Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Honoring the Ancestors Through Work

Over the last couple years, I have come to value and love the time spent with my Grovemates at Cedarlight Grove.  Because we live south of DC, and they are located in Baltimore, we miss a lot of what happens there.  In addition to High Rites, they hold weekly Sunday services, regular Reiki sessions, workshops, guided meditation journeys, lunar rites, etc.

My path has not only been one of growing familiar and comfortable with ADF - but also with the whole notion of being a part of the group - of any group.  I've moved from "I'm not really a joiner." to enjoying High Rites with the Grove, but still regarding myself as mainly a solitary who occasionally gathers with the group, to really identifying these wonderful collection of people as my trip and half seriously joking that we should move closer to Baltimore because we are missing All The Good Stuff!!

A big part of what we miss is the enormous amount of work my fellow Grovemates put in on a near constant basis - all the usual internal volunteerism that goes with maintaining a large and vibrant group, but also the unique aspects that go along with actually owning permanent space.  Cedarlight Grove owns and maintains an early 20th century house in Baltimore which - as old houses do - takes a lot of ongoing maintenance and renovation.  The surrounding yard was just that several years ago - a yard.  Through countless hours of hard work, it has become a showcase garden sanctuary, with several distinct shrine areas and a happy home to plants and butterflies and birds of all sorts.

Not being able to get up there for maintenance work does make me feel more on the outskirts of the group than I wish to feel as I come to feel a greater urge to be a full and complete member of CLG.

All of which is background to say that we had one of the most meaningful experiences yet with the Grove this past Sunday, and I am still feeling a sense of peace and accomplishment and blessedness as a result.

Just a few blocks from the Grove, there is a small cemetary surrounded by houses that had been abandoned when the caretaker died back in the 1980s. The headstones date from the mid 1800s to mid 1900s, most around the turn of the century. The neighborhood irregularly tends to it but it had been awhile and there were fallen trees, tipped over and broken headstones, and tons of ivy and other weeds.  CLG decided, as it's community service project for Samhain, to go do a clean up.

The perimeter of cemetery was full of garbage - it's pretty clear this has become a dumping ground for nearby residents.  I walked around it with Taryn, using my cane when needed to scoop debris closer, and we had got a good way to filling an entire contractor sized bag by the time we were done.   While that wasn't officially in the cemetery, I'm hoping the effort will lead to a bit more mindfulness about tossing trash there.  Once that was done, I spent most of my time taking pictures of the progress and of the headstones.  There was talk of getting some pencil rubbings on a later day, especially of those that are becoming illegible before it is impossible to tell what they say.

Meanwhile, the more able bodied were cutting weeds, pulling up seemingly endless lengths of ivy, and attempting to either put headstones upright or, when that was not possible, to straighten them out to reduce further damage to them.

The biggest obstacle was a felled tree - a rock-hard large tree that had fallen a few years ago, crushing headstones beneath it.  Our senior Druid spent two days breaking it down in manageable lengths that could be rolled away, freeing the graves beneath it.  The wood will be chopped into firewood for the Grove's High Rites.

I have honored the Ancestors through stories, songs, libations and ritual - but this concrete, mundane work has been the most satisfying I have experienced.  These markers bear the names of the streets we drive to get to Cedarlight.  By helping this resting place return to a place of haven and beauty so that those who are buried there might be remembered awhile longer, I feel that we honored their memory and connected ourselves better to the geography and history of the place we have planted our Grove.  We are discussing adopting this little cemetery for ongoing care and attended, and I very strongly hope that we do.

This experience has affirmed for me that we need to find a way to be more involved in Grove activities between High Rites These are our people. We are a Grove.


On a different note, I've decided to bring my other blog, The Auld Grey Mare, to a close.  I have used it to talk about food, crafts and other more mundane parts of my life, and I'm finding that separation to be increasingly arbitrary.   What this means is that there will be entries on those things here, whether or not I directly tie them into our  spiritual walk or not.  It is the whole that makes up the life Michael and I are building together - I hope those who are interested in only one part or another aren't too unhappy about this, but I trust that those who are interested in us will not mind at all.

~ Lynda

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1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful thing to do. It's sad that a grave yard got to this state. It sounds like there was a lot of work to do and you guys jumped in with both feet. Great work!