Lunar time tables

February 15, 2016

This happened to me before, but it still took me by enough surprise that I found myself trying to plumb it more thoroughly this time around.

I could not figure out why today I was feeling, shall we say, down.  I went off for a walk, and fairly early on in it, it came to me that I should check, when I returned home, an online yahrzeit calculator.  So when I got home, I found one and plugged into it the date of birth and death for the premature infant I delivered over thirty years ago, and sure enough, the yahrzeit is tomorrow (as well as in a month from now, because it’s a leap year and so the month of Adar occurs twice), according to the Jewish calendar.  On the solar calendar we use in secular American life, the anniversary is not until near the end of this month.

As I said, this has happened to me before, I could even probably figure out which year.

When it happened last time, I remember having some thoughts about why I was in sync with the Jewish calendar on this schedule of commemoration — I remember thinking, for instance, that it might have to do with picking up on other people’s practices.  I think with this year’s repetition of the experience of grief arising on the yahrzeit according to a lunar year, I am thinking more about whether my internal rhythm for marking a year might be on its own more in tune with a lunar calendar than with a solar one.

In any event, being able to name a point of reference for my mood has helped.  I found a candle and lit it, although, as I recall, the rules of Judaism don’t include mourning in this way for someone who lived less than 28 days.

My mourning on this occasion is fairly vague at this point in my life, but it’s certainly there, deep in my heart.  Like the original grief, it has a certain independence of existence, it exists and calls my attention to itself regardless of whether I am consciously thinking about it or wish to deal with it.  Something wants to rise up within me, such as I sometimes experience when I meditate.  It comes out, I let it express itself through me while I pull myself to the side, and then the moment passes.  I won’t say it’s cathartic, but something is released and a more peaceful state returns.  If one religious practice doesn’t want to support that need, I am not above finding others that do, just as I will go along with using the particular calendar that seems to suit my rhythm of mourning, even if it’s not the calendar I use every day.

 

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