Summer skies

Welcome to my balcony.

I’m pretty tickled to tell you that the chairs are from M in #304, the chest from K in #405, the plant on the left from V in #605, but then… that’s just the way things roll in this building.

For a while I was fretting about how many chairs and where to keep them and allowing enough space for people, and then I realized… I have no idea when I’ll be able to have people over again.

However, it’s a great place to sit and watch the skies. I’m not sure I even realized Toronto skies were so interesting before living here.

Like any July, the heat and humidity are offset only by the drama of the thunderstorms…

They linger, flashing for hours, or sweep in with tornado force winds, blowing umbrellas inside out, forcing the cyclists to push hard against the current.

It has just been announced that development of the empty space in front of us is now about to begin. Office buildings, they say – innovative, exciting, timber build office buildings are on their way. In fact, the ground-breaking ceremony was slated for yesterday morning, involving federal, provincial, and municipal layers of government – speeches and ribbons and all that brouha.

However, some protestors showed up – something to do with evictions, housing, the pandemic… was hard to tell, as the mic was immediately cut. Ceremony disrupted, the officials fled.

Here we watched the chaos from our balconies, thinking : yes, we are all plenty worried about pandemic economics, lost jobs, how to pay rent, but…

We are also worried about losing those skies –

Distant spring

Two swans appeared at the lakefront this week, giving the ducks some company. The ducks mainly seemed to have spring on their minds… or at least one fellow did, who kept trying to jump any and all females in his orbit.

Oh to be a bird …

Like most everybody else out there, we are in a state of emergency and movement is limited, but there is no fierce regulation keeping people in their homes (yet), so I still have my little circuit which happily involves not only the grocery store, but also the lakefront.

And it’s interesting to see what continues to move – the tankers that still come in from distant lands to deliver sugar at the Redpath dock –

The construction sites all around us that continue to pound and hum through days and nights –

And there, at the top of those metal structures, the tiny little dot in the middle, just a few feet away from the highway, a bird sings.

Spring continues to approach, indifferent to, regardless of human troubles.

From the balcony the skies are expansive, the weather ever-shifting. We are at the very bottom of the city looking north into it, watching….

Distance – Lens Artists Challenge

New Teach

Truth is, though I continue to add new teachers, I’m never finished with the old ones – just always growing a bigger roster.

* * *

Back in May I went to a workshop with a teacher I’d had my eye on. She’s based in the UK, and there was no fast and easy way I was going to make it to one of her weekend workshops there, so when she announced a workshop in the States, I jumped on the bus heading south with bells on.

The trip was through a part of the States I love – the Mohawk Valley, and the beautiful little historical towns of upstate New York, on into Massachusetts.

There was a rather hilarious moment with a ride-share, where Sharon had agreed to pick me up at the Albany bus station to drive together along highway 2 into rural Massachusetts. She opened her arms to me at the bus station with a big hug, and we clambered happily into her car, where she started with: “So, how do you know Rabbi Jill?”

Well, I knew nothing about Rabbi Jill, and she knew nothing about shamanic teacher Manda Scott, but as we soon found out over the weekend at the conference centre in the woods, there was plenty of overlap and love between the various groups sharing the space.

There are stories I could tell about the weekend itself – about details and insights and the way one weekend in the woods can seem more important than several months on either side of it, but…

… at this point I will focus on the fact that there were so many things about Manda that were very appealing to me – her fierce intelligence, her life as a creative (she’s an author – more known in Britain than over here), the way she had navigated learning shamanic practice and then building her own way with it, the excitement she brought with her about Extinction Rebellion (a much bigger movement in the UK than here), and the seriousness with which she took her role as teacher and guide to more novice travellers.

So when she and her partner, Faith, launched a new venture in December – around the time of the equinox, moving into the new year – I signed up right away, without even really knowing what it was.

Turns out, it’s a series of offerings, and you can follow the podcast for free, or you can sign up for the paid membership version of the whole thing. Aside from the (fascinating, brilliant) podcast (where Rabbi Jill makes an appearance!), there’s an online discussion board, and my favourite part – a series of guided meditations and visualizations connecting with the elements (water, fire, air, earth, and so on).

The project it proposes – of believing in a new world, of imagining a new world, rather than being locked into the narrow vision of modern life as it is currently known – has been an anchor of optimism for me. It was an anchor of optimism even before the mammoth towering shadow of a global pandemic, so I mention it to you, just in case.

Just in case it is of interest to even one someone…