Welcome to Samhain.
In case you missed it, last Wednesday’s Reflection (29 October 2015)
invites you to reflect on the past season – and the past year –
and contains a ritual farewell to Lughnasadh and a ritual welcome to Samhain.
The winter quarter has just begun in the ancient Irish calendar of the northern hemisphere. Last Saturday was All Hallows Eve, the beginning of the New Year. We are in one of those liminal transitions, a thin place, where we can see both the lessons and tasks of the past season and the learning curve arcing ahead of us, inviting our spirits forward into the tasks and focus of the new quarter.
If we have been paying attention to the tasks of Lughnasadh, we have been gathering in and storing up. But – let me observe as I did last year at this time – as we have been doing so, it is possible that we have had to rearrange already full shelves and lives in order to find room for the new harvests. Do we even notice what has slid to the back of those shelves (the metaphorical ones as well as the tangible ones)? Because my guess is we have a lot of out-of-date ideas and expectations along with the out-of-date cans, and maybe a science experiment or two (or a prejudice or two) growing green fuzz.
Perhaps it is time to change it up a little.
We are starting into the season of deep reflection – the winter quarter associated with the wisdom distilled from intentional living. This is the season of ancestral wisdom, passed down from generation to generation. This is the season of stripping down to the barest and purest of essence. So let’s begin with the end in mind.
What needs to lie dormant in you? What needs to go into hibernation so that it can emerge renewed and reinvigorated as the northern hemisphere awakens to Imbolc?
I’m not talking (yet) about discarding material possessions. (That is for a different post.) I’m asking about character traits or roles or spiritual practices or vision. There is a natural rhythm to the human heart as surely as there is one to the environment. We know from looking at the trees around us (yes, even the ‘evergreens’) that there is a time for germinating built into the life cycle. Samhain is the season in which we pay attention to germinating, to being still, releasing, resting.
In my own case (and slightly out of alignment with the cycle of the year), I discovered on sabbatical that I needed to allow an old role to lie dormant for a time. To do that, I needed some months away from my community of faith. For several years, my heart and spirit have been inviting me to turn in a new direction, and while I have been dabbling in the shallows, I could not seem to leave the harbor and journey where I was being called. I was being just ‘successful’ enough to eke out some contentment, but I yearned for more than tepid contentment.
I realized that my gifts and experience made it too easy to remain on the edges of the ministerial role (being the ordained wife of the Senior Minister doesn’t help). I needed to remove myself from the temptation to put that role first and allow my new calling to take a distant second place.
It has now been three months (a quarter, just not the winter quarter), but what is emerging and stretching into place is a new ministry which uses images more than words. Lying dormant did not make me into a world-class gymnast or an extreme sports enthusiast or a physicist. It didn’t change my inner essence any more than lying dormant changes an oak tree into a platypus. But it renewed me and energized me. The branches and trunk strengthened, and new twigs grew, and the leaves this year will be different than the ones last year in some real if indefinable way.
You may already be in the dormant process (as I was coming into Samhain). You may not begin to hibernate until well into the season and continue to drowse across the threshold into Imbolc. But I invite you to begin to identify the exhausted, over-used muscle (role, persona, dream, gift) within you that needs a break. It may be only one part of you…or it may be your whole self. Listen for the question that won’t stop nagging, the small voice asking, “Why?” or “Why not?”
And I invite you to begin the habits that will prepare you to retreat so that the healing and regenerating will happen. Maybe you will need to lay aside some of the ‘shoulds’ in your life (get rid of the weekly whatevers that have been around so long they have grown green fuzz). Lay aside some of the out-of-date expectations you have stored in the pantry of your heart (whether your own expectations or the ones you think other people have about you). Delegate some of the tasks that the world (or your spouse, or your children, or your friends) tell you are essential to be a responsible adult. I would observe that responsible adults don’t allow themselves to burn out simply because other people urge them to be over-extended (or to live an unfulfilled life or give up an critical transformation), any more than responsible adults drink too much because their host or hostess keeps urging them to ‘have one for the road.’
And may your Samhain quiet you into a center-place of clarity. I leave you with the welcome to Samhain from last year:
Come you in, Steadfast Peace.
You who tenderly unfold blessing,
wrapping creation into
silence of waiting,
softness of snowfall,
darkness of dormancy,
starkness of landscape,
strength of trunk,
depth of roots,
vision of dreams,
stamina of endurance,
healing of hibernation.
Be you welcome to share the candleglow of my soul.
Text © 2015, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015, 2014 Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: For those of you who did not join the 21-Day Art Journey, you may not know that my daughter graciously created a Facebook page for Immram Chara. Please check it out. There are selections from our sabbatical photo album, quotations, art…something new every day.