In the span of the last 12 months, I lost my father, a very close family friend, and my best friend from college.
This past year has been a deeply reflective period on mortality and legacy.
Lately, I’ve been drawn to dead and dying things in nature. They, like people, are so undervalued in our eyes. Once vibrant and colorful, they continue to feed the earth with their “bodies.”
Here are a few beautiful leaves I saw while on a walk:
and my interpretation:
I believe that the more we live in presence, the less we fear “death.”
Death, for each of us, is as certain as the sunrise. So why are so many fearful of it? Why are so many surprised when it comes? Perhaps we are most fearful that we are not truly living.
Old bean pod, you dried up thing
no longer vibrant in our eyes
who’d want your monochrome self
bent, cracking and dull
beans spill out and
get buried in the earth
the sky cries
and a new life begins
I ran across this poem and it spoke to my heart:
When we slid out of the lane. When my sleeve caught fire. While we fought in the snow. While the oncologist spoke. Before the oil spilled. Before your retina bled. Beyond the kids at the curb. Beyond the turn to the forest. After the forest turned to ashes. After you escorted my mother out. As I led your father in. As the dolphin swam the derelict canal. While the cameras filmed it dying. While the blackout continued. When the plane dipped. When the bank closed. While the water. While the water. And we drank it.
He grew up in South Korea during the Korean War. I was hoping to hear his entire story. But I am left with bits and pieces.
Would you still love me if I was sick and dying?
Would you hold my hand all day in the hospital room while the world outside went on and on…buzzing with activity?
Would you comb my dirty hair and bring me clean underwear and ask the doctor when I am allowed to shower?
Would you give me words of love and comfort as my spirits start to wither?
Would you stay with me?
“As people around you pass away, you become increasingly aware of your own mortality. The body will dissolve. Many people still, in our civilization, they deny death. They don’t want to think about it, don’t want to give it any attention.
There is enormous potential there for spiritual flowering. Even in people who, up to the point of the beginning of the fading of the form, were completely identified with the form. It’s your last chance in this incarnation, as your body begins to fade – or you are becoming aware of this limited lifespan. It’s your last chance to go beyond identification with form. This is true whether it’s to do with your body or somebody else’s body.”