Thursday, January 19, 2017

Transitions

Today marks the 30th day of winter. Since the solstice we have picked up 32 minutes of daylight and are now gaining more than two minutes a day. Hurrah! We are also having our first winter thaw. It's amazing how nice the upper thirties feels after a spell of bone-chilling cold.

I walked this morning at the Louisville Swamp near Jordan, MN. I parked off of Bluff Drive and walked down the Middle Road to the trails. There are two active eagle nests that can be seen along the Middle Road. There are now four active nests visible from trails in the swamp. I saw five eagles today. Two were sitting next to their nest. Minnesota eagles - and I assume others all across the northland - are now busy getting their nests ready for egg-laying. I also saw a mature eagle chasing an immature eagle through the air. And I came upon another eagle eating some kind of dead animal on the frozen swamp near Jab's Farm. I watched it for a few minutes until it saw me. It tried to grab its meal and fly but missed so it circled back around and made two passes trying to snag it on the fly. It missed both times. It then parked itself in a tree nearby and yelled at me until I walked back up the trail from the swamp. I watched from a distance as it glided back down on the ice and continued tearing away and eating its dinner.

Longer days and eagles on the nest mark the transition from winter to spring. It's a hopeful season.

We are also about to endure another transition. I am not so hopeful about this one. Today marks day 731 of President Obama's tenure as President. It is also his last. Tomorrow President Trump takes the oath of office. I miss the current President already.

I don't think Obama will go down in history as a great President for the simple reason that he governed at such a hyper-partisan moment in history; the Republican opposition resisted him at every turn and limited his ability to govern effectively. And, I suspect that many of his accomplishments will shortly be undone. Hence, I think he will not be considered a great, i.e. transformational, President.

He was still a good one, the best of my adult life. Even with brutal opposition the list of his accomplishments is long and worthy, among them: a long steady economic recovery, Obamacare, opening up the military to gays (and gay marriage happening on his watch), the Iran nuclear treaty, a host of climate change and environmental initiatives and actions, no American troops in Syria, and no scandals. On top of it he and Michelle lived out their very public lives with the utmost grace and dignity. They will be missed.

Now I fear we make a Presidential transition from the beautiful season of winter to... a long endless winter with no Christmas.

The God of War by Bertolt Brecht 
I saw the old god of war stand in a bog between chasm and rockface.
He smelled of free beer and carbolic and showed his testicles to adolescents, for he had been rejuvenated by several professors. In a hoarse wolfish voice he declared his love for everything young. Nearby stood a pregnant woman, trembling.
And without shame he talked on and presented himself as a great one for order. And he described how everywhere he put barns in order, by emptying them.
And as one throws crumbs to sparrows, he fed poor people with crusts of bread which he had taken away from poor people.
His voice was now loud, now soft, but always hoarse.
In a loud voice he spoke of great times to come, and in a soft voice he taught women how to cook crows and seagulls. Meanwhile his back was unquiet, and he kept looking round, as though afraid of being stabbed.
And every five minutes he assured his public that he would take up very little of their time.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Want to Change the World? Read Fiction

This morning I started reading The View From the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman. As the title suggests it's not fiction but it is written by one of the best current authors of fantasy and fiction. In the early essays, which are mostly transcriptions of speeches he has given, Gaiman talks frequently about how important it was to him as a child to have a public library nearby and to be able to read everything and anything he could get his hands on but particularly fiction and fantasy.

Fiction, he says, is a "gateway drug" to other forms of literature. It helps you fall in love with reading. It also teaches you how to imagine a better world:
You’re also finding out something as you read that will be vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this: THE WORLD DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS. THINGS CAN BE DIFFERENT. Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. And discontent is a good thing: people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different, if they’re discontented.
Reading these essays reminds me of my own childhood and how incredibly fortunate I was that my parents were avid readers and that we had a public library nearby. My siblings and I had library cards from the time we could read, and my mom took us to the library at least a couple of times a month where we would browse the aisles and pick up a new collection of books to bring home. It was a joy for me to go to the public library, check out books, and then sit around with my family or in my room and read.

