The hubby and I have re-purposed a number of things from our Christian childhoods with our own kids…to toss out a few examples–Jesus Loves Me became The Goddess Loves Me*, Twas the Night Before Christmas became The Night Before Yule, and our family’s manger scene hosts a baby Sun King, Mother Nature, and a herald fairy. Another one that we have adapted was a favorite of mine as a child, I figured I’d share because apparently they are “getting too old for bedtime songs”.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
Nature made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
Selected for their glowing colors,
Evolution made their tiny wings.
All things bright and beautiful…
The purple headed mountain,
The stream running by;
The sunset and the moonrise,
That brightens up our sky.
All things bright and beautiful…
The cold wind of the Winter,
The zebras as they run;
The lizard in the desert
Warming ‘neath the noontime sun.
All things bright and beautiful…
The heron fishing in the river,
The bears emerging from their dens,
The hatching of an egg
in a nest full of baby wrens.
All things bright and beautiful…
The redwoods in the forest,
The ocean where dolphins play,
The sunset across the prairie,
Bees gathering honey every day;
All things bright and beautiful…
Selection gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How wonderful is Evolution,
That has made things tolerably well.
All things bright and beautiful…
*If you were wondering the words for The Goddess Loves Me (which could easily be adapted to any number of deities), they go something like this:
The Goddess loves me this I know, my heart and soul tell me so. In her arms I’ll safely stay, as I walk the path we’ve laid. Yes the Goddess loves me, yes the Goddess loves me. Yes the Goddess loves me, the whole world tells me so.
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.”
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.”
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
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
Delphic Maxim #93
Deal Kindly With Everyone
Yes, I know…I’m posting this on a Tuesday. Its because I was about to fall asleep trying to type last night…I seriously nodded off on the keyboard to find that my nose had replaced what I had written with nonsense. I figured that was my sign to call it a night. Better late and “legible” than on time and nonsensical!
There are a number of the Delphic Maxims that I consider analogous to the Golden Rule (I wrote about another one of them a few weeks ago)..including this one. Since I’m not going through the Maxims in order, I’ve been browsing the list to see whatever speaks to me at the moment, and in light of my post yesterday, I thought that the timing was good to talk about this one. Delphic Maxim #93 asks that we Deal Kindly With Everyone.
How can we do that in our everyday lives?
We need to ask each other and ourselves what actions and traits and values show kindness. Then we need to figure out how to know which kindnesses are needed, when, and by whom (is an unwelcome “kindness” really kind?). We need the capacity to know if we are really responding to an actual need for kindness and not our own projection of need (or lack of it). And, I think that perhaps there is a need for us to learn (relearn?) to accept kindness at face value without projecting a negative intent that might really originate in our own personal biases on to it. Of course, we first need to hash out an operational definition of what it means to be kind.
Before I start pontificating on what it means to be kind, I’d like to point out one thing. The maxim says “deal kindly with everyone”, not “deal kindly with others” or “deal kindly with people like you” or “deal kindly with people you like”. Everyone means yourself, it means people you don’t like, it means people you don’t know, it means people that aren’t like you…and (personally) it isn’t even necessarily exclusive to people in the first place (is it weird that I tilt my head to the side when I click on the italics button?). So…deal kindly with yourself, with your neighbor, with your family, with your friends, with your enemies, with strangers, with the gods, with your pets, with your flora and fauna–well, with EVERYONE!
Since I think we all have the picture now, back to kindness…
For me, the most basic kindness for others that we can do as we go about our lives is to first, do no harm. Now, realistically, I doubt that it is possible to never do harm. Its one of the problems I have with people that take a literal reading of the Wiccan Rede, as even the best of intentions and the actions resulting in the most good can cause harm somewhere. But avoiding harm or minimizing potential harm should perhaps be the most basic, default kindness setting we have. To me, living kindly on an everyday basis means living as sustainable as possible and to strive for a radical acceptance* of others. And really, this is pretty easy to do on a surface level with the people you encounter on a daily basis, but don’t actually *know*–a smile and some polite words is the most basic demonstration of kindness you can show someone.
Secondly, to practice kindness that goes beyond what I consider common courtesy, I think we need to learn to listen with compassion to the needs of others. We need to look within ourselves to acknowledge our own places of privilege that make it difficult to hear what is actually being said (rather than what we are biased to hear). We need to learn to ask questions in a way that seeks and honest and respectful understanding of the challenges of others. And, when we offer criticism** it needs to be without ego, period (if you can’t manage that, just put a lid on it). Finally, we need to work together to balance competing needs (of ourselves and our cohorts with the need of others) and to “share what we can spare” (as my momma used to say) to meet the actual needs (rather than our perception of them from our place of privilege) of those we deal with (don’t forget, this includes ourselves). Most importantly, while doing all this, we need to remember that the actual needs of individuals may not be what we are willing or able to give them–and that needs go beyond the material. We also need to know our limitations and when it might be better to do nothing at all (in an effort to cause no harm, or to minimize the harm we might cause) because our idea of kindness might not be what is needed or necessary.
