Entering the Moon of Kislev (November-December)
time of
late fall in the earth,
keshet, the archer, in the sky,
Chanuka in the soul,

time when you were, are, or may be in the decade of your nineties.

Time in the seasons, time in life,
when we move to deeper places.


Ruth 1

Now the rains fall, clouds cover the skies.
The trees, sentinels,
companions.

In the heavens the stars move
from the creature that digs below the surface,
to one who aims skyward, pointing,
towards the mysteries which lie therein.

Now we enter the eleventh circle of life,
standing like the trees,
firmly, bravely.

Life returns to the elemental.

 

 

Cycle of the Earth, Late Fall

Come, I will teach you my lessons.
Move into my center.

Look at the last trees whose leaves still hang on fiercely, bright gold,
illuminating our surrounds.
Marvel at their tenacity.

rsfrklake


Let your heart leap
on those days
when the sun shines
brilliantly.

They are a gift
for the soul. 

 


Linger on that one remaining
bloom of the rose, the stem of lavender, the robust green sprig of parsley nestling near the foundation
of the house, triumphantly still present.

Scan the hillside of trees whose bare arms reach up towards the sky.
Their limbs etch sunrises and sunsets.
Black boughs lacing across radiant rose clouds.

You can peek  
into places that you couldn't see before.

rstreesmine

 

 

The hidden
is now
revealed.

  

 

 


Watch the fallen leaves once brilliant turn to sodden, sponge-like layers in the street,
holding fallen water captive.
See them transform,
becoming smaller each day.

How magnificent the clouds and light are in this season.

rswintercloudsAppearing even more luminous.

Imagine full chorales in voice
as their florescence glows
at dawn and dusk,

reflecting off earth
and buildings,
sparkling in windows
and on the snow-capped mountaintops.

 


You can feel the days shortening,
the nights lengthening,
in your bones.

Sit in the unexpected puddle of sunshine on your couch.
Savor its warmth like a cat.

You're moving toward the heart of the darkest time of year,
when night reigns more than day.

rssunset


Feel the move,
towards a different type of strength and power.

From brilliant adornment of the trees,
to disrobing,
bare limbs exposed.

Moving back
to the raw essence
of being.

  

Feel your soul wrestle. 
Sometimes suffocated by the length of night,
sometimes lying peacefully in the dark's arms, and
sometimes flattened when the gray remains for days on end.

The openings of light become infinitely more precious now.

Snuggle into your flannel sheets early in the evening.
With a good book. A cup of tea next to your bed.
Feel with childlike glee the permission to go inward.

In the Land of Israel
all the lights from the apartments in Jerusalem
twinkle on the hillsides in the early evening.

Small enclaves of warmth and life.

rschagsameachAt the end of this moon,

signs hang in storefronts,

"Chag Sameach",
happy holiday. 

  

 

 

The darkness and the lights shimmer peacefully.
All those small candles sparkling in all those windows
against the velvety night,
whispers of spirit.

They shine
symbols of hope,
symbols of magic,
symbols of mystery in this world.

Cycle of the Skies, Keshet, Archer

"Hardy warrior-woman, reader of the night-skies,
lifting my bow, I shoot towards the stars,
urging you to do the same.

Racing through the night, I roam the hillsides,
galloping across the plains aback my magnificent horse,
Protectress of the Wilds.

With my bow, vehicle of strength, I create openings.
My arrow flying, pointing to that beyond.

I, messenger of other spheres,
join you this moon as your guide through this passage.

We now speak our truths without cunning or deceit.
Our spirit and integrity touch those whom we meet.
As does our energy and enthusiasm, warmth and 
fierce independence.

Take care not to wound others unwittingly with your words.
Beware of losing your listeners with long-winded speeches.

Remember your sense of adventure.
Re-store your wild soul that she might dream of higher visions.
Trust your intuition to guide your travels.

Use my cheer to kindle your own.
Remember what brings you joy.

Life holds meaning and opportunities.
Now's the time to hold on to them and enter into them.

Remember your fire.
Embark on your quest, that which you need to do.
I will be there by your side, giving you courage."

Cycle of the Soul, Chanuka

As the moon passes her fullness and begins her descent into the shadows,
as the night becomes oceanic,
your spirit yearns to kindle light.

rsthreecandlesYou nestle in your home
and as the moon fades in the sky,
you know it is time.

To renew yourself.

What appears simple,
spiritually holds great power.

And as you begin each night to kindle light,
each night adding an additional candle,
as the darkness deepens,
your spirit knows it is time.

Time to rededicate yourself.
Time to remember your ultimate tasks.

To shed light,
to add your spirit's song to this universe,

To begin,
again.

Cycle of Life, the Ninth Cycle, Ages 90-99

Escort and teacher, Naomi.

