Don’t be afraid if you are asked to let go
of someone you presently hold dear to your heart.
Do you grieve the setting sun
knowing that it will rise again at day break?
Do you mourn the loss of summer
as autumn leaves begin to fall?
Do you regret the waves flowing their way
back to the ocean
even though in the next instant
they crash again upon the shore?
Everything in this life
has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Letting go gracefully
makes the space to receive
the many delights life wants to bring you
if only you are open to receiving them.
Falling further than I thought possible.
crying over any little thing.
Then the numbness,
a state of motionless,
Could this experience
be carving into me
a more profound understanding
of the suffering of the world?
Please let there be some reason for this.
What can I say?
My old life crumbles all around me
and a new life begins to grow.
I’m busy mourning what I’ve lost
all these tiny miracles
all the time.
If I see a problem,
it’s time to look deeper,
and not outside of myself,
and the boundaries I drew
between me and the world
begin to dissolve.
and my entire self melts away
to be replaced
with the awareness
that all of this,
was meant to be.
Feel what you’re feeling, they say
Just give it time
You’ll get through this
You’ll be better off
And I hear them
and I know they mean well…
Meanwhile, my heart is breaking
into tinier and tinier pieces,
and I feel like a ghost.
I take a walk
Am I even there?
Or am I dead among the living?
I search for the meaning
in all of this suffering
I look inside
I see shock, grief, sadness,
fear, anxiety, anger.
I see hope.
I see hunger for better.
I see a woman strong,
longing for the sweet freedom
waiting on the other side.
Feel what you’re feeling.
Surfing the waves of these wild emotions…
I buckle up for another wild ride.
She looked so peaceful
as if she were sleeping;
I expected at any moment
she would wake up and speak to us.
Beautiful flowers surrounded her
and pinned to the bouquets
were notes of sympathy and condolence.
Many friends and family
came to see her and pay their respects–
Why does it take an event such as this
to bring us all together?
I touched her hands, her face,
so familiar to me;
they felt foreign
with all the warmth gone from them…
And yet still there was this surge of affection
seeing her there, looking so peaceful, asleep.
I wondered about this tradition.
The body in the casket
was not my grandmother…
it was the garment she wore for 94 years.
My grandmother is everywhere now,
my heart knows this.
I can feel her love now more than ever.
I looked and looked, but I couldn’t see death…
only life in its many forms as its flows
from one state of being to the next.
I will miss you Kalyanamitta
When I walked I looked for you
and you were always there.
Towering above the petty concerns of the world,
roots deep in the earth
majestic, strong, old, wise,
you provided solace when the world’s chaos
threatened to engulf me.
I wrapped my arms around you, dear friend,
although you were so grand I could only hold
a fraction of your splendor
and I soaked in your stability, your peace,
your way of being here quietly
with a solid presence
and a most graceful air.
How many seasons did you weather
before they took you down,
and what were your last thoughts
as the saws approached you?
You, in your wisdom, probably
breathed and flowed into your next form
uncomplainingly, without fear.
Might I follow your path of peaceful dissolution,
holding on to nothing of this changing life
but welcoming the impermanence
as I welcome my next inhalation.
I will honor your life dear friend,
I will not forget you, my Kalyanamitta.
I was shocked to discover this evening that my favorite tree had been taken down some time ago. Already grass seedlings were sprouting up in the place where the tree once stood. They had done a good job at removing the stump…one could almost say that the tree was never there to begin with. But I know better. I always made it a point to visit the tree and give it a hug when I was out on walks; by its size I’m guessing it was about 200 years old and its magnificence inspired me. I named it Kalyanamitta after the Buddhist notion of a spiritual friend, because the tree embodied all the qualities I would seek in such a friend—stability, presence, peacefulness, longevity, wisdom, ageless beauty. To see the empty spot where the tree once stood left me speechless. I walked over to the empty place, crouched down, and wondered why my dear friend was gone. The picture above was taken May 4 of this year…all of that beautiful green growth led me to believe that it was a perfectly healthy tree. Now I can only trust that perhaps the tree was sick or suffering in some way and that it was an act of compassion to take it down. But I grieve. I’m mourning my Kalyanamitta.
Pleasure and pain
Gain and loss
Praise and blame
Fame and disgrace
These are the eight worldly dharmas
and becoming caught up in them
brings us suffering.
We are not told to stop experiencing them,
for how can we?
We live in this world,
and the more we try to escape them
the more closely the eight dharmas follow us.
So don’t reject them,
don’t ignore them.
Instead, know them, study them
and see who you are in their presence.
Get to know yourself
in times of pleasure and pain,
in times of gain and loss,
in times of praise and blame,
in times of fame and disgrace–
and see the unified self
that remains untarnished
as it walks along the messy path of duality.
Thank you Pema Chodron for your teachings. The inspiration for this post came from the book Comfortable With Uncertainty.