THE BACKSIDE OF BELTANE
Rev. Kit Ketcham, with Monica Van Steenberg
May 14, 2017, PUUF
Thanks, Monica, for your help with this service and for speaking about your own experience of Beltane, on this Mother’s Day and in celebration of the human urge to enjoy life passionately and to give that life literally to our children and to those we love.
I remember singing lustily the song from Camelot “It’s May, it’s May, the Lusty Month of May” and, though I wasn’t quite ready to throw caution to the winds sexually, I sure enjoyed the words “That darling month when everyone throws self-control away”.
Without revealing too much personal information, I will confide that I had my wild days and nights. Those memories are clear and pleasant to recall, and, in some cases, a little bit embarrassing.
But I’ve aged. I’m not there anymore. I’m passionate about different things these days and wouldn’t bear another child under any circumstances! Cats and congregations are plenty enough responsibility for me these days.
I’m on the “backside of Beltane”, I think. Instead of looking eagerly for that next possible romance, I’m limping off to meet my friend Mike on the riverwalk, who is, in turn, kinda limping a bit toward me. But he’s my friend and that’s more important to me these days than physical passion.
Not to say that the flame doesn’t burn, but it burns in a different way: hugs instead of deep kisses, giving time and energy instead of making seductive moves, looking for kindred spirits of all genders, not a boyfriend.
Of course, my widowed mother, 20 years after my dad’s death, was pursued quite persistently by an elderly swain at her assisted living facility, a man who was also observed flirting with yet another woman in a parlor corner. I’m not saying it can’t happen, just that I don’t know how I’d respond!
My body, my brain, my whole nature has shifted away from making whoopee to looking for love in a whole different way. Nothing wrong with mad, passionate love at any time of year or of life but as we age and our bodies and minds respond differently to circumstances, we adjust to those changes. Call it the new normal!
Six years ago, I lost a bunch of weight getting ready for retirement, ready to have a love life once again. But aging caught up with me and my health became a more important project than finding romance. Comfort food became my default position, not Weight Watchers cuisine and I paid the price.
Now I think about why I would lose weight again after multiple yo-yo experiences with clothing sizes! And it has become more important to eat properly than to take off the pounds. It’s a way of life that allows for a cinnamon maple scone at Coffee Girl or pizza at our Ft. George Happy Hour, when being social is more important than being skinny.
With age comes the freedom to make different choices.
One thing that freedom brought me was the opportunity to respond to a strong call to ministry. Studying theology and church history at Iliff School of Theology in 1995 sent me passionately in a whole new direction.
And gradually over the years, my desires have changed. As a newbie to the vocation of ministry, I learned how important it was to be careful with my relationships within my congregation. Lots of clergy get into big trouble by dallying sexually with members of the flock. From the beginning I was very careful to limit romance to friends outside the congregation.
But of course, the best guys are often in UU congregations! Darn! Just another reason to make friends, not search for lovers.
Do I regret being on the “backside” of Beltane? Like many of us, , as I experience the early autumn of my physical life, I have found my spiritual life enhanced by the solitude and freedom that my Beltane energy has morphed into. I find that I’m not lonely, I get a lot of affection from you all and from family and friends, and I look forward to each day wondering what it will bring next.
As in the seasons of the year, Lughnasahd arrives in life too, that harvest time when we can see the benefits of our past experience and savor the maturity that comes from living the life we are given.
Let’s pause for a time of silent reflection and prayer.
CLOSING HYMN: #1065 “RISING GREEN”
BENEDICTION: Our worship service, our time of shaping worth together, has ended, but our service to the world begins again as we leave this place. Let us go in peace, remembering that we are flesh and blood creatures, with all the desires and possibilities that life gives us. May we enjoy those pleasures and challenges fully and joyfully, as we journey through our lives, accepting the changes that come with maturity and savoring the new life it brings. Amen, Shalom, Salaam, and Blessed Be.