Hello on this Thursday! Yesterday, Simone stayed home from school because she was still tired from a gymnastics meet she had had late on Sunday night and wanted to catch up on sleep and have a quiet day. We went to the store in the morning and got supplies for a craft project we’re making for Christmas and we baked some almond bread.
Yesterday, also, Trump named Scott Pruitt, a major climate change denier with strong ties to the fossil fuel industry, to head the EPA. Our clean air and water, and a liveable climate that supports life are ever more threatened.
It seems to me that our condition—if we are lucky—is one of contradiction, multiplicity, incongruency. There is much to celebrate, and much to lament and fear; there is much to appreciate, and very much work to be done.
How do we meet these contradictions? How do we meet our fears and embrace and transform them?
This, it seems, to me, is the radical work of our time, a work of creativity, vulnerability, power and, also, of giving.
I’m thinking of Rilke’s amazing sonnets to Orpheus that speak to these questions. Here is one:
Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower:
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.
(translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)
Can we, from the darkness, ring out like a bell? Can we, when the drinking is bitter, turn ourselves to wine? Can we, even if we feel no one is listening, say “I am”?
Can our very being be a kind of gift? This, I believe, is one of the most radical questions we can ask, in a world in which there is growing inequality and in which some people are given voice while others are not.
This has been my birthday week, and it is also the start of the “holiday season,” a dark time of the year in which we celebrate with lights.
Sometimes, like many of us, I struggle with giving and receiving—acts that bring up old questions of worth and value. But this year, partly as an act of resistance, I’m going to try to be as whole hearted in my giving, receiving and asking as possible. And what I want to give is not more material “stuff,” but instead I want to give what I really value, that is, the “mystery at the crossroads of [the] senses.”
I want to let you know about some of the more formal things I’m going to be offering in the next months (see below), and I also want to ask you all a question and favor:
How can I be of help? If you are reading these messages that I send out, what is most helpful to you? Do you like to hear about writing? Meditation? My reflections on our current political situation? Are there questions that you have for me that I can help answer?
I’d love to hear from you! Please contact me by responding to this email.
I hope to offer some ways of finding light in darkness—external light when that darkness is internal, and internal light when that darkness is external. And of giving voice to that mysterious, important process.
Thank you all for being here!
Some upcoming events:
* FREE real-time call in meditation/writing event on Friday December 16, at 12:30 EST. This will be an hour long session. There will be three fifteen minute sessions of meditation and writing, and then a final fifteen minutes open to conversation. I’ll send out details about how to call into that next week, but mark your calendars. It was a beautiful community event last month.
*My online class, Align Your Story, is starting again January 16th. This class brings together writing, reading, yoga and meditation for a truly integrative experience. It’s an online ten week class, but once you enroll, you own it for life. This session, I’m offering both a regular plan and a premium plan, which has more one-on-one support and feedback. I’m particularly excited about Align Your Story because it’s a place where I offer the full range of my practices and my expertise gained over decades of experience. And I’m offering a discount for friends who sign up together. See more here:https://nadiacolburn.com/align-your-story.html
* I’m opening up two ten week in person writing classes starting January 9th in North Cambridge:
Monday mornings, from 10-12 will focus on poetry writing and reading and mindful writing
Monday afternoons, from 12:30-2:30, will focus on reading and writing and poetry, prose and longer pieces.
These are intimate classes that explore both the craft and process of writing, and a wonderful community of writers (I love my Mondays). You can see more here.
* I’ll be offering a yoga and writing workshop at Om Namo Yoga Studio, in West Cambridge January 7th, from 1:30-4pm. https://omnamocenter.com
* And I’m taking on a few new clients for one-on-one coaching.
I also want to let you know about an upcoming workshop, Get Unstuck and Start Writing Again, offered by a friend and colleague, Jenn Mattson, at Kripalu: https://kripalu.org/presenters-programs/get-unstuck-and-start-writing-again
And if you want a longer retreat with me that brings together meditation, yoga and writing and community, I’m going to be offering a weekend retreat August 18-20th at Copper Beach Institute, CT. It should be a wonderful weekend. http://www.copperbeechinstitute.org
Reach out to me if you have questions about any of these events.
I’m so grateful for you all, and send you all love,
ps: In the spirit of balancing the inner and the outer, the poetic and the practical, may I also suggest something practical to do in the next days: perhaps you can use your voice and take twenty minutes to phone bank for Foster Cambell, whose election date has been pushed to December 10th and who, I hope, can be another Democratic voice in the Senate. http://www.fostercampbell2016.com/volunteer/