In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.
"Cloud Streets" over the Bering Sea, from NASA's Earth Observatory, Jan 4, 2012. Thank you to G. for telling me about this treasure-trove of fascinating images.
...and back to regular blogging.
It's been good for me to take a break. Picking up thirty-one "small stones", found in various places, was a different way to spend January here, and surprisingly useful: some of those little pebbles of wisdom were actually pretty big and I hope I've still managed to swallow them whole! The holidays had been busy and for some reason really threw me off-stride where my own creative projects were concerned. I felt like I lost a lot of momentum, and am just now getting it back. Then too, there's always a dip in energy during this part of the winter here, for me at least. The clear cold days can be very beautiful and exhilarating, but the grey, slushy, icy ones are just the opposite: the tendency is to get up slowly, drive to the studio instead of walking (likewise, take the bus or metro instead of walking), stay indoors and get less exercise in general (and sometimes for good reason: several people I know have had really bad falls and ended up with broken wrists, shoulders, ankles), go home after dark, make dinner, and snuggle down under a comforter with a good book or a video.
I've been working on tech-y things this past month, not writing too much, and not drawing, but busy with singing, and playing a bit more piano in the evenings. I've read a couple of good books, too -- the latest being The Tiger's Wife, which I'll probably write something about here eventually. We've been watching BBC programs and documentaries: Downton Abbey, nature programs, Vladimir Putin, India, the Crusades. Not a bad change of pace, by any means.
At the cathedral, our new social justice action group has been getting more organized, and a few weekends ago I helped lead a brainstorming session on justice and faith which drew a surprising 26 people, including a number of new, young participants. People are concerned about our world, and the fact that they want to do something gives me hope; the least I can do is try to help with planning, organizing, publicizing. And soon Lent will be here; I've been asked to lead a session or two at the annual quiet retreat, possibly on writing as a spiritual practice.
I had my annual medical exams...all OK, so far as anyone can tell...it's always something I'm glad to get behind me, and yet I'm grateful: for the record, we're getting much more thorough and comprehensive care than we did in the U.S., for vastly less money, and that's the norm here for everyone.
Meanwhile, friends are flying to Barbados, Cuba, Florida, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico...but I don't think we're going anywhere this winter because we're waiting for the contractor to begin the renovations on our bathrooms after last year's flood from the apartment above. So things feel basically good as the month begins, but a bit up-in-the-air: how are they with you?
The beauty of the unconscious is that it knows a great deal—whether personal or collective—but it always knows that it does not know, cannot say, and dare not try to prove or assert too strongly; because what it does know is that there is always more—and all words will fall short. The contemplative is precisely the person who agrees to live in that unique kind of brightness (a combination of light and dark that is brighter still!). The Paradox, of course, is that it does not feel like brightness at all, but what John of the Cross calls a “luminous darkness,” or others call “learned ignorance.”
In summary, you cannot grow in the great art form, the integration of action and contemplation, without 1) a strong tolerance for ambiguity; 2) an ability to allow, forgive, and contain a certain degree of anxiety; and 3) a willingness to not know and not even need to know. This is how you allow and encounter mystery. All else is mere religion.