We are living an amazing moment of contradiction and challenge. The fullness of the autumn comes upon us bringing earlier and earlier sunsets; daytimes with the sun moving farther and farther south; and the awareness of more immediately descending darkness earlier each evening. With ‘Election Season’ ending and the ongoing pandemic of COVD-19 continuing, it is difficult to feel good about much of anything. It is autumn though where both wonder and awe remain. Comparative mythologist and professor of literature, the late Joseph Campbell, offers this insight reflecting on the goddess Kali asks, “Can we truly trust the creative power of darkness?”
“ . . .The black Goddess Kali, the terrible one of many names, ‘difficult of approach,’ whose stomach is a void and so can never be filled, and whose womb is giving birth forever to all things. . .” —Joseph Campbell
These words were embraced by poetess May Sarton, who in stave 5 of The Invocation to Kali, writes:
It is time for the invocation:
Kali, be with us.
Violence, destruction, receive our homage.
Help us to bring darkness into the light,
To lift out the pain, the anger,
Where it can be seen for what it is—
The balance-wheel for our vulnerable, aching love.
Put the wild hunger where it belongs,
Within the act of creation,
Crude power that forges a balance
Between hate and love.
Help us to be the always hopeful Gardeners of the spirit
Who knows that without darkness Nothing comes to birth
As without light Nothing flowers.
Bear the roots in mind,
You, the dark one, Kali
—from Selected Poems of May Sarton, ed. Serena Sue Hilsinger and Lois Byrness, W.W. Norton, 1978.
In the autumn nature seems to be emptying itself as the birds, leaves and fields turn their faces south to the new spring in the Southern Hemisphere, reappearing here in six months. Meanwhile, America is fraught with the bitter words of political campaigns “for the future…determining our lives and survival,” which tend to leave us breathless, worried and profoundly fearful.
I have returned to the profoundly mysterious land north of Santa Fe, near my former home in Medenales. I find this moment of darkness and displacement to be calming and deepening as I gaze into the night skies up country, also near my beloved Ghost Ranch and nearby Ojo Caliente. Sunset comes early below the edge of the Black Mesa, near Cerro Negra; a full hour before it sets in Santa Fe, due to the proximity of higher mountains to the west above 8,000 feet. This is a place of barrenness and dramatic rock formations, colored bone white and blood red, ochre and chestnut creating an other-worldly environment.
The silence of the high desert allows; no, compels me to reflect on what is happening to us a human family, a nation and a planet. First, we are grieving in the face of enormous loss of human life; not just of our sisters and brothers, but a way of life, which is now revealed as unsustainable in a new order. We have seen dysfunction and disorder at a level that many have not in their lifetimes. We give witness that sacred and secular institutions falter and fumble in their efforts to meet real need.
Food lines, racial tensions, political infighting, and a polarizing election have brought us to our knees in supplication as we are in a dark and fearful place in our collective history and in our lives. Fear seems to have immobilized and silenced us, in spite of disorder, violence and outrage which seems rampant across the country. The autumn season seems to further reinforce our fear and negativity. Even time and space seem out of synch for a moment as we do not wish to surrender the halcyon days of summer.
Marv Hiles in the Daybook 25 years ago tells it this way: “Days, deepening into nights that lead us to the last steps of the way across autumn. Life time and love come ‘round. If we have shared autumn’s small secrets, we will now share its denouement, a birth of hope, as the darkness descends in the valley before ascending again toward high noon and heavy fields. In just a moment, the kingdom of summer begins again.”
As this remarkable time of decision where life and death, birth and freedom are on the line daily, I am exceedingly grateful for each of you who graciously receive my words often offering me your insights and thoughts triggering new hopes and dreams of what life can be. I am so appreciative of your contributions and plead with you and for you at the Throne of Grace to continue your work and to please. . .VOTE.