We all know the famous quote: Beware the Ides of March. It was the prophecy that Shakespeare included in his play about Julius Caesar, warning of impending doom. As I sit in my favorite coffee shop (thank you Black Cat Coffee) I watch the increasing snows of a classic Nor'easter just outside the window, predicted to stay for two days. Schools are closed, which is not done lightly here in Maine. And by tomorrow we will have between 12 and 18 inches of new snow on the ground. It seems like a perfect living metaphor for so many things that are swirling around at this time.
Spring is the fits-and-starts transition from winter to summer, from death to life. All religious traditions in some way celebrate the return of light and life during this season. I feel the stirrings of a reawakening in myself at this time. Yesterday, after months of saying I needed to, I stepped back on my yoga mat and began the discipline of focus and strengthening that comes from my time there. Like spring, it will probably come in fits-and-starts, but I hope to stay committed to trying. That discipline, along with my faith's traditions and cycles help to ground me during tumultuous times. Now is the season of Lent, a time for introspection and focus on what can change within me as I stretch forward in search of wholeness, calm and the new life of Easter.
My life is at a time of change. With my youngest celebrating her 21st birthday this month I am now the parent of adults. That has been a transition in the making for a long time, but the marking of her birthday makes it clearer than ever. At the same time, my mother is approaching the final challenges of her life. She is returning home from the hospital, again, and adding hospice caregivers to her support team. My sister lives down the street from my parents, and acts as primary support for them as they navigate the world of insurance, medical complexities, taxes, governmental networks, computer glitches and the myriad of other things that come up every day. My brothers try to visit when they can to help as well. As the one who lives across the country, my small contribution is in the form of phone calls and encouragement. I am joining them on my spring break and hope to lighten the load a little, as well as to spend some special time with my mom.
This moving through a cycle of life makes sense as I see it echoed each year in the weather and world around me. Letting go is as natural and necessary as opening one's arms to something new. One is known, and therefore carries with it the grief of loss. The other is unknown and can carry with it the anxiety of risk. But both are needed. Both, in their own way, are good. Hard, but good. My mom told me she is ready to go when her time comes; she struggles to breathe, to eat, to see, to stand. One by one these things are failing. She stays a little longer, I think, mostly for my father who has shared her life for over 64 years. They both believe in life after death, and rest in the faith that they will be together again in better and more perfect ways - their own Easter. But the change is hard for them both. For all of us.
And so, change is coming, ready or not. The Ides of March are here. I am trying to change the "Beware" to "Be Aware." Rather than wary, I want to be alert, awake, aware of the changes and challenges as they come, but grounded in my faith and in myself. Rather than seeing these changes as the enemy, I want to try to see them as the natural cycle of how things are designed to be.
On a cold lakeshore in March, almost 30 years ago, my husband and I sat beside a fire as he asked me to share his life. The Ides of March has marked that anniversary ever since, and we laugh at the coincidence of the date (he hadn't thought about it when he asked). It was a good step toward reclaiming the date for good. And it has been an adventure ever since. Happy Anniversary, Ben. Whatever changes await, I am glad we await them together. And somewhere, under all that snow outside my window, are seeds ready to grow.