Updated: Mar 16
In March of 1946, in Warwick, Rhode Island, Diana Elaine Barbour spent the last day of Winter giving birth to her daughter. She named the baby after herself.
Nineteen years later, on her “first-day-of-Spring” birthday and three weeks after giving birth to her own (second) daughter, the young Diana visited her mom in a hospital, following brain surgery. This is the last time she would see her mother, and the new grandchild and grandmother would never meet.
In the depth of this family’s sorrow, according to the tilt of the Earth and the way She revolves around the Sun, the northern hemisphere saw Winter again pass into Spring. Flowers began to bloom, birds to sing, and Diana had this newborn and her two-year-old sister who needed care. Life, death, life.
Spring is traditionally seen as a time to celebrate renewal; bears come out of hibernation; deer, bunnies, and all sorts of animals give birth. Growing up in Rhode Island, watching snow melt in the Sun’s warmth, I couldn’t wait for Spring to arrive. But I imagine my very first day of Spring must have contained the smells of fresh Spring air, and also my mother’s grief, as I was Diana’s second daughter, arriving just in time to share her loss.
I have no childhood memories of my mother grieving. She did provide me with vivid memories of the annual Spring cleaning ritual, pulling out each storm window of our second-story tenement home, lining up the panes against the wall, crisp New England air rushing in to mix with the smell of spray-on Windex foam. Perhaps she knew that joy contains both happiness and sorrow.
Spring still reminds me of dusting out the cobwebs, window cleaning, going outside, and breathing fresh air. I see it as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate renewal and being alive, though I imagine for my mom, the season is more complex.
This Sunday, March 20, is the Vernal Equinox, a time of balance between nighttime and daytime. And this little blue planet is simultaneously holding life and death, ease and struggle, horror and beauty. Can we welcome life in its entirety and allow the beauty and the horror, the loss and the life, to be held as sacred, death held within the container of life, sorrow necessary for joy?
Let’s welcome this Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring, by embracing all parts of ourselves, and our lives. Let’s take down the windows, the “pains,” dust them off, clear space, and clean up our view. Let’s invite Nature in with no “good versus bad,” no “sides.” And to let go, with love, anything that is not bringing us joy.
Wherever you are, I invite you to find one space in your life to clear out; make it small, make it doable—and make it count.
Here’s a one way:
1. Take a moment to yourself. (unplugged is helpful; in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed; if indoors, perhaps lock the door!)
2. Close your eyes.
3. Imagine one space you’d like clear. (it can be an internal space, eg. your mind, or an external space, eg. a meditation corner in your bedroom)
4. Envision how you’d like the space to look, feel, smell. (take your time with this)
5. Then jot down one small action you can take toward that dream. (take your time with this too!)
6. If you like, you can write your action or your vision in the comments section. (I will light a candle for us all)
If you live in the Los Angeles area (or will be here on March 20th), you are welcome to join a gathering of women for a Joy Wolves walk and self-empathy circle in the park. See here for details.: https://www.sageknight.com/event
In Love and Joy,