Cobweb Meditation

by Maria Theresa Maggi on October 13, 2020

“Web on Gate,” chalk pastel sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

As I started looking at NPR headlines and other of the morning’s news, my heart began to sink at the likely inevitability of a court stacked against women’s rights, human rights and healthcare. Then I looked up and out the window, not knowing how what I saw there would delight, surprise and center me.

It always seems to be that in the fall the long lines of cobwebs and spider webs become more visible, possibly due to the angle of the sun. As I stared through the open blinds to clear my head I realized what I was watching was a networks of cobwebs floating above the porch, above the salal bushes and the tree stump, suspended in the air, lit by the sun, but also seemingly in motion, as the sun and breeze played upon theses strings otherwise invisible to us unless we learn to look.

I am indebted to a Wiccan friend long ago who, in an effort to answer my questions about what her daily practice was like, stood in thoughtful silence for a minute before she answered. We were in a lovely old park, and it was just the two of us in that moment. She turned to the angle of the sun and said, “look, there, can you see them?” And then, for what seemed like the first time in my life, I saw them. Suddenly that piece of dappled light and shade in the park came alive in a new way. Some of the spider webs were actually traveling across the blades of grass. When I looked at a favorable angle, I could see them twinkling and glistening across a whole gentle hillside.

 

She had been telling me how it was a process of paying attention to nature that grounded and sustained her practice. It wasn’t what I expected, though I’m not sure what I had anticipated. But it returned me to myself and my love of stilling myself and paying attention outside in nature that had often sustained me since I was a child, and has sustained me in the years to come after that moment of recognition. It makes of an everyday moment a ceremony, one that has the capacity to strengthen and embolden my heart.

 

I do not, by any measure, mean to suggest these moments erase the chaotic trials we are confronted with daily at this time, during these times. But what I do mean to suggest is that these times are exactly the ones in which it is most essential that I follow those promptings, make room within my heartspace to hear them.

Earlier, as the weekend approached, it became apparent to me that the two towns I have spent nearly 30 years of my adult life in were going to be under siege from far right white supremacist paramilitary groups on the same day. In one, the City of Portland, this was a result of longstanding tensions and violence between them and groups who oppose their attack on social justice, sometimes leaving the actual social justice activists unlistened to and further compromised. In the other, Moscow, Idaho, the threat was spawned by a far right church group there who would like to see the city and the country become an oppressive theocracy, and who have made it their business to defy in large groups the mask and social distancing ordinances there that are helping to keep the whole community safe, including them. They have a candidate for county supervisor who led the gathering defiantly and loudly and this time, despite many warnings at other times, the Moscow Police had to arrest and cite him and a few others. This drew a barrage of hate mail and threats to the city government and police on a Friday that forced leaders to close the Saturday Farmer’s Market, a 40 year tradition in Moscow, now adapted to masks and social distancing, that to my mind has never happened before. To read the decision of the City government in its concern for public safety and to think of all the loving formative times I spent at the market made me sick with worry and grief. I felt I needed backup, so perhaps even in an attempt to talk myself into persisting in my own practices, I posted my concerns in a group I am in and asked them all to join in with me in sending healing peaceful energy and intention, from whatever place of practice and visualization and prayer they find most effective.

But then something, some part of me came into my heart and said, this is the time to operate from here, even if it is just to stay present in this space of the heart. A calm resolution came, and I was ready to stay with it as best I could. Then I saw that night my friends in Moscow, through word of mouth, relocating farmers and vendors at pop-up spots in and on the outskirts of the city, making sure that those who depend on this income at high harvest time would not lose their harvest or livelihood. It was, quite aptly, heartening. Maybe holding the heart space and encouraging it to grow was doing something. At the very least it was allowing me to recognize the resilience and creativity that is possible in a challenging and volatile situation.

The morning of these proposed invasions, estimated to be up to 10,000 in the Portland area, with counter protestors to match, Cotton and I walked after a storm. I had listened to the press conference the Governor of Oregon gave, laying out a state of emergency that allowed city, county and state law enforcement to work together in the city to allow the peaceful first amendment expression of the two groups in separate places and to do all they could to keep them apart. (My son and daughter-in-law live in the general area of the city where all this was happening, and I had seen many nights when things spilled into places and in ways that injured innocent protestors or brought friends posting seeing unmarked vans on their streets.) But, like many of us, I had also seen the Portland Police seem to allow or enable smaller contingents of these right wing groups, while using excessive unnecessary force on peaceful counterprotestors. How was this time going to be different? Was it?

Because the ocean was high, Cotton and I walked a different neighborhood route than we had in a while, and as we got to the end of our neighborhood, something told me to go up where the street dead ends and we can look north over the beach and the mouth of schoolhouse creek. I hadn’t done this in weeks or even months, but it felt absolutely the thing to do. It had been raining in the night. It was now stopped, but the sky was still quite gray and overcast and the waves were whipped up into a white froth. There was little, if any sun breaking through.

