For someone not necessarily attuned with nature, I feel very aware of the turning of the year and the timing of the ancient celebrations makes a lot of sense to me. I am always very ready to celebrate life and wellness when May comes, and so I understand why this time of year was set aside for those very things. I am also a May baby, so this month is of particular importance to me for that reason as well.
Christina at Witchvox writes: ”Beltane marks the passage into the growing season, the immediate rousing of the earth from her gently awakening slumber, a time when the pleasures of the earth and self are fully awakened. It signals a time when the bounty of the earth will once again be had. May is a time when flowers bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.” And when I can think and feel clearly, between the sneezes of allergy season, I feel this. It makes me understand why students start to get restless – yes, the end of the school year is near, but more deeply rooted in them, their souls are resonating with the new life, and they want to be free, not confined by walls and books and assignments. As my own semester of study winds down, I know exactly how they feel.
This time of year makes me very aware of how far we as a society have strayed from following our natures and our spirits. While I want nothing more, on the spirit level, than to be outside and carefree, I stay inside, full of stress and exhaustion. And that’s the problem. Even when we can feel the pull of nature telling us to go outside, go for a walk, light a candle, watch the sunset, we tell ourselves we can’t. We say that there are too many other things we have to do, and then we spend an hour on Facebook, or watching television, or doing something else that we don’t need to do, but just do, absently, because it’s there.
My goal for this month is to spend more time listening to the inner voice telling me what I want to do, rather than just doing what’s there. While I can’t abandon the very real modern day demands of work, class, internship – I can be more in tune with myself in the other hours of my day, when I am free to do what I will, and rarely do. Maybe I will find myself spending more time on the porch, or going for walks, or doing nothing at all. Maybe I will find more mindful ways to do the mundane tasks that I have to do. Or maybe I’ll just turn off some of the chatter and find a little more peace.
What will you do to honor the merry month of May?
It’s been a long week here. It has felt like a nightmare, like the end of the world, like madness. On Monday there was blood and smoke in the streets of Boston, nails and metal in the skin of children, limbs and lives lost. Texts and Facebook messages asking where I was and if I was safe. And when it was over, we knew it wasn’t over. Because they didn’t have anyone in custody, didn’t have a reason for the attack, didn’t have more than a handful of pictures that didn’t all show the same people.
Last night I got a text at 1 am from my university, that there was a shooting at MIT. Was it related? Was it separate? I slept restlessly, dreaming that I was angry, that I had lost things that were important to me, that I was screaming at people. I woke to more texts, that the university was closed, and not to leave my house. Texts from family and friends asking if I was okay, making sure I was staying inside. And when we turned the news on, I saw the street I’ve worked on since 2005, the buildings I’ve seen weekly, sometimes daily, aswim in a sea of law enforcement vehicles. Empty streets of Boston and Cambridge, streets of Watertown filled with police and military, and hours of no new news. I cooked, we ate, we cuddled the cat, and waited for news, for something, for it to be over. When they said we could go outside again, I had no plans to do so – he was still out there, somewhere in my town, or the next town, near my house, or a friend’s, or a child I worked with – it was still unsafe, uncertain.
I’m so glad that cheers broke out for the law enforcement personnel who were able to capture the second suspect alive. But I didn’t feel like cheering. Because next week, I have to go back to Watertown, and it won’t look the same. Because the families in the quiet, safe communities where I live and work have been shaken and scared, and they won’t be the same. We will stay strong, united, committed to each other and this place that we love, but we won’t be the same. And if he answers questions about why, I can’t imagine that those answers will satisfy us. Because there is no reason that can justify these events.
We know, in our hearts, that evil exists. We see glimpses, but so often we forget, because it isn’t our families, our cities, our countries. We grieve, but we heal. And we will grieve again, and heal again, and these events will fade. But our world is broken, and today, that brokenness shook my home. Boston, Watertown, and the world are in desperate need of healing. What can we do to find wholeness in our broken world? And where do we start?
