Next Year

There was a period of years that I followed the Celtic calendar.  I celebrated the birth of Spring on the First of May.  Friends would join me to cook outside (usually in the snow), and share in the minor taboo of a "pagan" festival.  Raised Catholic, or Lutheran, or Anglican, as we were.

It really was a good time.  A major event on my mega-mall bookstore version of a grossly reinterpreted an ancient heathen rite.

The big one, though.  The storied one, is Halloween.  All Hallows Eve.  The Day Between the Years.  Samhain.  Historically a harvest festival, during which an emblem of purity was sacrificed in hope of a productive spring.  Virgin sacrifices?  Doubtful.  In it's newer, suburban incarnation, Green Men were made out of straw, a piece of paper writ with one's fondest hope folded carefully into his chest cavity, and then burned with the expectation that this prayer - now smoke - would find its way to the gods.

In my late teens and early twenties, you can imagine how, um,  profound were my Green Man wishes.

Ten years (and a couple of university courses on Eastern religion) later, I've long since abandoned my "wiccan" obligations.  I'm a mother now, with a stronger appreciation of spirituality and a practical understanding of organized religion.  We are not a church family.  That's not to say I don't pray.  I do.  I hope hard for positive outcomes for my family's difficult journey here.  And yours.  But the process of public worship is not for me.  As I used to say, pretentiously, back in the day:  My church is outside, and also deep within.

Cheesey, I know (*shudders*).  But true.

When I was little, my aunties took charge of my religious education.  I went to Sunday School with my Auntie Marion, spent two weeks every summer at Vacation Bible School in the lovely Craig Church in Markerville.  We sang songs and did crafts, and I asked a lot of uncomfortable questions about where was the proof that any of this Bible stuff actually happened.  My questions weren't answered, but their patience and tolerance taught me so much.  I still pray when things are bad.  I still thank God when things are good.  Futile?  Maybe.  But it helps me feel better.

I studied paganism for almost as many years as I attended church.  So, yes, some of the traditions stayed with me.  We make the effort to eat outside on the First of May.  And the end of October still feels like the end of the year, for me.  Especially this year, when my family has been through so much and are charging headlong into another mess of big changes.

I've got to-do lists, charts, calendars, schedules and notebooks.  I've got 600 versions of the future mapped out in my head.  I'm building check lists today, just so I can feel like I'm getting something done.  Like Gretchen Rubin, I want my gold stars.  Baffling my husband with my useless productivity, my anxious, tire-spinning effort.

It might be futile.  Maybe.

But it does help me feel better.

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