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A few short weeks ago, my hands were wet in plaster, casting the beautifully full belly of a pregnant friend. Thank goodness; she had her healthy baby three weeks early. This week took a different turn: I drove one county over to attend a memorial, prepared food for two visitations at my Quaker meetinghouse, spent last weekend on the phone ironing out burial maps and location and sloshed through a water-logged cemetery.
In the midst of these circle-of-life experiences, I am also studying Luke, reading a book on death by a Buddhist and beginning to understand archetypal astrology all in small groups. I've also begun working with a new chiropractor, whose hands and coaching have made a huge difference in my body, visited my consistently loving and wise shamanic counselor and been nurtured by my spiritual friend with a book about taming our negative thoughts by turning them into blessings. Plus, it's Lent.
Oh yeah – I almost forgot – I received word last week that I have been awarded a grant from the endowment of a wonderful Quaker couple, Clarence and Lily Pickett, for grounding my nurture work, book and art in one place: a studio in the neighborhood school, which as been re-purposed.
So many thoughts, ideas and concepts are rattling around inside of me and I know there is a message, simple and profound, working in me. What comes to mind, momentarily is:
• I am surely in the midst of so much life, creation and chaos, joy and sorrow.
• The universe sings in cycles of death and [re]birth.
• Often, we learn more about others after they have died.
• Grief can bind a community.
• Death is also a celebration of life and its gifts.
• Death is peaceful even when life is not.
• The birth of a child renews the world.
• The birth of a child and the death of grown men hold promise.
• Finding the good in everything makes all of the difference.
• We each need someone with whom we can share our deepest, darkest secrets.
• Also our deepest, sweetest joys.
• We are not designed to be islands; we need each other and we need God.
• In choosing life, we choose to trust, most especially, when it seems uncertain.
• "For nothing will be impossible with God." [Luke 1:37, one of the verses our study recommended we memorize]
• Even at 3 a.m. on an anxious awakening, treating it as a blessing can shift the troubling mind, bringing a message of love and a drifting back into sleep.
• When there seems nothing else, there is always prayer.
• Our double nature means, as human, we are imperfect. As a spark of divinity, we always have God's love and grace.
• Because I have been self reliant for so long, I don't realize I also fear trusting myself. In trusting myself, I am also trusting God.
• Tough times and situations are what make us grow and, also, what can connect us more deeply and directly to God.
So what is the central theme or message here? Trust in God because all things are possible ... especially in trying times?
• What makes me feel the swirl of life?
• What lessons do the hard circumstances hold?
• What [re]births have I experienced?
• What deaths?
• What message has been swirling in me?
the fullness of life,
the initial hollowness of death
one draws us out,
the other drives us in
it's easy to share joy,
harder to publicly wear our grief
yet, if we connect the two
by drawing a circle, we
begin to see their place
in our lives
what they have to give us,
what they have to teach
how we can respond this time
and eventually recognize
the wholeness of existence
includes life and death