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Memorial Day

National Cemetery at Fort Snelling MN

So many wars, so many lives.  Some were fought over an ideology, and won, and yet we still contest that ideology.  Some were fought over resources, because a desperate enough people will do anything to try and survive.  Most were fought because someone was afraid of losing something, and many who fought lost everything.

I have mixed feelings about this day.  I appreciate the sacrifice of those who have fought for my freedoms.  But I grew up during Vietnam.  I understand war to be instigated by the wealthy and powerful in order to protect their wealth and power and fought by the poor and less fortunate.   Give us your life, we’ll give you an education doesn’t sit well with me.

I know we did not do well by those who fought in Vietnam.  We, as a country, had yet to learn how to hate a war and still honor those who served.

Is it an honor to serve in a war that was lost?  I don’t believe might makes right.  Just because you win doesn’t mean you are more just, or moral, or worthy.  But, for example,  I struggle to honor those who lost their lives fighting on the losing side in our civil war.  Their families, though, certainly believe them to be honorable and do not want them forgotten.

Is any war really won?  WWII, a war that had a clear moral victory, the war fought by “the greatest generation” we won.  Today we can have Nazi’s marching in the streets and our president insisting they are good people.  Is that what those lives were sacrificed to achieve?

As a Wiccan I do work with ancestors.  When they talk about fighting the good fight they are not encouraging fisticuffs.  They generally have a broader view in death than they did in life and would like to broaden my view as well.  They encourage me to understand better and more fully.  They want me to speak and educate and ask for what I desire.  Sometimes that’s scary for me.  It’s rarely easy.

That fear, of finding out that we are wrong, of learning that there is more to a situation than we thought, of admitting we don’t know everything, that is, ultimately, why we have wars.  If it wasn’t so scary to find a better solution, we probably would.  If a better solution than giving up your life was available, wouldn’t you take it?

So honor the ancestors this Memorial Day.  Honor those who have given up their lives in service to this country.  Honor them by demanding we find a better way, a real win.

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Memorial Day

(c) NorthstarMLS.com

(c) NorthstarMLS.com

Happy Memorial Day.  Enjoy the weather, the family, the picnic – whatever you have planned.  I’ll be gardening and taking a long leisurely bath.

Remember those who served with their lives.  Remember that many have sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy.  Remember the families of those who have served.  And in remembering, think about all of those whose service was dismissed, or uncredited.  There have always been women serving alongside the men, but because they were not “official” were not counted.  There have been blacks and Native Americans in service for this country whose “special units” were often placed in the most dangerous situations.  Japanese American families lost loved ones in the internment camps in the US during WWII.  There are many kinds of service, many kinds of sacrifice.  Let’s honor that in gratitude for what we do have.  Let’s remember.

 

The First Decoration Day

In Memoriam

I remember my ancestors

Ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart, ancestors of the spirit

I remember my ancestors

For what is remembered lives

 

I remember my ancestors of the blood

The line back beyond my knowing that made my life possible

There are problems carried in this lineage but there are also blessings

I remember my ancestors of the blood

 

I remember the farmers in my line, who worked the soil and fed their neighbors

I remember the teachers in my line, who believed in learning and literacy

I remember the policemen in my line, who served community and protected the innocent

I remember the entrepreneurs in my line, who risked everything for their families

I remember the travelers in my line, who explored and brought my family here

I remember the children in my line, who died early and brought joy and love

 

I remember my ancestors

Ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart, ancestors of the spirit

I remember my ancestors

For what is remembered lives

 

I remember my ancestors of the heart

The members of my family of choice who supported me in my life

We shared good times and bad, and I miss the sharing

I remember my ancestors of the heart

 

I remember the times you challenged me, asking me to be better

I remember the times you comforted me, asking me to stay strong

I remember the times you showed me new things

I remember our laughter

I remember our meals

I remember talking long into the night, sharing dreams

 

I remember too the non-human ancestors of the heart

Gandalf

Gandalf

The pets who were my stalwart companions

The plants and trees which were my comfort and refuge

The places in the past which can no longer be found that I called home

These too are ancestors of the heart

For they have shaped me and supported me as my chosen family

 

