By Sedwin na Sidhe
Several years ago I made the standard New Year's resolution that began, "Jeez, I'd better do something to get in shape this year." Of course, I didn't actually start anything for about a month and a half - then I took up walking.
At first I went out at lunchtime. It provided a nice break in the middle of the day, as well as a good excuse to get out of a hectic office. When summer arrived it was too hot to walk at mid-day, plus I didn't want to smell like a locker room all afternoon. I decided to make an effort to roll out of bed a little earlier in the mornings and walk before going to work.
What I discovered was that there is a particular magic to the early hours of the day. It's like being a little kid and going out to play. It's fun - no make-up - throw on a hat to hide any hair that's sticking up. I can be a complete slob and it doesn't really matter because not many people are out on the street at dawn. Those who are, look as bad as I do or are busy rushing off to work.
I never got into using a Walkman and friends have asked: "What do you think about?" "Isn't it boring?" I think about anything and everything. I think about the day ahead or an upcoming event - big issues and non-issues. Sometimes I sort out problems and sometimes I find new ones for myself. A few times I've simply thought of how to tease my friends who are Mets fans because the Yankees have won yet again.
Anyone who has done meditation or has had trouble falling asleep is familiar with the chattering monkey brain and how like a monkey jumping from tree to tree the mind moves from one thought to another: no thread to follow - no order whatsoever. Occasionally I just let the monkey rummage around in the memories. Other times I try to quiet the little critter so I can indulge in a walking meditation to savor each moment.
Most importantly, I've found that walking keeps me closer to my Pagan beliefs. After all, Wicca is an earth-centered spirituality and what better way to honor Mother Earth than to be witness to her cycles. Yes, even in deepest, darkest suburbia the Goddess can be found.
In the spring as Earth renews herself, the vitality of life can be seen everywhere. One day a tree sports only tiny buds - the next day it seems to have exploded into a sphere of green. June brings the Linden trees into bloom. Their sweet fragrance is richer than anything Chanel can put in a bottle.
Mornings are alive with birds, squirrels, chipmunks and bees searching for their breakfasts. In late summer the abundant vegetables in my neighbors' gardens are a reminder that Earth is our mother and her bounty nourishes us, too.
When autumn rolls around mornings are dark and kind of spooky, but it's fun when there's a think fog. And it's magical when a rabbit sits up to look at me rather than run away as if to acknowledge that we are both creatures of the dawn. In winter the trees are bare. So much seems dead yet the mystery of life is at work. Seeds are resting underground, waiting for their turn to come forth into the light.
Throughout the year Canada geese create a morning spectacle as they form V-shaped ranks. The V shape is a symbol found on artifacts throughout the ancient world. The 8,000-year-old Bird Goddess figurines of southern Europe were marked with multiple Vs, emphasizing the Mother Goddess' role as life-giver and provider. One can understand this connection in the ancient mind - to them the V formation of geese indicated a water source and plentiful food. I sometimes pause and watch the geese and ponder my connection to very distant ancestors.
Some mornings the moon accompanies me. Her phases are more obvious than Mother Earth's but serve to remind me of the phases of my own life. I have been maiden; I have been mother. Now I approach the threshold of a new phase and hope that I can become a wise crone.
What started as a half-hearted resolution to get in shape has blossomed into a fitness program for body, mind and spirit. Unlike other exercise regimens I've tried, if I miss a day I don't feel guilty at having missed a workout, but I do wonder what magic I may have missed that morning. Tomorrow's another day and I know that Mother Earth will call me to come out and play.
**Note from the author: "Thank you for making so much available to so many people." Blessed be, Sandra Kynes** (posted with permission June 9, 2002)