I didn’t blog for Lent this year. I didn’t really even acknowledge that Lent was happening. Didn’t look for a church to go to on Easter – didn’t really do anything Easter related. In fact, I spent Easter at home, having cancelled all of my work and social plans for that day to rest. I spent Easter in my pajamas, on the couch, not really celebrating at all.
I noticed on Facebook that there were a number of memes surrounding Easter that circulated, mostly dealing with the idea that *gasp* the Christian church STOLE Easter from the Pagans. Anyone who has ever been to the Easter Vigil mass at a Catholic church could hardly question that - it’s one of the most Pagan ceremonies I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been to Wiccan rituals! They bless the New Fire, they bless the holy water, and HELLO symbolism, they dip the candle into the basin over and over again. The celebration starts in darkness and adds candles, then full light about 30 minutes in. It’s all about rebirth, and spring, and who wouldn’t recognize that these aren’t traditions that were born only 2000 years ago? But I guess maybe a lot of people wouldn’t. Still, I don’t really understand why people are shocked when they find out that what’s old became new again when Christianity was spreading across Europe and the Middle East. I could digress from here into a speculation about why our words for Lent and Easter come from Germanic languages rather than Latinate ones, and how that relates to the roots of the season and its traditions, but I’d imagine no one really wants to read that except for the four other people out there who are as obsessed with words and language as I am.
But I guess the point is that Easter happens whether you celebrate or not. Whether you hide eggs and eat lamb and go to church, or you do nothing at all, you can’t help but experience the season. Suddenly the days are longer, the air is warmer, and a few hardy crocuses are bursting through the earth. You have a craving for asparagus and snap peas and arugula, and you wear skirts even though the evening temperature is much too cold for that, because in the daytime you want to feel that warming breeze as fully as you can. Staying home, resting, that was my Easter cleanse – shedding the winter exhaustion to be ready for the new burst of energy with the spring time. Because whether it’s about Ostara or Christ or just about the Equinox and the physics of living on Earth, your body knows it’s Eastertide, even if you just call it spring.
My friend lost her baby today. Another friend lost a baby last week. When these stories are told, more and more women speak up and say ‘that happened to me too’. But why can’t we talk about it?
I couldn’t help but cry today. I saw my friend yesterday, and things had been looking okay – they’ve had a long journey with this baby, but yesterday was a good day. When I heard the news today I thought it was a mistake. And then I saw the email from my friend, telling me in her own words.
And I wonder – am I cut out to do the work that I feel so called to do? To help support and comfort those who are struggling with this very same loss? Can I provide a service to people whose loss I haven’t felt? Can I keep my clients’ sadness from becoming my own?
I know it’s different with clients than with friends. But I just hope that I can be the support that I want to be for both.
Every time I read or hear about another violent multi-victim crime, I hold my breath, and I wait. How is this crime going to be described? Who are the victims? How are they painted? Do we hold up the most seemingly innocent first, as a way to make the crime seem that much more obscene in the eyes of those watching from afar?
It seems like the signals are all pointing me back to church. I had a conversation with someone the other day and it brought up again how much I miss it. Maybe part of my self-care in the new year will be to find my way back to a community of faith. I can have spirituality on my own, but I miss community…
Advent is always a time of seeking for me…and today’s reading was about the messenger…perhaps right now I am my own messenger, and my thoughts are the message to find my way back…
In the past I have tried to blog daily during advent. Given the time crunch that the end of this semester holds, I don’t know if I can commit to that. But I will at least try to blog on each of the Sundays.
During Advent, I read a daily online devotional called Following the Star. While it’s been a challenge for me to do any sort of daily prayer or Bible study, I find that in Advent and Lent, it helps me refocus, because it’s for a specific period of time. Both of these are favorite times of year for me, because in their own ways, both focus on rebirth. And isn’t that a powerful metaphor for us to explore at any time?