“I will lift up my eyes to the hills from where my help comes.” Psalm 121
After my husband suffered a stroke we decided to sell our home. Our world was about to seriously change. The world with the garden that provided fresh foods and herbs for the day and to preserve for the winter and for friends to enjoy; neighbors who were having babies and children who played in front and grandchildren swinging high on a homemade wooden swing.
It was a world that seemed to encompass all seasons of the Celtic Year. February, Imbolc: song birds returning; planning new gardens; crocuses breaking through the snow. Beltane, Spring: the season of new birth; the days are lengthening; new gardens; fresh new leaves on trees; strawberry-rhubarb preserves. Lammas, Fall; harvesting the gardens; canning pickles and tomato preserves; goldfinches feeding on wild sun flower seeds; the days grow shorter and we begin to feel life in the garden coming to an end. Samhain; Winter: Jack-o-lanterns; first snow; wintering birds remain and are quiet now; days are shortening; leaves fall from the trees and are dug into freshly turned soil to release their very existence into creating new, fertile soil; it’s a time of well-deserved rest.
We moved to a Senior Independent Living Community. The new world feels more like Samhain. I am reminded daily that I will no longer be planning a garden, raising young, canning preserves in my kitchen. Living a fulfilling life must change and I have come to trust that Celtic Spirituality will speak to my soul and respond to my doubts.
Colorado State Highway 125, a favorite drive of ours, runs north from Granby, Colorado over Cotton Wood Pass, toward Wyoming. The pass gives rise to two creeks of its name. One heading east toward the N. Platte River and the other flowing west into the Colorado. The day is bright and full of promise. The sky is sapphire blue. The mountain tops are brilliant white, covered with late fallen spring snow. But their lower flanks are grey, covered with dead Lodge Pole Pines, victims of a tiny beetle that has feasted on them until there are no more trees to sate them. Some trees have begun to fall now. The ground will soon be strewn with them. I understand that happened once before a hundred years ago, and now the one-hundred-year-old forest has fallen prey to them again. I feel a sadness about the trees. A Samhain kind of sadness that the winter garden provokes in me. I believe in the great cycle of life and that nothing really dies but is resurrected in another form.
It takes me a couple of hours or more before I notice scattered in the grey forest, spikes of green. New, small lodge-poles too small to attract hungry beetles. The new forest. Maybe they will be there a hundred years from now. Nourished by the decomposing old forest, watered by new spring snows and warmed by summer suns. I return home. My daughter and granddaughter want to learn how to preserve rhubarb and strawberries in their kitchen. Barn swallow that nested on our balcony have raised their first brood of the season. I won’t be here forever, nor will they. But our words and deeds will continue to nourish long after we are gone.
There is great comfort to be found in the spirituality of the Celtic Cycle of Life.
Ann Dolbier is a friend and supporter of Celtic Way.