In feminism becoming a ‘wise’ crone is acknowledged (it is certainly true that experience brings insight), but the vulnerabilities associated with aging remain hidden. I wonder how much of this silence has to do with shame? Does our culture’s obsession with youth keep us quiet? If so this attitude isolates women from one another when older women need each other’s support more than ever. Lately, I find myself keenly aware that I need to write about the changes that are occurring in my own life so that I remain visible to myself if not to others.
When it comes to the challenges of aging the silence is deafening.
Turn, Turn, Turn
It’s May Day. At dawn I scoop water from the brook, first pouring some on the earth and then, returning to the house, I bless the floor of the log cabin that is my home. I light candles for intentions… Too sensitive to light (phototrophic) I am acutely aware that the wheel is turning her face towards the harsh white glare of summer.
A dangerous time.
The light of the noonday star casts no shadow.
I bless my animals, my body-mind. Listening to Phoebe’s sweet two syllable call, and thrilled by the Grosbeak’s arrival I give thanks for every bird, bee and flower – for all the wild beings, and for deep silence at sunrise. The Earth is a Lady in Waiting.
I listen to inner voices I want to heed…
My aging body instructs me sternly. You broke a foot in last winter’s ice. Move slowly and mindfully. Pay attention to pain; don’t ignore it. Your bones are fragile; you are growing old. Honor your life. Don’t expect that others will. Give thanks. Help nature and people any way that you can, even if it is just through prayer. These are your jobs now…
Sit under your favorite trees… “a woman sits on the ground leaning against a pine. Its bark presses hard against her back… its needles scent the air and a force hums in the heart of the wood. Her ears tune down to the lowest frequencies. The tree is saying things in words before words”. (Richard Powers)
During the summer season, take refuge in cool forests, flowing streams, breathe in fragrant hemlock terpenes, give thanks for leafy canopies, “a chorus of living wood sings…if your mind were only a slightly greener thing, we’d drown you in meaning” (Richard Powers).
Listen to the water sounds that preceded creation. Remember that you don’t have to live through a culture that predicates itself on speed – or embrace doing and distraction as a way of life.
Lean into your latest passions… learn more about mosses. Paint. The first green plants emerged out of a sea of green algae 450 million years ago to become miniature emerald forests. The mind – bending truth is that these diminutive plants are identical to those that first emerged from water – they survived five extinctions unscathed. Four hundred fifty years million years old! Miraculous. Bryologist/author Robin Wall Kimmerer says moss forests support a plethora of wildlife including microscopic water bears.
Love your dogs!
Bask in the glow of the setting sun – let the bruised – blue evening and fractured diamond sky overcome you with wonder, gratitude, and peace…
Of course, the decisions I make about how to spend my time are different from those that others might make. What’s important is that as we age we make choices that are not only meaningful for us as individuals, but those that accord our aging bodies the respect they deserve, acknowledged or not.
BIO: Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.