Something Sacred to Smash Open
Hello Dear Ones,
It’s been ages. I’ve missed connecting with you. How are you feeling after these past few weeks? What a month we’ve all had! Here in our SoCal neighborhood, the weather has finally changed - - 57F in the day and down to 36F at night, which is cool for us- - and it’s quiet. The cooler temps and shorter days have drawn people indoors. Besides, I think everyone is emotionally exhausted. I’m happy the barrage of political ads have been replaced by Christmas ads.
Doesn’t Halloween feel like light-years away? Since Halloween coincided with a Blue Moon, I opted to take a break in my usual full-moon music releases since I figured everyone would be too distracted. So, after four months of monthly song releases, I’m enjoying the slower pace this gap month has provided. It’s given me a little respite and time to work on some administrative tasks and to benefit from some additional opportunities. I was fortunate enough to be the musical guest on Medium Marisa Liza Pell’s YouTube Talk show. And then I had an online residency of sorts, when the “All About Jazz” website consecutively featured three of my songs as their “Track of the Day.” I’ve been keeping my eyes open for evidence of abundance and good and those unexpected opportunities certainly qualify as affirmations. Believe me, they provided a positive lift, because it’s also been a time to reflect and to release lingering negative energy and outdated mindsets.
Yep, October was an emotional month. Last year was the scariest Halloween ever; the breast cancer had just been diagnosed and there was the great unknown in front of me. So much has happened since then, and even though I knew in my heart and mind that I didn’t have any cause for worry, it was time for my annual follow-up exams and it was interesting how having to go through that same battery of tests again triggered so many emotions related to the previous year. In fact, while I was waiting on test results, I even broke out with a rash around the surgical site. It was completely psychosomatic. To counteract it, I applied anti-itch ointment to the affected area and applied my Faith Over Fear spiritual work to my mindset, paying little heed to the rash and focusing instead on gratitude for my good health. After 24 hours, the rash subsided and I was given the news that all my tests came back normal, healthy and cancer-free. Phew! More emotions: relief, gratitude, celebration, self-reflection.
Last week, I intended to write a post about Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), but I didn’t feel compelled to write an explanation of the holiday. There are plenty of other sites that do that. This year, people were needing this celebration, honoring the dead. I had people asking if we would hold a virtual gathering this year. We didn’t. I just didn’t have the wherewithal to MC an event online. Instead, I spent the week truly focused on those who have passed; scanning and restoring photos and doing genealogical research. It was very rewarding and brought a closer connection to the past. I had the intention to create new individual memorials for the altar and I even bought all the craft supplies, but when the time came, I chose to wait on this and get to know my ancestors more.
It’s a week since Day of the Dead and our altar is still set up in the middle of our living room, the candles still lit in tribute. It will probably stay up until the weekend. That’s not that unusual. For us, Día de los Muertos festivities usually span a few weeks because we celebrate twice: once with the family at our relatives gravesites in San Diego, and again when we host a gathering in our home with our family of friends. Not this year. This year, we stayed home, just the four of us. This year, we had our best ofrenda (home altar) ever and a week of feasting, but it was decidedly less ceremonial. Instead, it was relaxed and familial and cozy.
It was an intense week and I felt like I wanted my family around me. I wanted to feel the warming embrace of my ancestors and departed loved ones, family and friends. People who lived through trials and tribulations, who now could spiritually guide me and make me feel rooted and centered amidst all of last week’s swirling emotions and anxieties.
Truth be told, my ancestors are never far from me. In our home, I’ve created a space for them, where we have many of their photos along with photos of our living family. I connect with them daily. I greet them every time I pass their pictures in our hallway. I light candles for them each night. I thank them and tell them that I love them.
My childhood home had a long hallway and when I was a kid, my mother had the idea to create a gallery with photos of our family members. Alongside the current school photos of all the cousins, there were older photos of our aunts and uncles when they were younger and photos of some family members unknown, who had passed away. Our family home was pretty modest, and not as well decorated as some of my other relatives’ homes, but this hallway captured everyone’s hearts and imaginations. Whether young or old, our visitors always made their way to the hallway to enjoy the photos, to remember good times and to reflect on the past.
This time of year is always so meaningful to me. It’s a time for remembrance, reflection and release. It’s followed by a time of Thanksgiving and gratitude. Then comes the season of light and grace and celebration and then the new year. These are sentimental seasons that touch our hearts, as we reconnect with our traditions, our rituals, our religion and our heritage.
In our family, the autumn season starts in September with our twin sons’ birthdays. October is typically filled with fun seasonal activities and costume making and Halloween celebrations. However, we consciously make a distinct separation between that holiday and the holy days of Dias de los Muertos. For us, this time is sacred to the memory of those who went before us.
This year, by chance, after years of searching for it, I finally rewatched a film that made a tremendous impact on me when I was a child. I only saw it the one time, when I was probably 5 years old, but I never forgot one important scene. The film was called The Bluebird. In it, Shirley Temple and her little brother and their pets set-off in search of the bluebird of happiness. I never forgot the scene (starting 25 minutes into the film)
where the children go to the graveyard and see their grandparents’ tombstones. Upon remembering them, Shirley and her brother are magically transported to the past, where the grandparents awaken to greet them. Shirley says to her grandmother “ We thought you were dead.” The Grandmother replies “No dear, only when we’re forgotten.” Even the clock reanimates. The grandmother says “See, as soon as you think of it, it comes to life.” I never forgot that message. It stayed with me and it resonates today.
