Seasons / by Hayden Michelle

"Held by the Light", photograph of pod, 2016

I have been reflecting much on the seasons of life these past several weeks… how quickly they change from one to the other, what gifts and challenges they bring, and how some are easier to embrace than others.  This spring has brought a fresh round of color, fragrances, and a bursting of new growth in all forms, and it has also brought loss—of several full-of-life people in our small community and family, and of the decline of my mama.  Our family brought hospice in a few days ago to ensure that she leave this world with the utmost care, quality of life, dignity, and profound tenderness and love surrounding her.  I am incredibly grateful that hospice is able to assist us in keeping her comfortable, and helping her ease out of the long years that she has suffered with Alzheimers.  We have been losing her a bit at a time over these years, and yet, it is so difficult to take in that we are at this point of letting go.   Mama has been a tough bird, raising us all with as much love and strength as she could muster.

As I walked during sunrise the other day, I gathered several treasures off the ground.  Found were a remnant of a wren eggshell, whose small bird is likely growing feathers on its newly sprouted wings, fragments of cedar wood that will hold new sculpture, tulip tree blossoms in different states of disintegration, two large feathers of birds long flown over, birch bark calling for imagery on its smooth surface, a perfectly whole robin egg that left its nest too early, and an amazing large pod that had seeds releasing from its core.  My pockets and mind were full as I pondered how this wheel of life is a constant in nature and in our own existence.  I felt both a sense of comfort and helplessness in this, aware that things happen in their own time, and that this does not always correspond with our being ready to let go.  And I reminded myself that it is important to just breathe that in, and keep breathing, holding that acceptance gently.  A second morning as I was out before dawn, a shooting star went over my head, lighting up the dark sky.  I burst into tears, feeling how fleeting life can be-- and then minutes later, another streaked through the wide open sky… and reminded me to connect with the fullness and offerings that these experiences bring, as well as the day that lies before me.

"Release", photograph, encaustic carving, 2016

I know that the sadness comes out of having loved deeply, and that this in itself, is a profound blessing.  Like the pod that is slowly freeing its seeds to be carried by the wind, so we must surrender, trusting that my mama will experience liberation from her earthly body and mind, and that the seeds she has planted in all those she loves will continue to bear the many gifts she has shared with us.  And all of these losses, always, deep reminders to love each other more fully, including ourselves…

"Spectrum of Life", photograph, 2016