When I was in third grade at an extended family gift exchange I received a box set up JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I remember being mildly disappointed that I received books while my cousins were opening packages with toys. I was extremely grateful, though, that I didn't receive clothes which were my least favorite Christmas gifts as a child. In any case, The Lord of the Rings was the very best gift. It became my childhood bible. I read and reread it year after year up through my teens. Countless times through those years I would open it up to a random page and read a few paragraphs or chapters and be lost again in the story. The Middle Kingdom became part of my inner world. I escaped there but I also learned, I realize now, something about how to navigate and make moral decisions in a complex world.

Gaiman has an essay on Lewis, Tolkien, and Chesterton. I never read G.K. Chesterton as a child. Gaiman read Lewis, Tolkien and Chesterton in that order. I read Tolkien first and then C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. I was in 5th or 6th grade when I first read Chronicles of Narnia and I was probably too old. By the time I read it I was old enough to recognize it as an allegory of the Christian story, although I doubt I knew then the definition of allegory. But I experienced it much like I experienced being in church and listening to scripture read with the "moral" or the "three points". Instead of populating my imagination with visions and dreams and possibilities, I felt like Lewis was preaching to me. I didn't much enjoy the sermon.

I realize, though, that many children and adults love Chronicles of Narnia. And that is ok. This too, is one of Gaiman's arguments. There is no "wrong" literature when you are a child. Or an adult. If there is any wrong it is in trying to tell our children what they should be reading or to be sneering down our noses at adults who read literature we think is a waste of time. Isn't my reading fantasy and fiction a waste of time? No matter how well it may be written? We don't want to go there.

I leave this post with two quotes from A View From the Cheap Seats. One is a reminder from C.S. Lewis:
As C.S. Lewis reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.
The other is a story told by Gaiman:
I spent much of the last four days with my ninety-five-year-old cousin Helen Fagin, who is a holocaust survivor and was professor of the holocaust at the University of Miami for some time, and a wonderful, remarkable woman, and she was telling me about when she was in the Radomsko ghetto in 1942. She had been at Krak√≥w University until the war interrupted her studies, so she was assigned in the ghetto to teach younger kids (she would have been nineteen, maybe twenty), and in order to assert normality, these ten-or-eleven-year-olds would come in the morning and she would teach them Latin and algebra and things that she was uncertain that they would have any use for, but she would teach them. And one night she was given a copy of the Polish translation of Gone with the Wind, and she explains this is significant in that books were banned. Books were banned by the Nazis in an incredibly efficient way, which was if they found you with a book they would put a gun against your head and shoot you. Books were very, very banned, and she was given a copy of Gone with the Wind. And each night she would draw the curtains and put the blackout in place and read, with a tiny light, two or three chapters, losing valuable sleep time, so that the next morning when the kids came in she could tell them the story of what she read, and that was all they wanted. And for an hour every day they got away. They got out of the Radomsko ghetto. Most of those kids went on to the camps. She says that she tracked them all later and discovered that four—out of the dozens of kids she taught—had survived. When she told me that it made me rethink what I do and made me rethink the nature of escapist fiction, because I thought actually it gave them an escape, just there, just then. And it was worth risking death.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Our Children, Our Future

It's the winter solstice. After a bitterly cold stretch last week winter comes in with a warm whimper. Temps above or near freezing are forecast through Christmas. Rain, possibly heavy, is forecast on Christmas Day. 

I haven't had much time to think about the solstice and haven't spent much time out enjoying the snow. Son Ryan and I did manage to get in a day of grouse hunting last week in sub-zero temps in the Nemadji State Forest.

This week has been a different story. Our fourth grandchild, Mabel Rose, was born the 19th. I (we) have been helping with Mabel's sister Meadow, cooking, and trying to get ready for Christmas Eve and Day.

Mabel came a week early. I had written to someone last week that Mabel had dropped and was poised for her grand entrance in the world, but she now waited, perhaps pondering whether she really wanted to be born into Trumpland. If so she didn't wait and ponder too long. It was a rush to the hospital Monday morning followed by two hours of labor and two pushes. The delivering physician reportedly said, "well that was fun."

