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Imbolc and the Miracle of Fourteen

February 1, 2011

“Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’”-The Talmud

In the midst of this Arctic freeze in Colorado, we arrive in February, at Imbolc—the half-way point between winter solstice and spring equinox.  Imbolc (or Candlemas) marks the time when the “seeds first stir in the ground again”—when the new life quakes and trembles and remembers itself even as we are deep in the womb of winter.  Underneath a land that lies fallow is the beginning of what is to come, the calling from the future.

A week ago I sat in a circle of people as we spoke from our hearts about the seismic shifts happening in every sector of our world—from the very personal to the global; from weather to revolution; from education to politics to economics—it seems as if every aspect of Life is going through a shake down and that many, many people are feeling the collective wave of this shift.  When we experience all that is occurring, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, hopeless, full of heart-ache from the suffering. The systems seem intractable, our global patterns unbreakable, and it can feel we are careening at break-neck speed towards a future none of us want.

It seems essential to allow ourselves to be cracked open fully to see what is truly happening on our earth at this time, to grieve the loss, to live in our deepest questions. And I wonder if, in the midst of this shake-down, we as a people can also stay aware of the seeds stirring in the ground, of this new life quaking in the winter of our planetary shift.  It is these seeds that will be quickened with our awareness, love, attention, gratitude and care.

Two weeks ago I celebrated my daughter’s fourteenth birthday. It is a miracle to see the woman of her unfolding so organically, so naturally, so magnificently.  I am truly in awe of both the female form and her unique expression of it. I have to check myself regularly to keep from staring at this magical transformation. And watching her, I feel two things simultaneously—gratitude that the world will have a young woman like her and fear about the kind of world she is coming to age in. This mothering of her requires radical trust—to know that within her there is such unstoppable creativity that she can meet all that shows up in her life AND that we as a species have the capacity to continue waking up, to remember and act upon our innate intelligence.

As humans, we are only a strand in a vast, glistening web of creation that has its own creativity and intelligence. Perhaps it is our children who will assist us all to align our individual, human and planetary heart-mind.  As a woman in our circle spoke so beautifully, “it is essential for us to allow the children to educate us.”  So often we are focused on educating our young people from the stance of an old paradigm where the adults are defining all that the young people need to know, think and do. This kind of educations emerges from a vision born in the time of Industrial Revolution, and this kind of education had its time, its uses.  But now we are in quite a different era.  A new kind of education is needed. “Education is lighting a fire not filling a bucket,” says Yeats.  We all need to continue to light and tend this fire of our passion, deepest longing, and creativity and to allow ourselves to be “lit” by the fire of our peers as well as by the young people who are in our care.  When I look at my daughter, it is this fire I see burning in her– and it is awake and powerful and looking for a way to express itself in the world.

In our circle, we discussed how change can be likened to a blade of grass poking through a crack in the sidewalk. And then we laughed.  Perhaps the change we are facing is more like the sidewalk crumbling to become a beautiful grassy meadow.  As the Talmud says, “every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers—grow, grow.”  Perhaps in this time of deepest winter in our seasonal calendar and in our planetary unfolding, we can whisper these simple words again and again to our interior spaces, to our children, to the seeds that are stirring all over our planet.


I watch the temperatures

dropping.  The shade of color

in the ice.  When it is smoky quartz


I glide out over the lake,

skate blades cutting scallops

into the surface, then circle


the shoreline, flying like an ice boat

arms spread wide for sails.

I have never lived like this,


blown free of friction, sent shouting

into the pure momentum of wind.

Freeze and thaw. Even now, underground


springs send up streams of heat.

Then slices of deep blue flow,

break open the surface.


On the west-end of the lake

a fisherman has drilled a hole,

dropped a line into the slow, dense water.


Now, a circle of thin freeze

an inch thick, like a wave of skin,

and beneath, a fish with a mortal wound


floats on its side, exposing the spreading

bruise of blood, the pulsing gills, the fin

waving gently as if moved by a breeze.


I want to break through its dying,

set it right, and watch it swim

into the depths. I want to hold


its scaly body to this February light.

I swear today I can feel seeds trembling

beneath soil, a slow shudder,


the petals tiny and furled

like the hands of an unformed baby

thumping with heart.  This lake


will freeze hard again, contract

and then expand a final time,

the heron returning, the pussywillows


rocking with the weight of redwing

blackbirds.  And I will long to run

out over the water, to dive through


this open mouth into the center

of the world, where words are first spoken,

where wounds are first named.

~Laura Weaver





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