Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life, Death, Love & Gratitude

Today I am overcome with an awe-inspiring experience of Gratitude. Last Sunday, a WISH family member made his passing -- a beloved father, husband and friend.

For the past two nights, his family held a vigil for him at their home -- in the 'old' way, the 'old' tradition. His body was laid out in a room that exuded the transcendent feeling of his spirit, so palpable at the time of transition. And rather than a funeral parlor, the home environment lent such a feeling of warmth, love and gratitude for all. Loved ones gathered in the living room and kitchen, sipping tea or eating snacks. Children played in the backyard where a beautiful creek ran down a small hill -- providing a gorgeous backdrop through the window of the room where our beloved made his transition . . . and where his friends and family could say their good-byes, offer spiritual readings, sing, chant, pray or meditate. Yes, there were tears. But there was also this amazing outpouring of love and gratitude -- even joy.

What a remarkable lesson for all present to witness -- and especially the children: death being embraced as a part of life -- rather than its antithesis.

This morning, our dear friend and her children will go through another transition as his physical body leaves their home to be cremated. In our extended WISH family, we are lighting candles in our own homes and offering prayers and meditation -- holding space for them.

Like so many, the death of a loved one ultimately brings me closer to, and more aware of, my spiritual path, beliefs and practices. Upon returning from the first night of vigil, I found that a friend, not knowing of this event, had synchronistically posted a quotation from the book that changed my life about five years ago, and broadened what I already considered a very broad spiritual perspective: The Disappearance of the Universe, a primer or "Cliff's Notes" for A Course in Miracles:

Death is symbolic of your illusory separation from God. What happens when someone you love appears to die? All of a sudden you're separate. You appear to lose them just like you appeared to lose God. But it's not true. You can't really lose them any more than you can lose God. You are inseparable. You cry when a body you love appears to die, but as the Course teaches you, it's really your experience of God and Heaven that you miss.

As I returned to this spiritual gem of a book, I found more inspiration:

You should look at the illusory death of your physical body as graduation day. It means you've gotten all you're supposed to get out of this particular, temporary classroom. The lessons have been learned! It should be a celebration. I assure you it will be a lot of fun. In most cases, if people knew what freedom from the body is like they wouldn't mourn the dead -- they'd be jealous.

God speed and many blessings to you, Doug. You will ever remain in the hearts of all those you touched and blessed with your presence. We are One.

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