I was the kid who always wanted to listen to the adults’ stories; this led to a love of genealogy. I was the kid who loved all things old and historic; this lead to my love of vintage clothing and music and film. My present is deeply woven with my past and the past of those I may not even have known. I feel tremendous gratitude to them and compassion for all that they lived through. They were not without their faults; they were not without their failings. Some I knew and liked; others not so much. Nonetheless, I’m grateful to them. I forgive them. I try to learn from them. I try to understand. I never forget where I came from. Generational roots run deep and can affect you, even without your understanding the connection; especially when you don’t understand the connection. There’s even a whole new focus of study on generational trauma and how it can be passed on. It’s fascinating how those things can live in your DNA. Some people are resistant, or fearful of the past. Not me. I look for connections, these are touchstones that can guide, or inspire me, even today. Even all these years later.
When I was in my late 20s, this quote from Joseph Campbell helped me through one of the bleakest periods of my life. It changed my perspective utterly and helped me reframe the challenges I was facing. It speaks to this very idea of touchstones. It gave me hope when I most needed it:
“Furthermore, we have not to even risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is throughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world."
That’s what we need most in this time of divisiveness; to be one with all the world. To me, that starts with remembering the past and owning it.
This piece speaks volumes to me on these holy days of remembrance. Each time I read it, it brings tears to my eyes. It is called “The Riddle of Longing,” which comes from the book, “The Displaced Children of Displaced Children” by Faisal Mohyyuddin:
“When to be an immigrant’s
son is to be a speaker of several
broken tongues, each day
leaves you homesick
for a place you’ve never
touched, nor forgotten, and feel
the ache to know. When there is
no one left, you ask the wind
for directions. Your own
voice returns with a map
of your mother’s palms spoken
into threads of tangled blue
light. Take the long way
home, through the cemetery.
There, kiss your father’s name,
bring back an echo of grief,
and a phlox. When years
later your son finds it crushed
within a book, he will feel
against his face a warm pup
of your living breath, then
a wink of green wings behind
his eyes. Strange, that I am
holding two large rocks
looking for something else
sacred to smash open.”
It’s fitting that Dias de los Muertos is after the harvest. The autumn is a living metaphor; with days that are shorter and colder and leaves falling from the trees, it may look as though the everything around us is dying, but instead the trees are letting go of that which no longer feeds them. They are letting go of the past, going within to prepare for the spring, when they will seem to be reborn again.
This is a fitting lesson for all of us as we approach the end of a incredibly challenging year; the end of an emotionally exhausting season. Now is a good time for personal reflection, before the days of Thanksgiving, before the cold of winter, and in preparation for the new year. At this key time, these are the questions that have been running through my mind: What good do you want to see manifested in the world? What old ideas from the past are you willing to let go of, to make room for something better? What hard earned lessons have you learned in 2020, to illuminate your path? What skills do you need to develop to move forward? What can you do to be a part of the solution and the healing? What can you do/share to bring about more unity, love and understanding? How are you welcoming abundance, joy, and peace in your life?
Here is the prayer treatment that I have been working with during this time of reflection and release:
"I know that every apparent death is the resurrection; therefore, today, gladly I die to everything that is unlike the good.
Joyfully I am resurrected into that which is beautiful, enduring and true.
Silently I pass from less to more, from isolation into inclusion, from separation into oneness.
The perfect Law of Good is operating through me.
Joyfully I accept it.
Joyfully I permit its action in everything that I do.
I know that my recognition of good is the substance of the good which I recognize, and I know that this good is ever taking form in my experience.
It is impossible for me to be separated from my good.
Today, realizing that there is nothing in my past which can rise against me, nothing in my future which can menace the unfoldment of my experience, life shall be an eternal adventure, an unfolding experience of greater and better experiences.
Evolution is onward, upward, forward, outward, expansive - - “I am calm that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
Today I exult in this abundant life.
I revel in the contemplation of the immeasurable future, the path of eternal progress, the everlastingness of my own being, the ongoing of my soul, the daily renewed energy and action of that Divinity within me, which has forever set the stamp of individualized Being on my mind." *
*From the book, "This Thing Called You", by Ernest Holmes, p. 170.
I believe we are all here as an individualized expression of Spirit. I believe that we all have unique gifts, talents and abilities that will help to heal to world, if we are only brave enough to excavate them, and generously share them.
In the words of JFK: “You’re happiest while you're making the greatest contribution”. I think if we all feel that sense of fulfillment and if we also respect each other’s contributions, we’ll find peace, love and compassion for ourselves and for each other. We’ve only got one world and we’ve only got the guarantee of this moment. Where will you find your bluebird of happiness? What can you do today? What part will you play?
Wishing you well, dear ones. I hope you find strength and peace and have continued good health, as we move into this cooler season. Now is the time for gratitude and Thanksgiving. December is all about finding the light and the savior. Stay safe and continue to protect each other and share your good.
Love and Light and Blessings,