Equinoxes are perhaps the most bipolar of holidays, the light and dark in equal measure, the yin and yang, the joy and sorrow. In keeping one’s balance, there is a heightened awareness of “both sides now”. So it is with this Equinox. In the quiet of equanimity, people pass through the gate into something else, into a brighter place, or a darker one, and I’m feeling more than ever that this is a liminal time, a threshold time.
I’ve been writing about sacred texts lately. Remembering that “Nature is our book,” I seek solace in the garden and read emerging signs of spring. And when I come back from my meanderings, I feel so much better. Today, this is my devotional book. As I wander, poetry, the best kind, comes unbidden to my mind.
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts . . . There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.” – Shakespeare
I have plenty of rue in my garden too, near this still-legible Love weathergram I posted on another equinox.
The holiest of holidays are those kept by ourselves in silence and apart; the secret anniversaries of the heart. – Longfellow
Both of my parents died at an equinox time, my mother around the autumn equinox a long time ago, my father around the spring of last year. My dad gave me my first Joni Mitchell album as my sensitive teenage heart began learning about “both sides now.”
Here is flowering mustard, and beyond, a sequoia planted a few years ago in remembrance of another beloved grandmother. I begin to hear the rhythms of Drew Dellinger’s poem, Hymn to the Sacred Body of the Universe, in my mind:
. . . grasses are blooming
consciousness blinking on and off
all of this is happening at once
all of this, vibrating into existence
out of nothingness
foaming into existence
transcribing the ineffable
arising and passing away
arising and passing away . . .
This year, a woman who has done so much to bring awareness to our unsustainable burial practices is herself transitioning to the Light Road in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by love, people coming on this holy day to paint and decorate her cardboard cremation box. She is receiving all the love her dear ones bear her while she is still here to hear it. I have never met her, and yet I am so grateful for the work she has done in redefining how we die, how we might go about having a “good death”.
A walk past a neighbor’s yard pauses my steps as this exuberant flowering tree reaches its branches out to me. I remember that the cycle of life is simultaneously a beautiful and painful process. Without one, how could we have the other?
This is sacred poetics, for me. The chant of poetry while listening to nature is the closest I might come to prayer today. The ebb and flow of life and death and the marking of that time. At the Spring Equinox, we feel the earth awakening beneath our feet, as we also feel the wheel of the year brush past us with yet another turn of time. It is the season of gathering light.