Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Year End

We are in crunch time in my little corner of the world. In less than 20 days my youth group will be done for the year. We run from early September to early June. Some of the kids will go to summer camps and some will not. As for my husband and myself, we are looking forward to a summer off. But before that can begin we are in the mad dash rush to get to the end of the year. There is a million and one things to do and prepare before we can finish off, and our annual wrap up is one of them. This is a massive day long undertaking that sometimes reminds me of a Broadway Production.

First we have the innumerable practice, the creation of displays, the primping and preening, the planning of awards, the banquet afterwards... and then when all that is done an epic after party at my house (that still needs to be cleaned to within an inch of it's life at some point in time).

So forgive me for my absence since every time I sit down to write something I end up making a to do list... I'm not gone permanently, my mind is just occupied!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Little

This weekend was a hard one, I had to face a death. This death was so little in the cosmic scale, so seemingly unimportant and so simple and average that it shall not be thought of by more than a tiny handful of people. And yet is so immensely heart wrenching that I am haunted a little by it. The death is that of a tiny ball of fluff, a little mutt of a dog who at 16 years slipped out of this life. The little dog isn't my dog, but was the dog of a friend of mine and my husband.

 She called us Saturday night, having come home from being away to find her little dog, curled up in it's bed, cold and not breathing. It was not unexpected, the dog was ill and frail. Totally blind and partially deaf this little dog had begun to have some health concerns and there had been some heart wrenching talk of taking it for the last ride to the vet. Now that decision would not have to be agonized over. We came right away, driving the 40 some KM into town with the car on cruise control to keep me from speeding. My husband and I said little on this drive, I think we both got lost in our thoughts and concern for our friend.

I won't describe the scene I walked into as we came into her home, it's heartbreaking enough just thinking about it. I wrote it out in my blue journal (the one I save for my saddest and darkest thoughts) and out of respect for my friend it will stay in that journal till I fill it and burn it. I can only tell you it tore into me in a way that no other scene I have ever experienced could. The grief that pour out of my friend caused me to cry a little while I was there, and a lot when I was alone.

We sat with her a long while, offering what little inadequate words of comfort we could. This little inconsequential dog had been her light, had been there in her ups and downs. Had comforted her in the night, and brought joy to her days. As the dog failed in health she continued to pour love onto my friend. And now the dog has passed, and the emptiness was palpable. We talked about the little dog, held our friend as she cried and reassured her that love never dies.

We then took the frail little body with us to the local pet crematorium. I know the owners and know the respect that they will give to this little body who contained a soul larger than life. We will go with my friend to collect the ashes when they are ready, and give my friend a small gift of a cast of the miniscule paw. It won't be much, it is all we can give her. I wish I could do more, I wish I could give them another 16 years, I wish I could pull out the pain and sorrow of the loss. I wish I could mend the broken heart this little life left behind.

I still hate death. The actual death itself does not bother me, all life is transitory and must someday end. Death is a doorway to the next life, releasing the soul for a chance at rebirth and renewal. I do not hate death for those things. I hate death for everything it leaves those of us left behind with. I hate the heartbreak, the shattering of the lives, the pieces that must be picked up and put back together (and they can never be put together the same as before). I hate the sorrow and the loneliness, the guilt and the anger. I hate the feeling of loss, the feeling of being helpless at either the death itself, or the pain of those left behind. And I hate the wandering of the heart and soul that we all go through as we work through the death of a loved one, big or little.

I also hate sometimes how we as a society views death. For my friend the loss of her little dog is an immeasurable tragedy, felt just as deep as any other member of the family. And yet there are those who are poised to tell her "It's just a dog", like it's life was somehow worth less than another. Like somehow her personal grief is not important or worthy of them to take a moment and express sympathy. Like an animal who has faithfully been at her side for over 16 years is something that she should just be able to toss aside and forget. I wish I could change that mindset in people, for them to see how sacred and meaningful these bonds are, or to at least respect those who have those bonds.

For my own part I would like to take a moment and pause, to acknowledge this little death, that will go unremarked by many. To give thanks for the life this little dog had, for the joy it brought to my friend. For the nights it sat with her faithfully, giving kisses and cuddles. For the love it shared with her, for being her baby for the past 16 years and giving of everything it had until it passed. And I would like to give thanks for the millions of other little lives, just like this little dog, who will be remembered by only a few, but whose love and devotion made their worlds a much brighter place.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Confessions of a Bad Pagan: Sabbats



I have a hard time with all the Sabbats  (well ok, not Samhain). My first years of Paganism I was all gun ho and ready to go; I planned detailed rituals, spent weeks preparing for each Sabbat, shopping and stocking up on supplies. The day of the actual Sabbat my entire day revolved around the ritual. I sweated while I was away from home, worrying about everything that could go wrong, wondering if I had everything I needed. When I got home I would re-read my notes at least a dozen time and went over my supplies twice as much. By the time I actually performed the ritual I was so keyed up that it was hard for me to focus and get my words straight. After everything was done and cleaned up I would crash and sleep very deeply.

This went on for about two years or so until one Sabbat I got such a terrible flu that it was all I could do to light a candle and make it back to bed without collapsing. The Sabbat after that I was in the process of moving and couldn’t even find the box with my ritual supplies (my brother was thinking he was being funny and labeled that box as “Garden Supplies”) so I didn’t even so much as light incense for that one. The Sabbat after that, well I made a half hearted attempt at a ritual but just really didn’t want to. The anxiety I put myself through to be perfect at it was getting old.

Over the next few years I would try to “get back on the band wagon” and get into regular practice of Sabbats. Sometimes I would make it a few Sabbats in a row, trying rituals and ritual formats ad getting nothing out of it, before lapsing into non practice again. While I was in the group I was in I started practicing regularly again but each ritual felt… hollow. Between the rituals feeling hollow, not getting anything out of them and the desire to avoid the stress and drama (created by myself) I ended up not celebrating the Sabbats at all.

Over the past few months I have been taking a long hard look at myself, my life and my spirituality. I’ve been looking at the parts I want to change, the areas I want to improve and the things I want to throw out the window. My spirituality was on the list of things I wanted to improve and so I started to think I would start with the Sabbats again… or not. As soon as I started to try and think about Sabbat rituals and observances I felt blah, and did not want to do it. So instead of forcing myself to celebrate the Sabbats I decided to examine my feelings.

You see the truth of the matter is I really just don’t feel the Sabbats (again except for Samhain). I would go to all this trouble to plan and create these great rituals (which by the way I’ve discovered I’m not a fan of rituals as I have learned them, but a topic for another day), and get nothing out of it. Not exactly productive is it? Especially when you consider that the whole point of a Sabbat ritual is to honor the divine and connect with the energy of that Sabbat. Ok so epic fail on my part here.

Now I love the idea of the wheel of the year, and some of the ideas of the Sabbats, but the way they have been explained to me/read about is not making much sense to me. I was trying to get my celebrations to match these descriptions and it just wasn’t… working… for… me… DUMBASS! And then it hit me, I once again am trying to fit into this cookie cutter mold when my life and the seasons as I experience them totally do not fit the damn mold! For crying out loud I chose Paganism for the flexibility and not to follow any "Holy Book" and here I am still doing the same damn thing!?! I need some tea.... and to rethink how I approach each Sabbat.