In Beit-Lechem, in Judah, I wedded my husband, Elimelech, and gave birth to two sons, Mehlon and Chilion.
There we lived in peace until the earth dried up, our crops died, and famine struck.

To survive, we moved.
To a foreign land, to the fields of Moab.

There my husband died and I became a widow with two sons.
There my sons met their wives,  Orphah and Ruth.
For ten years we lived in Moab and made our home.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Both my sons died.
All that was dear to my heart, blown away, chaff in the wind.

Word came, that there was once more bread in my land.
So I rose to go homeward, my two daughters-in-law by my sides.
I gifted them release, to stay in their own land, return to their families,
have a new chance at life.

Orphah departed.
But Ruth refused to leave.
So together we made our way to Beit Lechem.

All was astir at our arrival.
Returning to this place where I once had so much,
where once my life had been whole and sweet, where I had had family,
was bitter indeed.
We returned at the time of the barley harvest, that I remember.

So Ruth went out, to glean the remains of the fields.
And through the hand of God, she came to the fields of kin of my husband.
And a new story began.
One that ended with a sweet-faced grandson.

From this cycle I write, having walked down many paths, having traveled through much terrain,
having seen many countries both within and without.

For those for whom this era lies far away, for those entering its gates, come and learn.
For those who've crossed this point, do you remember this eleventh circle of life?

You and I learned to stand like the trees,
bravely, undecorated,
in our essence.
With where we've walked in life etched,
into the lines of our faces like the bark of winter trees.

We stand like the Chanukiah,*
most of our candles, kindled.

We move closer to the raw elements, water, fire, air, earth.
We live life out front, our wisdom at the fore.
We know how to navigate, how to best use ourselves.

We tend our changing bodies, ride the waves of discomfort,
adjusting to parts no longer fluid.

We adapt as needs demand,
our beauty radiating.

As our eyes cloud,
our soul becomes clearer.

Having extracted meaning from the fabric of our lives,
we keep our focus.

Our spirit shines like a beacon.

We meet our fears,
and wrestle them to the ground.
We count our blessings,
and give thanks for our angels.
We prepare for our last cycle,
while rejoicing over each drop of light in our lives.

Each day we re-kindle ourselves, 
glow.

L'Shuach, Spiritual Task, bending

This is the art-form of life.
Knowing when
to stand upright, both feet on the ground,
back straight, eyes clear, voice strong.

And when,
like the willow, to shift,
so as not to break.
To bend in the wind,
move with the currents.

Age, our companion,
we walk now arm-in-arm,
head high, eyes sparkling,
with wisdom in our movements.

At ninety years of age,
Sarah, long barren, became pregnant with child.

Giving birth she became so filled with milk, she gave drink to other's children as well.
Filled with power and abundance
filled with new life,
she succored life.
Richly.

So too, now,
can we.

*Taanit 20: Be pliable as a reed, not hard as a cedar."

Naomi's Song: Ode to this Cycle

I've traveled through many inner lands,
seen many horizons.
I've been stripped down to the bone,
left dried and rattling in the wind.

I had lost all I loved.

Death took my mate and my two children,
my land and my sustenance.

There was nothing left 
but my skin.

Shell-like
I walked,
a bitter, withered thing.

And then, life turned,
a phoenix rising,
flying toward me with fruit in her beak.

Now I stand
in the last moons of my life,
my feet touching this earth.

I can feel the harvest of my years
like rows of shimmering golden wheat
dancing in the fields.
All the things I've learned, all the places I've been to
are gathering,
gathering,
for the great harvest.

All that seems important,
fields and houses, positions of power and weavings,
crumble to dust.
In two generations they are unknown.

True power lies
in the beating of our hearts,
in the rising of our will yet again,
in the miracle of saying, "I will live. I will live,"
and walking through the veils to the music of our souls.
Standing ground and touching earth.
Touching earth.

It takes years
to sift through the legacies of those who came before us,
to separate gold from dross.
It takes years
to approach our death,
to face our fears,
to trust we will be held,
to catch glimpses of the other-side,
and then,
to pass through the deepest fear.

Of abandoning self wholeheartedly
to life
in the time that remains.

It takes years to fearlessly
hold life in our hands,
to like the eagle
fly aloft,
soaring, moving in air,
rejoicing in our flight,
and being held,
being held
by the wind.

Life husks off my layers now
like an ear of corn,
the very last silky skins
remain.

Soon
my inner core
will be revealed.

And I will stand
shimmering in the sun,
in juice-filled sweetness,
in my essence,
buttery-yellow as the sunrise,
exposed,
and I will
Glow.

I now stand
clothed in my very last layers,
translucent, clear,
burnished by the sands of living.
radiant with hard-won knowledge.

I shine.
How I shine.
My soul's beauty, gleaming.
My
Soul's
Beauty
Gleaming.

