Skip to main content

Judy Harrow (1945--2014)

I want to write about Judy, but it's too hard. It's like I'm standing too close to something, trying to take a picture. Nothing comes into focus. It's all too big to fit into the frame.

She was family. I guess that's what it comes down to. She could be maddening; she could be irascible. She sang off key; she made mistakes.

She had the most astonishing students you could imagine; she was smart and disciplined and passionate, and she adored reaching out to people she imagined might be more those things than she was. She was righteous to a fault, absolutely dedicated to Pagan movement and the Craft, and probably constitutionally incapable of compromising her ethics. She loved scholarship and scholars, she loved innovation and music... and she loved her community.

Photo used by permission:
Chuck Furnace 2014
She was the first person to call me a "Pagan elder," and her saying it was part of what made it true, what made me think I could maybe live up to that.

She loved Woolman Hill, the Quaker retreat center where NELCOG used to meet. We took her up there, years later, on a visit. We gave her a wand taken from the apple tree there.

Peter is on the board there, now. They're actually up on the hill tonight, for a retreat... I told Peter to bring back a twig from that apple tree to go on the altar. For Judy.

She was always afraid of being forgotten, and could never quite understand why she never would be.  I knew she was ill... but I could never quite understand I would not always get to share a world with her.

She was my friend.

I am not ready to put her face on my ancestor altar. I really am not.


Go in peace, Judy Harrow.  Go with the love of your extended family, which was always so much bigger than you knew. 

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thank you, so very much, for this reflection!

In thought,

/gwyneth
Cat C-B said…
I'm so pleased you found it, and that it spoke to you.

Blessings, Gwyneth.

Popular posts from this blog

Confronting Racism, Yankee Pagan Style

I am a Yankee.  Right down to my Pagan soul.

My understanding of what it means to be a Pagan is to try to live in right relationship with the gods, the land, and the people, including the ancestors.  My gods are those that are comfortable in New England’s woods and hills.  My land is this rocky landscape of New England.  And my people and my ancestors–on Mom’s side, at least–are New Englanders: sea captains and dairy farmers, teachers and laborers.  Whatever granite is in this place or in my ancestors lives on in me and in my Pagan practice.


And that granite is why I am so driven to speak out against racism.
To help me explain what I mean, I’m going to go ahead and borrow an ancestor: my friend Kirk White‘s father.
A Yankee like a Rock Kirk’s ancestors, like mine, were among the first Englishmen to arrive in North America.  Like mine, this landscape was where they found their home.  And like me, my friend Kirk and his family before him has loved New England–Vermont in his c…

Peter on Grief and Communities

Well, that was unexpected.

For the last year, ever since my mom's health took a sharp downturn, I've been my dad's ride to Florence Congregational Church on Sundays. That community has been important for my dad and the weekly outing with me was something he always looked forward to and enjoyed, so I didn't mind taking him there. It meant giving up attending my own Quaker meeting for the duration, but I had already been questioning whether silent waiting worship was working for me. I was ready for a sabbatical.
A month ago, my dad was Section-Twelved into a geriatric psych hospital when his dementia started to make him emotionally volatile. I had been visiting him every day at his assisted living facility which was right on my way home from work, but the hospital was almost an hour away. I didn't see him at all for three weeks, and when I did visit him there, it actually took me a couple of seconds to recognize him. He was slumped forward in a wheel chair, looking v…

Bears Eat My Lettuce

I love where I live;  since moving to our new home four years ago, I've been able to build a relationship with a piece of land for the first time since I was a child.  It's everything a dirt-worshipping Pagan could ask for.  I have a garden, and I grow much of my own food, and that is as much a spiritual delight as a taste treat.  And I have woods again as neighbors: glacial boulders, white pines and black birches, owls and white-tailed deer.

And bears.

And the bears eat my lettuce.



I'm not kidding about that.  Oh, it's winter now, and the bears are huddled up in their dens.  But this past spring, I grew lettuce.  Award winning, gorgeous lettuce: three different kinds!  They were nourished to extraordinary size and succulence by the cool, wet weather we had, and each night, I would gather just a few outer leaves, knowing that careful tending would mean tasty salads for months.

And then, over the course of three days, the bears ate every single one of my lettuce plants…