I have taken a long slumber. It seems right as the days became darker in more ways than literal. We continue in this time of chaos and unknown. The pandemic; the transition of power in the United States; the pain throughout the World. In the midst, last night was the Solstice… and also the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter.
My adult twin children are both at home with me in our latest shelter in place bubble. We are here together for the holidays. I asked them to walk with me last night to our beach for sunset and view the “Christmas Star”. The convergence of the two planets of Saturn and Jupiter that is thought to have created the bright light that long ago in Christian tradition, led the wise men to the baby Jesus… the great hope. My offspring and I are far from the world of astronomy so we ventured off… the blind leading the blind. We got to the beach just before sunset. It was glorious… ranges of clouds with hues of pink, orange, yellow, blue… in the forefront was the bay water with the Elsie B. Roemer Bird Sanctuary that is home to the endangered California Clapper Rails. They were swarming the low tide waters and in full force. It was lovely to watch them fly in formation against the setting sun.
My children and I looked to the setting sun to try and figure out what we were looking for with this special conjunction event. I had sent my children the KQED news article earlier in the day describing what we were to look for… so we all took out our iPhones to decipher our task at hand. Twin B stated, “Well it seems a small telescope would have been helpful.” As with all our adventures… we go full in without preparation. Thus we started search for photos of what the sky was to produce and where to look. Sunset came and went and we did not see that great light. As we hung on with hope… we all three acknowledged that at least we saw a glorious sunset. We were about to give up and then chose to wait it out. We sat and pondered and in the waiting I began to notice all the people that were coming out. It seemed in the midst of this horrific pandemic that has locked people in… nature was bringing people out… hoping to see a miracle of some kind. As is my experience; it did not matter what belief or experience anyone had… all were seeking something similar… that bright miraculous light that gave a glimmer of hope and wonder. It was really energizing to watch the people gather.
As we sat shivering in that California cold night that I know is nothing compared to other parts of the country, we waited. There is something powerful in waiting. Finally, we saw one and then two of the lights we were awaiting that composed the “Christmas Star” We did not have the fancy telescope and it may not have been as magnificent as seeing it through that lens. But through our naked eyes we saw the light and shared that experience. We sat on a bench by the beach, hearing the Clapper Rails delight and watching the great light that was beyond anything we could imagine. It was a night I will remember for some time.
Tonight I met with friends via Zoom, that have met every two weeks since the Shelter In Place began in March. As it was the last of our meetings of 2020, I was asked to offer a blessing. I offered the following to describe our year and our time as humans together. I feel we have all been offered a time of reflection, of silence, of wandering in the unknown; and of understanding the simple act of kindness. I hope this offering speaks to you in this winter night!
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
May we journey through the darkness toward light… however we find it…
May it be so!