Solstice thoughts (where everything is either horrendous or hilarious depending on your POV)

Blimey. It’s been a while. To be fair, I have been writing a dissertation, doing an actual ‘proper’ job, and hosting a podcast. These all require a significant amount of neurodivergent/creative bandwith. All good, creative, purposeful things.

photo taken while I was still feeling hopeful!

Into the mix, however, is a broken collarbone which has YET TO BE FIXED because of two (two!!) cancelled surgeries. The first one was cancelled when I was in the hospital, already wearing the surgical gown and DVT socks, and with an arrow sharpied onto my left shoulder. This might have been hilarious if it wasn’t after six months of waiting. Then there was the 18 hours of fasting and working myself up into enough of a lather to actually be able to go to the hospital in the first place! What is everyday to the people who fix collarbones, is a really big deal to those of us who need them fixed. And some of us have brains that don’t do these sorts of things very easily.

The second cancellation – just this Monday past – rather tipped me over the edge. Today is Wednesday. I am still over the edge. And since I am already over the edge, why don’t we add having no running water into the joyful blend of Solstice cheer and Christmas preparations? Yes, why not?

Let them drink… sweet sherry and prosecco!

The thing is… these things are happening to me, and I could – quite legitimately – feel personally aggrieved. Which, I do. But I am utterly, seethingly livid about the bigger picture. Yes, it’s personal, but the personal – as my feminist forebears taught us – is political.

Friends, let me present to you: The English health service. And the English water network.

The NHS because of – God – where do we even start? Yes, I am anxious and stressed and still in pain because my operation got cancelled. But it got cancelled because staff called in sick. There is not even a nanometre of leeway in the NHS to accommodate that. Chronic staff shortages, underfunding, Brexit, and a (Not even very covert) push towards privatisation have all taken a massive toll. It is on its knees. And people wonder why nurses are striking?

Not even the USA has private water, that’s how bad it is!

And the water! My God the water. England and Wales have a privatised water supply and networks. This is monopolized (quite legally btw) by a few companies who fail to invest in infrastructure so that rainfall causes flooding, burst water mains cause havoc (and NO RUNNING WATER FOR CHRISTMAS) and raw sewage is constantly released into our rivers and seas!

If I am pissed off about my own personal circumstances, it pales in comparison to the level of seething rage I feel at the immoral erosion of these two fundamental basic human rights.

Things really are a bit crap. Let’s not pretend they’re not.

And tonight is the Solstice, and I came on here to write something spiritual and hopeful and, well here it is! We can laugh about that surely? There comes a point – when everything is just a bit shite – when all there is left to do is acknowledge it, maybe indulge in a bit of dark humour, and surrender all and any control we imagined we had. This does not mean giving up the fight, only that there are fighting days, and there are surrendering days. There are times for rolling up our sleeves and doing everything we can to make things better, and there are times for filling a hot water bottle (perhaps with boiled rainwater!) and hiding under a blanket.

So into this longest, darkest night of the year, I offer this meditation:

Everything is a little bit shite, and that’s OK. Joy and Peace and Love and Hope still exist.

And a Blessing:

May you feel the deep Peace of Winter’s stillness; the cocoon of Love that surrounds you in the darkness; the joy that bubbles up from the depths of your soul; and the Hope that lies in something bigger than all of this, and all of us.

Sending Love and Peace and Hope and Joy out into the ether for all of you who are tending anything painful this Solstice.

Jude xxx

The Day When Things Can Start

I have been resisting… or waiting… the waiting feels like something sacred. Maybe because it is. It is the first of February. In my body’s calendar, this is the date I have been waiting for. It is when things can start. The crows – who caw noisily from the trees behind me – know, too. They are telling each other, and me, and anyone else who will listen – it is time to shift these winter bones.

Other calendars agree with me (and the crows) It is also the Lunar (Chinese, Tibetan, East Asian) New Year. And in the Celtic Calendar – that guides my own heart – the beginning of Imbolc, Saint Brigid’s Day, and the (sort of) end of winter. Tomorrow is the Christian feast of Candlemas: an ending – of the season of Epiphany; and a beginning – of ‘Ordinary’ time (before the Lenten fast makes it special all over again)

If I was a conspiracy theorist (and I am not) I might imagine it to be some sort of test: who can override their internal body clock enough to ‘succeed’ in the system?

Imbolc sends impulses to my dormant winter cells throughout January, simultaneously poking me to wake up…and urging me to wait. My yearly last-minute tax return – filed just in time for the Jan 31st deadline – shouldn’t be a surprise by now. Nor should it be a source of personal beratement. If I was a conspiracy theorist (and I am not) I might imagine it to be some sort of test: who can override their internal body clock enough to ‘succeed’ in the system?

In the deeper sense of the word, it is a ‘conspiracy’, in that it is something that we all tacitly, collectively, culturally, agree to go along with.

Con Spirare: To breathe together; To agree. 

We are compelled to imagine ourselves to be something other than organisms that respond to light and dark and seasonal shifts. Just as do the crows, and the trees that they call from, and the snowdrops just beginning to poke their heads from the soil beneath. When the snowdrops come then we know for sure that Spring is coming too. Sometimes, the snowdrops are ‘early’ and sometimes they are ‘late’. Stately homes and gardens advertise their displays well in advance, knowing that the flowers will surely appear, but not entirely certain that they will do so on the ‘right’ date.

The inner knowledge that there is a time to step back into the world speaks from deep down as ‘not now’.

Waiting is inner, seasonal wisdom. It is sometimes – but not always- calendrical. There is, for the snowdrops, and the crows, a ‘right’ moment. A knowing. For me, waiting – or rather the resistance of it – shows up as procrastination, as exhaustion, as doubt. Sometimes as fear. The inner knowledge that there is a time to step back into the world speaks from deep down as ‘not now’.

These past two winters have allowed me to practice sinking into this ‘not nowness’ rather than struggling to understand, forcing myself to analyse it, or trying to overcome it. What has happened is that the moment of ‘yes, now’ is much more apparent than it ever has been before.

Although you could have been reading this yesterday, or tomorrow. For me, today is when Things Can Start.

With every blessing for Imbolc, for the Lunar New Year, for Saint Brigid’s Day, and (tomorrow) for Candlemas

Jude xxx