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Showing posts from October, 2009


Photo Credit: David Hawgood I was talking to my grown daughter on the phone the other day. I told her that one of the unhappy things about getting older is that loss becomes just part of the scenery of life. I told her that I'd spent years of my life learning not to sweat the small stuff, the losses and frustrations that don't really matter, only to arrive at a time in my life that's filled with losses that do matter. Live long enough, and loss, real loss, is inevitable, after all. We know it, but we live in the happy illusion in our youth that it is not so, that death and disease are the aberrations. Middle age knows they are the rule, and that soon or late they come for everyone we love. But, I told her, there's an up side, too. The older I get, the better able to weather grief I seem to become. It turns out that in this, as in so many things, practice helps. Grief is a skill that grows better with use, if we dare to trust it--to feel it, acknowledge i

Red in Tooth and Claw

When Nora, Peter's grandmother, lived with us , our household was the nucleus of an active local Pagan community. Over time, dementia eroded more and more of Nora's ability to retain anything she learned about in the present, so she wound up discovering again and again that she was living in a family of Pagans. Over and over, we would have made some reference to our Paganism, and Nora, having forgotten about it for the time being, would ask us to explain again what it was we believed. We would explain, yet again, about all of life being sacred to us, and nature being the source of our inspiration. Each time we did this, we would reach the point in our discussion where she would protest, quoting the line from Tennyson about " Nature, red in tooth and claw ." Nevertheless, we would insist that that was where we looked for the holy, and eventually, she would exclaim (just as she had the time before that): "Well, then, you're all heathens!" When we

There is Always Joy

To A. This isn't written for you. You don't need to take care of me over this one; this is written for myself, and it is how I cope. I love you forever. I remember when I was small, not understanding why the adults around me were so serious. Everyone talked about how hard life was, and I thought that was a sign of how ridiculous adults could be. That says a lot for how good a job the adults around me did, on the whole, caring for me as a child, and what a happy childhood I really had. But I also remember when I learned for the first time about death. I was about eight years old. My parents had been away for the weekend, and they'd left us overnight with our babysitter's family, which had been all right except for the fact that the sheets all smelled funny and, in the middle of the night, the world was very gray and I was very homesick. But when they picked me and my younger brother up in the morning, about halfway home from the babysitter's, they broke the new