Blogging is an act of faith.
Three years ago, when this blog graduated from random occurrence to weekly newsletter, I didn’t realize I was making a commitment to noticing the curious and the intriguing, the magic in the ordinary, the way the light reflects off a dew-splattered leaf or the scent of rosemary in the afternoon sun.
I didn’t know that in bleak moments when life seems annoying or painful or heart-wrenching, I would still be finding lessons and bright spots because I had made a promise to both myself and you to create something worth reading every Sunday morning.
I didn’t understand that blogging would become my act of communion, first with the world around me and then with you.
Writing has forced me to live in wonder.
It’s shown me how to keep the faith—to confidently approach each week knowing that at some point my imagination will be sparked by something worth sharing, something worth the time it takes for me to write and the time it takes for you to read.
It’s only this morning, lying in a borrowed bed at my sister’s home overlooking the Mediterranean, watching myself watching the world waiting for a moment ripe enough to become story, that I’m realizing this devotion I’ve created, realizing how I’m devouring details—the jasmine planted strategically beneath the open bathroom window, the word play as my niece and nephew switch fluently between English and Hebrew, the avocado green of the pistachio ice cream at the local gelateri.
Last night I looked around the table as we had our usual rambunctious family dinner, noting that “family” includes a childhood friend who is often willing to make the long flight from New York to join in our Israeli gatherings. Will this week’s blog be about friendship?
I think about my sister, who growing up wanted nothing more than to buy my parent’s house in a small suburb near Philadelphia but instead married into a foreign country, became unexpectedly bilingual, and is now a favorite teacher who can’t walk ten steps down her town’s ancient shopping street without being waved to, hugged, flagged for a quick chat.
Will this week’s blog be about brave choices when there’s an unexpected fork in the road?
I never know what I will write but I do know that if I pay attention it will come to me.
So I keep the faith, pay attention, commune with the world around me.
What I realized this morning at 3:30AM, jet-lagged and headachy, is how friggin’ grateful I am for this practice. Knowing that I am going to write, come headaches or out-of-town guests or wedding anniversaries or trips overseas, and knowing that you are going to read, keeps my life wonderous. It keeps me paying attention and in the game. This is why I blog.
So thank you. You are part of this equation and I hope that in the reading you too are sparked and your capacity for noticing the sensual world expands, that you begin to know both yourself and the world around you more deeply.
Tell me—what are you noticing in your world? What is lighting you up today?
I spent my teens and most of my twenties (okay, and some of my thirties, too) searching for someone to teach me the secrets of the universe.
I was certain there was a manuscript hidden in the rare books room of the university, a hidden mentor, some place I needed to travel to or an adventure I had to have.
Words like “initiation” and “vision quest” perked my ears and sent me sniffing down the next dead end.
At the same time, I was hearing the usual axioms: the answer lies within, and you already know everything you need.
So I continued my search for my personal Yoda or Mr. Miyagi.
I’d forgotten another popular axiom: be careful what you wish for.
You remember The Karate Kid, right? The Kid goes to Mr. Miyagi to learn karate.
The kid—Daniel—thinks karate is a good way to keep his butt from getting kicked by the neighborhood bullies. To him, karate is about being powerful through muscle strength. Mr. Miyagi has the tough job of teaching him that it’s about being powerful with inner strength.
Mr. Miyagi has The Kid painting a fence. And the kid is annoyed, pissed off, ready to call the whole thing bunk and bullshit.
This is the school of sage-craft that I come from, too. It’s the chop wood, carry water— or, in my case: dig roots, pluck berries—school of wisdom.
And it’s frustrating as all hell.
I think about this often as I navigate the ins and outs of guiding Witch Camp and Sage School. Students come searching for secrets—the secret of happiness or health or wisdom or power.
What they want from me is a reading assignment or a lecture that will get them there. But readings and lectures merely give information—head knowledge—which is pretty different from wisdom.
Heart knowledge, body knowledge—now that’s a harder path. It involves things like chopping wood and carrying water. Or painting fences. Or digging roots when it’s forty degrees and raining incessantly.
Our culture encourages us to learn in a linear fashion; we do something once, and it’s “been there, done that. What’s next?”.
But you don’t get to do these things once and declare mastery.
Think about it: how much more would you see if you sat in the woods every day for a year versus for an hour one afternoon? It’s easy to do once, feel mighty proud of yourself, and move on to the next thing. But think of all the sounds you never heard, the wind that never brushed your skin, the scents of spring or summer or autumn that you missed.
Which means we skim the surface of lots of stuff but rarely go deep.
To most minds, repetition = boredom. And yet repetition is a necessary component of pretty much all the Mystery Schools, from Kabbalah to Karate.
On the surface it’s about discipline. Disciplining the body and disciplining the mind. Minding your teacher even when it all feels like bunk and bullshit.
But it goes deeper than that.
If you can get your mind to stop chattering about how annoyed it is, how much you paid to attend this school or training or class, how your back hurts and your nose is running…
If you can quiet that chatter, something else begins to happen.
You come into your body.
You come into knowledge of the world around you.
You come into relationship with the elements pulsing under your fingertips.
And this is where true power lies.
Because at heart, every school of witchery is about your will, your intent. It’s about being able to taste truth in your bones and envision realities yet to exist.
It’s about knowing yourself so intimately that you know what is not you… so when you hear a voice rising from the jumble of your being, and you know quite clearly it’s not yours, you can then look around to see what out there in the world is trying to communicate with you.
And in that moment, life is glorious.
But then the noise rises up again…
… and it’s back to chopping wood and carrying water, performing the daily discipline of communion.
Tell me: how do you discipline yourself to come into communion?