Reflections from a Snow Queen

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On a chilly December day which seemed to birth the beginning of the new season, I had the privilege to be Snow Queen. As I sat festooned in a tent under sparkling icicles and blue twinkly lights, I sat in suspension waiting for the little ones, medium sized ones, and big ones to arrive. I sang my wintry song that began like this: “Deep down in the belly of the night, dream sweet winter dreams . . .”* and watched the little footsteps through the billows of tulle coming my way along the wood chip path. They would approach the tent, some of them a little apprehensive at first, and then they would gently enter the snowy realm.

Then their eyes would meet mine. They would listen deeply and attentively, sacredly even, to the words I shared with them. Words about forests and hearts and flames and crystals and warmth in the shimmering snow. They stopped. They truly seemed to partake in what John O’Donohue calls “slowtime”. That magical space where time stops and we get to enter the place of wonder. I watched as children from two to ten paused for just a few moments to receive the gift of song, verse, and clear shining crystal. And they held the gifts so well.

I believe the greatest gift I received in the little woods that day was seeing the deep wonder in each child’s eyes, every one of them- the deep wells of their souls opening up during a time of wonder. I ceased to be “Gina”, and got to embody an archetype- a season of slowing and mystery, the season of winter. Like the crystals I held in my hand and gave to each one, I will cherish this, too, in my heart.

*song written by Becky Reardon

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Priest Leonard Cohen

  1. On this day, I remember a musical priest whose sermons I still read in the notes of his songs. We will miss you dearly, Leonard Cohen.

    Priest: Leonard (Cohen)

    We heard his syrupy voice as black as pitch
    preaching his dark sermons
    in smoke and fire
    in open ditches and underpasses
    somewhere in the land of somewhere
    under the veil of nowhere.
    We realized it was a revival,
    complete with tables and
    tent poles and lost souls,
    though there were no white canvases, no white lies.
    He drained us of everything we had,
    all our internal resources, all our desires,
    all our false hopes, drowning in a sea of
    questions marks, ash, and splinters,

    but somehow, when we came up out of the
    waters,

    we came up clean.

    – Gina Marie Mammano

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An Adventure into the Familiar

It’s a good November day to think about author and poet Wendell Berry and things familiar- things to be grateful for- the miniscule, the often unnoticed. He once wrote: “The search withholds the joy from what is found” in his poem “Boone”. It seems like a great time peek around the corners of the everyday, the familiar, and utter a small or extra large helping of “thank you”, even though it may be hard in times like these. I’m in the city of Seattle as I write this, grateful for every person who opens a door for another, every smile given gratis, every face of every color and shade. Let’s keep opening the door for one another, and say “thank you” to every kindness or a glisten of light that comes our way today.

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Small Things the Reflect Light

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A dear friend of mine and I were talking about the antidote to a toxic climate in this election. I’ve resolved to come up with one or two or more, much like the rriiiiipppping! sound of tearing off a prescription in a doctor’s office. My first prescription for myself was a poignant reading written by Richard Rohr on his “Center for Action and Contemplation” site.  My second one is this: small things that reflect light. What small things all around you are reflecting light today . . . including you?

Feel free to post a picture or description on this site- let’s share the love, and the light!

 

A Fresh Morning Perspective from a Friend

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I asked the whitebark pine

 

a question, and he said to me,

“aren’t you glad we don’t all talk?”

And in silence he spoke:

a million voices whining, droning in

each other’s ears like a carnival madhouse?

Each leaf, each tendril, each rooty spine spinning

sounds, yabba, yabba, yabba, yabba.

The quiet madness of the mosquito multiplied

more than a million times over?

Aren’t you glad some of us convey

by bark, by bearing, by Being?

Aren’t you glad some of us commune

in the quiet witness of Living?

 

and in Silence, I understood.

 

  • Gina Marie Mammano

The Flights of Motherhood

Today is Mother’s Day. A wonderfully garlanded, beautifully decorated day. Filled with big fat bouquets of bright spring flowers, dewy with sweet sentiment, and big fat boxes of chocolates and deep-dipped love, reminding ourselves and the matrons we honor what a daring and delightful thing motherhood is . . . and was.

Like many robins this time in spring, I am a new empty nester. The waxy crayon-scrawled “Hapy Muthers Day” cards created at school and posted on the refrigerator are long gone. The special brunches and outings of this day are left to glances back and forth between my husband and I ocularly asking, “wanna go out today?”

And though my dear son and daughter and law sent me a wonderful thoughtful beribboned gift, and I know I will receive a sweet sweet loving message from my lovely daughter as well, there is something about waving to the sky and the flight patterns of long-flown children that is so different than huddling and cuddling then waiting for drippy undercooked love-laced pancakes in the nest.

So to all those mama birds who have waved their twittering, free-flying offspring off into the world, I salute you! The bridges cross back and forth in and out of our feathered lands, so in the meantime, blow kisses from afar and listen joyfully to the sounds of familiar migrant birds . . . .

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Swamp Lanterns

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Up here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a plant called, “skunk cabbage”. You may know it, as it sprouts up in other parts of the country as well. It appears as a yellow sconce of slick petals housing a small “wick” of seeds. It can be quite startling passing by a “barren” patch of a mud hole for most of the year, then seeing these “surprises” pop up as a roomful of yellow lights, populating the ground with color.

The other name for this plant is “swamp lantern”. I prefer this name. I think it represents the plant more elegantly, and truer to its form. A thing of beauty. A thing of brightness. The unexpected emerging from the thick and lightless.

For those of us who traverse often or not so often, through the mud, we are grateful for swamp lanterns as they appear- yellow and bright, a sudden burst of glow from seemingly out of nowhere. This metaphor can reach into so many corners. A loving, energizing phone call or email in the middle of the day. The peeking out of the sun, creating seams of light on hems of dark clouds. A kind gesture, simple and human.

May swamp lanterns appear in the muddy places throughout your week. And may you, yourself, be a swamp lantern as well.