Lighting the Candle Again

Carol A. Hand

December 22, 2017

***

Winter Solstice for the Northern Hemisphere just passed

symbolizing growing light

inspiring me to set a candle aglow with gratitude

on this dark December night

for all those who have shared the journey

with creative compassionate spirits shining bright

***

Lighting the Candle for the Four Directions

This morning when I awoke I was reflecting on my lack of hope and passion these days. It feels as though everything I love, everything that brings me joy and peace and hope is at risk. When did my hope and passion disappear? Was it because of the institutions where I worked that publicly espoused social justice missions but contradicted those values through the actions of the majority? Was it because of the neighbors or ex-spouses who only appeared to be concerned with their own comfort and their own pursuit of happiness? Was it because of the zeitgeist of the times summarized by the observation of my newest neighbor when speaking of a child with serious mental health issues?  “I’m in this alone.” This feeling of being alone, when internalized, is a destroyer of hope and collective action and it seems to be a major obstacle for joining together to address the serious threats of these times.

As I look back, I realize this feeling has been an undercurrent in the past. Every intervention I have worked on hit this stumbling block sooner or later despite my best efforts. Like my neighbor, ultimately I felt alone in my past efforts because I was never able to inspire or cultivate enough hope for a critical mass of others who were willing to put aside immediate personal comfort to carry the responsibility for working toward a greater good. It was not for lack of trying.

Yesterday, as I was contemplating clearing away some of the gifts, papers, and books I’ve accumulated over the years that fill files, shelves, walls and cupboards, I noticed the white candle that sits atop my most important bookshelf – the one that holds irreplaceable books I used to write my dissertation. Of course, like all my mementos, the candle has a story.

***

December 13, 2014

***

I was working as the deputy director of health and human services for an inter-tribal agency. It was not an easy job for many reasons, primarily because of the enduring legacy of colonialism that continued to impose dominant cultural paradigms on tribal communities and use divide and conquer tactics to foment conflicts between “traditional” and “progressive” tribal factions. Resolving conflict was a central part of my job, and it often put me in the middle of powerful competing interests. At a particularly challenging time, I needed to travel with one of my staff to a conference on worldwide healing for Indigenous people held in Edmonton, Alberta. The conference helped me realize I was not alone. Rediscovering the candle on my bookcase reminded me of the conference’s closing ceremony.

More than one thousand of us, representing many cultures and nations, stood in a circle within a large auditorium holding hands. Then, one elder walked to the center. She explained that the closing ceremony was intended to remind us that we were not alone. Because we were in a government building, we couldn’t use candles (fire ordinances prevented it), so flashlights would have to do. And then, the lights in the room went out as her flashlight went on in the center of the circle. She signaled to the four directions, highlighting one person from each of the four directions to walk to the center – first the east, then the south, the west, and the north. The representatives were all given a flashlight. As they touched their darkened lights to the elders “candle,” their flashlights were turned on. They were instructed to carry their light to the four directions and light other candles in their part of the circle. The elder explained that it would not be easy to keep the candle fires burning, but if the light went out, people could always return to the center to light them once again.

This morning, I realize I need to take the time to finally light the candle on my book case. It’s not the same white candle I used for a similar ceremony years later for the 40 staff who worked for the Honoring Our Children Project that included nine tribal communities. Building and maintaining multicultural, interdisciplinary teams within and across different tribal cultures was not an easy task. Providing a center they could return to in challenging times was important. But it is the same candle I used in a farewell ceremony with the graduate students I mentored during our final class together. They would all be graduating and scattering to the four directions.

***

Sending Light to the Four Directions from Duluth, MN – December 13, 2014

***

As I lit the candle this morning, I thought of the inter-tribal staff who did astounding work, and the creative and inquisitive students I worked with over the years. I thought about my blogging friends around the world who help me realize that each of is sharing our light. And I thought about the many other people who carry light yet feel alone. May we learn to share our light and stand together for the sake of all we love.

***

Ulali, All My Relations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8LzOXVsC70

***

December Dawn

Carol A. Hand

December Dawn – 2017

***

A new day dawning

finally free of a burden

that caused so much pain

across decades

because yesterday I chose

to trust

caring competent others

and face my greatest fears.

***

Signals of Changing Seasons

Carol A. Hand

The waxing crescent at sunset
signals upcoming changes in seasons
alerting me about the need to refocus
for so many important reasons –

***

Crescent Moon at Sunset –
July 30, 2017

***

Thank you all for sharing your visionary art,
for enriching my life, and becoming a friend
I didn’t want to leave blogging for awhile
With my deep gratitude to you unpenned

***

Gratitude for Gardens and Granddaughters

Carol A. Hand

Sometimes, one doesn’t have to travel far

to observe serenity and beauty with beloved companions

Neighborhood Garden – July 3, 2017

Even in the context of critters, city “upgrades,” and unpredictable weather

City “Upgrades” on a Drizzly Day – July 12, 2017

sometimes there are possibilities to create little sanctuaries

Gardens in the Rain – July 12, 2017
Sanctuary at Sunset – July 16, 2017

to enjoy a simple life and share love and laughter

Enjoying the Sunshine – July 16, 2017

weaving deeper appreciation for things that matter

knowing that these precious moments will pass

with the ever-changing seasons of our lives

***

Joni Mitchell – Circle Game

Learning and Celebratory Joy

Carol A. Hand

In the bleakest of times

with the most mundane tasks

transformation is possible

It’s what life sometimes asks

us to do

***

Fern Unfurling – May 7, 2017

***

Holding focus on celebratory joy

opens up sacred heart spaces

where deeper lessons are discovered

and shared perhaps tearfully from inner places

revealing what is true

***

An Early Blooming Gift, Scilla siberica ( Siberian Squill) – May 7, 2017

***

The threads of our kinship to all

strengthened anew

Our unique connecting patterns

in the tapestry of life

shining through

***

Blooming Pulmonaria ( Lungwort) – May 7, 2017

***

Acknowledgements:

In honor of the colleagues and students who continue to make teaching and learning sacred endeavors. And in gratitude to the computer and cable technicians who made it possible for me to continue writing despite a malfunctioning anti-virus program.

