You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
The second I became a mother, I also gave birth to the fear of losing my child.
I'm blessed that it has remained just a fear, not a reality; only an inkling of the actual pain, like dipping your toe into a cold lake versus falling completely into its frigid depths, staring up at the sunlight but unable to feel its warmth.
I realize I'm just three heartbeats away from that pain, but I've grown used to the fear. I sense it there, just around the corner, a shadow cast by the light of the living, but I don't dwell on its presence or let it control me or even worry me. What's the use? I'd rather focus on the light.
But there are times I'm reminded of its nearness, and how blessed I am that it has remained around the corner. This week has been one of them.
The deaths of our Navy Seals... the riots in London... a friend whose mother's cancer has returned, this time with no hope of another remission, only an hourglass running out of sand.
So much sadness. Each one affected, someone's child. Someone's parent. Or sibling, lover, friend.
On Facebook a page popped up I'd forgotten about, created as a place to remember students and faculty from our high school who had passed.
I posted my class's "In Memorium" list. (At our reunions, we light a candle, then I read the list out loud, followed by a few moments of silence in memory of those we've lost.) Right away classmates popped up, reminding me of several others I needed to add.
My heart protests that we're too young to have lost this many - too many- but my brain reminds me of our age. Ah, yes. Not so young. Those we lost early on were someone's sibling, someone's child, but these recent ones are also someone's mother, father, wife, husband, grandmother, grandfather.
Last night I stayed up late, compiling a spreadsheet of names. I'm helping organize a reunion for people I worked with 30 years ago and one of my co-workers sent me several lists of names from way back then.
The names floated out to me from mists of the past, bringing with them memories that had drifted out of reach, forgotten. Memories of days spent in a hard hat, sweating in the pipe alleys, laughing and eating popcorn in the control room, freezing in the lab.
Too many names are already marked "deceased."
I sent the revised list out via email today - responses flowed back, informing me of updates: emails, phone numbers and more who have died before we had a chance to see them again.
This past Sunday, Father Don talked about fear, about trusting God. I know I've been lucky - I lost my brother Buster, my grandparents, my pets who felt like children, but I know so far I've been spared the true anguish that comes from losing a child, a parent, a spouse. Those who are pieces of you.
The thing is, none of us can escape this pain. We can try by not letting ourselves get close to others, by trying not to love, but that's a living death, isn't it, living without loving?
I believe God will support me through that inevitable pain. I believe he will soothe and comfort me, if I let him, and I'm grateful for my faith. But how do those without faith survive?
I came across this blog the other day, penned by a woman who has experienced the death of two children. I can't imagine that pain. But this is what I read on her blog:
"All of my followers here on my blog know I am a twice bereaved parent. What very few of you all know is that I carried my oldest daughter across & personally handed her to the angels who completed the journey with her. So you can trust me when I tell you this: if you want to know where God lives put yourself somewhere in a place of peace; get lost in some music, or the soft sound of the wind in the trees, or anything that lifts you up. Close your eyes & feel the joy. THAT is where God lives, and THAT is where Heaven is."
For this whole month, she will be sharing her experience, sharing "...where and how I get my strength."
Click HERE to read along.
He himself is our peace. Ephesians 2:14