I’m reading a friend’s book, Sara Bragin’s The Living in Her Dying. It’s about the time she spent with her mother as her mother was transitioning. It shows how much we need an advocate at such a time, and the learning that occurs when we show up to be with the loss of the womb in which we came.
The end of life process is with me these days as I feel the approach of a change over which I may not have control.
Last night I had one of those experiences that takes one out of their body and into awareness of so much more. My cat Tiger is getting older, and needing body warmth, comfort, and support sleeps snuggled in with us at night. When I got into bed last night, he came over with a look that lit the room, that was more than his huge eyes. I felt the gift of this livingness, this gift of being in a body for a time.
I was reminded of Thomas Merton’s words about being on a street corner, and …
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .
This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.”
He uses the word God. I might use the word Spirit or Light or Grace but the feeling and knowing, believing and honoring – that is the gift.
What’s happening in Ukraine is with us all. We are united in this. We feel the attacks; we share the fear and yet Tiger gave me such an invitation with his eyes, and way of being. I wake as light, flowing light, light that is both particle and wave as am I.
Ebi and Ginger, two rescue greyhounds, were with us on our trip to Palm Springs. There’s nothing like being greeted as though you are the most amazing person in the world even if it’s just that morning comes and you’re there.
On our return, our cat needed to go to the Cat Spa. He’s older now and his fur mats in a way we can’t comb through so I sat and talked with a lovely woman as Tiger was outwardly pampered though he didn’t seem to recognize it, but then, he calmed and now he’s happy to be home and freshly groomed.
My son attended a funeral on Thursday. It was done in the traditional Chinese way. He appreciated the ceremony, the ritual, and suggested he might want some of that when I go. I’ve said I want simplicity, a scattering of ashes in nature, no ceremony at all. He pointed out that I won’t be here, which is true, so this morning I’m with how to satisfy us both which even as I type this sounds ridiculous and I laugh both inside and out. I’m tickled by this odd need to control even when I’m entering and merging with other streams.
Can it be 17 years since my mother passed on this day? It was 2005 so it must be. I offer comfort to a friend who is grieving the loss of her husband three months ago. Time may not heal pain but it does allow a more open embrace.
Yesterday I was by the bay watching the tide go out changing the niches for the birds. Newly exposed mud offered new opportunities to feed. It was like a poem unfolding new places to feed what we already know.
My daughter-in-law’s mother passed away early Friday morning. She and her brother are dealing with the details and I am with how we meet death. How do we rearrange ourselves for this matter to energy exchange, this cloak of the personal opening to the universal?
Ramana Maharshi, was once asked, “How should we treat others?” He replied, “There are no others.”
It’s gray and wet today and I feel myself wrapped in a blanket of fullness, of knowing enough, as though not one more thing can enter. Of course, that’s this moment. Perhaps that acknowledgment brings change, or not.
I wonder what these early days in January ask of us, what we ask of them. Years ago, I signed up for a yoga class with the intention to start the New Year “right”, but then the instructor spoke of this as a fallow time of year, and she kept the lights low, and we moved slowly and mainly rested on our mat.
I’m guided by these words of Rumi:
“Let yourself be silently drawn by what you love. It will not lead you astray.”
I focus on the word retreat, and settle into the sound and meaning of the word treat, guided so gently by what I love. On the top of the mountain yesterday, I felt held, and focused on two hands, two eyes, two ears, two so we can hold both life and death as passage and guide. I wondered why the two words ears and tears are so close as though we listen more clearly when we allow liquid to flow out of containment into a wider world, a world we share with acknowledgment of love and care.
One son, his wife, and my grandchild have Covid. I feel fragile in knowing all we share, tender in trusting they will be fine, knowing again there is a separation over which there is no control, only letting go.
What the pandemic has given us is increasing awareness of what we need, and much of that seems to be awareness of caring for ourselves and those we love.
When I hear the word “space”, I think of Star Trek and exploration of the “final frontier”, but when we look within, there’s a beginning frontier to explore, one that appears to open out into a spaciousness in which to pause, renew, rest.
I’ve been with my journals from Nepal in 1993. There was no safety net for the people, and yet those we met had their village, the support of their village. At that time 50% of the children died before the age of five.
I met a man, Donny, who was sick with worry over caring for his six children. His corn was destroyed in the monsoon and he lost his thatched roof but he was proud that his sunflowers survived.
Yesterday, my son asked me about the “good old days”. I spoke of my grandparents who lived through WWI and the depression, and then came WWII. There’s always something to test us.
We are here to see how we meet what comes, and I think of Kathmandu in 1993 where the leaves were swept with brooms, and the floors washed by kneeling. The pace was both rapid and slow, noisy and quiet, and here we are, each of us, wrapped in a world that connects us all.
Tomorrow is a huge day for our country. Democracy is both fragile and strong.
Yesterday I learned about The Robber’s Cave Experiment that was the inspiration for the book Lord of the Flies.
I read that nearly six decades later, experts have called the experiment unethical as it appears to have left lasting mental damage on its subjects. I think as more and more comes out on the danger of what happened on January 6, 2021, each of us is shocked.
And yet on Christmas Day, the James Webb Space Telescope was launched.
According to NASA, “thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians” — from 306 universities, national labs and companies, primarily in the U.S., Canada and Europe — contributed “to design, build, test, integrate, launch and operate Webb.”
Smithsonian Magazine noted that “Webb will help scientists understand how early galaxies formed and grew, detect possible signatures of life on other planets, watch the birth of stars, study black holes from a different angle and likely discover unexpected truths.”
May we more deeply and expansively unite in observing the space within us, as we explore and expand our knowledge of the space we share.
This morning I’m with the beauty and wisdom in this Carol video, O Holy Darkness.
I remember taking a course in Child Psychology at UCLA when I was 18. In 1968, we were propagandized that the “Communists” were programming their children. We had to fight back against that threat. Of course, our own propaganda was that we were the good guys and our children were allowed and given complete freedom and possibility in this “land of the free”.
Angela Davis, an avowed Communist, came to teach and there was turmoil and concern. In order to work as a tour guide on campus, I had to sign that I was not a Communist. I doubt I knew what that meant at the time. I knew my father believed in the Domino Theory and not wanting another World War II, he thought we were right to be in Vietnam. He didn’t live long enough to learn the truth of that.
Now, we are trying to teach our children a more whole history. Watch this beautiful movement into the embrace, the holy embrace, of wholeness.