Monday, October 27, 2008
Into the Gap...
The Bluebirds of Gappiness showed up again on Saturday. This time, it was a mated pair, flitting between milkweed stalks and fenceposts by sudden, urgent turns. I wonder how much longer these messengers will remain before they start their annual migration, leaving Wise Old Raven behind as official mystic courier of the Frozen North. Perhaps they'll make the switch at Samhainn, (pronounced "sow-when"), which literally means, "Summer's end."
It's almost time... which, as a person with so-called A.D.D., is a state of being with which I'm most familiar. (I prefer to think of myself as "multifocal," since it's not a lack of attention, but non-singular attention, that best describes my style of engagement.) One book about A.D.D. describes the afflicted as "hunters in a farmer's world." While it's true that hunters spend a lot of time scanning their horizons, I don't buy this idea either. I've never met a farmer who DIDN'T have to keep their minds on a hundred things at once.
The more I study my Celtic roots, the less my so-called disability distresses me. Celts, it seems, have always understood the complex and flexible nature of time. Celtic philosophers and theologians have long recognized time as an embroidered tapestry, a mesh of the interwoven, the knotted, and the wrapped. An old Gaelic hymn to the Christ Child includes the declaration that, "although You are not yet born, people are praising the great things you've already done." The Divine Child is both "already" and "not yet." This speaks deeply to me. It describes my state of being, much of the time. It also reminds me that, as a Chronos-bound creature, I have my work cut out for me. I know, full well, that I can't afford to stop TRYING to do things "on time." I will never stop struggling to do business promptly and show up prior to the official start-time of shifts, classes, and meetings. This may never be an arena of particular personal grace.
Yet Grace does come--and it comes, most often, when it's "About Time." It is when I am most awkward, most unsure, and most open that the Holy Spirit shimmers and flutters and blazes into view. Poet Ted Loder calls this, "teetering on the edge of a maybe." I perch on the edge of self-doubt, which strangely doubles as the edge of cosmic acceptance. Grace unfolds in those awkward spaces between naughts and oughts. I am challenged, continually, to live more fully and step more willingly into the gaps.
And now it is Almost Time for one of my favorite Gaps of all: Samhainn, the Celtic New Year. Like Christmas and Fat Tuesday, this has long been celebrated as a "time beyond time" when the shackles of society are shaken off in favor of wildness. Yes, there's a sinister side--tricks can be cruel and damage may be done--but the essence of this time is a holy one. Where and when else, in our fast-paced, artificially brightened lives, are we given permission to see and acknowledge the dark?
Like the Jewish people and many other ancient agricultural societies, the Celts recognized darkness as the necessary time/place for all beginnings. Each new day begins at sundown. The year starts when the cold creeps in, the light wanes and the hard labours of harvest come to an end. It's a welcome respite, a seasonal sabbath. Seeds rest in the soil, new life sleeps in the dark womb, and all wise people take time to laugh and rest, doing the crucial work of re-creation, singing and sharing tales among deep shadows and flickering light.
Among the shadows: not an easy place to be. Yet our shadows demand attention, as our brightness continually invents them. Samhainn may wear the disguise of No-Man's Land, but what it really offers is Common Ground, a place for honest hopes and unreasonable fears to meet. Here is one meeting I will not miss. Here is one lesson for which I dare not show up late. (Hurry! Finish the wiring in our new house, so we can turn off all the lights!) Now is the time to step into the darkness, dance and wrestle with the darkness, shake the grief loose from my bones, mourn for all things returned to earth, and dream of new life that shall spring.
Happy New Year! May this "Almost Time" become a celebration. May we dance and weep around the bonfires of loss, feast on the richness of our memories, and--in dreams--step into the future's blessed embrace.