I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Signs and portents

Crescent shadows

On our Saturday walk, we saw these crescent-shaped shadows, caused by the annual solar eclipse of the sun that created them, as the moon crossed in front of the sun. There were nearby cities that saw the entire "Ring of Fire," but here we were only able to see a partial eclipse. Tom Warner Jr, who put a series of wonderful shots on his Facebook page, captured the picture below.

From Tom Warner Jr Facebook page

Tom is a magnificent photographer and has many amazing shots that you can enjoy, if you can  access his page from this link. In any event, it was fun to be out and walking with a couple of good friends as the eclipse unfolded. We walked to the Squalicum Harbor and saw lots of people who had set up telescopes and had myriad ways to view the eclipse. They were also more than willing to share. We feared it would be cloudy and/or rainy here, but the clouds parted, seemingly just for the viewing, because they came back after it was over.

What does the phrase "signs and portents" mean, anyway? I gave this post that title because it came to me as we watched the eclipse shadows, and because of all that is happening worldwide. It seems to imply that change is coming.
An omen (also called portent) is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change. It was commonly believed in ancient times, and still believed by some today, that omens bring divine messages from the gods. 

The quote is from Wikipedia. And, as many of us are feeling, major change seems to be upon us. The events in Israel and Gaza, in Ukraine, as well as three large earthquakes in Afghanistan, one after another, do feel a little bit like we are being given a "heads up" from the Universe.

 I know I am not alone in having serious problems trying to wrap my head around what is going on in the Middle East. For years I have heard that World War III would start there, and we seem well on our way to some sort of wider conflict. But I cannot go there in my heart and mind, since it does no good for me to dwell on it, and I can only affect my own environment. The only thing I know to do, other than prayer and meditation, is to pay attention to my own spiritual development and take steps to stay grounded in loving kindness. That's not always so easy, but it's a start, just thinking of what I might be able to accomplish by paying attention to what I feed and nourish my body, mind, and spirit with.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. —Friedrich Nietzsche

In the practice of yoga, I have learned of the principle of ahimsa, a Sanskrit word that means nonviolence. Gandhi practiced it as his first and foremost principle. In my yoga classes, we were introduced to the concept of ahimsa, and for the month of September (in my new class), we spent a few minutes before each class hearing a short reminder of what ahimsa is. Last night I awoke in the middle of the night (a common phenomenon lately) and the word came to me. Somehow it seemed to calm my mind and allowed me eventually to fall back to sleep, as I thought about it.

When I woke and began this post, I looked up the meaning, just to be sure I had gotten it right, and I learned that there is a difference between ahimsa and mettā (the Sanskrit word for loving kindness) and realized that if I spend my waking hours concentrating on these two concepts, nonviolence and loving-kindness, there will be much less room in the dark corridors of my mind for worry and sadness. Those of us who are concerned about the state of the world should realize that, not only does it do no good to fall into despair, it only adds to it. I will bring peace and equanimity to the world one soul at a time, starting with my own.

Of course, I am also not living in a war zone but surrounded by a beautiful green (and right now quite wet) environment, nothing like I see on TV, and for that I am feeling very grateful. If I were Queen of the World, that is where we would all live. But it seems we humans must learn some hard lessons in the present moment. I do remind you, my dear friends, to take care of yourself and your own state of mind, because it truly is the only thing you can control. And, if you're like me, even that is a challenge, but it can be done.

And with that admonition, I wish you all the very best of weeks ahead, and that you will find peace, joy, and happiness to surround yourself and your loved ones with. You are strong and capable, and I believe if we put our minds together, we can do just about anything. Be well, dear friends, until we meet again.


Far Side of Fifty said...

It was cloudy here, no eclipse viewing for us. I hope you have a good week:)

Rian said...

We got to see the eclipse here... used eclipse glasses and could see clearly a deep orange crescent. Didn't get to see the ring of fire, but the crescent was impressive.

Rita said...

Cloudy, drizzly day here yesterday. No eclipse to be seen.
You're so right. All we can do is send out love. I pray for calm for the terror, comfort for the pain, peace for the ruptures, and love & forgiveness for the hatred & cruelty. Healing. This world needs a focus on love and healing. Humans--we are so very slow to learn. Please love us all regardless.

John's Island said...

Thanks for the links to Tom Warner Jr’s page … he sure has some good eclipse photos. Re the current state of the world, this is so true: “The only thing I know to do, other than prayer and meditation, is to pay attention to my own spiritual development and take steps to stay grounded in loving kindness.” More wisdom, “take care of yourself and your own state of mind, because it truly is the only thing you can control.” Another fine post, thank you DJan. John

Linda Reeder said...

I actually forgot all about the eclipse, and it was cloudy most of the time anyway, but I did see some good photographs of it. those who got to see the ring of fire were truly blessed.
This week will bring more appointments, more treatments (dental) and hopefully a few more answers. I hold on hope that there will be a way to restore some of my mobility.
In the mean time, I work on myself to stay positive and find joy where I can. Thanks for this post.

Elephant's Child said...

We didn't see the eclipse here so I have been delighting in seeing photos from your side of the world.
'I will bring peace and equanimity to the world one soul at a time, starting with my own.' So very true. And that hard task does indeed start with me. Thank you.

Marcia LaRue said...

I was able to see the eclipse and the ring of fire all on the Weather Channel ... they covered the entire transit from Oregon to Texas! I live in S. CO.

Anvilcloud said...

we would have only had a bit of the eclipse here, and I haven't heard or seen anything about it. I don't think anyone was too bothered. We had a pretty good solar eclipse just two or three years ago.

Red said...

We are helpless in these sad events. We can try to look after ourselves and influence some other people. The hate some people have for each other is unbelievable. Land is a major problem and then religion gets mixed in with it.

Linda Myers said...

I completely forgot about the eclipse until it was over. And I'm well the only thing I can do about the current turbulence in the world is to love those around me and to be kind.

Marie Smith said...

One of the bloggers I follow lives in Israel. She has been on my mind since this news broke. So many innocents in danger! Nature keeps me grounded.

Have a wonderful week, Jan.

Tabor said...

Cloudy, no eclipse but I am fascinated by your crescent photos. Such an original! The world is in disarray and can only be solved by one voice at a time.

Chris said...

So sad to hear and see the news about Israel, I went there in 2002. No eclipse here but plenty of rain, but fortunately no flooding here in S Wales, while in Scotland its really bad and 2 lives lost, poor people.