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The Feast of Birth

The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents-
A small franchise indeed.
Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once-

Here at the year’s end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts-
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses-
Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.

-Kenneth Rexroth, The Complete Poems Of Kenneth Rexroth

This Sunday, January 6th is the feast of Epiphany and the one-year anniversary of Tune coming into our lives.  She is now ten and a half years old and thankfully still very spry and spunky.  When we first met her she was terrified of the world, the result of years spent in a breeding kennel where she was used for birthing litters and was given little attention and likely suffered some abuse.  She bonded to us quickly, as though she knew she were finally safe and could ask freely for the years of love she never received.  She is still shy with strangers, but over the months we’ve had her she has gotten much bolder, especially when cookies are involved. 

She teaches me a lot about the contemplative life, about listening to my body’s needs, and about the joy of play and affection.  Abbess Petunia has many sides to herself as we all do.  There is her playful puppy side, where she surprises us with her vigor and energy.  There is her wild wolf side, when we walk together in the woods she becomes another creature altogether, one wild and bold and adventurous.  There is her inner huntress, what her breed was created to do, and is sparked by every passing squirrel.  There is her wounded child, the one who trembles with fear at not knowing how strangers will treat her.  There is her wise old great grandmother, whose eyes reveal a knowledge about what is most important in the world.  There is her mama dog side, who growls at us in the middle of the night if we disturb her sleep by rolling over, as if she has had to tell countless puppies to quiet down and let her rest.  And of course, in all of these parts of her I discover my own playfulness, my woundedness, my wisdom, my wildness, my mother nature, my hunting instincts. 

It seems appropriate that we would have received her on the feast of epiphany, a feast celebrating gifts and insight.  I love Rexroth’s poem, especially these lines: “Let us celebrate the daily / Recurrent nativity of love, / The endless epiphany of our fluent selves.” Tune has been nothing less than a daily gift of love in our lives.

How do you continue to celebrate the gift of birth in your daily life?  Do you make room to continually discover new things about who you are and were created to be?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

(photo on top was taken in Whistler, Tune was a big hit there with her snazzy red coat and matching winter boots, photo below taken at the hermitage on Hood Canal)

Scroll down for more information on the 2008 smARTist-Telesummit and to order a 2008 calendar featuring my seasonal photos!

**Come back on Monday for the next Poetry Party!**

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10 Responses

  1. Elaine, I completely understand the dog connection. :-) At least a half dozen people asked us if they could take a photo of Tune while in her ski bunny clothes, she was quite the starlet for a few days. Happy anniversary to you too!

  2. Post something about a dog and I have no trouble commenting. Poetry I often find hard to understand, but dogs — well, I feel like I understand them better. They are simple and honest. One thing, though — could they please explain why they have to get to know one another bum to nose? That I can’t figure out.

    Tune certainly is a darling. Such an expressive face. Is she romping behind you as you cross-country ski? I can believe she was a star up at Whistler. Cuter than a ski bunny for sure.

    Thanks for sharing the photos and your interpretation of Tune’s behaviors. I think you’re right on — with Tune’s wardrobe, too.

    Happy Anniversary. I just had my 4th with Piper (he came into my life on December 28th, 2003) so I know how important these dates are.

  3. thanks for all the wonderful comments, Tune insisted I read them all to her. :-)

    You’re absolutely right lucy about my commitment to not humiliating her with clothing, but in this case it was to keep her as warm and dry in the snow as possible. With her short coat and small body she shivers easily. :-)

  4. Happy 1st Re-Birthday, Tune! You are beautiful in every way. I adore the photo of you trekking your way through the snowy woods of life. I enjoy Kenneth Rexroth’s poetry. Love his reference to the incense. I learn more about who I am and what my purpose is when I interact with nature.

  5. That’s so beautiful, Christine. Makes me misty-eyed. And Tune is gorgeous in her new red ensemble!

  6. this is a beautiful tribute to miss tune! you have captured her spirit well…about those clothes though…i thought you had promised her you wouldn’t dress her up?!?!? she does, however, seem much more pleased with her coat & booties than she did in her reindeer ears.

    she is a love and i am grateful to have had the opportunity to beach comb with her and see her in her habitat at they abbey!

  7. Dear Christine,
    This is a wonderful post about Tune. Along with all else I am thankful for in our recent meeting–of which I hope I have adequately expressed, on my blog and in person–I am also grateful that I got to meet Tune. She is indeed a wonderful and sweet lady.

    Peace, friend.

  8. Tune is beautiful – and look at her frolicking with her booties on! Sunny received some for Christmas and since it’s 19 degrees this morning, this will be his first day with his new footwear. On celebrating the gift of birth … prayers of Gratitude, daily walking meditation of “Breathe in GOD, breathe out Eileen” (with Sunny), doing something creative each day, laughing out loud, writing down great things I read and learn to help me on my journey – in my Words of Sunshine journal, taking time each day to watch the water flow, listen to music, play the piano, help others, trying to move in G.O.D. – a Good Orderly Direction, and LOVE.

  9. “There is her mama dog side, who growls at us in the middle of the night if we disturb her sleep by rolling over, as if she has had to tell countless puppies to quiet down and let her rest.”

    That, my dear Christine, is probably the most sensitive thing I have read in a long, long time. For you to know her that well is truly bonding. It made me stop for a moment and think about how we impose our reality on others all the time instead of entering their reality and seeing it through their eyes. Even our pets.