OK so I always knew November would be busy. Back in early Autumn when I was emerging out of my cave, I felt so energised and excitable I said YES to everything coming my way. Quite literally. I felt this renewed sense of passion and energy for organising beautiful things. So, this is what November looked like.
To start the month, the creation of a gingerbread house, an autumn tradition in our house ..
Toffee apples, hot dogs and bonfire night – oh, and having these beautiful sisters come stay at our place: the Rheingans, two wonderful spirits on tour with their fiddles
Stu pulled me into the garden in the pouring rain to create a mandala from what we could find around us, to mark the beginning of the design journey for our next Barefoot edition ‘Inter Winter’ – and since then we’ve been completing our gathering of writings, art work and photography to create something beautiful, heartfelt, inspiring and gorgeous .. featuring spiritual activist Alistair McIntosh, author/illustrator Jackie Morris, Mark Boyle ‘the moneyless man’, wilderness wanderer Jessie Watson Brown with articles on seasonal gatherings, retreat, nature as healer, being the change, preparing for winter and lots of other wonderful stuff .. here’s the front cover:
And then we walked, Stu and I, on a rare afternoon to ourselves in the Chilterns under amazing skies, dreaming and sharing and being together
And then another gig, with the beautiful Iain Archer and his soul companion Miriam Kaufmann – just wonderful to have the gorgeousness of community gathering in our home, sharing food and friendship and inspiring music …
… and our lovely friend who played our first ever house gig, the glorious Jonathan Day, stayed over and showed us his tongue drum – wow!
Three times a week through November parents from kindergarten, and other friends too, have gathered at our place to felt nativity figures to sell on the Advent Fair kindergarten stall – what a lot of joy it is to share stories and moments, hold each other and hear each other, as we felt together. And I must say, even nicer for me were the moments when we gathered in the evenings by the fire, without the children!!!
Stu has spent the last two weeks at two large Christmas markets – and at the same time I manned the stall at the Advent fair at school here in Kings Langley, with the help from dear friends .. oh, and I set up the craft stall where others sold the nativity sets we’d made ..
.. and probably the biggest thing I’ve been involved in during November has been managing the creation of the Enchanted Cookie House with other parents from Rowan’s class. Together we painted a carpenters house onto a drape, made trees from painted willow withies and bamboo canes, created a gingerbread cottage from an old shed complete with sweets, giant candy canes and delicious gingerbread, and created a magical enchanted forest from fern branches, willow withies and Christmas trees – and of course after all that work there are no pictures of it. Or of the 100 gingerbread men I baked and decorated with Stu. But the whole thing was amazing!! The team spent the afternoon on Friday setting up this beautiful spectacle, complete with sparkly lights, fallen leaves and a path for children to follow the next day at the Fair – when we dressed up in all sorts of elfish gear to welcome them into the deep magic of the woodland .. and in the midst of all this I had my first night out in London in a very very long time to see this dear ones play … well, it was really Luke with JP as Nizlopi but seeing as I have no pics of him and Jimmy was called up on stage too I thought it ok to use this one! Spending time with the beautiful Abi and being inspired by the music of these crazy soulful beings, home at midnight, up at 6am to set up and oversee three events at the Fair .. crazy times but brilliant fun, have loved it all.
So now, into Advent. When our friend Jonathan stayed with us he talked about retreating into the Earth at this time of year, he feels bear-like and hibernatory. At the time it felt different for me; I was in the midst of busy plans, community gatherings, crafting, making, baking, meetings – and loving it. And in the last few days I’ve sensed a change in me, a need to find that place of retreat. Maybe it’s partly my inner rhythm at work, as I delve in to my ‘Inner Winter’. But I do feel it’s time now for me to slow down. To give more time and space to myself, to sit by the fire without having to plan, felt, email, organise. With Barefoot coming out soon I’m not sure if that will happen imminently – but am recognising the need for it, and Stu and I have decided to mark the Twelve Days of Christmas this year with a holiday, from social media, online communication – we’re going offline for a while. Not long, but enough hopefully to have some breathing space.
So, here we are. Coming into Advent. Isaac walked the Advent spiral at school today, and I found myself painting my own back home. I spent time in the middle, feeling the sacredness of that moment as my candle is lit from the Source of Light, and sensing the gaze and the holding of dear ones around me, my community, my tribe, as I light my own flame. Walking out slowly with my flame in my hand, I place it on the very edge of the circle so it lights my way back in again – as I need to revisit that place where my flame is lit, so often.
Blessings for a sacred gentle time this Advent, as we prepare to feast and gather in celebration of Love. And holding and remembering those near to us, and those brothers and sisters we have yet to meet and may never meet, for whom this time is hard, and may be filled with suffering. Open to how I may be called to change, act, pray, love, that peace may grow deeper and love be shared fuller in our broken world.