Pre-dawn has always been my favorite time of day. The daytime hustle is still hushed, while most non-nocturnal animals, humans included, remain asleep. It is when I love to sip my matcha tea, explore waking dreams in front of my altar and present a water offering to my garden. During these rituals, the sky often slowly wakes up with an orange, foggy tint; which breaks the dense darkness of the night.
Earlier this month, for many of us in Northern California, dawn never arrived. With a dark orange hue, the night stayed all day.
Our cell phone cameras weren’t quite capturing it, so we turned them around to use as flashlights, navigating the dark daytime skies with a mix of apocalyptic dread and awe filled curiosity.
At this moment in our collective reality, it’s no real surprise when a new fresh kind of hell lands on the day.
But this felt different to me; I had a reverent sense all day that Mama was putting us in our place.
I felt her encouraging us, in a dark orange voice, to really pause and feel… to be with the knowing that nothing is guaranteed and anything is possible. To keep choosing hope, over and over again, regardless of circumstances.
I am dedicated to a practice of hope now more than ever. Not because I’m blind to the atrocious realities of this moment or because I don’t fear the further horrors that could come. My head stays out of the sand and as fully engaged as possible through the times when the sun doesn’t come up, metaphorically or literally.
As Mariame Kaba, an incredible modern day activist and prison abolitionist, says, “Hope is a discipline.”
Consciously choosing hope as a daily act of rebellion in a sea of despair, allows us to be with what is. It also energizes us to participate in the infinite number of new realities that could be. We have been, and will continue to be, disappointed when what we hoped for does not land as we wished it would, and that’s okay.
The most hopeful people are not those who are ignorant to what is, but rather those who can be so fully with the pain of what is, that they are inspired to dream up something new. Darkness is where we do our best dreaming.
In mid-February this year I held an in-person Soul Oriented retreat. Sixteen souls cozily rested and healed together in a glorious vacation home in San Rafael. On our final evening together we shared a night of “Soul & Tell.” This is one of the richest parts of the retreat, when each person comes up front to share a little piece of themselves (a song, poem, story, piece of art, etc.) as a gift to the group.
My dear friend Maia, who’s soul thrives when growing things in the dirt, shared the symbolism of seeds in her life and then presented each of us with a little packet of some she’d collected. With a few simple instructions, she encouraged us all to sprout them at our homes as reminders of the weekend.
No one knew at that moment, when we were happily unmasked and unaware of the number of feet between us, what would be coming just a few weeks later.
This spring and summer I received regular photos from retreat participants sharing their excitement at how easily Maia’s arugula, lettuces and poppies were thriving.
My seeds were planted in our garden too. Strangely, and amazingly, on that day when the light of day never came, all the plants had a significant growth spurt…
Upward and onward,
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