Lughnasa Waxing Harvest Moon
As August slides away and the sky shifts its colors toward deeper hues, an inner barometer detects higher emotional pressures. The atmosphere weighs more, cuing those momentary pauses, breaks in attention. It may signal a storm ahead, but more likely the prediction carries gray skies and mist, perhaps early morning fog.
Melancholy comes calling this time of year, an acquaintance, maybe a friend, of long standing. Mom died in October, 1964, 47 years ago, a year longer than she lived.
Her death came at different moments in life for all of us. Mark, 5 at her death, has few memories of her; she lingers in his past as a faint spirit, an enigma. Mary, 12, has more, a young girl heading into adolescence, becoming a woman, missed the guidance a mature woman could give as she made that critical transition. At 17 my life had already begun to pull away from the family, in my senior year of high school, the last, college plans in the making, I had her longest of all, only a brief time less than Dad.
When that dark angel comes, and he comes for us all, finality is the hardest lesson to absorb. No more mom. No more. Memories, yes, but memories fade and change as life goes on and here all three of us are, 47 years later. 47 years. A lifetime.
Why a friend? How could melancholy be a friend? Well, in this way. As life patters on, this event following the other, we can become accustomed to its rhythms, lost in its small decisions and its casual absorption of our energy. So lost, in fact, that we forget the Self that carries us forward, the Self into which we live and which lives itself into us.
Melancholy can turn us away from the day to day and cause us again to walk down the stairs leading to what Ira Progoff calls the Inner Cathedral. We often forget this quiet place within, our own sanctuary, and melancholy can call us to visit it again.
So, yes, melancholy can be a friend of the Self, a guide back into the depths and resources of your Self.