November 1st marks the cross quarter day, half way between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. In earth-based cultures and religions it’s the end of the growing season and a day when, though the ground is cold and shadows are long in the sky, the seeds of future fruit are already planted in the Earth, resting and awaiting warm vernal light. All we’ve harvested is now in our hands with hope for a new season of bounty. The first day of the eleventh month is traditionally recognized as “All Souls Day” or “All Hallows’ Day”, and is a time to remember the souls of those loved and departed by honoring them with celebrations and feasts. It’s a time to create from all we’ve gathered and make things for fun and love. The picture for this post is a drawing by my mother of her own hands which lovingly made life better with things inspired by her touch. A skilled artist, this time of year my mother’s loving hands would make animated Halloween costumes, decorations from dried leaves and bittersweet, and pies…yummy apple and pumpkin. These were creative ways she shared love with her family, bringing handmade beauty and happiness throughout the seasons with her mending, cooking, comforting, creating, loving hands. I honor my mother’s creative spirit, passed yet ever-present in this portrait of her expressive hands, on this All Souls Day and everyday I make and create. I had the privilege of spending time with my mother at the end of her life in 1999, and though ovarian cancer was taking its toll, her desire to love and create was shining just like the sunburst clay sculptures she made during her final weeks.
Creativity is cradle to grave. As we are birthing, living and dying, it’s an enriching process for beginning and completing life cycles. This sentiment makes the program I am teaching this month to honor National Hospice Month evermore poignant. Art HOPE “Creativity for the End-of-Life” is a special program with York Hospital Hospice, in partnership with Merrimack Valley Hospice, that introduces the value and power of creative expression for the support of loved ones facing end-of-life and for those in hospice care. Funded by a grant from the Maine Community Foundation Hospice Fund, this program highlights how the expressive arts can help with end-of-life experiences. It will be held November 13th, 6 to 8pm at the First Parish Church in York, Maine. (check our calendar for details). In its 375 year history this classic New England church has hosted many cradle to grave celebrations from welcoming babies, to marriage vows, to final rituals of death. And so my mother would like this program and the First Parish Church with its antique trees and cemetery, especially now as fallen leaves rustle on crisp nights and the November veil to All Loving Souls is thin. All are welcome.