Tag Archives: Seasons

November 12 – Resist or Release

by Patricia Roop Hollinger

Autumn in the Cariboo-1

Quaker Meeting was my destination on this crisp, windy fall morning. Trees were swaying; some as though their boughs would break, while others seemingly allowed the wind to give them the ride of their lives. Leaves were swirling in spirals while others floated lazily to the ground below.

“Why that fits the description of how people choose to die,” I thought.

I have outlived many of my family members and peers; thus been a witness to various and sundry methods that death has released them.

My grandmother had a brief illness during her last year. She was recuperating with my mother and took her last breath while asleep during the night. No lingering for her. She had swayed through a myriad of fall seasons, the death of two husbands, and sunnier days, raising four children, in a lifetime of 88 years. She knew when it was time to take her last breath.

Then there are the deniers. Death happens to other people. I witnessed such a death with my second husband. We couldn’t talk about death in spite of the fact that his body was wasting away due to cancer, multiple heart problems, diabetes and beginnings of dementia.

“I am going to live until I am 90,” he would tell me.

The reality only hit him when his M.D. pulled up his chair, got in his face and said: “You need to hear this, for you are dying.”

Was this heartless? No. My husband needed to be shaken out of his state of denial, for death would have the last word despite his protestations.

The leaves symbolized the deniers of death as they hung onto the branches tightly in spite of winds that were battering them to and fro. “No, no, it’s not time yet” they were saying. “We want another day, another week, and another month.”

As a hospice volunteer witnessing the death of the physical/bodily existence is just a rebirth into another form of living. I do not proclaim to have the answer as to why one person dies seemingly peacefully while others struggle with agonizing breathing for what seems like an eternity for the witnesses.

May I leave this life floating and swaying to the rhythms of Andre Segovia’s guitar or Deuter Buddha Nature like the leaves that know when it is time to stop hanging on and just drift into what lies ahead.

Patricia Roop Hollinger: cat lover, musician, gardener, voracious reader, now exploring writing skills in retirement. She was employed at Brook Lane Health Services as Pastoral Counselor/Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor/Chaplain for 23 years prior to retirement in 2010. Celebrated her fourth wedding anniversary on October 30, 2014 to a former high school heart-throb.

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August 20 – Summer Waning

by Morgan O’Donnell

Photo-Aug-09-8-01-30-PMSummer is waning. I know this because the soft glow that seeps through the blinds comes later each morning. I know this because each evening the rich shades of burnt sienna and crimson and twilight lavender color my living room wall earlier. Normally, the end of my summers are frantic, filled with hurried preparation for the fall semester, advising new graduate students who are worried about being back in class after many years, and calming faculty who are wrestling with ornery technology for their online classes. Usually, I am so busy that I barely register the change in light as autumn comes creeping in.

The summer is different. This summer, for the first time in well over a decade, I am not involved in the fall semester prep, filled with both excitement and stress. Instead, I have left my job in higher education to take a break and see what I can do with these words and ideas that have been tumbling around in my head for so long. Instead of putting them into emails that welcome and calm new students or memos that cajole and console weary faculty, or impromptu pep talks to coworkers, I want to see if I can wrangle these words and ideas into the shape of a book.

Each time I tell my story of how I ended up in the mountains of New Mexico watching summer wane, I realize there are many beginnings to it, not just one. The career mentoring sessions with my dean was one beginning. Listening to my boss tell stories of her close friend who had always talked of writing mysteries and then suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s before those ideas reached paper was another beginning. Yet a third beginning was seeing people smile or hearing them chuckle over some quip or crazy Tumblr post I created and realizing that just maybe I could add a little fun to someone’s life. Each time I tell the story I learn something new myself, some little nugget I hadn’t recognized before.

So this summer, for the first time in years, I am measuring my days by the waning light, the gentle chill of the pre-dawn darkness, and the feel of my pen as it glides over paper while I wait to discover where the story will take me.

 Morgan has done a little bit of everything from serving as a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army to public relations coordinator for a boys’ ranch to graduate advisor. She has spent the last 10 years guiding college students of all ages. You can follow Morgan’s adventures in the Land of Enchantment at www.morgankodonnell.com.

February 13 – First Blood

by Caroline Ziel

“I ring the bell
So we can tell
The story of her passage”.

