Holiday Alienation, Deep Rewards & Meaningful Gifts
Those of you who know us well, know that we don’t do the normal Christmas thing. We love that others might truly enjoy the holiday, but we ourselves are put off by the commercialization of Jesus’ birthday as well as moving it from July to December, and turning a once way-cool St. Nick into a veritable economic pimp. Most of all , we each have had the experience of disingenuous celebrations featuring smiling folks who are really quite unhappy, pretending they like relatives they can barely stand, purchasing plastic garbage out of obligation in some situations, and out of a lack of time to make personal gifts in the cases where both the giving and caring are deep and unqualified. We send out very few Solstice/Christmas time gifts, preferring to surprise folks with a special token of acknowledgment and affection when they most deserve and least expect it… but we are nonetheless greatly touched to receive the gifts of others whether in this festive season or any other. The presents are precious, and the fact that you care so about us flawed but purposed people is dear beyond description.
To start with, shortly before the Traditions In Western Herbalism Conference we received a surprise package from a craftswoman ally, Amber, who had taken the time to make a leather tincture bottle case for Kiva, a wolfen bookmark for this voracious reader, and a framed Anima logo tooled into heavy saddle leather. While she’s been neither a student nor retreat guest here, we have felt particularly encouraging of her wild spirit and continuously developing skills, her mate and her son… and her good energy and this leather Anima logo you see here helped kick-start the magic that ended up defining the TWH conference experience.
A surprise too, was very recently opening a box for an adopted daughter, an ever more self nourishing and clear seeing woman that I’ve always been glad to be a Papa too, and proud to see committed to herself and her growth. A mother and wife, she’s also an explorer of life who is doing her very best with her innate sensitivities and learned skills, to make that life authentically real and ultimately fulfilling, a very shy flower who can now belly dance in public confidently… and apparently, a seamstress as well! Among the other goodies therein, was this beautiful forest green dress that she made for Rhiannon.
Only a couple weeks before, I was actually stunned to open a heavy shipping tube and behold a a gift from a longtime family friend and recipient of not always easy Anima counsel, dear Marloe. I often draw and give away portraits of others, as a means to honor a connection and hand-draw our affection, and she said it was in part for this reason that she wanted to turn the tables and draw a portrait of me! Something about the art or gesture stirred my emotions as I unrolled it to show the family… a piece of art exhibiting what I think you will agree is an evocation of my spirit as well as a graceful assemblage of natural and meaningful forms. I see in my features the extreme sensitivity that I feel as well as the dedicated ways I act and express, the sadness of the pains I bear and the love that impels my every act. We may use it in our Plant Healer magazine (see the new link on this blog, connecting to a sample issue), but I wanted to share it with the more intimate or involved Anima community first.
Our resolved Supporter, ace owl and conference manager Resolute has a habit of bringing gifts every time she visits, and it was her instigation that led to our close friend Steve bringing and installing an attractive wood screened-door for the kitchen, making Loba ever so happy. And he has built the frame and hardware for hanging our recently acquired solar electric panels as well. As with the other items mentioned here, there is undeniably art in Resolute’s deft handling of our affairs and graceful unwavering loyalties, and Steve’s reconfiguring of our Anima homestead into a more sustainable composite is an unquestionable masterpiece in the making!
If that weren’t enough, tonight Kiva brought back from town a giant box, volumes of careful padding that encased and protected the amazing stained glass gift shown below. Sandwiched between clear glass is our poster memorializing the first-ever conference last September, its peach toned canyon cliffs exaggerated by the complimentary hued and agate textured frame that surrounds it, each piece bound to the other by glimmering strips of beaded copper leading. Herbalists and fellow wildland residents Denise and Pepper have blown us over with the beauty of this gift, the hours that went into its creation along with the suggestion of folks thinking about us so sweetly, and caring this much.
In aggregate, it has been enough to put a tear in my eye. There are many affected by our work that we may never hear from, nor be sure of what lasting good we have done them, and there is at least one person that actively works to cause harm, but there are literally hundreds of grateful emails that come in every month, as well as these occasional gifts we receive from time to time… not on the occasion of a national holiday, but as beauteous gestures of gratitude, recognition and insoluble connection in what has always been a special turn of the year.
Thank you to the creators of these artful rewards. And thank you to all of you for being the gifts to the world and to us that you each are.
-Jesse Wolf Hardin & Family