Finding Enchantment in our Modern World

Enchant

There are two definitions of the work Enchant, v. in the Webster’s New Riverside University Dictionary: 1. to cast a spell over;  2. to Charm and delight completely.

Have you every encountered a scene in nature that has enchanted you?  How about a person?  Or a pet?  Perhaps the place or person delights you and you have gathered some lovely memories around that place or person.  If you are enchanted by a pet, you probably love spending lots of time playing with your critter friend. No matter the source of your enchantment, memories of spending time with that source undoubtedly bring you joy and peace.

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Our late beloved pet hamster, Elsa, eating a blackberry

Gratitude and Well-Being

What are your sources of enchantment?  Take out a piece of paper and make a list.  How many are they?  Does writing about them and reading over your list lead to feelings of gratitude and well-being?  When you think about them, does time slow down or stop for you?  This happens to me when I write about aspects of my world that bring me a sense of enchantment.  Here are some of the things on my list:

  1. Working in my garden
  2. Reading an enthralling book
  3. Playing with my daughter
  4. Playing with our hamsters
  5. Walking around my neighborhood during an evening snowfall
  6. Spending time by the seashore
  7. Playing my musical instruments
  8. Walking a labyrinth

Please feel free to share some of your items as comments below.  I’d love to know about them.

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My tabletop seashore labyrinth, which I made for myself

Re-Enchanting Our World

I am reading a book by former priest and psychologist Thomas Moore, titled The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life.  He is very Jungian in his perspective about how people form relationships with the world and how the modern world distracts us from developing deeper connections with nature, places we visit, animals, other humans, and the food we eat.  The materials of the homes we live in affect our sense of peace when we are there.  There could be too much of one element in a home, such as wood, and not enough of another, such as stone.  There could be too little color or other types of creative stimulation in our work spaces. Such imbalances increase our levels of anxiety and affect our well-being.  They detract from our health.  If we give ourselves a chance to tune into what we need, we can create a more balanced home with a few adjustments, and begin our journey back to a greater sense of wholeness.

Once we can find enchantment daily in our homes, we have the freedom and openness to find enchantment in who we encounter there, such as family and pets.  After that, we will be able to find enchantment in the places we pass through regularly, or visit occasionally, such as parks, schools, farm stands or local shops.  Are there places in your town that you find enchanting?  Are there favorite places that your family loves to visit?  Our family loves to visit North Conway, New Hampshire and Acadia National Park in Mane.  We also love to walk the trails of our local conservation land to our town library.

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My daughter holding a sheep puppet that I knitted for her and she decorated

We Are Enough

When we look around us, do we find an enchanting place that warms our heart?  If not, we can change that and make it more comfortable, more us.  Our homes are meant to reflect what we love most, what makes us feel truly “at home” in the world.  From that place we can have greater energy to meet the challenges that the world hands us, and respond with resilience and hope, perhaps sprinkled with playfulness.  We can be a healing presence to others.  Who we are is enough to light up the world.  May we bless each other with our unique light!

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Heartlights of Hope in the Darkness

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Marshmallows toasted over a roaring bonfire

Where does your glow come from?

We are now engulfed in the heart of winter.  The holiday season is winding down and the coldest days of the season are still before us. No matter where we live, the dark hours of the night still seem much longer than those of daylight.  What makes this season of cold and dark bearable for you?  How do you satisfy your longing for warmth and light?

We need the shadow play of dark and light that winter brings.  Only on the darkest nights do the lights on trees, bushes, yards and porches shine brighter.  The darkness commands us to slow down, bundle up, and face the blustery side of nature.  The time we spend inside gives us the opportunity to think about what we want to make happen in the new calendar year. The longer shadows help us focus our thoughts toward our center.  The light of candles is softer than electric illumination, and fits the reflective mood of the winter months.  One of the first things I do each day in December is to plug in the lights of our Christmas tree. As evening approaches, I light candles on safe surfaces.  The play of shadow and light that they create invites us into a spirit of mystery and anticipation.

Bonfires and Holiday Lights

I am fortunate to live in Central Massachusetts.  I live in an intentional community full of neighbors who love to gather around the hearth.  When the night sky is crisp and clear with starlight, we sometimes stoke bonfires in the bowl pit and roast marshmallows.  Neighbors also string lights on their porches and doors in anticipation of the holiday season.  Those lights bring cheer and inspire me to spend more time walking around outside before I curl up under a pile of blankets inside.

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Neighbor’s door decorated for the holidays

Walking around our co-housing village this time of year is a magical time. My daily goal of 10,000 steps is more easily realized while walking the footpaths close to home.  I often greet neighbors who are also walking about and wave to children playing.  At dusk, the lights strung on porches and in doorways begin to sparkle brightly against the approaching nightfall.  They are beacons of hope and warmth when the wind picks up and the chill begins to freeze my limbs.  Yet, there are also fields nearby to step away into the darkness and appreciate the starlight of the winter constellations.

