Happy May Day!

IMG_4447The First of May is celebrated widely and diversely. The Writers Almanac surveys the many different ways May 1st is, and has been, observed across the years.

In addition to celebrating, with open heart and all  my senses, the earth’s great efflorescing, I like to mark the march of seasons. (Effloresce was my word of the day today. It’s a good one!)  In many places in the world, May Day honors work and workers — material for a different post.

Apropos seasons: May 1 is Beltane a Gaelic seasonal festival, and spot half way between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.  It has been celebrated with bonfires, by honoring the natural and the supernatural, and invoking spirits to protect people, crops, animals and to encourage growth.

And this brings me to the title of my piece.  Where is death in all this blossoming?  Well, it’s but a hair ‘s breadth away, and can occur suddenly, completely unexpectedly, as has been the case with several friends recently.  Even as we rejoice in the flowering, it’s wise to integrate this, and, as the Dalai Lama says, “Let us try to remember the precious nature of each day.”

As sudden as it came be, death is also all around in subtle ways.  Its seeds are within us and all things, in a very quiet, but ever present way.  I’m coming to accept the matter-of-factness of this — not as a cause for mourning, rather as an opportunity for acceptance and surrender — right there along with celebration and joy!

Last November Lisl and Marlena were visiting in November and gave Mike and me an orchid for our anniversary.  And here you see it, six months later!

IMG_4525It scarcely seemed to change  for months, except to keep on blooming.  But now the blossoms are starting to shrivel and die off.  If you look closely you can see a couple on the way out.

You may also notice the little black and white ceramic people, hugging 🙂  Salt and pepper shakers, a gift from our niece.  We used to use them as an indication of the status of our relationship.  If one of us felt grumpy or that our connection was distant, we would move them apart or have them turned away from each other.  It helped to bring some lightness to the situation.  Mostly, now, they stay happily close together.  Another smiley 🙂

On the window sill we have a statue of Manjushri, the family protector holding high the sword of wisdom — here it could remind of the co-existence and nearness of life and death.  Also a gift, from a Diamond student. and friend.

Also to mention are the binoculars, a gift from a dear and close friend (thank you, Wolf), which provide a broad, or precise and clear, perspective  — whether of the ships in harbor, the Great Blue herons’ nests making up the colony outside our window, or the crows swooping as they dive bomb a Bald Eagle sitting in a near-by tree.

And then the cribbage board.  Mike and I play each morning at breakfast, and relish the friendly competition.  A friend I travelled with, and to whom I introduced the practice of the morning game, commented that it was a great way to get out the pent up aggression, and then day could be off to a good start!  Sometimes we pause in the  playing and share some sweet, light, easy, and reflective time together. Nice practice.

The candelabra is a recent acquisition at a silent auction fundraiser. We love candles at meals, and candles symbolize so much: light, wax- and waning :-),  cleansing, truth, creativity…enlightenment.  I love them as an object of concentration, peace, settling.

So I offer you on May Day, this vignette of life and death, with love and relationship, games of pleasure and competition, the celebration of birth and blooming, the flames of existence…

May your Spring be joyous, blessed, and bounteous, and a time to deepen and flower.


Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, andgrowth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

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