The contemplative season again

Richard talking about his sculpture work, Salida Artposium, Colorado Art Ranch. (Photo by Grant Pound, courtesy of Colorado Art Ranch)

Nine months ago, after Richard’s death, I promised myself that when I got through the crazyness of after-death business, I would take the first quarter of the new year for some much-needed contemplative time to begin processing the drastic changes in my life.

After a work trip to Miami in early January to teach in the YoungArts program, I came home eager to settle in and have that inward time. My spirit was weary from two years of caregiving for my parents before my mom’s death, and then walking Richard through his journey with brain cancer.

I imagined quiet time to write and read, to catch up on my sleep and dream, to envision a new path as Woman Alone. And I managed some. But life kept intruding. My dad needed increasing amounts of time, sorting out post-Richard financial and other affairs dragged on, deferred house and shop projects demanded my attention….

Late winter flashed past, then spring in a flurry of work travel and preparing for the Terraphilia Residency Program, and then summer whizzed by as well. Now it’s September, my birth-month; fall is just around the corner. And I never really got that uninterrupted time to contemplate the wrenching changes of last year.

Richard with my parents, Joan and Bob Tweit, at the Betty Ford Alpine Garden, Vail

As the days grow shorter once again and our summer of record heat and drought limps to an end, I am once again thinking of finding contemplative time, of slowing down to absorb the shocks of the last year and some. That time won’t come this month: my dad is planning on being in his new apartment at Panorama City in Lacey, Washington, halfway across the continent on October 1st. He flies home from Washington this Wednesday, where he has spent the past two months in an intensive training program for veterans with vision challenges.

After picking him up at the airport, my task will be to help him sort through what he wants to move back to Washington with him, and to get bids on packing and transporting his small household. Then there’s the transfer of his banking and other services, plus moving his medical records from Colorado to the Southern Puget Sound VA system, and a plethora of other details.

And making sure that Dad, who is eagerly anticipating this move, takes time to say his goodbyes after a decade here in Colorado, to friends at the Westland Meridian, where he has lived for the past four years, at the church he attends, and in the Highlands Garden Village garden group, a community he and Mom treasured. (Thank you, Erica, for making them so welcome!)

The next few weeks bring a crush of writing deadlines too, so I’ll really be scrambling to meet my work commitments and help Dad. Which means my birth-month will rush by without time for quiet, much less contemplation. That’s okay; I’m determined to make that time happen once Dad’s safely off to begin the next chapter of his life in Washington, where my brother and family are as excited about his arrival as Dad is. (Bill, Lucy, Alice, Heather, and Sienna and families–you are simply wonderful.)

Succor for the spirit: a moment of beauty at dawn.

The pull of quiet time to tend heart and spirit has felt particularly strong these past few days, in part because the nights are lengthening and the weather is beginning to hint at winter, in part because of the sudden loss of my sister-in-law Lucy’s dad, Bill Winter, who died in his sleep at home on Wednesday night. He was 90-something and we knew he wouldn’t last forever, but still…. It’s a shock to think of the world without Big Bill’s dry wit and questing mind.

So many changes.

I yearn for quiet time to let those changes “season” as Quakers say, referring to the time necessary for experiences and issues to become less tender and touchy, making thoughtful responses possible.

Fall and winter have always been my contemplative season; I intend to give my spirit that restful, rejuvenating gift this time.

Blessings to you all for walking this journey with me.