Death Comes

These days I am working as a spiritual companion to the residents of a nursing home in England. I accompany these elders in their day-to-day lives simply by being with them. Some of them are sick, many of them are dying. If they are able to speak we have a conversation. If they are not, we don’t. I hold their hands and feet. I read them books and newspapers. I tell stories and listen to theirs. I pray with them if they ask me or I pray in silence if there is nothing else to be done. It is an enormous privilege to share in and bear witness to a life in these quiet ways.

One of the residents died yesterday. I’ll call her Trinity. I had grown close to Trinity in the last three months since I began working in the home. She was an artist and we shared our love of visual art through conversations about painting and drawing. “My aim in life is to paint,” she told me when I asked her if she missed it. She was seriously ill and had lost the ability to use her hands in any real way and her mind was clouded by the drugs and by her poor condition.

Trinity told me that from her illness she had “learned about laughter, suffering and endurance.” I was speechless. It is not often that we hear people expressing this kind of unspoken gratitude for being sick and dying.

Yesterday, after one of the nurses told me Trinity had died, I went to her room to just sit for a while in the empty space and remember her and say good-bye. When I opened the door I saw that Trinity was still in the bed. I was shocked. I’d assumed the body had already been removed by the undertakers.

I have seen dead bodies before. It is the strangest sensation. The body is intact and yet the person is gone. At first Trinity seemed to be there still. It almost looked as though she was breathing. But then it was obvious: Trinity was no longer there. Where did she go? We do not know. The Great Mystery.

Now Trinity’s suffering has ended. And yet so has her life. A whole life that I know very little about. I only know that at the end of her life she had learned about laughter, suffering and endurance.

We did laugh together, Trinity and I. I did watch her suffer. And I did witness her enduring, day after day after day. There is meaning in this.

I am reminded of a piece of scripture that I have always liked. It helps me to remember that I am not the be-all and end-all of everything: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)

Make the most of it.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Am I aware of the sensation of being alive today? I will do my best to bring myself into full awareness of my Being.



X Factor

Dearest Readers,

Years ago, before I got on the healing path, I was in a deeply dysfunctional relationship that could only truly be described as totally self-destructive. I probably shouldn’t even call it a relationship because we never did have a commitment to one another. We would just get loaded and then end up in bed.

For a time, this person and I lived together, trying to make our non-committed, non-relationship work. It was a disaster. We ended up parting ways under extremely uncomfortable circumstances and for years afterward I held this person in contempt, full of anger and resentment at the way things turned out.

Last night, a friend and I were talking about past relationships and I was relating some of the above story to help her through her own situation. We were talking about what it takes to forgive the person we feel has wronged us.

We both agreed that it takes a lot!

Part of the difficulty comes from the fear of letting go. If I forgive him then he gets away with it! If I let her off the hook that means what she did is okay! If I let go it means… what does it mean?

It means I get to be free.

But… but… it means he/she gets to be free, too. And that’s not fair. He hurt me! She wronged me! She deserves to be punished. He should pay!

The irony is, because the fear of letting go is keeping me holding on, I am the one who is, in fact, paying. He’s just living his life. She’s just doing her thing. I’m in bondage to the desire to see him/her suffer. I’m not free.

The idea that I’d be letting my former lover off the hook kept me holding on to my anger/hurt for a very long time. In order to begin the process of letting go I needed to become willing to see that this person’s punishment was not my responsibility. By making it mine I was giving away my power to the past and thereby eroding my own sense of self-worth.

It’s taken years but as I told my friend last night, I have managed to let go of the hurt and the anger. I’ve worked my butt off to allow forgiveness into my heart. Forgive the person, forgive myself. Challenging. But worth it. Because I’m no longer in bondage to the past or to the person.

So then wouldn’t you know it, this very person appeared in my dream last night. As my lover.

In the dream, we were getting back together but not in the past, in the present. This person was healed, I was healed. Our love was new and exciting. We were mutually supportive and respectful. Our intimacy was deeply sensual and a heck of a lot of fun.

What does this mean?

For me, the relationship in the dream represents total reconciliation with the wounded/hurt/angry part of myself. She is (I am) over it. She is healed and so I am healed. Together we are whole. We are Self-Love, embodied. New and exciting, mutually supportive and respectful, sensual and fun.


Inspiring Message of the Day: Am I afraid that if I forgive someone I will be letting him/her off the hook? Can I accept that it’s not my job to make sure he/she is punished? Today I will become willing to let go of the wound in exchange for my freedom.