And every day
as the sun rises
I send my blessing out to the world.

And every day
as the sun sets
I send my love out to the world.
I tend her as lover, mother, wise-woman.

I move with the winds, flow with the tides,
shift with the currents,
sing with the river's song,
dance arm-in-arm
with life's ebbs.

I shed my light everywhere.
I have no
End.

Lessons:

Remember this sage, radiant woman.
Remember her determination and her beauty.

May you stand in the dusk
the elements soaring through you,
cleansing your being.

May you point your bow heavenward,
the arrow of possibilities lighting your way.

May you rededicate your spirit,
rekindle your flames.

May you move with grace,
flex as needs dictate.

May the collected wisdom of this woman
inspire you
as you step forward
into the teachings of this time.

Reclaim those qualities that your soul now needs
for your life and well-being.


For Further Reflection: Journaling:

1) Late-Fall : In the Earth

Which images evoke memories of your own?

Dark                                                Gray                                                Rainy, snowy
Cozy indoors                                   Wind                                               Decay
Foliage breaking down                    Transforming                                   Slippery
Wet leaves                                         Soups-comfort foods                      Candles
Creative, interior time                      Internal time                                    Fireplaces
Barren trees                                     Transitions

2) Keshet: Archer: In the Skies

What images resonate for you?

Independent                                    Strong                                    Warrior
Nimble                                            Clear aim                               Clear vision
Accuracy                                        Poised                                    Athlete
Focused                                         Amazon

What are you aiming for this Late-Fall of your life?

3)
Chanuka: In the Soul

What symbols resonate for you this year of your life?

In the darkness of the moon             Descent                              Kindling light
Re-dedication of holy place             Stories                                Music
Family time                                     Strength of spirit                  Division in people   
Claiming identity in the face of challenge

4) Take out a photograph of a woman in this phase of life, ages 90-99.
Yourself, your mother, your grandmother, your daughter, your aunt, a woman whom you know or
a photograph from elsewhere of a woman who appears to be in this stage of life
.

Write down words that describe a woman in this time of life.
The first words that come up for you.
Unedited. Write down the date and your age now

5)
Your Personal Map of Life:

Creating a personal map of where you've been in life marks your history.
You hold this in your body. In your soul. You carry it around with you every day.
This can show you more vividly where you've been in life.
Inviting you to consciously claim your route and in time, carry it with grace.
It is yours. And precious.


For those not having traveled yet this cycle:
Sit with a woman who's either in or who has passed through this cycle of life.
Ask her to reflect on the questions below: the significant events in the world, in her world, the challenges of this age, the gifts of this age, things she experienced and learned when in this decade of life.

Your Personal History Page: Ages 90-99:

Age:  Date: Ages of Parents: Significant events in the world,in life that effected you:
90_____________________________________________________________________
91_____________________________________________________________________
92____________________________________________________________________
93_____________________________________________________________________
94_____________________________________________________________________
95____________________________________________________________________
_
96_____________________________________________________________________
97_____________________________________________________________________
98____________________________________________________________________
99_____________________________________________________________________

Thematics, patterns I notice in this time of life:

Awarenesses, thoughts I want to capture about this time of life:

6) Challenges of 90-99 years of age:

What was hard about this time of life? Which words below resonate for you?

Health challenges                            Friends moving                             Friends dying 
Frailness                                         Thin skinned                                 Worn
No more veneer left                        Needing to make new friends        Shrinking
Body not working as it did              Dependency
Multiple deaths and illness of friends, neighborhoods and change and loss as a result
Being a steward of energy, resources
Watching out for people who are draining

7) Gifts of 90-99 years of age:

What were the gifts of this time of life for you? What words below touch you?

Vigor of spirit                                    Survivor                                   Strong will
Observant                                         Truth-teller                               Spicy
Sense of humor                                 Slower moving                          No nonsense
Straight-forward                               Spending time as I enjoy it

What were-are your hopes for this time of life? Your fantasies for yourself?

What were-are your fears-concerns for this time?

What feelings-awarenesses rise in reflecting on the above?

Thinking about your mother and/or your father at this age or other family members-friends-what awarenesse rise? what did you learn from them about approaching this age?

9) Tasks of this cycle of life:

The task named in Pirkei Avot for the decade of the nineties
90: L'Shuach: Bending

In what ways do you see yourself doing this task? In what ways does this task speak to you?

 

In what ways do you connect with the image of Sarah at this time in her life?
In her nineties being pregnant, suckling her long-awaited son and all the children of the people,
symbolically coming into her spiritual fruitfulness, being filled with milk?

How is this true now for you?

*Chanuka menorah

Photographic Credits

First photograph portrait: by Dr.Neil Kurtzman
Second photograph: Frank Dobrushken
Third, fourth, and last photograph: Vicki Hollander