Whatever newborns think about, I am grateful it isn't thoughts about the times we live in. That kind of thinking - or is it brooding - is left to us adults. It would be pretty easy for me to slip into a state of despondency as I watch with horror the unveiling of the cast of characters in the next anti-Administration.

But for the children... We have much work to do and no time for despair. And so I call to mind this recent post by Kent Nerburn:
A wise woman named Robyn Sand Anderson just posted this in the blog comments as a possible theme of unification for those of us trying to make common cause for a better world in the face of what just happened. I love it. If it were within my power, I would plant it here and make it grow. But I am but one person, and none can say why some seeds grow and some do not. But this is a good seed. And it is a gesture of creativity in defiance of our collective shock and despair.
Thank you, Robyn. And to the rest of us, imagine the marchers for Black Lives Matter and the protesters at the pipeline and those meeting in the churches and those tweeting to their friends all doing so under the banner of “Our Children, Our Future.” Imagine it as a mantra rather than the traditional prayer at a religious family’s dinner. Imagine someone saying it from the pulpit and someone writing it in a zine.
Imagine it alive in our hearts as we move out from the shock of this dark moment.
Of such small things will our healing be made and a positive future shaped. A thousand flowers, my friends, a thousand flowers. Pick yourselves up and start to fix this mess, whether it is at your tables, in the streets, or in your tweets and blogs. Robyn’s phrase may not become a rallying cry. But maybe it will. And no matter what, she’s planting a flower, not staring blankly at the ashes. We’ve got to stand up. Our children need us. The future needs us. This is our time, because, for the first time in recent memory, we are united. Now we need to make the unification around a hope and a dream, not a common anger and dread.
Our Children, Our Future.


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The election happened - the sun came up this morning

I was up early this morning to see the sunrise. It wasn't quite as beautiful as the sunrise last week over Lake Superior pictured here.


At the feeders outside this morning there was a red squirrel, a couple gray squirrels, Chickadees, Junkos, Cardinals, and House Sparrows (not my favorite bird). I drove down to the Louisville Swamp for an early morning walk. There were already deer hunters in the woods. I saw two Bald Eagles, lots of Canada Geese and Mallards, Tree Sparrows, Pileated, Red-breasted, and Downy Woodpeckers and other birds and squirrels. It was another beautiful November day. Yesterday I spent much of the day with our three grandchildren. There is - still - much to be thankful for.

I am deeply disappointed in the election outcome. I fear for my children and grandchildren. I fear for the country. I fear for the earth. This morning I feel very much like Thomas Friedman: "Homeless in America." But the voters have spoken and we will have President Trump. I hope he rises to the immense challenges he will face. I hope he is able to be a leader for all the people. I hope he succeeds in improving the fortunes of all of the angry voters who voted him into office, who themselves have felt homeless in America as their jobs were shipped overseas or lost to the rapidly changing global economy. With a Republican Congress he will certainly get his chance. Time will tell.

Meanwhile we have families to nurture, friends to give us hope and keep us laughing, communities to support, and a fragile earth to take care of. There is much important and meaningful work to do.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Edward Abbey. I am not quite as confident as he is about the outcome but I love the sentiment:
One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Day

Mary Ann and I voted around lunchtime today. No lines, but a steady flow of people. Two women were wearing pants-suits. I wonder who they were voting for? It's been the nastiest election season I have ever seen and I can only hope that the nasty woman wins and wins big.

There has been little if any conversation about issues that matter during the campaign. Trumps daily insults and Hillary's emails have kept the media titillated and uninterested in moving the conversation on to more important topics. It is particularly disappointing that climate change went unmentioned. It's the most important issue facing us and it didn't, as far as I remember, come up in the debates nor get any air time by the candidates or the press.

Meanwhile our endless summer continues. Sixty degrees this afternoon, still no freeze, and the longest growing season on record continues.

Yesterday I walked at Murphy-Hanrehan Park. I parked in the main parking lot and walked past Hanrehan Lake where there was a large flock of Ring-necked ducks on the water. I read that they are late migrants.



