It is Spring again. The Filianic and astrological new year has begun. This year began with a Lunar Eclipse, which on a personal level feels a bit appropriate. My usual joy at the beginning of Spring is dampened by the sadness of the passing of my grandmother last fall.
I think one of the difficult things about life in the modern West is that we have lost the notion of mourning periods. There was a time when there was a proper amount of time to be “in mourning,” and rituals for coming out of mourning, with periods of “half mourning” and “light mourning.” When reading modern wisdom about grieving, we are told that it is individual and different for every person and every relationship. Yet, I think that mourning is not really the same thing as grieving. I think that mourning is the pause we take in our lives out of respect for the person who has passed, and the ending of mourning is when it is right to “come back to life.”
With that in mind, with no modern conventions to fall back on, I decided that Winter would be my period of “mourning” and that I would try to “come back to life” in the Spring. I am still quite sad, particularly as my grandmother loved Spring, but I will always be sad from time to time. My grandmother was an important person in my life. It is funny, because she never really taught me (or her own children) much. She tried, but she had no patience. She would hastily explain things, and if you did not get it the first time, she would give up with a disgusted “Ach!” and take what you were doing and do it herself. Yet, despite this, I learned so much from her. There is very little that I do that I do not still hear her voice telling me stories or giving wise counsel.
For the past several years, Mormor (“grandmother” in Swedish) and I lived in the same two flat, which was owned by my aunt. In the front of the house, there was a lamp post, which used to be a working gas lamp. Mormor thought it was ugly. She researched, and she found that it would be costly and perhaps dangerous to remove it, so she devised a way to make it beautiful. Last spring, she planted roses around it with the plan that they would climb and cover the post.
Throughout the Summer, she carefully tended the roses, and she made sure that they did not stray too far away from the post. This was an interesting lesson in itself. It seems in order for roses to climb, they have to be held close to their source.
By the time that Autumn came, the roses had covered the post and bloomed gloriously for Mormor’s ninetieth birthday.
The roses bloomed until that very day. They became covered with snow, and they left an almost magical image, as the petals could be seen on the snow.