A Prayer for Nonbelievers (Whose Face Looks Exactly Like Mine)

This just may not be my week to feel optimistic about the human race.

I generally do a pretty good job of “illegitimi non carborundum,” even if that means simply not exposing myself to too much batshit insanity. I remind myself, in the words of Dr. King, that although the arc of the moral universe may be frustratingly long, it does bend towards justice (and sometimes, I stand under the full Moon and yell, “Bend, Motherfucker, bend!” at that arc, just in case what it needs most is some of my dulcet, reasoned encouragement). And, when all else fails, there’s the Wendell Berry tonic:


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

So, maybe it’s the February doldrums. Right now, with all the leaves gone, when I drive up onto the TR Bridge from alongside the Potomac River, what I see is bags-and-bags-full of trash, thrown onto the breast of Mother Earth: plastic cups, and beer cans, and styrofoam clamshells. Spring will come and, by Summer, most of that trash will be invisible and some of it, at least, will slowly biodegrade.

Maybe it’s the sudden and intense assault on women’s health and reproductive rights, up to and including my own state’s recently-passed law that:

will require many women in Virginia to undergo vaginal penetration with an ultrasound probe against their consent in order to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion, even for nonsurgical, noninvasive, pharmaceutical abortions.

(Seriously, go stock up on day-after pills NOW. This weekend.) It’s awfully discouraging to be re-fighting battles that we won decades ago.

Maybe it’s the now-routine use of tasing to “control” American citizens, or the use of domestic drones to, again, control American citizens.

And maybe it’s just that Wislawa Szymborska recently abandoned us (May the Goddess guard her; may she find her way to the Summerlands; may her friends and family know peace), or that Mary Oliver is gravely ill, and I wonder who’s going to be left to keep throwing lifelines out to me when I need them.

Maybe it’s that I haven’t seen “my” homeless vet for over a week and I’m worried about his bad heart, worried, as always, that the little that I do for him is not enough, even as I use it as my shield when other homeless people ask me for aid.

Maybe it’s too much work (even interesting work that I love), making Jill a dull girl who ought to have the sense to book a flight and get away for a few days.

Maybe it’s that John Michael Greer is too often right

At any rate, it seems as if I’m not the only one worried.

T. Thorn Coyle writes that:

My heart feels pensive. If the heart can think, then today, mine is preoccupied. Not quite sad, though tinged with sadness, but moving between heaviness and lightness, between sorrow and deep joy, between optimism and unknowing.
Thousands of Americans are living in tent cities right now as homes stand empty. 47 million live below the poverty line. People repeatedly ask the Occupy movement what its demands are. No one asks these other tent dwellers for their demands. They simply hope that they will fade into obscurity, and that the rest of us won’t share their fate. Few want to look poverty in the eye or shake its hand, fearing its contagion. This fear impoverishes us all.

. . .

Greece is on fire. Nigerians live in poverty while their government thrives. Drones, long seen in Pakistani skies, are soon to fly over the U.S. Peaceful protestors are gassed and beaten. Children starve. Forests are decimated. Fish are gasping. Whales, confused.

Thorn’s answer is multi-facted. She advocates building bridges, seeing and making art, paying attention to ravens and children (“Oh, the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers . . . and the song that I am singing is a prayer for nonbelievers; come and stand beside us; we can find a better way”, as the young Hecate Demeter used to sing to Son as she lullabyed him to sleep), and being kind. She advocates being brave and doing whatever heroic thing presents itself.

And those are all good answers.

And here’s the other answer that my age has taught me:

Things get better. Time passes. Moods change. Spring comes and the increased light dances a cosmic dance with the chemicals inside your DNA; you walk barefoot on the grass beside the white flowers and, all of a sudden, it’s all ok. Sometimes, it really is as simple as that.

And, I remind myself of the lyrics from the Christine Kane song, Seasons Changing:

I’m in this ocean.
Yeah, I’m really out there,
With no one to throw me a line.
Rolling and crashing, I’m rescued by
someone whose face looks exactly like mine.

