The temperatures are dropping and the wind is gusting. The cold and damp are fitting for the season, they set the mood. There are ghosts walking.
I am at that age where parents die in clusters. This is the way of things, of course, but that doesn’t make it easy. I worry about my own parents as they approach their “end years”. I see that gradual decline isn’t so gradual any more. It’s getting harder for them to keep up, to get by, to get things done.
This year in particular I find myself trying to offer comfort to friends whose loss simply can not be consoled. Grief comes in waves, it takes its own time. Those “stages” are neither sequential nor independent. They can come in any order, repeatedly and sometimes all at once. And I take those phone calls. I listen. I witness. Sometimes that’s enough.
I’m looking for comfort too. I want to escape in a good book. I want a fire in the fireplace. I want a pot of soup on the stove. For my ancestors those things were just part of the days. Now I can go to the grocery store and buy mirepoix, precut and measured. (I didn’t, but I can.) Bone broth is on the shelf in boxes because much of our meat is already removed from the bones. Soup is no longer the ever present cauldron, but a can in the pantry.
Baking is part of that comfort factor as well. A good bread, warm from the oven, and I can feel myself relax into the smell. Pop-up biscuits from the refrigerator case do not elicit the same affect.
There is no time for this kind of comfort in most of our lives. We rush through our days, rush through our meals, rush through our grieving and just “get on”. Perhaps the most important part of this season is to make a point and take some time. In most of the U.S. we have an extra hour coming to us this coming Sunday. How are you going to use it?
Halloween on a Monday! It’s been a weekend of ghouls and goblins and I’ve still got a lot to do to be ready for the little ones knocking on the door tonight. Of all the scary things we’ve done in the last week I think the top one was voting.
This has been an election season wrought with emotional ups and downs, no matter who you prefer. We have the option of voting early and have found it’s much easier for Orion and me. It feels like a weight off to have it done, although the election results are still a bit Sword of Damocles. I’ll say it again next week – the day before the actual election – but if you have the opportunity, please exercise your right to VOTE!
Karina threw her first big party in the new house. Halloween Housewarming. (Oh, and incidentally her boyfriend’s birthday). It was a smash. She entertained kids, visited with relatives, partied with old friends and stayed up until the wee hours with the dependable hold outs.
I did my part the day before. We shopped and tidied up decorations and got the food prepared to go. She still has most of my chairs. Of course I put in an appearance at the party as well. It was fun to see all the kids all grown up.
Halloween is a mixed bag because it’s also a high holiday. The honoring on the ancestors happens all year round, but at this time of year it is done formally. Sharing remembrances is a little bittersweet, but it can be very heartwarming as well.
Here are a few posts I’ve written in the past about Samhein celebrations.
With the storm winds blowing and waters surging up the east coast it’s hard to be in the “holiday” spirit. With the elections looming and the mudslinging only getting worse it’s difficult to find the quiet mind for meditation. This is the season of harvest, gratitude and remembrance. Halloween when the ghosts walk and many cultures find themselves honoring their ancestors.
I wonder in this season what kind of ancestors we will be. What legacy will we leave for our descendants? Will they live in the zombie appocolypse because of some biohazard gone awry? Will global warming change the climate so much that they will have mega-storms as part of their daily lives? Will the bees disappear from their monoculture and pesticide laden diet and will our children follow after a generation or two of starvation and illness?
The planet has seen many upheavals in its long life. I’ve been reading the S.M. Stirling change series, which for post civilization literature is actually somewhat hopeful. The motto of one of the surviving enclaves “the 14th century as it SHOULD have been.” Complete with sanitation and plumbing. Or to quote another popular culture phrase, “Life will find a way.” On the bones of trees are already the hints of the new life of spring.
Such is the dilemma of working with the ancestors. Even my Grandparents would have been hard put to imagine life as we experience it today. Generations upon generations worked the land and even if they lived “in town” knew where their food was coming from and how it went from field to table. The idea of spending days inside (house to car to work and back) would have made them wonder about illness and fragility.
It’s good to be cautious about new things, to examine the possible repercussions of new directions. At the same time, if we are to be good ancestors to our descendants it is critical for us to remain open and flexible to possibilities we can hardly imagine. And now I’m round about to Halloween. It is the holiday of celebrating the imagination. Dressing up to become more powerful, or to face our fears. We open our doors to strangers who often don’t even appear to be human. Children costumed as animals, aliens, and nightmares offer a choice, “trick or treat?”
There are many kinds of ancestors with advice and wisdom to help us through the storms of our lives. There are the ancestors of our blood. The legacy of our family. We sort through the good and the bad, learning lessons from both kinds of examples. We choose which of our family traditions to carry forward and which to let fall by the wayside. May we choose wisely.
There are ancestors of the heart. The souls that have touched us in our lives. These are often people who were role models for us. Or perhaps they were just the kind hearted souls that appeared at the time we needed them most. They are our beloved friends and pets who we hold in our memories. Our heart connection makes their own lives a part of our personal stories. May we remember the love shared with these ancestors and may we further the legacy of open hearted love.
There are ancestors of the spirit. These are our heroes. The souls who’s stories inspire us. They are the shining lights that encourage us to dream, to strive, to do better. Let us our fears, make our choices, and move forward towards a legacy of spirit that continues to inspire and enrich those who come after.