Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons
March 3, 2009
Living in Season: Expecting the UnexpectedS
~ Natural Planning Journal
~ Eostre Holiday Packet
~ Living in Season Magazine
~ Slow Time Online Class Begins March 21
Signs of Spring
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Whatever you expect won’t happen.
Living in Season: Expecting the Unexpected
The quote above was something one of my daughter’s friends said to her as we left to fly to Ventura to see my mother (her grandmother) who was dying. It has become a good motto for the last few months of my life.
My mother, who has been in a long decline for eighteen years (Alzheimers and heart disease), became dangerously ill on February 4. My daughter and I flew down to Ventura the same day to be with her during her last two days and then stayed for her funeral on February 11. She was about a week short of her 92nd birthday when she died (I’ve noticed that people often die around their birthday or other significant life events. My father died on their wedding anniversary, seventeen years earlier.)
The death bed vigil was really difficult, despite the good advice and care we received at Community Memorial hospital. I wasn’t even sure my mother knew we were there or that our words gave her comfort. We left Seattle in a hurry and didn’t give any thought to what we might do to make her passage easier or to comfort ourselves. I wish I had consulted with friend, death midwife, Nora Cedarwind Young, who has made it her life’s work to bring beauty and dignity back to the process of dying.
In retrospect, I wished I had brought a CD and some Gregorian chant to create a more peaceful atmosphere for my mother. It might have created the sense of a sacred space which was one of the things I was missing. I’m glad my daughter insisted we ask a priest to give my mother the Anointing of the Sick (when I was a child, we called this sacrament Extreme Unction). This worked out really well, since it meant we connected with the Catholic parish, Our Lady of Assumption, where my mother had gone to church.
After my mother died, the traditional rituals provided us with a lot of solace. I had been brought up to be wary of funeral directors, but the people at Reardon’s Funeral Home were wonderful. They had been through this process many times and provided all sorts of things we didn’t know we needed or would appreciate, like a box of thank you cards, and laminated copies of the obituary I wrote (you can still see it at the Ventura County Star site if you type in Marie Fitzgerald).
And the Catholic Church was even more comforting. Our Lady of Assumption is a lively and engaged parish with great people. We met with one of their bereavement counselors who helped me pick out the readings for the Funeral Mass. Both Deacon Ed and Father Steve were kind and friendly as they officiated at the three rituals of the evening Rosary, the funeral Massa and the burial service. They went out of their way to make us feel at home.
After the brief service at the cemetery, my sister, who is an engineer, was curious about how the coffin would be lowered into the vault. So we sat on folding chairs under a sunny Southern California sky and watched as the cemetery workers brought over their shovels and a big bulldozer and proceeded to lower the coffin into the vault and the vault into the ground and then shovel the dirt back on top of the vault. (I wish we had stepped forward to throw a bit of dirt at this point but we weren’t invited to do so and we didn’t.) Then they laid the strips of sod back on top of the dirt and finally placed the big wreath of lilies and freesias that had been on top of the coffin on the ground. I thought it would be morbid to watch this process but it was somehow comforting to walk away heading for our rental card and look back over our shoulders and see the flowers lying on the green grass. A peaceful scene.
Both a week before we left for Ventura and a week after we got back, I was sick and so the past few months have passed by in a blur of fogginess and disorientation. Despite all my efforts to plan my life, I’ve been unable to do the simplest holiday rituals that comfort me, like my New Year’s collage and my ideal day. I’m learning to give up believing I can control what’s going to happen and trying to accept what comes my way.
I have the lovely opportunity of going to Hedgebrook, a writing retreat for women, on nearby Whidbey Island for the next two weeks. It will be interesting to see if I accomplish my goal (to finish the six flower essays I’ve been writing for the past year) or if something entirely different shows up. I hope to be open to it.
Blessings of the winds of change,
Spring in the School of the Seasons
While I’m away, my daughter, Shaw, will be filling orders so feel free to order if you would like any of these School of the Seasons spring items.
Holiday Packet: Eostre/Easter
It's time to order the Eostre packet if you want to receive it in time to celebrate the joyous mid-spring feast also known as Norooz, St. Joseph's Day or Spring Equinox. (You have a little more time to prepare for Easter and Passover (also included) as they fall in April this year.) This illustrated portfolio contains 50 pages of ideas for celebrating including how to:
- Make tansy pies, hot cross buns and other traditional Eostre foods
- Decorate eggs the Ukrainian way, using symbol and ritual
- Use food items and plants to create natural dyes
- Play traditional games like cracking eggs, egg rolling and pace egging
- And much more.
I've reproduced the pages on the sacred meaning of dyed eggs, and on my Ukrainian egg decorating ritual from the Eostre packet as free samples on the website. You can download them at:
It is available in an email version for $10 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery). Order in our Store.
A set of four workbooks, one for each season, which helps you figure out which dreams and goals to pursue during the season, how to find the time to carry them out, and reflect on your accomplishments at the end of the seasons. You can order just the Spring workbook or the whole set, which includes the New Year Dreams e-book. You can order ahrough our Store.
Living in Season Magazine
I’m still working on my Living in Season magazine, but the launch date has slipped a little. It probably won’t be ready by Spring Equinox. Right now we’re thinking of April. I’m still trying to clarify the concept. Is it an ezine? A blog? Something else? Right now I’m considering something like Julie Ardery’s web site, Human Flower Project, which I love:
Slow Time Online Class
Since I’m not launching the magazine on Spring Equinox, I thought I would start the online Slow Time class instead.
“Time is a gentleman," said French writer Louis Servan-Shreiber who learned to befriend time rather than fight it. That's the goal of this twelve-week course which will you develop a more satisfying relationship with time.
- Are you starved for more time?
- Do you spend your waking hours running like a pet hamster on a revolving wheel of obligations and tasks?
- Does your schedule reflect your priorities and values?
- Are you living on "time credit," accumulating materials and information for projects and trips you will do someday "when you have more time"?
Over twelve weeks, through a series of exercises and steps, you will explore and transform your relationship with time, moving from seconds, through hours, days, weeks, moons, months, seasons, years and finally the spacious arena of the night skies. Time will become your friend and ally rather than an adversary. Instead of constriction and panic, you will experience abundance and serenity.
The course consists of twelve weekly lessons, and homework assignments you can use to explore the concepts in your own life, plus enrollment in a private email list on which you can post your homework and your questions for discussion and feedback. The course starts on Spring Equinox and costs $120. Enrollment is limited to 10 students.
Click here to register and for more information,.
One of my longtime readers, Taffy Hill, sent me this fun link.
I enjoyed learning that my animal was the Bear and my plant the violet. I am, as I wrote in my blog, besotted my violets.
Signs of Spring
It’s truly spring here in Seattle. The cherry trees are at the pink popcorn (budding) stage. The first daffodils opened two days ago. The pussy willow tree around the corner has gone from my favorite stage (when there’s a flash of pure milk white at the edges of the buds)and is now covered with fuzzy buds.
What's happening where you live? Do you see any signs of spring yet?
Where ever you live, send me your signs of the season and we will post them at the website at Signs of the Season.
Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2009
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Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as
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