Gratitude

A portion of this was originally published on my blog The Forks Poems.

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Photo taken from Undi Bypass Road, Forks, WA

It’s true that the dark days can make us appreciate the bright ones more. When the clouds clear and the sun makes a sudden, stunning appearance painting the sky in an impossible play of colors, the gratitude I feel is overwhelmingly blissful.

Gratitude changes everything.

But I have gratitude, too for the dark days. The days when a different set of eyes allows me to see the play as the clouds pass over the sky, in as many shades of grey as there are colors in a bright sunset. Oh there is beauty and magic in that play too.

I read this excerpt from Wild Comfort: the Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore (one of my favorite authors) the evening after I took this photo:

…[H]ere is the work of patience: to be ready for the world to slit us, the full length of us, opening our hearts with the pellucid attention that is the watchfulness of the heron in the cove at the end of the day, when wood smoke slides onto the rising tide and slanting rain pocks the water. This patience is the birth of gratitude. pg 109

I found this to resonate with such truth. The US has just celebrated Thanksgiving (which I abstain from, as I do not celebrate the colonialist and genocidal roots of the day) and expressions of gratitude have filled our tables and our media. But what is this gratitude that comes around once per year, expressed when so many people are sitting around incredible bounty that, for the most part, they are disconnected from?

Gratitude is relational; it’s opening is found through our connection with others, be they human, plant, animal, or spirit. In our willingness to open ourselves to the experience of being in relation with the world and all of its joy and sorrow, we open ourselves to the experience of deep gratitude. It requires steadfastness, attention, and patience as the world goes by, not to be swept away by its tidal pulls. Gratitude is not appreciation as someone spoons another helping onto our plate. Though it is a building block of gratitude, appreciation so often begins in entitlement and passes as quickly as the spoon to our mouths.

The day that I took this photo, I realized that I had gone over a week without talking to or seeing a (incarnate) human being, but I was very much ok with that. I had spent the week settling into my new home, getting to know the Place and patiently watching the storm clouds roll in and pass away. I was missing the Place that I had come from (by which I mean the plants and spirits) but feeling very joyful to get to know new ones. My heart was opening into deep gratitude.

In that space, I put my very excited dog into the car and went to check out the State Park down the road. I quickly realized it was primarily a campground and there didn’t appear to be much hiking but decided to wander around, noticing the trees and variety of mosses in a small area. As I wandered I ran into the campground host who was also out for a walk with her dog. The pups made quick friends and she warmly invited me to join her on their walk. She took me to a trail I never would have found on my own and we talked about mosses and how many ferns can grow on a tree and how creeks each have their own individual sound. Giving me more tips on hiking in the area, she invited me to her church and to come back to hike with her anytime. In accepting this offering of connection from her, I left full of gratitude.

From there I drove up the hill over a gravel road through logging land, and as I rounded a curve the trees sparkled as the sun dipped beneath the clouds and the sky started to clear. I gasped with surprise and delight and my heart burst open. The joy I felt in this moment, after days of patience and the offering of my attention to the world, was indescribable. Then it clicked: it was my gratitude, the gratitude that I have held on to through all of the trials I have endured, that was the key. It was the key to my grief and sorrow and my bliss and joy.

If we open to it gratitude has the power to slit us from stern to bow, to show us the power of connection and relation – even in our sorrow.

 

New Life on the Olympic Peninsula

It has been a little over a week since I moved out to the Olympic Peninsula, to the town of Forks. Yes – the Forks of Twilight fame, though I am doing my best to avoid vampires of all sorts at this point in my life. 🙂

This is a fresh start for me, a place to get settled and find some stability; even though it is temporary, it is safe and will allow space for any number of possibilities to open.

I love it here so far, and being 20 minutes from the coast and 20 minutes from the Olympic rainforest is a dream come true. But yes: it rains a lot. It is very rural. Winter will be a test of endurance for sure. It is also a quirky, friendly place. It will be the perfect place to focus on writing and doing my work.

So I’ve created a new blog just for the poems and stories of life on the Rainforest Coast (does anyone else call it that?). I’ll try to cross-post here, but please do follow The Forks Poems if you’re interested in reading about this place. It will be another way for me to fan the flames of the writing spirit, and I hope to have some fun with it.

Soul of the World

A prayer I wrote to Hekate in 2009, which has popped up again through social media so I am sharing it with you here.

My relationship with Hekate has shifted in recent years, as relationships tend to do. She was my first – the first deity that I felt a true kinship with, the first deity that I made a dedication to. I joke that we are old friends, content in our relationship, sometimes not speaking for lengths of time but knowing the other is always present.

This is partially a result of growth in my practice, as contradictory as some people may find that. As my polytheism grows in complexity and nuance, and as my work in Tantra and my relationship with Kali Maa deepens, duality starts to blur and the lines between “hard” and “soft” no longer seem as fixed.

Hekate Soteira, the World Soul, is the one who truly started me down the path I am on, or perhaps She is the one I first recognized as calling to me in recognition of my path. As such our connection will never be taken for granted. Io Hekate!

Soul of the World
Ancient One,
You who were created from darkness,
born from the womb of nothingness
Hekate, Mostly Lovely One,
to You I pray.

Guardian of Crossroads
You who sees what came before, what is, and what lies ahead
Propolos, guide me on my path.

Keeper of the Keys
Protectress of the ancient wisdom
I pray to thee, as your daughter
Most Magnificent Goddess
Phosporous One, bare your torch for me.

Through you, I face my fears
Guiding me into ever greater depths,
until you stand with me at the final mystery.

Hekate Soteira
Goddess, Savior
It is in honor of you that I pray.

written by Syren Nagakyrie
Please do not share or reproduce without credit
Samhaintide 2009

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Hekate Altar by Syren circa 2015