I remember my ancestors

Ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart, ancestors of the spirit

I remember my ancestors

For what is remembered lives

 

I remember my ancestors of spirit

The heroes and role models who have walked before me

I never knew you, but what you did made my life richer

I remember my ancestors of spirit

 

I remember the firefighters and the freedom fighters

I remember the actors and the artists

I remember the athletes and the explorers

I remember the cooks and the teachers

I remember the scientists and the philosophers

You showed me to go places I’d never been and what kind of person I wanted to be

 

I remember my ancestors

Ancestors of the blood, ancestors of the heart, ancestors of the spirit

I remember my ancestors

For what is remembered lives

 

I am grateful for all my relations.

I am grateful for their love and guidance.

I am grateful for their strength and resilience.

I am grateful for their courage and generosity.

May you be remembered

May you live on

 

 

Ancestors

Between the late season and my asthma I haven’t spent a lot of time in the garden this year.   I was on Blog Talk Radio the other day talking about magic in the garden.  I mentioned one of the beds I have is an ancestor garden.  Given that it’s Memorial Day Monday and that I’ve been trying to get the annuals in (between thunder showers) that seemed to be a good topic for today’s blog.

Heather doesn't grow well here, and the lavender doesn't winter well so my Irish heritage gets a pot this year.

Heather doesn’t grow well here, and the lavender doesn’t winter well so my Irish heritage gets a pot this year.

My ancestor garden is the one along side the driveway, next to the entry we most frequently use.  That way I see it all the time, winter and summer.  Winter gardens are a real challenge up here, and my ancestor bed doesn’t make it, but just knowing it’s there under the snow is a reminder that my ancestors may no longer be with me, but that they are still there.

My ancestors are a mish-mash.  I have represented ancestors of blood, ancestors of heart, and ancestors of spirit.  My best friend from college is an ancestor of heart.  He died 16 years ago and I still miss him almost every day. You’ve seen my bulbs, the tulips and hyacinths.  (The trails are fading under the lavender.)  He was a big fan of the spring flower shows.  The bulbs I started there were from a spring planter he’d gifted to me the year before he died.  My hope in the spring is also a hope that he’s still watching out for me.  I usually manage to get a fall mum in for him as well.

viola's (the nursery was out of pansy's)

viola’s (the nursery was out of pansy’s)

My grandmother’s were both gardeners.  My maternal grandmother grew sweet peas, but I’ve never gotten them to go.  She also grew pansy’s and petunias.  This year I put in viola’s for her.  Those old-fashioned wild flowers are all very much representative of her country farm wife ways.  My other grandmother had a flair for the exotic.  She’d plant cotton bringing the seeds back from a trip south.  Or she’d plant silver dollars for good fortune.  There’s a hybrid daisy that thrives in that garden for her.  The colors are bright and cheerful and I’ve never found another in the seed catalogues quite like it.  Maybe I’ll post a photo when it blooms.

dusty miller sometimes winters over, but this is a new plant.

dusty miller sometimes winters over, but this is a new plant.

The kid’s paternal grandmother loved dusty miller.  It was her favorite, I asked.  I don’t particularly care for the plant, but when I put it in honoring her, it even winters over.  I’ve come to appreciate its strength, resilience and alien simplicity.  Now when I see it grow I smile and think of her kindness and patience.

For ancestors of the spirit you may see some Russian sage coming up between the chocolate mint.  The sage is for one of my teachers.  Russian sage is perennial and he had a fondness for Occidental cultures.  The mint is a nod to the cooks, family and otherwise, who have influenced me along the way.  I got it out of a friend’s garden in Detroit so there is an extra nod to her along the way.

Chocolate mint and Russian sage

Chocolate mint and Russian sage

The cycle of the garden is a microcosm of the cycle of life.  Honoring my ancestors in this way I spend time tending their memories throughout the growing season and even in the winter.  I pick and choose my annuals, filling in the blanks and sometime adding a new memorial for a season or as a permanent addition.  These people are my foundation.  They continue to nurture me in my journey as I nurture my garden.   Blessed Be.

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