Photograph: Viola Loretti

“Once upon a time, when women were birds,

there was the simple understanding that

to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk

was to heal the world through joy.

The birds still remember

what we have forgotten,

that the world is meant to be

celebrated.”

~Terry Tempest Williams

There comes a time when we must allow something timeless to touch us in order to truly change and move beyond our fixed attitudes and limited understanding of the mysteries of life. When it seems like all might end in disaster, it becomes a question of finding the deeper imagination of life, the enduring patterns and essential stories that reunite us to the pulse of nature and the heart of culture.” — Michael Meade

“In exile, we must do as the goddess Innana did, surrendering layer after layer of armour and adornment, until we are bare. We must then undergo a symbolic death of the old life in order to be reborn with greater resilience and a holy assignment to carry forward.

Excerpt from Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner (belongingbook.com)

Mass has been canceled here because of the threat of plague but the sonorous bells have been ringing all morning. It’s a comforting sound in its feeling of community and it’s calling to worship the mystery.

The world is a mystery to be celebrated, not used as a tool to make us rich, or even to just survive. It is to be seen in its beauty, recognized as a mystery and consciously celebrated. The mystic vision that goes into art and poetry is needed now. We need to develop a deeper imagination of life. Our imagination of things now is poor. It’s poverty stricken. We are commanded now by circumstances to look again, more deeply, more lovingly, with closer attention.

Slowing down, stopping our senseless rushing about is just the thing the world has lacked. We have long since wandered away from the “pulse of nature and the heart of culture.” Many among us are disoriented by this turn of events. We relied on our constructed habits and customs to give ourselves a sense that our life has meaning and direction. The realization has started to dawn that we’ve been captured by a small vision of things, by an illusion. We have banished mystery, comforting ourselves in made-up certainties.

It’s a bit of a shock to discover how little we understand. Our explanations are suddenly inadequate when faced by death. We ask, looking back over our time in the world — where is the joy? If it’s over for me and mine, what did it all mean?

The mysteries and beauties of this creation are grand, grandiose even, and we have made them small with our constricted optic. Encountering the mystery directly, touching it when it reveals itself, can only happen when we take time out from the too-busy world. A mind crammed with the details of living, with the requirements of ego, with social and familial obligations, is preoccupied. It can’t easily attend to “peripheral” issues like beauty and meaning.

So, I see this time as an opportunity to rearrange our spectacles so we can focus better on the things that matter. We have yet to discover how to live on this planet because we have forgotten what’s important. The culture Americans live in puts their survival on the line every day. Young people entering the fray now are wondering how to do the most basic things, like marry and have children, pay the rent and eat. At the moment, lawmakers are debating what is the minimum they can do for the masses.

Justice, kindness, true helpfulness will have to be rediscovered. Those values must be placed at the heart of our culture for it to thrive. The cruelty in our way of life has to be seen clearly for what it is, otherwise we can’t grow beyond it. Now is the time to stop and look at ourselves. Now is the time to see who we are and why we have created this impasse.

This time is a gift from the gods if we can recognize it and use it.

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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