I was met by dear friends who helped me to prepare (and also facilitate), and together we decorated, prepared the kitchen, set up the tables and chairs, and took turns entertaining my children. Joined by swampwitch and Juliette, we transformed the 1950s YMCA dining hall into a colorful Spring sanctuary.
Then the members of the community began to arrive, trickling in from Illinois and Wisconsin, braving flurries and snow on the ground. The day did not reflect our ideal of the first day of Spring, but inside the hall was warm with a fire burning in the hearth and laughter and hugs of greeting.
After everyone had arrived, we gathered around the fireplace for announcements by swampwitch , after which I gave a brief introduction to the art and history of pysanky. My oldest daughter passed around a basket of multicolored eggs, and we went around the circle tapping our painted krashanky against the egg of our neighbor. Whomever's egg was most intact received a blessing of "good luck" (not unlike the wishbone tradition at American Thanksgiving). My son collected the cracked krashanky, and we broke up into four groups, according to the colors of our eggs.
We gathered around round tables and began the lesson of ho making these ancient eggs. For nearly three hours, everyone was fully engrossed in their eggs, and the results were inspiring! Sometimes the eggs would break, sometimes the wax would blob, sometimes you missed a color or a part of your design; but how you craft pysanky is reminiscent of how you go through life: Sometimes you're not happy with the way it's going, but you trudge on and are surprised with the result. Sometimes you stop what you are doing, and start anew and fresh, with lessons learned. Sometimes you turn a mistake into something beautiful.
Then in the end, there is the revealing of the mystery--when you wipe away all the layers of wax to see the pysanka whole. This is the real moment of magic, because up until that point you have to trust that the layering of wax will yield something beautiful.
After a brief break to snack and tostretch legs, we went back to our groups and had our sacred writing workshop, where we had both an individual writing exercise that we shared with our groups and a group writing assignment that tied directly in to the celebration that followed. Oh, and what a celebration it was led by the amazing Deb Miller, with whom we sang and clapped and meditated and planted and welcomed Spring!
We blessed baskets filled with breads and egg salad (made from the eggs we had cracked together in the beginning), and beets & horseradish and other treats. Then we feasted, sharing the foods that everyone had brought, once again laughing and talking and sharing.
Then it was time to go, and as people went back to their lives, there was less snow on the ground and more sun in the sky than when we started. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.