So I wasn’t prepared as I stood there looking out over this, to suddenly see a part of a rainbow appear through the gray. At first I thought I might be seeing things, but as I looked it got stronger and stronger in color. It was just a section, but it suggested a large halo and it was magical. I gave it my usual response which is to gasp and smile and then sing to it pieces of a song I remember my Mom’s junior high choir sang about Noah’s ark back in the early seventies. All I remember is part of the chorus, which goes: “Oh what a beautiful sight! The rainbow overhead! Violet, indigo, blue and green, all the colors that lie between. Violent, indigo, blue and green, yellow, orange and red.” I sang it a couple of times and as I did I was aware I was watching something largely momentary, that it was going to strengthen and then fade right before my eyes, on a dead end bluff, with no one else down on the beach below it to see it either. Perhaps someone awake in the houses on the bluff saw it as well. But in that moment it felt as if it appeared for me, reminding me to have faith in the covenant of peace and compassion I was trying to live by, however humble the ways, and not to dismiss those ways as too small or inconsequential.

When I got back home and eventually checked into social media on my computer, I was greeted with images of resilience from Portland to Moscow. I gave to a Weekend of Black Joy fund that aimed to give families money to do something special together that was safe and to counterbalance the trauma that these racist groups hope to incite. I also saw a meme advertising Rides For the People who were giving free rides and companions to those who might have had to work in the area and would not feel safe traveling alone or waiting for a bus. Later I would see a post from someone I met during my time associating with the organization Street Repair, who at that time was a homeless mural artist. He now has a job, was closing alone in the area and voiced his worries about that, so I shared with him this number.

On the Moscow front, I saw a flurry of posts about the pop-ups happening, the Moscow Peace Band playing at one, and people rallying to order books from the downtown independent bookstore that relies on Farmer’s Market traffic to survive, especially during the pandemic. It was heartening in the most fundamental way, and I posted as many examples of resilience to the group and on my page as I found, and I called it that. The Moscow Peace band posted a photo of an empty chair they had set for Ammon Bundy, but said apparently he was afraid of a banjo and sousaphone. It was brilliant. They played at one of these pop-ups before Paulette Jordan spoke, Senatorial candidate who would be the first Native American woman in the United States Senate if she wins.

As it turns out, the Proud Boys showed up in Portland in the hundreds rather than thousands, and their rally ended earlier than planned. A few were cited and arrested for attacking/beating an independent journalist and things like questionable paintballs were confiscated. Both opposing gathering went well, considering.

I don’t know how much our positive visualizations, prayers and intentions, along with supportive actions helped to diffuse the energetic danger. But I do know I noticed the resilient responses start coming in almost immediately after I felt the resolve to stay in my heart and look for ways to act from there. While I’d like to be able to say that night in Portland did not see police brutalizing protestors in the street, I’m sorry to say they were back to the same old same old, this time with federal authority. In that respect the governor’s plan to keep the city safe only worked for a few hours before the same distorted scenario that has been going on for more than 100 days there repeated itself. But at least no one was killed, during the day or at night. I’ll acknowledge that one saving grace in a heart-rending situation.

Now, as I surface from the sinking inevitability of the Supreme Court grab, I look out at those cobwebs and spider webs basted with light. I see that everything is in flux, in unpredictable motion, in transformation, and that it won’t help for me to deny that and assume I know how all will go and what will happen, even if the worst happens. I don’t. It occurs to me that living from the heart is a moment to moment commitment, like riding a wave must be. At any moment I can wipe out, but also at any moment if I am willing I can catch those waves and ride them. My heart humanizes me. In turn, it humanizes us all, one moment at a time, amidst chaos, and beyond seeming victory or crushing loss. Maria (moonwatcher)

 

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Diane Austin October 13, 2020 at 9:42 am

So beautiful, and beautifully expressed.

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2 Maria Theresa Maggi October 13, 2020 at 4:19 pm

Thank you so much, Diane.

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3 Marge Evans October 14, 2020 at 7:59 am

you writing always lifts me up. thank you! (like you I realize the Supreme Court is a done deal.)

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4 Silvia October 16, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Crying and smiling… Thank you, Maria!

I do not know what to say. I see the signs here in Germany too. It is like a nightmare…. Thanks for the hopeful message.

Greetings from Silvia in Germany

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5 Maria Theresa Maggi October 17, 2020 at 10:02 am

Oh Silvia, thank YOU. I’m with you as you cry and smile. This movement is popping up all over the place, and I’ve read it’s gaining traction in Germany. We must keep the faith and the courage of our convictions to act as best we can. I so appreciate your comment and your faithful readership. Keep your heart open–

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