Friday, January 6, 2012

Three Kings Day: Epiphany

Today is Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, Three King’s Day, a day to celebrate the arrival of the gifts brought to the child Jesus by the Wise Men. It is a day to contemplate the gifts and the wisdom of the past year and a day to imagine what transformations might happen over the next year.

I once was in a church in Mexico when the Wise Men rode in on their donkeys. It was spectacle dressed in humility. The donkeys’ hooves resounding over the church floor, the reverent and excited congregation, the flash of the wise men’s garments created from sequins and paint rather than real gold thread and fine fabrics. Here is what I read in the internet: Mexico, as it inherited its culture from Spain, quickly adopted January 6 as Three Kings Day and since then every child waits for the arrival of the three travelers. The tradition has its rules: the children should write a letter with their requests (they are not going to continue delivering incense and myrrh) and specify the good work they have done throughout the year along with the problems they are going to correct in the coming year. The letter will be tied to a balloon with string and will be allowed to fly, or they will burn the letter (because the king can also read smoke; they are very wise!) or simply put the letter inside a shoe that should be placed at the base of the nativity, or now also the Christmas tree.

Reminds me a little of the burning bowl ceremony at Unity Christ Church on New Year’s Eve.

The good work I have done includes providing child care for my grandsons, which has extended to a boy born in September. I once said I would never live in a place that was so damn cold and now it is going on 7 years. First I came because I could not return to my old life, neither the one left behind in Santa Fe with bankruptcy, loss of the condo which has been my home for 10 years and where I lived with my true love and partner for 8 of those years, and the feeling that I was stuck. Between what was familiar and taking a risk, between friends and encountering the wider world. Nor could I return to Mexico where instead of honoring my own creativity, I was supporting my new husband’s pursuit of his business, one that I thought would belong to us both until he made it clear that I was working for him. The opportunity to spend time with my grandsons was too precious to give up. Along the way I learned which bus shelters are heated, attended numerous wonderful poetry events and got to know talented poets and writers, received healing, love and wisdom from Unity, and found a great doctor to do my hip replacement.

There is nothing to compare to your 6 year old grandson on the phone asking if you will come to his school to help make a gingerbread house. Or to hear him say while pasting the gumdrops onto the icing, “Why are we wasting all this candy?”

This past year I performed poetry at least 14 times, not including in private parties, and conducted writing workshops, at La Conexion de las Americas, All About the Journey, Unity Christ Church, The Aliveness Project and at Face to Face High School. I witnessed people’s pain and sorrow, struggles and passions, the urge to put it to paper and to share it, the power of telling one’s story with authenticity. I finally understood exactly what it is that I do: self-reflective writing that is intimate and honest as a way to access the inner healer in an environment that is safe. Because this is where my own writing takes shape: in the willingness to share my story, the griefs and passions, dreams and reality-check, the guilt and the gratitude, the disappointments and the satisfactions. I have lived my dream this past year: launching my second book of poetry, creation of a broadside, and writing alongside of others who may or may not be writers but who want to express themselves through words. The success I feel is not calculated by numbers or sales figures (I still have boxes of books) but by reaching one of my cherished goals: to bring poetry to those who do not yet know they love poetry, to make poetry accessible through presenting my own work theatrically and through sharing other poems in the writing workshops form poets who reflect back to us our turmoil and our ecstasy.

Could I have done all this remaining in Santa Fe or Puerto Vallarta? Remaining in my state of despair and longing? I had to be somewhere with a fresh start, where I knew only a few old friends who provided encouragement and places to live and rides home and uplifting me out of blue moods with laughter and meals shared and glasses of wine poured and who listened to my questions and kvetching without complaint. I had to be somewhere else. The land of 10000 Lakes, cold and frigid, the big city traffic and noise, the cost of living and the availability of culture, turned out to be where I could unfurl my wings after all.

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