Tuesday, January 1, 2008


new years day is my easter.

in the days before, i mourn the end of an intangible spirit, of what has expired and what has been left to die. i contemplate the sins of the year, i look to the trees and earth, seeing the wilted brown trying to break free into the wind. i recall this week some years ago, when i stood on the precipice, looking deep into my gravest fear--waiting, dreading, grasping onto my last hopes with my nails chapped and bleeding.

as part of the year end rumination, i cook. and i cook. starting two days before, cutting and salting vegetables. brooding silently over recipes. i prepare, but i eat little. i place the last energies of the year into every nugget, every morsel. i only partake to taste, to ensure the purity of my cooking.

then, the evening of the 31st, i allow a short communion. soba--long and thin, a metaphor for life. this repast takes me into the wee hours.

and then, the rebirth.

when the clock strikes the new year, all is born anew, in lights and abundance and sweetness. this year, to mark it, i made sweet red bean soup (zenzai) with yomogi mochi balls. the mochi for fortune, the yomogi herb a green reminder of earth, of mortality, of corporeality.

i become acutely aware of my every thought, every move. i act deliberately. for three decades of experience have taught me to believe the old wisdom: 一年の計は元旦にあり(the path of one year exist on new years day).

i rise a little earlier than i'd like. i recall my first dream and contemplate its prophesy for the new year. i stubbornly finish my morning pages although many things try to distract me. i brew tea. i cut the last ingredients of this holiday. i bathe and put on the only new piece of clothing i own--a gift from my in-laws. it fits--this bodes well for the year.

i make a chicken soup (ozoni) with daikon, carrots, spinach, shiitake, yuzu zest and square mochi. we break fast with this soup. i prepare a third bowl of soup, light two sticks of incense, and strike the bowl bell by the picture of my mother. placing my hands together, i pray slightly longer than usual. hoping my extended presence will entice my mother to partake in what i've offered. later, i will remove the bowl and eat the cold contents myself, somehow offering my body as a vessel to digest the meal for my mother--a six-year-old disciple of shakamuni.

in a stacked faux-lacquer box, i have packed the food i've been making for the last couple days. when we eat it, i will offer a taste of each item to my mother again, hoping, praying for her presence to walk among us again, as jesus walked among his disciples.

inspired, i put on a cd of bach cantatas: wachet auf and jesu, der du meine seele. i realize that new years has outstripped christmas as the most important holiday in my personal mythology. i also realize that i am newly open to the spirits, gods, and prophets of the universe.

and this is why new years is my easter.

it is the hope that rises from despair, the life that grows from expiration, the salvation borne of sin.

because today, i embrace the beginning of beginnings, when the ether was brought into creation. and i realize i am close to that creativity, that i am a part of that creativity, that i can let the creativity of god or life or reincarnation flow through me; through my fingers, my body, my voice, my words.

and so, my e-kakizome haiku:

a new beginning
hope born from winter's clutches
so emerges the Word

No comments: