Sunday, January 31, 2010
Candlemass Sunday is the day of Sabbath closest to the hinge between the winter solstice and the spring equinox:
At Sacred Heart we call it Candlemass. We are all given candles to hold during the liturgy and the stil lit Christmas tree. In the United States this day is celebrated as Groundhog's Day on February 2nd, and for the Celts, February 1st is the first day of Celtic Spring. Father Michael's father would go out and take the iron coulter plow to be sharpened, for soon the earth would begin to thaw on their farm in Ireland. And the blade must cut through the thawing earth soon.
My grandma (Thelma) Miller had died 1-29-08, two years ago. We laid her in the ground on groundhog's day in the middle of the winter. She died unexpectedly, leaving me, her only granddaughter, to wonder what I am learning now from this native matriarchal lineages , to ask questions to people and land.
here's what i wrote 2 years ago:
I had just lost my grandma less than a month ago, unexpectedly, a very quick death, leaving me in an inverse lament. I didn't know my grandma as dying, I only know she died. I was not able to hold her hand, or smile contagiously with her, kiss her all over her face, or ask her that one question as she was dying, being blessed in the fullness of the sole carrier of our matriarchal lineage. I missed those things, but I do have her fishing rod, her deep wholeness in the woods around the farm, and a certain magnestism with carpenters ands teepees.
I wish to stand in this holy hinge of fully joy and fully sorrow.
my -oh -my, Mary ever suffering. As a peace offering to us both, I sit with her as she is dying. She is blessing me through a passionate departure in retrograde, a certain surrogate sorrow, being blessed as a douhla-in-death beside this other river.
My grandma went, beside the Susquehanna, without my hand, and I can only hope that she will help me to remember as I draw close to her death through the compassion with another. I remember the Lakota prophecies of the women with the moving iron in their blood, the women who's hands in the earth will bring the next magnetic pole, full and magnet making fiery iron ferric the age of women and men as equal.
This iron plow
Grandma was quite the accomplished fisherwoman from whom I learned much about land and water.
She died very happy. She knew she was passing as she was sitting at the dinning room table and asked for a hamburger, a sundae, and a cigarette. Then she died.
Fortunately i got to spend a week with grandma at her house by the susquehanna river over this past summer. We spent a lot of time on her front porch-swing watching the birds and the trees and counting freight cars on the tracks. There was one tree in particular that towered high beside the railroad tracks, and one morning we watched as two men from the township brought it down. It made us sad, for the lack of shade on the grassy lawn across the street, and for the squirrels who just lost a home. After every meal that we ate in her kitchen i'd take the compost out to her backyard and feed her pet groundhog who lived under the shed. I can't help but smile inside knowing that we are going to bury grandma tomorrow, on Groundhog's Day.
Groundhog's Day is the midway meeting hinge-time between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. What a nice time to bury a loved one, between death and resurrection. The door to spring is half-way open. Grandma and Grandpa have been really rather supernatural, in the non-creepy sense, and i will have to write about that in the near future . . . .I look forward to her drawing near to me and seeing fully my life in camden.
SHarpen your plows tomorrow friends. remember, a sharp blade is a safe blade.
happy celtic spring.
Posted by andreaferich at 4:16 PM