Interestingly, there was a Bald Eagle swooping low over them. I watched it make six passes before it saw me and took off. I don't know what it was up to,

What I do know is that we must love the ducks, the eagles, the earth that nurtures us all, and one another, or die.

September 1, 1939
W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973

 I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bats

It can't be accidental that the week before Halloween is also International Bat Week. Bats, along with spiders and cats, are among the "scary" creatures that show up in lawn displays and costumes.



When I was a child I learned that if you were out in the evening when the bats were flying you might be the victim of a bat laying its eggs in your hair. Bats, of course, are mammals and don't lay eggs. And they have an incredible locating system that keeps them from flying into things - like humans - that might harm them. I am not sure when I unlearned that silly myth but I have long since come to enjoy their "story" and appreciate their part in a healthy environment.

For the last couple of years our church has been renting the group camp site at Forestville State Park for our summer camping outing. The Mystery Cave is there and it is home to a sizable bat population. But many also spend summer days resting in the rafters of the large group camp pavilion that we use while camping. You can hear them chattering all day long and often see some between the beams. But what is really fascinating is to watch as evening rolls around and they crawl out, line up, walk down a rafter, and take flight one after another as if they are queued up for takeoff on a runway.

Minnesota is home to seven species of bats. The little brown bat is the most common.


It is one of four species that spend their winters hibernating in Minnesota caves. Three other species migrate south for the winter. It is the cave dwellers that are particularly susceptible to the White Nose Syndrome that has decimated some bat populations in other parts of the country. The fungus has been found at Mystery Cave and elsewhere in Minnesota but so far we haven't seen a decline in bat numbers. As the linked article suggests, though, the trend lines are "awful."

An enormous amount of money and research is being poured into understanding this disease as bats play a crucial role in our agricultural economy. We know they eat mosquitoes but they also eat vast quantities of insect pests that potentially save farmers billions of dollars in pesticide costs. Now, though, there is a possibility that farming practices may be affecting bat populations in much the way that they are suspected of affecting honey bee populations.

The evidence isn't it yet on the relationship between big ag and bat decline. But I won't be surprised if there is a link. We already know our agricultural practices are bad for the soil, the water, the bees, wildlife, and quite frankly us.

In any case, bats are amazing creatures. Here are a few more bat facts:
  • There are more than 1,300 species of bats on earth, 40 in the U.S.
  • Bat wings are webs of skin between their fingers (forelimbs).  Bats have more bones in their wings than birds do.
  • Bats have “thumbs” on the leading end of their wings that help them grasp and climb. The tropical Spix’s Disk-winged Bat roosts on leaves so he has suction cups where his thumbs would be.  Clickhere to see.
  • According to batcon.org, some male bats sing like songbirds to defend territory and attract mates.
  • Most bats reproduce very slowly, only one pup per year.
And a bat poem:

Bats
BY D. H. LAWRENCE
At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise ...

When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding ...

When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno ...

Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.

A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.

And you think:
"The swallows are flying so late!"

Swallows?

Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop ...
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.

Never swallows!
Bats!
The swallows are gone.

At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio ...
Changing guard.

Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one's scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Flying madly.

Pipistrello!
Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;

Wings like bits of umbrella.

Bats!

Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.

Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.
Bats!

In China the bat is symbol for happiness.

Not for me!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Nature gives to us. Can we give something back?

Robin Wall Kimmerer is Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and writes passionately and well about the science and beauty of the natural world, and about the human-made threats to its - to our - health and well being. In her most recent book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (2013), she talks about human interactions with nature as seen through the lens of the students she teaches:
One otherwise unremarkable morning I gave the students in my General Ecology class a survey. Among other things, they were asked to rate their understanding of the negative interactions between humans and the environment. Nearly every one of the two hundred students said confidently that humans and nature are a bad mix. These were third-year students who had selected a career in environmental protection, so the response was, in a way, not very surprising. They were well schooled in the mechanics of climate change, toxins in the land and water, and the crisis of habitat loss. Later in the survey, they were asked to rate their knowledge of positive interactions between people and land. The median response was “none.” I was stunned. How is it possible that in twenty years of education they cannot think of any beneficial relationships between people and the environment? Perhaps the negative examples they see every day— brownfields, factory farms, suburban sprawl—truncated their ability to see some good between humans and the earth. As the land becomes impoverished, so too does the scope of their vision. When we talked about this after class, I realized that they could not even imagine what beneficial relations between their species and others might look like. How can we begin to move toward ecological and cultural sustainability if we cannot even imagine what the path feels like?
 I thought about this quote last evening as I read the latest issue of Trout Unlimited magazine. The current issue is all about the effects of climate change on the watersheds that support cold-water species like trout and salmon. All across the country the weather is playing havoc with the health of the streams and rivers that support fish and their food sources. Rivers and the life they support have always had to adapt to drought, fire, hurricanes, and monsoon-like rain events, but climate change is accelerating the rate at which these events occur, making it difficult for aquatic life to recover and adapt.