I’ve rescued myself before. I can do it again.

And, in the end, sometimes, there’s, as a wise woman once said, no way out but through. You draw on the breadcrumbs that wiser, happier You threw down for just such times; you remind yourself that when you’re going through Hel (not that my mild pique is anything like that bad), the best thing to do is to KEEP GOING; you pull your collar up around your throat; you head into the wind, and well, wherever you go, there you are.

In the end, I knit caps for the les Propriétaires, so that I can feel as if I’ve done something useful. I clean the house, file papers, get things organized so that I’ll be free to be outside when Spring comes, I take G/Son to seed swaps and show him how to make pictures of protection in his mind for those who need it. I walk on the treadmill to make myself feel as if I’m not giving up on being embodied.

I’m looking forward to seeing an exhibit tomorrow at National Geographic. I’m looking forward to talking about books with one of my dearest friends. I’m looking forward to a Presidents’ Day ritual to protect Witches receiving death threats. I’m looking forward to time with my G/Son. I’m looking forward to Sacred Space. I’m looking forward to Spring planting. I’m looking forward to a better world where we protect the planet, and women, and children, to a world where my G/Son doesn’t have to ask me, in a worried voice, about what happened to Occupy DC’s library.

What gets you through?

Picture found here

9 responses to “A Prayer for Nonbelievers (Whose Face Looks Exactly Like Mine)

  1. Thank you so much. I’m in tears. I needed this today. That article by Thorn was wonderful too.

  2. I think you’ve put your finger on the causes of the malaise we’ve all been feeling over the past several years. And, one foot in front of the other, we’ve gotten through, somehow. It’s not getting any easier, is it, yet at least we’ve had plenty of practice at this point, haven’t we? Thanks so much, Hecate, and may it be so that it passes quickly. Please Spring, arrive soon!

  3. Hecate, I’ve also been going through a darker and more questioning time recently, unsure how much to post, not wanting to discourage readers, searching for the places and sources that nourish us in the midst of bleaker insights and acceptance of failures or loss.

    I do believe that when we venture into the darker places, there is the hope of deepening understandings —

  4. Shortly after reading your post synchronicity brought me to this:

    “Döns refer to sudden attacks of depression, resentment, anger, or other negative emotions — like an unpredictable flu that takes us over. In the last ten days before the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, it is said that one can be more susceptible to döns, so it is a particularly good time to hear teachings about working with obstacles.”

    Tibetan Buddhists know all about these kind of feelings at this time of the year. Read the whole article at http://tinyurl.com/7o5r7f7

  5. And so you ask: What gets you through?


    Thank you for this post.

  6. What gets me though…hmmm. That’s a toughie. Hugs. Hugs from my mother. My cats. Making my teenaged-niece laugh and think that I am cool. Baking. Artist Dates. Walking. Writing. Not doing my algebra homework for my degree. Yarn stores. But what will really get me though, once she is here, is the special therapy doll my mother got me for my rampaging early cronehood. She looks real and smells real and they are for raising your hormone levels. Though I will admit, waiting for her is like waiting for a real baby to arrive.

  7. Lovely post. Let’s just say it inspired me to do a couple of things I’ve been meaning to do, for today. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

  8. Early Spring (Rainer Maria Rilke)

    Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
    has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey.
    Little rivulets of water changed
    their singing accents. Tendernesses,

    hesitantly, reach toward the earth
    from space, and country lanes are showing
    these unexpected subtle risings
    that find expression in the empty trees.

    Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

    Tendernesses, hesitantly, reach … let’s hope they do, and spring will be here soon, in many ways. Those unexpected subtle risings, tiny green hard shoots pushing through not out …

  9. Your writing helps get me through. And maybe knowing how much you inspire others can help you through too. Your strength and compassion reflected back to yourself and also helping me remember mine. Thanks for sharing your words.

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