Thursday, January 31, 2013

St. Brigid's Eve 2013

Tonight is St. Brigid's Eve, the night that marks the transition from Celtic Winter to Celtic Spring.  For many years it has been my custom to phone or email my mom to wish her a happy St. Brigid's Eve, and to discuss whether one should put out milk for the faery folk as used to be done in Ireland, and marvel at those times when the boundary between worlds is thinner than usual. 

Well, my mom is on the other side of that boundary this year, so I will take this opportunity to wish her and all my extended family and friends well.  Be careful, all those of you who are out there on the edges of things tonight! (That probably includes me working this late.)  Also, don't accept rides from mysterious horse back riders tonight... you never know what might happen... And remember: The days are already noticeably longer here in the upper reaches of the Northern Hemisphere.  Somewhere, Thornton Burgess (writer of nature-centred children's books) wrote: "If winter's here, spring can't be far behind." Be well.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Escape from the CU-Thole Mythos (For Brian Rodgers)

Note: Brian Rodgers has worked in various capacities with the Counselling Unit for many years; he is leaving shortly to take a teaching position at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.  Last Saturday we had a going-away party for him and his family; it was also Australia Day, Brian's birthday, and the day after Burns' NightI wrote this for him for that occasion.  Although we'll keep in touch about various continuing projects, I will miss him very much in many ways. 

Perhaps it is some strange fate
That draws you to the opposite end of the world,
Reversing the journey of your ancestors,
To take a wee course.

Thirteen years later,
You wake up:  You are going grey,
Have a PhD and a family.
What has happened?

Its the terrible power
Of the CU-Thole Mythos

Maybe you thought I said Cthulu:
Invention of the American weird
Fiction writer HP Lovecraft:
Incomprehensible, ancient, alien god,
Sleeping under the South Pacific,
not far from New Zealand.

No.  Thats the other one.
This ones worse:
Its C-U, for Counselling Unit, pronounced Cuh;
Plus thole, the Scots word for endure or tolerate,
As in Rabbie Burns poem, To a mouse:
To thole the winter's sleety dribble:

So that gives us: CU-thole Mythos,
The power that's kept you here,
Year after year,
The power that makes you not just willing
But eager to endure:
Long hours,
Mixed messages,
Endless processing,
Everyones IT needs,
And "winter's sleety dribble"
... All year round.

But now you've got your chance
To escape to a paradoxical place:
Queensland, far to the south,
In the Deep North;
Australia's Day is Scotland's night.

Will you be able to make it out
Of the gravity well
Of the CU-thole Mythos,
Finally reaching escape velocity?

Or will you escape
Only to find that you've brought
The whole CU-Thole Mythos
Along with you
In your head?  

                        -Robert Elliott, 26 Jan 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Murray Creek Pilgrimage

Entry for 29 Dec 2012 – 5 Jan 2013

1. Time Passes

Going on, living, amid the many changes,
Six months later, your children wait to see:
How does this new empty place feel?

Especially at this time of year, we are missing you,
Our missing mother, our vanished parent;
And we miss our father more for missing you.

The celebration we had to mark your passing
Is months past, and now we return
To see how we might learn to be here.

2. Arriving

As I approach the valley, I remember other times
Driving here with you or dad, or arriving to see you,
The feeling of relief, of coming home.

Now all but Anna converge on Murray Creek:
I think we seek to fill the sudden sinkhole,
Yet sense instead your absence still more keenly.

We come to fill the empty spaces,
But the valley is still, and filled with absence,
Like mist rising or smoke from burnt-out fires.  

3. Gathering

At Christmas a year ago, expecting your return,
We bought you a fridge that you never saw.
Now we fill it with food for another family feast.

We light the fires, check the wireless network,
Walk your labyrinth in the fading light,
Raise and right the creek-misplaced bridge.

For a while your house is filled with chaos
And happy confusion, as children and grandchildren,
Relive and renew what we had with you.

4. Communion

Next day, after breakfast, we begin the sacrament
Of sorting through your things, sacred and mundane:
Books and talismans; trinkets and clothes.

We begin by taking back the gifts, those bits
Of ourselves we gave to you again and again;
Then, some bits of you for the selves we are remaking.

I take some Teilhard de Chardin and Goddess books,
And cache a celtic cross and a shamanic crystal:
Food and drink for the self I am becoming.

5. A New Year

New Year’s Eve: I drive to Anna’s
To complete the circle.  We leave your last year
And enter a new one, the first without you.

Returning to the place where you left us,
I find your echo in the familiar, final spaces,
Prove to myself: you are gone here too.

But we talk, and drink, to you and the new year. 
Your children are still here, and we take you with us:
Into our next pilgrimage, our next new story.