Whitewater River in Whitewater State Park

I have seen this in Minnesota on the streams that I love to fish. The Whitewater River and its tributaries have seen a series of major flooding events over the last decade. The MN DNR says that "mega-rains" are hitting MN with an increasing frequency all across the state: "These trends are consistent with the expectation that Minnesota and the Upper Midwest will receive more precipitation, and more precipitation from large events, in response to increasing global temperatures and increased available moisture for passing storm systems."

If we don't know know that humans are effecting the climate in negative ways... well, how could we not know? And it is only going to get worse. But the question that interests me at the moment is do we know what a beneficial relationship between us and other species looks like? That's where an organization like Trout Unlimited comes in. All across the country, and all across the state of Minnesota they organize volunteers to improve that habitat that supports trout and salmon. I have participated in volunteer projects on the Vermillion River in Farmington. A mostly dead stream has slowly been transformed into a healthy trout stream. Why does this matter? Because it means that farming practices along the river have to be addressed, wastewater treatment systems have to be improved, and citizens and politicians need to be educated and brought on board to support taking care of the environment. If we are going to do something about climate change this is the way it is going to happen. People have to be connected with the land and the water so they learn to love it and care for it. This is what TU does. This is what a beneficial relationship with the earth looks like.

So put down that bag of potato chips and your cell phone and get out there...

For Calling The Spirit Back From Wandering The Earth In Its Human Feet, by Joy Harjo
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, Poems, Joy Harjo


Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle of pop.

Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control.

Open the door, then close it behind you.

Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the Earth gathering essences of plants to clean.

Give it back with gratitude.

If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and back.

Acknowledge this Earth who has cared for you since you were a dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire.

Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the guardians who have known you before time, who will be there after time. They sit before the fire that has been there without time.

Let the Earth stabilize your postcolonial insecure jitters.

Be respectful of the small insects, birds, and animal people who accompany you.
Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans have brought down upon them.

Don’t worry.
The heart knows the way though there may be high-rises, interstates, checkpoints, armed soldiers, massacres, wars, and those who will despise you because they despise themselves.

The journey might take you a few hours, a day, a year, a few years, a hundred, a thousand, or even more.

Watch your mind. Without training it might run away and leave your heart for the immense human feast set by the thieves of time.

Do not hold regrets.

When you find your way to the circle, to the fire kept burning by the keepers of your soul, you will be welcomed.

You must clean yourself with cedar, sage, or other healing plant.

Cut the ties you have to failure and shame.

Let go the pain you are holding in your mind, your shoulders, your heart, all the way to your feet. Let go the pain of your ancestors to make way for those who are heading in our direction.

Ask for forgiveness.

Call upon the help of those who love you. These helpers take many forms: animal, element, bird, angel, saint, stone, or ancestor.

Call your spirit back. It may be caught in corners and creases of shame, judgement, and human abuse.

You must call in a way that your spirit will want to return. Speak to it as you would to a beloved child.

Welcome your spirit back from its wandering. It may return in pieces, in tatters. Gather them together. They will be happy to be found after being lost for so long.

Your spirit will need to sleep awhile after it is bathed and given clean clothes.

Now you can have a party. Invite everyone you know who loves and supports you. Keep room for those who have no place else to go.

Make a giveaway, and remember, keep the speeches short.

Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.