So here I am, at home for the moment taking care of a spouse who is home from the hospital, getting over thoracic surgery, and generally not himself. I don’t need to say it is hard. I am a very independent person, and I need a certain amount of creative and contemplative time every day, which I am not getting. Perhaps the sentiment among some readers might be that I should be the loving devoted wife whose every apparent concern is for her husband’s recover. I am not that person. Of course I want him to regain for himself some independent quality of life for himself, but my motives are both caring and selfish. If he is independent, I am not waiting on him hand and foot. And I am trying not to wait on him hand and foot! I have to look at this period of time as his period of need, he is at the moment invalid, and like a baby, the body needs care. Sometimes I get that great big smile and the loving gaze in the eyes, but it is not enough to sustain me, or ride the roller coaster of emotions that come with this type of journey.

I have been blessed and lucky to have met women who have walked this road ahead of me, with aging spouses, spouses with dementia and/or alzheimer’s and they know the heartaches. The advice they have for me, is “Take care of yourself.” When I coaxed my spouse into the ambulance because he was gray and not meeting his own needs, I acted on the emotion that was in me at the time. At this point, I have the hard truth that to save a life can make one responsible for caring for that life, and all the harsh emotions that ride with it. Still there is the higher awareness that at the level of the Spirit where the Gods dwell, there is help and care aplenty. I do not know what soul lessons any other person might need to take away from any experience we are part of and/or party too, so I try to look at it that way.

There is no life and no soul growth without conflict. I love the teachings of the Norse Tree of Life, Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil, with its Nine Worlds provides all the necessary wisdom for navigating life’s challenges. There are times of ascent in life and times of descent. Grief, anger, and sorrow are points of descent in our emotional state. Likewise, Joy, Ecstasy, Curiosity are qualities that help us to rise up. Unlike other forms of religion where ascension or the end of the wheel of reincarnation seems to be the goal, life on Yggdrasil meets all kinds of challenges and conditions with the understanding that life experience is the foundation of all wisdom. It might be my life experience, or yours, or that of the Ancestors who formed our own becoming, but life experience is the foundation of all wisdom and all knowledge. Like the Norse Creator Gods, Odin, Vili, and Ve, who wandered the worlds after their act of Creation in search of what they might learn. Everything seems to be in a continual state of rising and falling. When I can bring this awareness into my relationship at home, I do find more equanimity with a very hard situation.

It’s not about sacrifice. It’s not about suffering through something, but rather about surrendering to an experience in order to remove the personal resistance I am feeling. When I look at the second Aett of the Rune cycle, which consists of Hagalaz, Nauthiz, Isa, Jera, Perthro, Eihwaz, Algiz, and Sowelo, I see the flow of challenge, need, a time of stillness, the round of the year, the Mystery/Norns, and the ascent and descent upon the Tree, which having undergone, brings Victory of a sort. The transmutation might be strong enough to change my inner state, or as simple as solving a difficult problem, but I like knowing the Runes, and the Gods (as long as I am willing to learn) have my back.

It’s not to say there won’t be hard times. But to everything there is a season, as that old song from Ecclesiastes goes. The wheel of the seasons goes around, time turns, and things are different again. Hopefully better than before.

Published by susanofthenorth

Susan Hintz Epstein is an author, Rune diviner, healer, non-academic scholar, and former Methodist Lay Speaker who was called by the Runes in 2013. The time since then has been a serpentine shedding of one skin for another, as Susan's spiritual practice with the Runes and the World Tree, Yggdrasil, deepened. Susan keeps company with the Norns and other like-minded women.

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