What, specifically about the second harvest observation is significant to closing a cycle? After all, it isn’t the initial harvest, Lammas, bearer of the first fruits of our labor. It’s not Samhain, the final harvest sabbat, where we take stock of the year. It’s not the beginning of the cycle, or the end. It isn’t the reward or loss. In fact, what makes this sabbat special is somewhere between. At this equinox, the sun and Earth directly align with the equator, the closest we ever get to perfect balance between night and day, light and darkness. Therein speaks the metaphor.
Mabon (a relatively new name for the sabbat) was, and for many still is, the true Thanksgiving. It is the point at which we realize whether our hard work is going to pay off — if we sowed enough, if we put enough hours in, and consequently, if we will reap enough to get us through winter. At this time, we honor where we truly stand with regard to our progress, our expenditures, and what’s left to be completed.
On this sabbat, Dagaz is about reflection, not on the beginning or end, but the process between. The span of a day is the harvest cycle compressed. While we can finally rest at sun down and reflect on the day, the sun will rise again. Another day is coming. Comfort and reflection are short-lived. They are the building blocks of the work still to come, in which the somber truth of the equinox lies: the hard part about Mabon is we have just as much work to accomplish in a day, with less sunlight to do it, and possibly less enthusiasm and hope.
I sometimes call Dagaz the “so what?” Rune, because that’s its simplest, yet most profound teaching. Certainly a huge task has been completed, and celebrations are in order. So what? Don’t get too emotionally involved in things. Keep the ego in check, and do our best, because in the end, there is no end. Only a chance to do it all, better.
Originally published at Intentional Insights.
The book consists of a series of letters written by its central character to his unborn children and estranged wife as he spends his waning hours alone in a remote cabin, contemplating life and love. The subjects of his letters, which he has planned to be delivered to his twin children on their 10th birthday, vary from pragmatic fatherly advice to poetic musings on the meaning of life. The result is a practical, moral and spiritual guidebook that speaks to every reader: young and old, parent and child, lover and lonely one alike.
Using a series of letters to tell the main character’s story is a brilliant mechanism that works particularly well in this scenario because of his compelling reason for writing the letters: a deep desire to be a father to the children he will never know and to redeem his lost love for his distanced wife.
As we read letter after letter we are allowed to see more and more clearly into the heart and soul of this man, whose approaching death is revealing to him, with more and more clarity, the beauty and preciousness of life. When the letters draw to a close we grieve with him over all that will be lost with his death and, at the same time, marvel with him at the sheer radiance of this gift of life:
How utterly, utterly small we are under this magnificent star canopy. My God, what a sensation to be an atom in the scheme of such grandiosity. The allurement, the jazz, and the physics of it all. And how well love reigns under and over this convergence of infinity, all, and everything. My God, what wonders we must behold before we go. To be awakened. And so awake.
The Legacy Letters offers the reader an exquisite, intimate, passionate, humorous and genuine experience of the final days of one man’s life. But ultimately it provides inspiration and guidance for living a deeply meaningful life — every day — for all the days of one’s existence. Carew Papritz has used his considerable writing talent to pen a story that entertains and enlightens, intrigues and inspires, charms and catalyzes change for every reader.
Read The Legacy Letters aloud with your loved ones of any age and use the letters to stimulate conversations about your own life wisdom and all the lessons you have learned, big and small. Let it remind you of what you have always known but may have lost touch with in the hurriedness of daily life – the simple beauty of being awake in every moment, taking in everything that life has to offer. You will cherish every word of this book, just as it guides you to cherish every aspect of your beautiful, miraculous life.
For more by Karen M. Wyatt, M.D., click here.
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When we’re suffering and turn to prayer, no matter what the apparent reasons for our pain, the basic cause is always the same: we feel separate and alone. John O’Donohue, in his book Eternal Echoes, writes: “Prayer is the voice of longing; it reaches outwards and inwards to unearth our ancient belonging.” This is a beautiful description of what I call mindful prayer. We reach not just outward to know our belonging, but with mindful prayer we also turn inward and listen deeply to the suffering that is giving rise to our prayer. When we are willing to touch the pain of separation — the loneliness, the fear, the hurt — our longing carries us to the tender and compassionate presence that is our awakened nature.
I experienced the transforming power of mindful prayer some years ago when I was suffering from a broken heart. I’d fallen in love with a man who lived 2,000 miles away, and because we couldn’t weave our lives together, the relationship ended. The loss was crushing, and while I accepted my grieving process for the first month or so, as it went on and on I felt more excruciatingly lonely than I’d ever felt in my life.
In the room where I meditate, I have a Tibetan scroll painting (called a thangka) of the bodhisattva of compassion. Known as Tara in Tibet and Kwan Yin in China, she’s an embodiment of healing and compassion. One morning, as I sat crying in front of the thangka, feeling crushed and worthless, I found myself praying to Kwan Yin, wanting to be held in her compassionate embrace.
For a while, this seemed to help. Yet one morning, I hit a wall. What was I doing? My ongoing ritual of aching, praying, crying, and hating my suffering was not really moving me towards healing. Kwan Yin suddenly seemed like an idea I’d conjured up to soothe myself. Yet without having her as a refuge, I now had absolutely nowhere to turn, nothing to hold on to, no way out of the empty hole of pain.
At that moment, even though it seemed like just another concept, I remembered that, for the aspiring bodhisattva, suffering is the trusted gateway to awakening the heart. I remembered that when I’d remained present with pain in the past, something had indeed changed. I suddenly realized that maybe this situation was about really trusting suffering as the gateway. Maybe that was the whole point — I needed to stop fighting my grief and loneliness, no matter how horrible I was feeling or for how long it continued.
I recalled the bodhisattva’s aspiration: “May this suffering serve to awaken compassion,” and began quietly whispering it inside. As I repeated the prayer over and over, I could feel my inner voice grow less desperate, more sincere. I knew it was true — I could awaken to the love I yearned for by directly touching the fullness of this suffering. The moment I let go into that truth, the change began.
That day in my meditation room, as I let the loneliness cut more deep, scarcely able to bear the searing pain of it, I realized that I was longing — not for a particular person, but for love itself. I was longing to belong to something larger than my lonely self.
As I let go into the yearning, I distinctly sensed Kwan Yin as a radiant field of compassion surrounding me, cherishing my hurting, vulnerable being. As I surrendered into her presence, my body began to fill with light. I was vibrating with a love that embraced the whole of this living world — it embraced my moving breath, the singing of birds, the wetness of tears and the endless sky.
Dissolving into that warm and shining immensity, I no longer felt any distinction between my heart and the heart of Kwan Yin. All that was left was an enormous tenderness tinged with sadness. The compassionate Beloved I had been reaching for “out there” was my own awakened being.
Whenever we pray, we might begin by reaching out, and in that way remember the warmth and safety of connectedness. Yet, we ground our prayer by reaching inward to the raw feelings of loneliness and fear. Like a great tree, mindful prayer sinks its roots into the dark depths in order to reach up fully to the light. When the pain is deep, the more fully we touch it, the more fully we release ourselves prayerfully into boundless, compassionate presence.
Adapted from Radical Acceptance (2003).
For a guide to prayer click here.
Enjoy this talk on Loving kindness.
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