Celebrating a time of thin-ness…

EquinoxAutumn is my favorite season. I love the crispness in the air, trees changing color and how nature begins to slow down. It seems to me that the world is responding deeply, as if letting out a long breath that has been held since the arrival of spring. The days grow shorter and colder. Yet nothing is ready to give up the joy of summer.

Speculaaskruiden_mThere is an urgency to get ready; to prepare. In the same moment, there is time to celebrate. Embracing the harvest, life says thank you to the sun for heat and growth and innocence. I begin to make my heavy beer and cider. Heather begins to can and bake. It is the time for strong flavors. Clove, cinnamon, licorice, nutmeg… these are the mellowing agents that ease the cutting air and early sunsets. They spice my coffee, chocolate, wine and whisky. They are the soft glowing embers that somehow remain long after warm liquids are consumed.

Today is the Autumnal equinox. Today for Mabon I am encouraged to reap what I’ve sown. To give thanks for blessings and to offer penance for sins. Because in three months, winter will come. In three months, we will be in darkness. In three months, my son will be born.

48899a6a49d91b417310cd3e07552089There is a term called “thin places” where supposedly the boundaries between the physical and spiritual become permeable. Perhaps there is a wisdom here, as a day that marks both balance and transition can draw the mind towards contemplation. Today is a “thin day;” a day for giving thanks, for letting go of regrets, for forgiveness and for friendship. Truly, it is a special day as much as any day which has the gift of meaning and intentionality.

So to embrace the thin-ness of the fall equinox, I am giving thanks for my bounty! A life full of richness and wealth, love and life. I am thankful for my time and place, opportunity and situation. I acknowledge that I only had a part in my blessings. That everything I have was helped along by friends and family and church and coworker and taxes and infrastructure and institution. My blessings are not an island, so I give thanks for the help I’ve been given.

autumn-leaves-wallpapers-photosI ask for forgiveness from my parents, for not calling as often as I could and for not being as appreciative of them as I should. I ask forgiveness from my friends for not giving you as much time, love, support or attention as you deserve. I ask forgiveness from the homeless man on the corner for not looking him in the eye. I ask forgiveness from my dog for choosing Netflix over walks, and laziness over dog-park time.

Green Man autumnI celebrate the food we’ve grown in our backyard! For the 18 pounds of raspberries and countless tomatoes and potatoes and peppers and kale. I celebrate the land for its soil, the rain for its water, the sun for its energy and life for giving food to eat.

Today I celebrate Autumn.

Easter for a (former) Christian…

wine and matzah...
wine and matzah…

On Monday Heather and I went to a Passover Seder. Even though I’m not Jewish, I found it powerful to be in solidarity with my friend, her culture, her friends and others around the world in remembering slavery, hardship, and the promise of a brighter future. She used a special haggadah (telling) focused on social action and solidarity with love and justice. I learned from various guests about differences in the Jewish community, their faith and family traditions, and shared (non)traditional food and drink. It was amazing!

Last night we went to a Maundy Thursday communion service held at our church. It was sparse; only a few dozen people. We listened to biblical readings, commemorated the Last Supper through wine and bread, and stood in solidarity with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It was solemn and intimate; such a stark contrast to the rowdy Seder we experienced only a few days before. But the Christian holy week is supposed to be muted. We walk with a man sentenced to death because his beliefs challenged those in power.

circle-wise-women-full-lighted-KE-12096After the communion service, we attended a candlelight vigil for a young woman who was hit by a car in our neighborhood. Her story is tragic. It was a senseless accident which robbed a father of his only daughter. They lived just a few blocks away from us and we felt we should stand silently with the Nepalese family. Once again, we were reminded that this week especially is a time of mourning and remembering. It is a time where community comes together because life has become too much.

Even though I no longer qualify as a Christian, I would be dishonest to not participate in this religious time of year. Christianity is a part of my history, my journey, and will remain part of my future. The Judeo-Christian tradition holds powerful truths; its essays and stories of humanity struggling with identity, definition, relationship and the unknown are timeless. It is also controversial, especially in a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

One love; nobody left behind...
One love; nobody left behind…

My church is filled with religious refugees. A lot of my brothers and sisters have been hurt by Christianity. They were kicked out of their homes for being gay; they were told they were going to hell because they didn’t read the bible the same way; they were told they were evil and sinful for just being human. Of course only a few of us would show up to a Holy Thursday communion service. For many, this time of year is too painful. For others, it is meaningless.

Yet for me, the communion service was powerful. The Seder was powerful. This time of year is powerful. I’ve heard more than one person describe this as a “thin” time where spiritual life and daily life become intertwined and we have the opportunity to better interact with god/nature/earth/spirit. Because of my history, I have no choice but to sink into this thinness and let myself steep in the spirit of Jesus, the Hebrew prophets, the saints and the apostles. By participating in these Jewish/Christian days, I commemorate where I came from. I mourn for what I have lost. I am reminded of why I changed. I embrace where I have set my spiritual future.

Easter blessings...
Easter blessings from Seattle…

Many people in my church wouldn’t agree with my Easter experience; but almost all of them would support it. I found a community which can say “beyond our ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. Let us walk there together.” Nothing says more about this time of year than that.