When I walk, my first destination is usually our community labyrinth on the other end of our village.  It is a wonder-filled place to walk and reflect.  It’s Baltic Wheel design and natural setting inspires moments of stillness and appreciation for nature’s wisdom.  The deep, dark colors of our conifers stand out as snow laces their branches and shrouds the earth around their roots.

snowy-labyrinth

Winter Garden Wonder

Another place quite close to us that we love to visit is Tower Hill Botanical Garden.  It was established in 1986 by the Worcester Horticultural Society and hosts a wide variety of programs for members and guests to forge a deeper kinship with nature.  The garden is a magical place all year round, in all seasons, but especially when it is lit up with many lights during the site’s Winter Re-Imagined festival.  Their outside and inside exhibits delight visitors of all ages.  I spent 2 evenings this month volunteering there and plan to return soon.

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Courtyard lit up during Winter Re-Imagined at Tower Hill Botanical Garden, Boylston, MA

Happy New Year

May all of your days in 2017 be filled with love, hope, and cheer.  May the warmth of holiday lights remind you that you are not alone, that no matter where you are you are thought of fondly.  May the spring bring warmer days to accomplish outside tasks and the summer shine on an abundant garden harvest.  May all of your dearest dreams come true!

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Winged Healers in our World

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Raw Honey bought at Harvard Sq. shop

National Honey Bee Day

Saturday, August 20, 2016 was National Honey Bee Day, instituted as a celebration of the beauty, industry, and generosity of honey bees.  They deserve our respect and appreciation.  There are so many things that our winged friends do for us:

  1. Pollinate our plants so that flowers and food blossom and grow for us.
  2. Make honey that contains an abundance of healing properties.
  3. Their honey adds sweetness to our lives without spiking glucose levels.
  4. They build beautiful hives that are geometrically intricate – according to the Fibonacci pattern of mathematics.

Bees in Community

If those aren’t enough reasons to appreciate bees, they also live in and inspire community.  All bees work together to accomplish their home building and honey production, and to keep their family thriving.

On August 19th, the eve of their special day this year, the owner of Follow the Honey, a shop in Harvard Square, hosted an evening of poetry by Devi Lockwood  in their warmly lit courtyard.  She is a cyclist and a writer who traveled around the world collecting stories about water and climate change.  Her poetry is beautiful and thought-provoking and speaking with her was a pleasure.  We bought a copy of her chapbook to support her next bicycle trip, which will be to attend the climate talks in Morocco.

Follow the Honey also partnered with Proud Pour, a wine company that helps the environment thrive with each bottle it creates.  It’s “Oyster” white wine is crispy and refreshing on a summer’s night, reasonably priced and restores 100 oysters with each bottle.  They will name their next wine project “The Bee,” which will have sweet honey notes in it and will dedicate its sales to supporting the health and survival of bee colonies.

Sustainable Business Models

I was impressed by how a business model can be built around contributing to economic and environmental justice.  The time it took to travel and park in Harvard Square was rewarded with a wealth of fresh knowledge and our chance to taste a variety of honey flavors. We also brought home 2 jars of raw honey, which we have enjoyed in our iced tea and morning cereal.

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A Garden of Poetry

On May 2, 2016, my family and I attended the 45th anniversary of Stone Soup Poetry at the Out of the Blue art gallery in Cambridge, MA.  This poetry open mic was founded in 1971 by the late Jack Powers. who encouraged writers to share their work in a supportive atmosphere.

We are grateful for all or our poet friends and were happy we could enjoy the transformational power of poetry as expressed in the spirit of community.  The last time we were there was in July of 2009.  Our daughter was small.  She is now a little older and was given the chance to stand up and read 2 of her papa’s poems.

Below is the reflection I have written about my time in the company of fellow poets at last Monday’s poetry open mic.

Butterfly on a flower

Lyrical words washed over me this evening, as gentle waves lap a sun-toasted shoreline.

Sirens screamed above hums of acknowledgement and the clapping hands of appreciation.

The chalice of my heart filled up, my soul was nourished.

Moments of beauty tumbled after each other as poets read the works of their hearts, written with pens and other tools. They gifted me with fresh ideas to feast upon.  Their words lighted the lamp of my imagination.

My brain floated through the night sky filled with stars and moons that were painted on the podium they stood behind.

From the Alaskan tundra to an urban laundromat, from navy yards to salty shorelines,  I traveled.

Kissing, welding, flying, falling, I have done, thinking about tossing together a bowl full of words to throw into the soup of my life.

Porcupines, cats, fluffy puppies and sing-along songs saluted the memory of Jack Powers, the founder of Stone Soup Poetry.

We were all dreamers of a world we love that night, healers of broken-hearts with words that let them know we are there to walk their journey with them.

The balm of understanding we applied to fellow wayfarers near and far, giving our own voices to the concerns of creatures whose voices are seldom heeded.  Our sharing brought us closer to the possibilities in all of us.

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Photo of a young Jack Powers

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