Okay, lets get some realism in here. I don’t think it is either necessary, nor practical to do all of that all the time for everyone we encounter on a daily basis. I’m no paragon of perfection, and I like my sanity. There are quite simply too many people with too many challenges to care for them all. With that being said, I believe that we should strive to deliver the first “level” of kindness to everyone to the best of our ability, but I don’t think that we automatically “owe” the second, more in depth level of kindness to anyone other than ourselves…with one caveat. When we choose to enter into conversation or congress with others, we ought to do so as kindly as we can manage…and if we can’t do so kindly (which should be measured at least in part by how kind–or not–we are being perceived as), we should probably rethink ourselves and our egos a bit.
And that’s how a simple idea gets all sorts of complexified. Thanks for tuning into another episode of Thalassa Overthinking Things (otherwise known as Maxim Monday)!
*Probably another topic for another day, but to hit the highlights, when I talk about radical acceptance, I mean radical in the myriad of way the dictionary defines it (outside of a chemistry term) rather than the limited way that it is generally used in conversation. To me, radical acceptance means an open minded and open-hearted non-judgmental valuing of the inherent worth of all persons. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them or approve of them, but it does mean that they should be treated with dignity and that they have intrinsic rights which should be respected.
**Ever walk out of a restroom with your skirt hem caught in your pantyhose? If we are honest with ourselves, criticism (when done well on both ends) can be a damn good kindness.
A post-script thought…One thing that I didn’t talk about was being the person being kindly dealt with. I think it goes without saying that someone might be well-meaning and *think* they are doing a kindness, and even in a best case scenario where they are honestly trying to set their inherent prejudices aside, etc…and still ultimately fail. I think we, when the recipient of “kindness” that we *don’t* find “kind” then find ourselves in a position where we need to evaluate how to deal with that person in a manner that is kind. This might mean some gentle criticism where we need to put our own egos aside.
~this has been part of a series of posts on the Delphic Maxims~
For those of you that follow along in the Pagan Blogosphere, you might already be aware that Star Foster has started blogging about the Delphic Maxims, and other people are following/posting along, in what has seemingly become an impromptu blogging party*. While several other bloggers are joining in, I will not be one of them–at least not for all 147+. Its not for lack of appreciation for their erudite message, but rather for a lack of faith in my ability to ever finish writing about all 147+ of them. I will likely be writing about a few favorites however, but I’m going to try to do it in order with everyone else.
If you aren’t familiar with the Delphic Maxims, they are inscriptions associated with the Temple to Apollo at Delphi**, at which Apollo was said to have arrived to in dolphin form, as Apollo Delphinios, and founded. I’m not a devotee of Apollo, but anyone that friendly with dolphins is fine in my book (and it gives me an excuse to use this pic, which I’ve been hoarding the link of for a while)! Delphi, of course, is home to the Pythia, otherwise known as the Oracle of Delphi, whose oracular visions may have been influenced by the geological features of the area. Oh, and I’ll bet you do know at least one Delphic Maxim…you might be familiar with the phrase “Know Thyself”? Yeah, its a Delphic Maxim!
The maxims themselves are also known as “The Commandments of the Seven”, and are said to have been written by seven sages of Ancient Greek at Delphi, where they were supposedly inscribed. The seven sages are (maybe) Solon of Athens, Chilon of Sparta, Thales of Miletus, Bias of Priene, Cleobulus of Lindos, Pittacus of Mitylene and Periander of Corinth and the maxims were perhaps composed in the 6th century B.C. Much like the Lord’s Prayer in the hornbook readers of colonial America, these maxims seem to have been used as a sort of primer in the ancient Greek and Byzantine world. It wasn’t until a recent archaeological discovery in the 1960’s though, that there was some verification as to the origins of the maxims, when a Hellenic stele was discovered in Afghanistan that claimed to be a faithful copy from Delphi. (source)
Either way…there’s some good stuff there! Seriously, check the list and and give it a browse. They are less “commandments” as their title claims (at least in comparison with the 10 commandments) than they are really strong reccomentation and great advice (at least most of them). So far, the first four have been covered (Follow God (Επου θεω), Obey the law (Νομω πειθου), Worship the Gods (Θεους σεβου), and Respect your parents (Γονεις αιδου)). The maxim next up is “Be overcome by justice” (Ηττω υπο δικαιου). I am planning to talk about that one, because I’m about to start blogging about the seven Unitarian Universalist principles, which relates to the second principle. I’ll probably also backtrack and talk about Following God and Worshiping the Gods (and why I think they are the same thing), but that likely will come a bit later (my blogging proliferation seems to occur like the tides…and right now I think I’m about to embark on a low tide episode).
**Speaking of blogging parties, does anyone know if the Pagan Values Blogging Month is going on again this year? Because that’s due to start in just 2 weeks if so. UPDATE: IT IS!!
**I totally recommend clicking this link and listening to the BBC show, it is incredibly interesting.