The Hallowedness of Halloween

It is Halloween…a favorite holiday because I was always able to hide, not only behind a mask, but in a costume where I could become another character altogether. It is one of the gifts of childhood…trying on different roles, believing we can be anything we want to be. For a chubby little girl such as I was, I frequently chose to dress up as a princess, Snow White, a ballerina, and one year, even a sleek black witch. Pretending was always easier than trying to BECOME the person I was meant to be.

But that has all changed with age. Being in the sixth decade, I have arrived at a time to simply be ME and remarkably, it doesn’t feel all that bad. The mask has been replaced and I am finally getting to know and accept myself, warts and all.

These Halloween thoughts stem from my recent retreat to Iona, Scotland…a Celtic island where the people herald Old Hallows Eve as the most significant festival of the year. Hundreds of years ago, Halloween (or All Saints Day) was a three day affair where bonfires were lit, rules were abandoned, and the revelers would call on their ancestors for new instructions.  What wishes would those who had passed on want to be reborn within us? It was a time of acceptance of our roots…our mothers and fathers, grandparents and great grandparents.

Instead of ignoring their ancestral attributes the Celtic peoples learned to embrace that from which they came and manifest those things their relatives did not have a chance to fulfill.

I asked my husband this morning which ancestor he revered. “My grandmother and grandfather,” he answered quickly, momentarily choked up at the vivid memory of both of them. “They were pioneers,” he continued, “a quality I should try harder to incur.”

I hold a service in an ancient chapel on Iona whereby each woman retreater lights a candle to an ancestor that she would like to emulate. More than half the women lit a candle to their grandmother and nearly every woman described their “nana” as loving unconditionally.

Old Hallows Eve or Old Saints Day has become a reminder for me to have gratitude for the miracle of knowing from whence I came and therefore what I am next meant to do or be.

Pick Myself Up and Start All Over Again

Lately there have been unexpected family crises—nothing that couldn’t be solved, mind you, but challenges for sure that involved money (or the lack thereof). As such, when problems arrive—some large and some small—I tend first to panic, then my heart sinks a little, sometimes I cry, and often I can feel myself plummet to a dark land in which I would prefer not to dwell.

Joan Erikson, my mentor, deplored such situations preferring as she would say to remain in the muck as little a time as possible.

Fortunately she left behind her now famous Life Cycle chart which is becoming a more than practical guide in times of trouble.  Based on the fact that we actually grow from adversity and conflict I glanced at the first four challenges to overcome on her list of eight.

So I tried to see if I could, on top of my impending doom, apply her principles:

How could I trust myself in this present situation?  The identify and cling to a small piece of my autonomy principle? If I did that, I would begin to use my innate initiative and become industrious in the process. Taking such action would give me hope, will, new purpose, and a sense of competence.

Voila! I crawled out of the fit and got my power back.  Of course I would have to go through the same process the next time panic hits but now at least it would not stop me in my tracks but propel me (and others) as well.

Thank you Joanie for a “cure” you and your husband designed for all of us years ago.

Dune Grass Wisdom

Sorry for not blogging for awhile…preparing another book, creating a new agenda for Iona (I leave Friday),  and general woman life issues have gotten in the way.

However, today on my beach walk I noticed as I was walking up the old weathered boardwalk that takes me through low lying dunes tufts of beach grass pushing through the cracks in the boards.

I smiled at their determination—to climb into being despite the barrier that had been laid on top of them.

I have always compared dune grass to women—it is hearty, strong, and it possesses determination (not to mention a root structure that goes on forever under the sand holding literally holding the beach in tact!).   Sound familiar?  Isn’t that what we women do with our families and communities, day after day?

Although tired because my walk was winding down I developed a kick in my step as I thought of all the women I have come to know who continue to push through issues,  crises, relationships and like the dune grass, offer hope, not only to themselves but others with whom they come in contact.  That would be you!