Monthly Archives: May 2021

2021 Meeting the Moment #19

The opportunity turned up as a general invitation and while I prevaricated and swivelled in my chair for perhaps ten seconds longer than my intuition told me and my rational self tried to take control, I did eventually stand up and make my way, with quick steps to the stage.

I took the time to find the note and hummed my way into the first line, finding the tenor and the timing enabling the words to find their way into my mouth.  Just a few lines and some moves to build the inclusive experience for all in my typical signature way, and it was easeful.  Within a few moments spells were broken that had been cast long ago.  How ironic for the moment to be a musical one and how powerful for it to be an improvised one. The basic building block of improv is yes, and.  And this moment was met with yes, and.  

The Spell Caster in this story, finding ways to block and disable opportunities was left without a leg to stand on as I took to the stage.  The old carefully crafted incantations of self-protection designed to effect fear and instil caution were swept away by the mantra “I am enough”. It was very safe to come to the microphone, the musicians and one holding the space had my back, had the audiences as well and in the complementarity of both, was able to find a path to keep the container to hold us all solid and secure.  Deep gratitude to his skills and experience!

The voice in my head as I left the stage was of one my children saying Mum you are living your best life. Over the past few years, I have not known what living any kind of life might be like, let alone a best one. I have flayed around trying to find the right tune, right tone, a harmony, and the odd blues note – yet somehow in these few short minutes on stage I managed to get to the entire next level and make sense of some of the time now past.  Taking my time with the humming into the space such a useful metaphor to take the measure and feel and hear what the music was asking of me, the call to my response.  Then finding the notes and making up my own lyrics, to express what I had learnt, seen through the day, with the backing of a band, not a solo artist or even a solo musical instrument, but multiple players and multiple instruments, a profound reminder I am not alone and there are harmonies and chords to be found in the notes and the spaces between the notes is where the music finds its shape and form.  Then my invitation to the audience to abandon their position and sway with hands in the air, a reflection of asking people to come follow me, knowing they have the capacity and capability to do that and do not need any more sophisticated instruction, just a simple demonstration and then everyone can participate. And finally, the recognition that all have a place, a contribution to the song and leaving the stage, the music goes on and the next person can step up. Just like the geese in formation, another can take their turn in the lead and helping to reduce the wind resistance and taking it in turns conserves energy for the whole flock.

Instead of malevolence there is benevolence – bene volent – well wishing – surely a great way to break a spell!  There were only well wishes being bestowed in the moment at the microphone this week. The realm of generosity, joy and gratitude appeared in the magic of the moment, by invoking the instruction of the poet David Whyte of being half a shade braver. I also took the advice of researcher Brene Brown to let hurtful stuff drop to the floor, and step over it and keep going. “You can’t take criticism and feedback from people who are not being brave with their lives.”  

A spell was broken this week, more stuff dropped on the threshing floor to step over. The stage was that place where the chaff was tossed to the wind and the wheat made ready for the bread of salvation to be baked. A different kind of communion, as fully transformational as any other consumed previously.

Photo by Ali Yılmaz on Unsplash

2021 Meeting the Moment #18

I have been learning about the Celtic season of May Day, in Irish known as Bealtaine. The feast of the bright fire to herald summer. It is considered I understand as the threshold of the opposites. The yin and yang, masculine and feminine, good, and evil. One of the pairs of opposites I have written about over the years has been the moving on and holding still – and I have come to a conclusion that they are not opposites and I wonder if in these non-binary times, we might be being invited into a beyond opposites era? In the ritual with this festival you move between two fires or perhaps more modestly these days two candles. The humble flame inviting the extraordinary out from you. In every moment we meet, the extraordinary maybe hidden, and we might miss it if we do not take to the time to catch our breath or be curious.

There is a moment always to be met – catching the wave so you can surf to the shore, coming in with precision when the conductor calls upon you, standing firm when a bully is having their way.  And how elegant it seems when these moments are met; there is ease and an oozing of confidence that builds trust with those caught in the same moment. Even those watching on can tell that the safety net is not needed, such is the dignity and evidence of practice visible by the actions that hold the moment firmly in place. These can be sacred, respectful moments.

There are so many opportunities in every day to notice what is emerging, what is being held firmly in place, what builds trust. Vulnerability is the courage you must show up fully to those opportunities, to be willing to risk, to enter the potential for danger, to be in a space inside yourself that holds at least a sliver of anxiety. Inside that space alongside anxiety, ego has also made a home. Detaching can help you cross that threshold and propel you to a new world. The liminal space of the inner and outer worlds meeting as we catch the moment of crossing and play midwife to our own edge.

I love to walk circular bushwalks leaving the car and being able to come back to it having hiked up and down a hill or two and finding my way back. I am comforted by a non-linear approach to destination, as I am never the same person at the end as I was when I first set off. I will have crossed a threshold or two though along the way and the journey not the destination is the pilgrim process. I often find I am out of breath, need water, invoking a Hail Mary to get up a hill, clinging to my walking sticks in case I fall. The opposites of up and down often make me laugh, I think to myself when I am going up well if I were going the other way I would be going down. There are times where I am ambitiously cautious about my edges and take a path more challenging than my level of fitness or capability. There are times too when I choose an easier path so I won’t get tested and my vulnerability stays intact.

These private spaces on my own on a hill, are instructional for spaces where courage is called for in more public domains. The inner and outer, public, and private, can feel very oppositional, although I know them more to be two sides of the one coin. When I am living whole heartedly and with awareness of the liminal it seems more likely vulnerability will turn up. Going to the edges is  where radical transformation invitations are offered. Having the courage to meet those moments when the opportunities arise, and catching those moments, is a practice.

I took this photo of a fire in Santiago de Compostela at the end of walking just over 200kms on the camino. This was an inner and outer experience and am I am still on the pilgrimage. It is the blue flame of queimada – a Galician concoction of brandy, coffee, cinnamon and lemon peel. The drink is prepared as this incantation is said:

Owls, barn owls, toads and witches.
Demons, goblins and devils,
spirits of the misty vales.
Crows, salamanders and witches,
charms of the folk healer(ess).
Rotten pierced canes,
home of worms and vermin.
Wisps of the Holy Company,
evil eye, black witchcraft,
scent of the dead, thunder and lightning.
Howl of the dog, omen of death,
maws of the satyr and foot of the rabbit.
Sinful tongue of the bad woman
married to an old man.
Satan and Beelzebub's Inferno,
fire of the burning corpses,
mutilated bodies of the indecent ones,
farts of the asses of doom,
bellow of the enraged sea.
Useless belly of the unmarried woman,
speech of the cats in heat,
dirty turf of the wicked born goat.
With this bellows I will pump
the flames of this fire
which looks like that from Hell,
and witches will flee,
straddling their brooms,
going to bathe in the beach
of the thick sands.
Hear! Hear the roars
of those that cannot
stop burning in the firewater,
becoming so purified.
And when this beverage
goes down our throats,
we will get free of the evil
of our soul and of any charm.
Forces of air, earth, sea and fire,
to you I make this call:
if it's true that you have more power
than people,
here and now, make the spirits
of the friends who are outside,
take part with us in this Queimada.
Flame of Queimada Santiago de Compostela, Spain