I Ambar Na-Changed…

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”

You know that scene in The Return of the King – the Peter Jackson version – where Arwen is standing in a sepia-washed landscape, veiled and immortally sad beside the tomb of Aragorn? The wind is sweeping the marble portico, her black veil outlining the shape of her mourning. In the Tolkien tale, Arwen dies within a year of Aragorn, her heart broken. She was 2901 years old. Elrond is trying to convince her to embrace immortality, versus a life of love. She knew what would come, and she chose love.

For those that long for immortality, letting loved ones pass into the realm of the unknown for thousands of years cannot be easy. For elves, like Arwen, in Tolkien-land, they did not dread death as the Men did, because the other side of death was known to them. It must have been some comfort to know they would meet again, perhaps in the Undying lands or maybe even the Halls of Mandos in Valinor . And to save me from geeking out on Tolkien, I will stop with this sad tale here.

But my sad tale does not stop, not until my last breath has faded. It is September, and this is always a month of reflection and remembrance for me. I was driving a few country roads today, looking at the beautiful blue sky strewn with large, water-fecund clouds, and the image of Arwen, standing by Aragorn’s tomb struck me. That was what I was feeling. A dear soul, whom I have known for many years, passed to the realms eternal this past Thursday. She was a wonderful human, a harpist, a priestess in many forms, and always looking for the best in the world. She was quiet, refined… a true woman on the Path. Many people have recently left this world for the next, and she was the latest.

I was very sad. Not mournful. Sad.

In this drive home, I listened to “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. I have always loved this song, and felt it deeply when people I cared for and loved were far away from me. When I lived in Germany for a few years, I missed home terribly. There wasn’t anyone specific or anything specific that I longed for, but the lyrics made me feel more alone, and yet not. It was a sorrowful longing. A morose anthem. I wanted to send the lyrics across the water to the people who I missed most. Today, listening to this song, it struck me that the people I missed at that moment have already moved on to those undying lands. I would have to wait, with a heart beginning to swim in sadness, to feel them again. For me, it apropos that it is September when I would feel these things; for me, it is the month of death and rebirth.

This year, Mabon begins on the 21st of September and ends on my birthday, the 29th. Mabon is a time of the Harvest, the second harvest, and it’s the time to clear out the old to make room for the next winter’s stores. It is the time of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the time of Michaelmas. It is the time when the portals of the dead begin to open, to usher in the failing light and shadows. For me, this is high Autumn, the time when Autumn is at its peak, when I savor the long light of sunset and sunrise, the cooler mornings, the dying leaves. I have always loved this time of year, for different reasons. My reasons this year are deeper, filled with the spice of longing for beautiful landscapes, yearning for foreign travels, and the deepest love for life and nature. For seeing the faces and touching the beautiful minds that have left material Earth.

I always think of my next yearly cycle on this earth in September. It’s natural, I suppose. I think about what I’ve done, not done, desires and needs, necessities. I’m a list maker and a list breaker. I write my list, and put it away to see, a year later, was I who I guessed myself to be? I’m almost always half right; the other half is the dream, the Kris I wish to be. Life has a way of providing lots of opportunities to remap your course. The world of Covid has provided some bonus opportunities.

I spend a good deal of time in my head and am, finally, learning to balance the heart. It’s more like factoring it into the equation to bring balance. The world feels different, these last few years, with the passing of more friends and family. I’m feeling the maturity of silence and wisdom, of patience and perception. I’m looking forward to what the next few years become, as I move into my own space, my own creation. I’m still chrysalis, the shell cracked and awaiting the unfurling of wings. It has been a long time coming. Let’s see what my next year dreams shall be, and what the year will bring me, fertile nourishment for the hungry soul.

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from hell?
Blue skies from pain?
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war
For a leading role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
What have we found?
The same old fears
Wish you were here
(Gilmore and Waters)

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