half an orange, sliced (or one small orange)
*A handful of cranberries
*One cinnamon stick, crushed
*The peel of one apple
*A bit of grated ginger root
*Two handfuls of white pine needles, chopped and bruised

In my tea cup: Thalassa’s Yule Blend, plus honey

Like most parents, I was shocked and saddened to hear what happened in Connecticut.  My first reaction was to get my kids and squish them until they’d had enough of that and rebelled.  My second reaction was to put it away and stop thinking about it–how can any of us even begin to fathom what it would be like to lose a child like this?  I’ve lost a child, and I can’t even begin to wrap my head around losing a child like this.  …Finally, after I actually got to squish my kids (because by then, The Hubby and I had gotten to discuss it in the car, and we’d picked up the kids), and I was on the computer, my third reaction was to turn my damn computer off (since we don’t have cable, the internet is my news).  The only thing that I’ve read that made any sense (and didn’t piss me off) was this:

Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed
people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”

Morgan Freeman

I only have one thing to say about about this incident, beyond remembering these children, their teachers and other school staff whose lives were taken, their families and friends, and their community–I don’t care what your religious opinion or your political bent is, your position on the lack of accessible mental health care, or your stance on gun control, etc. Keep it to yourself, your ego has no room in their tragedy. Let them grieve, have some empathy for their families, and grow some compassion in your own life.  I get that it is natural to feel anger about something that we fear, and fear something that we have no power over, and to seek to control whatever it is that we can control to cope with events like this.  If you need to, be angry tomorrow.  Right now, remember these families and go home and play with your children or call your parents, visit with your neighbors and friends…and maybe by reaching out (not just today, but every day), we can bring the world in, and make it something better, gentler.

Moment of Zen: Light a Candle

In times of sorrow, of worry, of despair, a candle is a symbol of hope.  In an oppressive darkness, one tiny flame flickering in the distance is a beacon of love and warmth and peace.  The Kalahari Bushmen once believed that the stars in the sky were the campfires of distant peoples, just as a campfire in the distance on the plains of Africa were a sign of Kin nearby.  Though less of us experience the near total darkness of the endless sky (and the billions of stars that serve as the reminder that we are not truly alone) than in previous generations because of proximity to cities and towns and light pollution, we can all imagine the power of a light in the darkness–it is one of the strongest images in the Human psyche.  Light a candle to bring warmth and hope to your home and to your heart.  Let that light shine into you and through you into the world.

Yule is the Season of Hope, the Season of Turning from Despair, the Season that teaches us that Life Goes On.  Whether one celebrates the return of the Sun, the birth of a holy child, or the miracle of light to anoint a desecrated temple is immaterial.  It doesn’t matter if you think that “Reason is the reason for the season” or that we need to “Keep Christ in Christmas” or that we need to put the “Sol in Solstice”–what is important is that dawn will break on a new day, after the Longest Night, and give us yet another chance to move forward with love and compassion.  Another chance to live on and Remember, and to give Meaning to what we have lost.

Herb of the Week: Rosemary for Rememberance

“There’s rosemary; that’s for remembrance.
Pray, love, remember.”
~Shakespeare, Hamlet

Rosemary has long been the symbol of remembrance.  Its name comes from the Latin for dew (ros) of the sea (marinus)…and as an herb of the Sea, and of Water, it makes perfect sense that it would be the herb that represents the memory and promise of love between friends and family.  Rosemary is a perennial woody evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean that will happily grow in a window-box garden.  Rosemary can be used in rituals of remembrance, among other things.

Yuletide Afterschooling:  Our vocabulary words for the week are solstice, equinox, equator, hemisphere, tilt, axis, and orbit.  We’ve mostly been talking about winter solstice traditions around the world, and the science of the seasons (more on this in another post!).   But we’ve also been talking about Hope, and about Myth, and about living with kindness and intention.

In other news…I’m working on some personal projects behind the scenes that I would *like* to see manifest themselves enough to share.  So…I’m keeping the fingers crossed and candles lit on this!

I’ve also been working on some of my other blogs (the ones I keep separately so I don’t bog this one down with *too* much off topic stuff)…so if you are interested in learning more about finding your way around Navy ships or learning about mole crabs, check them out!  I’m also hoping to get another Yule post or two out on here, as well as one on how our mental and emotional baggage can manifest mundanely and psychically and how it can be dealt with in meditation and ritual.

A Prayer for Today:

These woods are dark
this path is shadowed
walk with me
and hold me fast in your grace
that I might banish my fears
that I might overcome what lies ahead
with your blessing
I will emerge from this darkness
and breathe free again
So mote it be

(Diane Sylvan)

And a Hope for Tomorrow:

In the best of times, our days are numbered anyway, And so it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were presumably designed in the first place…the opportunity to do good work, to fall in love, to enjoy friends, to hit a ball, to bounce a baby…

Alistair Clark, One Man’s America