1 May 2024
8 min read

We just celebrated Ya'Acov's 60th birthday and first of all I want to say a massive "thank you!" to everyone who contributed to the celebrations and acknowledgements of this amazing, kind and visionary man who I am blessed to call my husband. The words from so many people who Ya'Acov has affected positively over years and decades arrived through letters, emails, in person and on FB and were honey for the soul. This is very precious. Your words matter to us. Thank you all!

We had a gorgeous party and celebration with friends and family which felt like a gateway moment. I found it especially beautiful to be together with some friends who we've known for many decades as well as more recently found ones. And Ya'Acov's Mum once again stepped up in fine form to honour her son, her family and to dance! Thank you Angella!

Angella and family members

One of our guests told us that there is a Japanese saying that; "When you are 60 you start over again, a fresh start, like a rebirth". And indeed there are many resonances in that for us. 60 is a poignant milestone which we have both now reached. There's a sense of the completion of an era, a quality of new beginnings and the heightened awareness of mortality in the foreground.

In the last weeks so many things have happened that have been completions of an era. It really feels like a gateway moment in our lives. I feel different in my belly, quieter. And I have no idea what that is going to mean in terms of how I life my life, but my sense is that there is some sea change going on which is about getting older.

And here are some of the symbolic markers along the way of the last weeks which have had significance for me.

A magical sculpture

The day before Ya'Acov's actual birthday Doug King-Smith from Hilly Field brought around a sculpture which he's been working on over the last 2 years. We were totally wowed. This was very unexpected and such amazing timing.

Our last Apprenticeship cohort (AP6/7) had commissioned Doug to make this for us as a thank you gift to mark the completion of their Apprenticeship with us and also, generously, to mark the end of our time running Apprenticeships. Don't worry! You can still take a Movement Medicine Apprenticeship with stellar Movement Medicine teachers, and later on on your Movement Medicine journey, you can train with us.

Our time working with the last Apprenticeship cohort (AP6/7) was stretched out over the time of Covid. It became a super-extended, precious, precarious, demanding and unusual journey in the unknown together. Both for us and for all of us, I think.

We are very touched and very grateful - what a super generous and special gift. And what gracious timing to arrive on the eve of Ya'Acov's 60th birthday.

The wood comes from an oak tree which fell on our land. Reuben helped turn it into planks, and Doug carved it at the Hilly Field, the home of the Long Dance. So it's imbued with these lands and the Long Dance ceremony as well as Doug and all the people who commissioned it. Thank you all!

Doug with the sculpture

The Spring dream Dance

A few weeks before, during the intensive Spring Dream Dance, prompted by Hannah Mackay's awareness of the need for it, we had a last completion ceremony for the AP 6/7 cohort.

Prior to this we had had the exhausting feeling of having done completion after completion, but not ever of really being able to fully "land it". The "normal" ending(s) kept being disrupted by Covid and we'd got to the point of accepting that messy endings are sometimes part of life. Which is true too.

At the Rill Centre for the Spring Dream Dance

But when Hannah brought our attention to this at the Spring Dream Dance it become clear that there was still something we could and should do - together. Hannah and Ya'acov worked out the initial framework of the structure of a simple ceremony, and others added and augmented - a real co-creation. We were back at the Rill Centre, back at the home of our work, back at the space the Apprenticeship had occurred within. This was, finally, the right space and place and time.

When each of those present walked through the completion and were seen and acknowledged within it, this rite of passage was deeply emotional for many there, including us. Thank you to Hannah and everyone. We are grateful and it is (finally) done. 😊

And I become aware again of the power and importance of these shared ceremonial endings/completions/rites of passage and of how often it takes the shared wisdom of many to co-create something truly satisfying for the human soul. As I often say: "Together we have a brain", but it's not really the brain, it's the whole being: "Together we are" would be more accurate. Hats off to all involved.

the rings

And then there is another completion - the story of the rings.

In 1961 my parents got married and bought their wedding rings from the first Oxfam shop in Oxford. The rings they bought had already graced the fingers of the previous couple who had worn them for the length of their married lives. Mum and Dad had always told me and my brother that when they died, they wanted the rings to go back, together, to Oxfam for the next couple.

When my parents met, at Quaker yearly meeting in Friends House, London, they recognised each other as people who had a mutual care for the world, for the earth and its inhabitants both human and non-human, and who wanted to devote their lives to trying to make the world a better place for all. This devotion and direction was the rudder of their lives, and it seems entirely fitting that their rings came and returned to Oxfam.

Last year when my father (who lived with us for the last 2 plus years of his life) was in his last weeks, he suddenly remembered this and became anxious that he couldn't remember where Mum's ring was. He knew he'd carefully put it into a lovely small pot when she had died, in waiting for, as he put it - "his turn".

Elizabeth and Richard Darlington

In between him carefully putting it away in a drawer somewhere and his being in his last few weeks down at our place, there had been a huge move, a big hospital stay and his belongings had gone all over the place. I really didn't know where it was. I reassured him that I would do my best to find it, and to make sure his ring and my mother's were put back together and taken back to Oxfam. And he could relax with that.

And sure enough, we did find it - and the undertaker managed to get Dad's ring off and so after some TLC from friend and jeweller Kate Higham they were both shining again, Mum's ring nestling snuggly inside Dad's.

On what would have been Dad's 91st birthday on 19th April 2024, I took their wedding rings to Oxfam in Totnes, and wrote a card to describe a little of their life together and how important their marriage vows had been to help them through the inevitable rough patches. I wish that the next couple who has these rings be blessed in their commitment to each other and to life, as my parents were.

The last step of giving the rings back to Oxfam on Dad's birthday was a huge symbolic moment of completion for me. It is done.

to Cherish life

So here we are entering this new era and I am recognising how much I want to practice savouring every step even more than ever before. Practising present movement awareness is becoming more and more of a necessity for me internally. Dad was 90 when he died, we are 60. 90 is, as they say, a good innings. The simple maths is awakening. Live, feel it, experience it now. So, in this light, and with this timing it seems so beautiful that Kristin Glenewinkel is leading the Study Hub as a guest teacher this month with the them of "The Precious Gift of Presence". Thank you Kristin, I'm there!

Cherish every life

I'm aware of how utterly precious it is to be able to symbolically acknowledge these many completions so fully and deeply at a time when many people are suffering and loosing so much and so many with brutal harshness and the absolute opposite of care, attention and tenderness.

I hope that in these times, this honouring of life can, in some small way, contribute to the awareness of the power and importance of cherishing each life,

with love,

Susannah Darling Khan

Susannah Darling Khan

Susannah's life is dedicated to the quest for a world where beauty and compassion flourish....