March 1, 2016

Reflections on the New Year

Wyoming Skyline copy (1)

By Patricia Lee Lewis

When the new year dawned, I was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, watching the tops of snowy mountains glow pink in the rising sun and listening to Alasdair Fraser play his fiddle on the radio. For this turning of the year, he’d chosen a tune from the Shetland Islands of Scotland, very old. He said it made him feel what it was to be human, and he played it in the Gaelic manner, intimate and raw. The light and the music stirred my bones like an ancient memory.

I was brought to this beautiful tree-rock-river-rattlesnake-raven-being-blessed world with the question of how to be a human-being inside of it. Apparently (and events of 2015 certainly bear this out) a big part of being human is that we dominate and control, bring war and destruction on what we touch; but clearly there’s a lot more to us. We share forest trails, city streets, we create dwellings. Through our art, our writing, singing, painting, dancing, woodworking, yoga, sculpture, ceramics, our family and home-making, through whatever work we love, we find ways to nestle here as part of the whole of it, at least sometimes.

I believe the work we do in our writing circles–our capacity for attentive listening to one another, our common laughter and tears, our abiding gratitude, help us to grow larger, to soften and love more passionately each other and the home we and our fellow creatures have been given on this planet. It is good work. But my question is: with all the willingness in the world, have we time to tip the balance from acts of dominance and exploitation to acts of care and nurture? Everyday, we kill and everyday we rescue. Everyday, we have a chance to look in the eyes of other beings and see the enemy, or ourselves. Everyday, what do we choose? It matters so much.

I have to trust Rilke who famously told the young poet to forget about the answers and to live his way into the questions. Treasuring as I do my connection with you, your curiosity, talents and thoughtfulness, whether ours is an old friendship or new, deeply mined or untried–I pass along to you as a gift, the music, the dawn, the gratitude—and the not-knowing. I treasure our connections, and I wish you joy and creative wellbeing.

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