***

Celebrating Possibilities

Carol A. Hand

Who would believe it’s possible
to witness lives transformed
in the span of a mere 2 years
by working together on a vision
of what could be?

Skills, knowledge and lasting bonds are built
when everyone shows up
graciously offering open minds and hearts
contributing their critical creativity to overcome challenges.

Divisions between teachers, learners, and cultures dissolve
expanding inclusive caring communities
empowered by life-long liberatory curiosity and compassion.

***

Students sharing what they learned to open up new possibilities and help create healthier communities

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Promoting restorative justice as an alternative to juvenile corrections

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Preserving culture and language by bringing generations together through storytelling circles

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Using research to involve youth in diverse communities to improve education

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Using skills to build programs to improve services for people who are homeless
and inspiring the next generation

Celebrating Accomplishments –
April 21, 2017

Celebrating connections and accomplishments

Acknowledgement:

In gratitude to colleagues and graduating students who make liberatory learning possible, and a special thank you to MJ for inspiring others by sharing her exceptional scholarship, tenacity, and wisdom.

Interstices – The Potent Space between Intentions and Outcomes

Carol A. Hand

When a seed, bulb or idea is planted

deep beneath the surface, unseen

it’s not easy to predict if it will ever blossom

Care and patience are essential

but they’re not always enough

***

Hopefully – a Hyacinth…

***

Engaging in the process of creating possibilities

through one’s everyday thoughts and actions

is a celebratory act of great courage

especially in times of darkness and repression

***

Kale and Broccoli Babies

***

Positive changes won’t happen

If no one is willing to risk the uncertainty of failure

and practice the patience and tenacity of stewardship

in the interstices between

intentions,

actions,

and

outcomes

***

Acknowledgements:

I’m grateful for the left-over seeds and bulbs from last year that have germinated so far, for the friends who gave me encouraging feedback on Part I of my edited book manuscript, and for the students in yesterday’s class who had tears in their eyes and applauded when I read a difficult passage I was struggling with from Part II.

***

Signs of These Times

Carol A. Hand

Do you ever experience times when all of the signs seem to converge? I’m recovering from being quite ill. Tomorrow, my blog will officially be three years old, and in nine days, I will officially turn seventy. I’m not afraid of death (usually). As my time here is growing ever shorter, I need to once again reflect on priorities.

February 9, 2017
February 9, 2017

 

I’m still teaching and probably will as long as I can move, think, and speak. I do love it. But to be honest, the income (though meager as an adjunct) is also a necessity to support a very simple life.

I’m still periodically a caregiver for a delightful granddaughter who will soon turn 10. That means we read, draw and play. It also means spending many hours preparing food and washing dishes, chores that are not my favorite things to do. But still, I do them lovingly.

Then, there’s the matter of a 400-plus-page book manuscript that is only 25 percent edited. As I was working on a beginning draft of a post about my mother’s parents, a follow-up to my last post about my paternal grandfather, I realized how important it is for me to finish editing this book. I had to turn to draft chapters for historical details that are not available on the internet.

Over the years, I have learned to view so many of you as beloved friends. I look forward to your posts and your kindness. I don’t know how many of you know that I always try to reciprocate. I try to return every visit to my blog with a like, and sometimes when I can find the words, a comment. I do take the time to read what you write before doing so.

WordPress doesn’t make reciprocity easy for someone with my lack of technical skills. The dropdown menu on the upper right of the screen only lists the past 10 “likes,” and often, the links don’t work. The images of “likers” at the bottom of a post don’t work then, either. The messages – “that blog no longer exists” or “there is no such blog” – mean I need to use google to try to find people. I know some of my friends prefer it that way. But I wonder how many bloggers check their avatar page to make sure the correct blog address is listed? That would make it so much easier for others to find you.

Blogging takes a lot of time for me, and I don’t even do it well. I’m interested in learning, experiencing the world through others’ perspectives, engaging in dialogue, and sharing my thoughts. I’m not here to sell anything or have massive numbers of followers. That would make reciprocity even more daunting than it already is.

I don’t know what all of this means for my blog in the immediate future. I do know that I need to carve out blocks of time to edit and that requires making sure I remain grounded in my own thoughts and voice. Reading or listening to others deeply for me can only be accomplished by shifting perspectives to see the world through other lenses. In the process, I lose my own voice for a period of time.

february-9-2017-moon-3

 

I may find that I need to limit what I post for a while. I’m sure some of you have already seen how long it has been taking me to respond to comments. I will still visit your blogs when I can because I care about each and every one of you. You have brought wisdom, laughter, beauty, music, and updates about important issues into my life. I will be forever grateful. I didn’t want to simply become silent or disappear without sending my blessings and saying chi miigwetch (Ojibwe  for “thank you very much“) to all of you.

***

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