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The Day Of Sun Return

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I have been little present here in recent weeks. Part of that is the press of other business that those of you who have been here for a while know about--and those of you who are newer arrivals will discover over time. I have also been trying to work through some other things in the run-up to the anniversary of Jane's death. I could not fully verbalize those things sometimes--and those I could I have posted here. But my ability to be an active part of most conversations has been badly stunted. I look at the posts here each day. I want to answer them. But I can't find words to say that will be much help most of the time lately.

In reading so many of the Christmas issue posts the last two days I have been deeply moved by the despair so many of us seem to be feeling with the approach of this central holiday. There are times I share that despair as intimately as I can bear. But despair is not something I can allow myself to feel for very long without acting to ease it.

The last several days I have written a series of pieces for our walkingwithjane.org page that are focused on the spirit of this time of year in many faiths--including my own. That faith is different from that of many of you, though it does share a number of beliefs expressed here. Below I am posting the piece I wrote today in the hope that in it those of you feeling most buffeted by this season and the absences of the ones we most want to share it with will find something to hold on to.



The Day of Sun Return

In ancient times on the day of the winter solstice, a great log--the Yule Log--would be brought into the main hall and placed in the fire place where it would be lit--and stay lit until it completely burned to ash of its own accord. For as long as the log continued to burn the old year would continue. And when it was at last reduced to ash, the new year would begin.

It was, of course, a time of celebration: the sun had reached the furthest point of its journey south--the nights had reached their longest. And the further north one went, the greater the fear the sun would forever vanish beneath the horizon. But now the light turned north--and day-by-day the darkness fled before it--as just days before the light had fled from darkness.

But it was also a time of contemplation--a time to review the year passing from this earth and to think about the opportunities of the year ahead.

Ursula K. Le Guin captures the spirit of the time in one of her Earthsea novels. Ged, the protagonist, has been on a long voyage across the sea when he comes upon a great floating armada of rafts. For that day--the Day of Sun Return--the people sit in silent contemplation. Then a drum strikes and they dance silently through the night until the dawn in celebration. But they say nothing until the dawn.

The anniversary of Jane's death was like that for me--a day of contemplation and the deepest mourning. At the dawn of December 11 I began to cry those uncontrolled tears and felt that uncontrolled rage build and overwhelm my sanity. And, for the first time, I let it take its full course. It was as though I finally had reached the deepest darkness--as though the sun had turned north again.

Most people who have not experienced it believe grief ends--that by some magical process the end of that year of first events and holidays grief transmutes to normalcy. The truth is it appears to be a much longer process than that. For some, it never ends.

We lost my mother-in-law to pulmonary fibrosis five years ago. We lost my mother to Alzheimer's 22 months ago. We lost my wife to NET 12 months and 12 days ago. We lost a former student to a heart attack barely two weeks ago.

We talk about trying to create more birthdays and less suffering. We talk about a cure for this disease and that disease. We do all that we can. But death is always out there. We can delay it, but we cannot stop it--not yet anyway.

Our lives are but a little space in the eternity of time. But what we do in that little space matters. How we treat each other--both those we know and those we do not--matters. We can make this world a better one--or we can make it worse.

That choice is not in the hands of any god--it is firmly placed in ours. When we take on that responsibility we will have matured into the creatures the universe--and its prime mover--needs us to be.

Happy Day of Sun Return.

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Dear Harry,

Once again I feel your words tugging at my heart. I can feel the pain you went through. My day will be here before I know it. How I feel and act I do not know, until the time comes.

I think what you are talking about is a moral conscience, something we are all born with, that govern's our universe. Each one of use has, one and over time we stop paying attention to it. At first it is like an early warning system in a jet liner, if the jet is to low, the computer, shouts out a command, PULL UP, PULL UP, but some do not listen, so the next time their early warning system goes off it is softer, and softer, until on day they do not hear it anymore. That is when they loose all responsibility for themselves. Some of us keep it all our lives, others just pretended and suppress it, until it is gone. Once gone, it is very hard to get back, just look at all the prisons all over the world, as well as some of the world leaders.

Take Care Harry, I am doing GREAT!

God Bless


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Harry, your words touched me. So well spoken. I believe our losses (which as Chittister says, "scrape the bottoms of our souls) can also lead us to become more sensitive, kinder, more compassionate beings if we so choose. Because we have lost so much, we actually have more to give to those in pain and to a world in pain. Your words say this so well. Thank you, Mary

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Harry, Your words always eloquently express what is within your heart and soul! Someone once asked me, why, after all this time, do I still come back here (as if I have something wrong with me, something I am unable to let go of). It is not that I am hanging on to something, but rather there is a part of me that is forever affected by what was and by the loss that ensued. It is not a choice that we make to hang on or to let go, but rather it is the permanent alteration by having known them...and by the void left by them.

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Dear overwhelmed....

I understand how you seek solitude and feel overwhelmed...I am sitting here this evening with my brother sitting nearby....we see each other twice a year maybe 3 times and in many ways, being alone would feel better. Listen to your voice and do as much as you can of what you wish to do. It gets better...or at least we get more used to living with it....I would not have believed that a year ago.


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