delithopia

Notes from the Waxhaws

Archive for the ‘The Gloaming’ Category

Orbis tertius

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I come here to remind myself…that I live on a planet circling a star…in the vast blackness of space. Nothing but sky and sea…with a view into infinity. Life is reduced to its simplest terms. All else fades into insignificance. 

Written by Jim

February 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Starlight in a bottle

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When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light
~ Loreena McKennitt, The Mummers’ Dance

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The lantern that sits on the railing of my porch is no ordinary source of light in the darkness. During the day, it silently collects the rays of the sun…only to release them again as the gloaming turns to night. During the dark hours…my porch is illuminated by this bottled starlight…kept company by a Wisteria vine that has entwined itself around the railing…patiently waiting for the Spring to arrive once again.

Yesterday was a beautiful, warm, cloudless mid-December day here in the Carolinas. In the chill air of the evening, I sat on the porch for a while in this pool of silvery light…listening to Loreena McKennitt’s The Book of Secrets…accompanied by my lantern…the veil of darkness beyond…and the steadfast stars above.

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
~ Loreena McKennitt, Dante’s Prayer

Written by Jim

December 14, 2014 at 8:19 am

Singing ourselves awake

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The signature of this summer has to be the song of the Indigo Bunting. Bunting summer. Early this morning, I sat in the darkness before dawn…cup of coffee in hand…in a deep silence broken only by the murmuring of crickets in constant prayer. The world about me was still veiled from the tyranny of beauty that would soon enthrall the senses. As if testing the waters of the new day, a bunting broke the stillness with a single note…then, a tentative half-turned phrase. He seemed to be recollecting himself…remembering how to carry a tune after surviving through the long night…perhaps, singing himself awake. When he finally burst forth into full song, I could hear other buntings off in the distance joining in…each waking up to the world.

It was a beautiful moment that led me to thinking. Maybe that’s what we’re doing in this life…rousing from a deep sleep…slowly coming to our senses…and singing ourselves awake.

Written by Jim

July 20, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Convocation

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I thought I heard the hoot of an owl this morning as I awoke. After rising, and after making the mandatory pot of coffee, I pulled on my jacket and went outside in the darkness…to sit and await the dawn…keeping company with the planet Venus, which hovered just above the tree line in silence. The whip-poor-wills were softly asserting their presence to the new day. Crows were beginning to noisily wake up…probably complaining about the roosters in the distance who had been up since 4 am.

The sun had yet to rise, but after a while, I heard the hoots of a Barred Owl…Who cooks for you…who cooks for y’allllllllll (this is the South). The quality of sound emanating from this bird took me aback. It was coming from the pine woods to the south…an area that I call the Dark Wood. There was a strange and tremulous reverberation to the hoots, as if they were bouncing off of  a rock facing. On a topographic map of the area, I had noticed that there was an old quarry of some kind in that direction. I’ve never ventured into those dark, impenetrable woods…mostly because I want them to remain mysterious…the haunt of owls, and perhaps other elusive and wild creatures.

All of a sudden, I heard another owl begin hooting…just as the first’s descending y’allllllllll was completing. It sounded as if I was an innocent bystander to a territorial dispute of some kind. Then…yet another owl began to join in the vocal fray…causing quite a pandemonium. I’m always appreciative of hearing Barred Owl in the nocturnal stillness…but this was really an unexpected treat. I’ve heard that a group of owls is called a parliament of owls…probably because they’ve been seen as symbols of wisdom. What I experienced early on this Carolina April morning was more of a convocation…a literal calling together of owls…to what purpose I can’t imagine. Things finally quieted down (perhaps the argument was settled?)… as the sun begin to make its appearance…clothing some clouds in the west in a soft pinkish hue.

April Morning

 

Written by Jim

April 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Disappearing act

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The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell

you; don’t go back to sleep. You must

ask for what you really want; don’t go

back to sleep. People are going back and

forth across the doorsill where the two

worlds meet. The door is round and

open; don’t go back to sleep.

~ Rumi

Early this cold March morning…I witnessed something extraordinary. It was still somewhat dark outside, so I poured myself a cup of coffee, put on my jacket, and went out onto the porch to sit…and to wait for the sunrise. Lately, I’ve been trying to get more comfortable with the night…with darkness…with the unknown. In his book, Healing Night, Rubin Naiman opines that we’ve been turning back the night…extending our days well into the darkness with artificial light, and the glow of artificial entertainment in our living rooms. We’ve become seriously out of touch with night consciousness,  and with the spiritual insights and solace our dreams can provide. It’s an intriguing thought…that our dreams could be another form of consciousness…no less important than the time we spend awake in the real world…and that while we’re asleep…we may be much closer to our true selves than during our waking hours. So…Rumi implores us upon awakening, that we don’t go back to sleep as we arise and enter into our waking day…that we stay fully awake, not walking in our sleep, and not forgetting who we really are. 

I sat in the quiet stillness of this morning…looking up at the morning star…Venus shining bright in the southeastern sky. Over the course of a few minutes…the light from the Sun began to overtake the darkness…and Venus began to fade out of existence…until it was completely gone from what was now a deep indigo blue sky, with soft pink striations of clouds appearing out of nothingness.

It set me to thinking…what exactly is real? Venus…and all the planets and stars that were visible an hour ago…were still up there…merely hidden by this illusion that we call day…photons from our nearby star colliding with dust particles and water vapor suspended high in the atmosphere.

In the beginning, the light shone out of the darkness. Maybe we do need to re-familiarize ourselves with the night…with the darkness…to begin to make a conscious attempt to be more respectful of the night…of night consciousness…of the vast worlds held in its embrace…deep within its primordial stillness.

Written by Jim

March 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Nightrise

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Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, as from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a  line of fire just below the horizon, brush fire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes.

~ Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale 

Stepping outside, this autumn evening…Venus still burning bright in the west…chasing the sun, already fallen into the abyss over the horizon. Darkness ascending in the east…relentlessly. From the woods…now fading into shadows…the soft, eerie whimpering of a screech owl, welcoming the nightrise.

Written by Jim

October 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm

The subtlety of night

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My sole task this cool evening is to  be fully present. I’ve always had a fondness for that time of day that falls between the setting of the sun below the horizon…and the inky darkness of the night. The gloaming…with a rich, deep violet-blue sky that verges on blackness. Now…it seems a poignant reminder of  the crepuscular nature of life itself.

So I sit quietly…and listen attentively to the gentle sounds of the gloaming. An antiphonal song of whip-poor-wills…moving in and around a point of syncopation…against a steady, slightly modulated droning of frogs. Occasionally, the hoots of a barred owl provide soulful punctuation as the hard edges of the day fade and slip into the welcoming softness…into the subtlety of night.

Written by Jim

April 23, 2013 at 9:13 pm