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.



Sing the Song of Thy Self

Dearest Readers,

Yesterday was Earth Day and although I think everyday should be Earth Day it is still a good thing to dedicate a single day to the cause of honouring our fair planet. It was inspiring to see, hear and read about all of the activities going on in the name of caring for this great ball of miracles and mysteries we call home.

I went to join a community of folks taking part in a yoga class and a meditation and chanting circle. During the meditation portion we were asked to send out loving energy, if we wished, to a particular person or place. As we sat in silence, the leader read us some inspiring text which included words like, “May we be free of danger, may we have mental and physical happiness.”

These words reminded me of a song I learned this past winter while on retreat at The Naramata Centre. I’ve been singing it over and over in my head since last night so I thought I’d share it with you.

May I be filled with Loving Kindness
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be happy

The next verse is a wish for the Other:

May You be filled with Loving Kindness
May You be well
May You be peaceful and at ease
May You be happy

Then comes the version for all of Us:

May We be filled with Loving Kindness
May We be well
May We be peaceful and at ease
May We be happy

And the last verse brings it back to the individual in the form of an affirmation:

I am filled with Loving Kindness
I am well
I am peaceful and at ease
I am happy

The tune is very childlike and quite pretty. I wish I could sing it for you. Then you, too, could get it stuck in your head.

Inspiring Message of the Day: In the hustle and bustle of this day I will take a moment to recognize the amazing world around me. When I connect to the Reality of Being I am filled with Loving Kindness and I am happy.

The Being

Dearest Readers,

With millions of copies sold, I am probably one of the few people of late who hasn’t jumped on The Power of Now bus and ridden its journey to enlightenment. Heck, I haven’t even seen The Secret. But the other night, in a state of sleeplessness, I downloaded the audiobook version of TPON on my iPhone and joined the masses.

Whether it was curiosity that led me to do so or the need for a soft-spoken German man to lull me to sleep I cannot say. All I know is, I fell asleep in the Now. Then.

What I like best about Eckhart Tolle’s message is his use of the word “Being”. This statement is from Wikipedia: “Occasionally [Tolle] uses the term God, but he prefers Being as “an open concept,” something “it is impossible to form a mental image of” and which “does not reduce the infinite invisible to a finite entity.”

Those of you who read this blog regularly know I use a number of different words for this same entity: Higher Power, Higher Guidance, Love, Spirit of Unity Back of All Things etc.

I’m actually okay with the word God and I often use it myself. But it’s so loaded, and so open to misinterpretation that I tend to be pretty careful about it.

I wish I didn’t have to be. I wish I could just use the word God all the time (just three little letters! So easy! So little typing!) but then I’d have to reassure y’all that I’m not talking about a white man in the sky or a Father of the Church and that would take just as long as writing Life Force Energy of the Benevolent Universe.

Eckhart kinda nailed it with Being though, didn’t he? “Being” not only conjures the image of a Power Greater than Ourselves but simultaneously describes exactly how we can dwell in the presence of that Power. By be-ing. Just by Being. Here. Now.

One of the criticisms of the book (again from Wikipedia) charges that “there is nothing new in the book, that it simply repackages concepts familiar from various spiritual traditions.”

Well, duh. Until we get it, folks, we gotta keep on hearing it.

So no matter how many times we hear it, no matter how many times it’s been re-packaged, no matter how many times it’s been blogged about, we can still open ourselves to receiving the message anew.

And the message is so simple, so beautiful. And so flippin’ challenging! Be. Be here. Be in the experience of Now.

Inspiring Message of the Day: I will land in my body, right now. I will land back in my life, right now. Every time I fly out and away I will practice coming back into the experience of Being. I’m alive!