I won’t deny it, it’s been a rough week. Last Friday my friend Megan passed away. She was only 42 years old. She had suffered for years with scleroderma, and it finally took her life. We all knew Lady Death was coming for her, but that doesn’t make it any less hard to bear. Our friend Nora was with her the day before she died, acting as a death midwife, holding the space and opening the door for Megan. I was grateful that Nora told me that Megan smiled when she heard I had a candle going for her and was holding vigil. I’m very grateful that I had a small part last year helping Megan make peace with her dying process, through conversations that came about as she worked her way through my Hallowmas e-course. And I love it that the very last photo Megan posted on her Instagram feed was of an altar to Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.
Blessed be, Megan. You are so, so loved.
On Sunday I went out to the island to work in my herb garden, and experienced fresh waves of grief and loss. The herb garden has not been well tended because our tenants put most of their efforts into their vegetable garden (understandable). I’m not angry with them, I’m just sad because I put my heart and soul into that garden, and it looks to me like it all needs to go to compost. I pulled out a dying rosemary bush and a dead sage plant — both grown waist high, and bent over and killed by winter snows, I think. I remember planting both of them as little seedlings. On the other hand, the sweetgrass is flourishing, as is the comfrey. Sweetgrass the blessing herb, comfrey the healing herb. There is still blessed healing to be found at Heron House.
Craig has been out there all week, working on the house to get it ready to sell. He is feeling the lure of the island’s siren song too, and feeling the tug on the heartstrings from this beautiful house we designed and built ourselves. He texted me a photo of the stained glass window I designed and made so many years ago, from the outside looking in. It graces the front door of our house. Island living is not for everyone; what makes it difficult is also what makes it so very special. Lummi Island is a magical place. It’s where I created the Gaian Tarot. And our home there is unique, a straw bale house filled with our personal touches. Whoever lives there next will be blessed indeed.
Tuesday was the 24th anniversary of my son Jake’s death. I wrote about it here on the blog ten years ago. Nothing has really changed since I wrote that post. I still feel the same way.
I am captivated by this idea of /term for facilitating retreats (in-person and on-line) as a “third art.”
There is a term, that may come from sociology, of the third space. This is the space that helps you make a transition.
So leading retreats as a third art is about creating a transition space and, depending on the how and the who, this transition space can be a support for the transformation of participants.
When you practice the third art, you follow the cycle of the moon. You form the idea in the generative dark of the new moon, then start to make it. There’s lots we don’t see because it is only being carried on a crescent.
But then you are building the infrastructure and spreading the word as the moon is growing larger. When the moon is full, you share your piece, your light, your reflection of the sun; that’s your teaching.
But then because you create communities as much as teach, you begin to withdraw. The moon grows smaller.
When the moon is new again, we, the participants, have to look inside to find our own light. We start to share it with each other and the moon grows fat again.
We like to be in the full moon light (hey, I like my sparks to be acknowledged) but we are none of us the sun. The Sun may be the Divine, the Goddess, or maybe it is all of our lights combined.
So beautifully said, Carolyn. I’m looking forward to practicing the third art this Saturday with a lovely group of women here in beautiful Bellingham.