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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