The incantation began.

Leelee was a thirteen year old young lady who had just started her “first blood”. Night was unfolding around us and our circle of women stood in the shadows of a cold Saturday evening. We had come to honor this passage. We were eleven women. Some of us had already passed into being crones. Others were still of childbearing age. She stood in our midst and we asked her: “Are you ready? Are you really ready?”

We wanted her to know in the cells of her being that monthly bleeding wasn’t just about cramps and tampons and the need for protected sex. It was about being fertile for all of life–it was about possiblities. One by one we reminded her who she was:

“Leelee, you are creative. Leelee, you are spunky. Leelee, you are helpful and kind and caring. You paint and dance with abandon.”

We wanted her to be firmly rooted in the splendid reality of who she is so that she can blossom into all that she can be.

l rang the bell again and asked her if she was ready to move into maidenhood. She said “yes” and her grandmother walked her out to prepare her for the passage.

Later, one by one, we asked her to remember: “Your body is an altar. Remember that it is sacred. How you live your life is an act of worship. Your words have power. Bring light into a world that sometimes seems dark. Be the light in your own world.”

We then made an arc for her to pass through. Our arms stretched across her and we joined hands, remembering pieces of our own journey into maidenhood, into womanhood, into cronehood.

Later that evening we pondered the importance of having community, of being community. It’s so easy to get lost in the demands of the day and to become isolated with life’s expectations. What Leelee helped us learn that night was not only that we need to honor our passages, but that we needed to continue to extend to each other the hand of remembering. We need to hold each other in the light and remember to be the light in our own lives. We need to remind ourselves that our own lives are sacred and to find a way to renew that awareness day by day.

Caroline has been a delighted member of SCN for three years, and a member of Writing Circle 6 for all of that time. She is a gardener, grandmother, and goddess centered woman who is grateful to have the support of this circle.

June 5 – Double Milestone

by Sharon Lippincott

I woke filled with eager anticipation on June 5, 1962 recognizing it as a milestone day. I hurriedly pulled curlers from my hair and took extra care teasing and spraying my bouffant hairdo, then dressed quickly in a simple dress and high heels. I wanted to look my best as I began my first full-time job a week after high school graduation. True, it was only a summer job, but I wanted to make a good first impression on the staff of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory technical library. I’d been hired sight-unseen based on my written application.

After breakfast, I slid into the car next to my father as I would do each morning for the rest of the summer. He dropped me off in front of the administration building on his way to work at a site further out the mesa and picked me up each afternoon.

Full of anticipation mixed with a tinge of uncertainty, I followed dozens of classmates and strangers into the Ad Building auditorium for security indoctrination. “Don’t ever tell strangers you work at the Lab,” we were cautioned. “Even if you don’t have access to classified information, they may not believe you. You could be tortured….” My heart froze at a mental image of fingernails slowly ripped loose.
Half an hour later, I was greeted by Barbara Hendrie, Director of Circulation Services. She introduced me to Vera and Bertha who showed me the procedural ropes and immersed me in office gossip.

The day passed in a blur as I eagerly drank in procedures and reveled in my new status as a wage-earning adult in a real office. At noon I found my way to the cafeteria and was thrilled at a beckoning invitation to sit at a table filled with male grad students working on various Lab projects for the summer. My heart beat faster as I wondered if I might find a summer romance among them. Romance was my next goal.

On the way home I could hardly wait to head to the Recreation Hall for folk dancing, my customary Tuesday evening pastime. Most of my friends had also begun summer jobs at the lab that day, and older friends would be home from college. Tonight dancing would be secondary to conversational buzz.

About twenty minutes after I arrived, I noticed a cluster of male strangers saunter through in. I instantly recognized grad students and sped off to greet them, beating the pack of other eligible gals by seconds.

One tall, skinny guy gazed at me with a shy smile that warmed my heart and lit a fire of imagined possibilities. We danced and talked. He offered me a ride home, but I had driven myself. I found my summer romance that night. We were married a year later.

That job was a milestone, but a small one compared to meeting that tall skinny guy who has been part of my life for fifty years today.

Sharon Lippincott lives to write about life and lead others down the life writing path. She is collaborating with the Allegheny County Library Association to start life story writing groups for all county library patrons and is thrilled to see this project spreading rapidly across the country and beyond.