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First Quarter Moon: still in progress
musing on grief, a tea ceremony, and new moon meditation
“Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” - Anne Roiphe
It’s been 6 months since Mom died and her birthday rolls around this week. My sister Rachel scheduled a Tea Ceremony for us in the Chapel at Lakewood Cemetery, the location where Mom’s celebration of life took place.
We sit on the floor in front of the alter in silence, eleven of us, while our host reaches and pours and places ceramic teapots and bowls, filling and emptying and passing them out in rounds, her body an undulating string of prayer flags, lifting, flowing, cascading the brewed result into the line of bowls. Simple gestures with her hands, her eyes to indicate when to drink and who the bowl is for. Under the gaze of mosaic trees and angels of love, hope, faith and memory, the light takes on a green hue and we are all underwater. And the warm liquid is sightly astringent on our tongues, brewed of leaves grown from deep roots, it smells of earth as the steam bathes our faces and its warmth soothes our throats. Cool marble grounding us. Community of mourners is a salve. These sensations pull us like the tide to the end, where we share the names of our loss. Our mother, wife, Carol. And Dad and Grandma too. One woman lost a dear longtime friend and also a new found soulmate. Two women have lost their husbands. Two more women fathers. One woman has lost four family members in a month. After, our host reads the poem “For Grief” by John O’Donahue and tells us, the grief does not get better, borrowing the words used by the heartbroken widow, instead we evolve. This sorrow prepares us for new joys, deeper joys, for without grief there would be no joy. One is not possible without the other.
Forgive the unknown joys of tomorrow for the pain they also bring and trust they are on their way to you.
I am settling on different themes for these lunation phases, and such is the mystery of First Quarter Moon, today’s space, as it is in the process of becoming. Here, as the moon waxes towards full, I plan to share pieces of spiritual seeking, like the above. It will take us to places I’ve been, places unknown, sometimes places we don’t wish to know as that is how it is with life’s journey.
Owl has led us here. It is her medicine that began this newsletter, with the nighttime and the moon, ever friendly with endings and coming to terms with loss. Owl sees into the dark and brings omens and symbols through dreams and meditation. Owl sees through deception and the things that make us uncomfortable.
And after Mom died, she was my companion. Out in William Berry woods, owl flew to perch above me at dusk. The next day a feather waited on the path beneath where she had watched me the night before.
I have gathered a few more quotes to seal my intention here. I share them with you:
“We live in a culture where people need us to move through our grief for the sake of their own comfort but grief does not have a timeline. It takes as long as it takes.” -Brene Brown
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” - Fred Rogers
“Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end” - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” — and find that there is no death.” - Eckhart Tolle
“The pace of our lives is so hectic that the last thing we have time to think of is death. We smother our secret fears of impermanence by surrounding ourselves with more and more goods, more and more things, more and more comforts, only to find ourselves their slaves. All our time and energy is exhausted simply maintaining them.” - The Tibetan book of living & dying
Here is a new short meditation for First Quarter Moon. I am creating a new series of moon meditations. These are simple pauses for marking your journey by the light of the moon. This is freely given this week and then I will put it behind a paywall.
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