Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas morning. Cleansing, clearing, hoping. Plus fire.

I am prone to hyperbole but it is not an exaggeration to say I have an edge on Christmas this year.

I am on glorious Waiheke Island, off the coast of Auckland, visiting my son Nick and his girlfriend Ellie on the farm they are managing for a year. Since I am in what they call a "sleep out" (aka pretty much the outdoors is indoors) I rise with the sun 18 hours ahead of my Eastern Standard Time friends.

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Nick and Ellie are still sleeping and the stormy rain they promised has arrived in bold, pioneering New Zealand style.

I have had several days to slow down and remember the earth and silence and family. I have had time to see beautiful, mind-boggling things and to read inspiring literature.

Two things strike me this Christmas morning, both of which I found in the wondrous "Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert.

First, there is a Dutch word "uitwaaien" which means to walk against the wind for pleasure and/or to let the wind cleanse you physically and spiritually. So I like to imagine that this morning storm is doing just that, cleansing and clearing the way for an abundant holiday and new year for all of us.

Second, Gilbert writes an incredible passage where an Italian astronomer orchestrates a model of the universe with human bodies as heavenly bodies on a hot summer night, teaching party-goers their correct celestial path. (Please note that the best phrases here are not mine, they are Gilbert's.)  Alma, the protagonist of the novel, then only a girl, begs to be in it and her father insists "Give the girl a place!"

She is assigned the role of comet and given a torch. Gilbert writes:

She had never before been entrusted with fire. The torch spit sparks and sent chunks of flaming tar spinning into the air behind her as she bolted across the cosmos--the only body in the heavens who was not held to a strict elliptical path.

Nobody stopped her.

She was a comet.

She did not know she was not flying.

This is my inspiration for my year. I want to cleanse and clear what I need to in order to bolt across the cosmos. I want to insist for others that they are given a place!

Here is to your path, elliptical of otherwise. May it bring you great and abiding joy.