Caregiving at Candlemas

The returning sun now overwhelms the fairy lights strung along my dining room window, and even the sparklies in the curtain-dimmed living room fail to impress. Through the slit between thermal-lined panels in front of me, nodes on the lilac branches hint of scents to come.

But what about my partner? She has taken some tough falls lately (due to Huntington’s Disease), and her struggles to get back up signify a deep deterioration in basic muscle tone. Was it because the unusually cold and icy December deprived her — us — of so many customary outings? We had no Christmas to speak of, no New Year’s. We didn’t even feel safe going to church on Sundays, and now we’re paying the price. 

Or has she turned round the last bend? She stands up mornings with determination, and asks for all her meals, but it doesn’t last long. For me, the days bled into weeks and now months without attending to basic needs. The house is a mess, many days I don’t even get dressed. Nor do I care — for any time I spend with her, cuddling, commenting on a television program, choosing music together — that’s more important to washing dishes. I can’t help thinking with envy of people whose loved ones are fading away in supported residential settings. Maybe more of that support is for the family than I had realized.

Still, her family has rallied around to care for my needs as well. Thanks to their ministrations to my partner, my house, the medical needs, fear of her death has begun to loosen its grip on my spirit. I’ve been going downtown for a little while each day (which in Burlington, Vermont, is a few blocks away and a few blocks large). I’ve been getting dressed, thanks to a caregiving high school classmate — reconnected at our reunion — who recommends it.

And now, we arrive at Candlemas. Groundhog Day. Feast of St. Brigid. Forty days after Christmas. But what’s working for me this year is the Jewish-Catholic Biblical message about repurification of Mary. Protestants call it “The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple,” but Catholicism and Judaism pay more attention to the journey of women. Judaism speaks of Miriam going to her well for water that revives her most deeply, while Roman Catholicism borrows and expands on this to bring a mother out of what we now know to be the physical travails, depression, and confusion of birthing a new baby. Thanks to my friend and colleague, Sue Mosher, for leading me to www.ritualwell.org, with its section on Kos Miryam.

The first challenge in reclaiming sacred self after crisis is to return to Genesis One and restore the sequence of time. Darkness will give way to light — even though darkness returns again. Work will give way to rest– even though the work will come again. Chaos will part to reveal patterns — even though the patterns will wobble back into empty space before we know it. So as I prepare to live into my second clarified weekend of this winter, I appreciate this ritual offering, found on Ritualwell. Please note the attributions and their restrictions which I have included at the bottom:

Kos Miryam for Havdalah

FOUND IN: Ending Shabbat: HavdalahHealing & Hard Times

TAGS: Miriam’s Cup

Kol Isha | Ritual Component

There is a custom among the women of Israel to draw water from a well at the end of Shabbat, for at this time the water ofMiriam‘s Well fills all the other wells in the world. Those who drink this water with an open heart and an open mind are brought to a place of healing. Remember us with healing, God, for when You sweetened the water at Marah You told us, “Ani Adonay Rofeh-khah – I am God, your healer.”

Let us drink deeply from the mayyim hayyim, the living waters of Miriam’s Well. As we drink, may we find sustenance from God’s healing powers and strength for the coming week.

(lift cup)

Reader:   
Zot Kos Miryam, Kos Mayyim Hayyim.
Hazak Hazak V’nit-hazeik.

All:         
Hazak Hazak V’nit-hazeik.

This is the Cup of Miriam, the Cup of Living Waters.
Strength, Strength, and let us be Strengthened.

Barukh Atah Adonay, Eloheynu Mikor ha-Khayyim, rofeh kol basar u’mafli la-asot. —

Blessed are You Yah our God, Life-Source of the Universe, Who heals all flesh and performs wonders.

N’varekh et Eyn ha-Hayyim she-natnah lanu Mayym Hayyim. —

Let us bless the Source of Life Who has given us living waters.

(blessing for drinking water)

Barukh Atah Adonay, Eloheynu Melekh ha-Olam, she-ha-kol nih’ye bi-d’varo. —

Blessed are You Yah our God, Majestic Spirit of the Universe, by Whose word everything is created.  

(drink)

 

© 1992    Kol Isha  (Matia Rania Angelou, Janet Berkenfield, Stephanie Loo) 
May be used, but not sold, by notifying Kol Isha in writing at PO Box 132, Wayland, MA, 01778. 
Please include this copyright on all copies.

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