In Passing

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Just a couple of days ago, a dear friend crossed one of the two ultimate thresholds; in his case, death. I think one of the most refreshing things I have ever heard, came from him during his last days. So honest. He said, “I really don’t know how long this will go on, hours, days, weeks?” He was truly present for the unknowable threshold that was unfolding. We sat with him. Enjoyed some well chosen words, planned on returning the next day with some requested tulips and chocolate, and then he slipped into unconsciousness, ultimately moving on to his next adventure. I wrote a poem about this moment I would like to share with you.

 

It is here.

 

You always wondered how you would go.

At a gas station with heart in flames, the ticking stopped,

then down for the count, a quick and simple death.

 

Or outliving your spouse, wandering the lonely halls

of forest and bedroom, your own soul, wondering

how you would manage as you slowly trickled away.

 

I’m sure in childhood, like the rest of us, you were sitting

in a rocking chair, on a porch, in some soft form of robe

or blanket, slowly disappearing into a long, long sleep.

 

But here you are. And even on your death bed, you say,

“I really don’t know how this works, how long I will go on,

will it be hours or days or weeks?” And you smile as we offer

you a tomorrow of flowers and chocolates alongside a book to read.

 

“That sounds lovely”, you say, then words slowly slip

from your veins and you go very quiet; and life slowly

drips from you body and you go very still; and now the

soul slowly seeps from your self, and

 

it is here.

– by Gina Marie Mammano

Being here. That’s all we can truly ask for every moment. May we all be here right now, together.

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All Bodies, All Souls

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photo by Ginny Schneider

“The Body Is A Fragile Thing” is the name of a poem written by Judith Deem Dupree. It’s title and opening line has stuck with me now for two and a half decades. It rings true because the body is fragile, and yet, fiercely strong, strangely tolerant, and puzzlingly persevering. This week I faced both a potentially fatal infection in my daughter’s leg, and a potentially fatal surgery on my sister’s liver. Two scenarios. Two different hospitals.Two bodies. Three (thankfully) resilient souls (including mine).

I am always astonished at how the marriage of body and soul creates vows that are so secretive, yet so powerful. My daughter’s vows must have included, “I promise to trust you, stay with you, and relax into the possibility of a cure as long as it takes.” My sister’s might have been: “I will love you and fight for you until the day I die!” Both great vows for sure.

I wrote a poem a year or so back entitled, “The Marriage of Body and Soul” that included my own set of vows. It started like this:

“Do you, elbowed and ankled form take this soul to be your lawfully wedded wife?

I do.

Do you, sobbing, smiling, sentient, seeker take this body to be your patient earthly partner?

I do.

Do you promise to embrace her flesh in the full times, the fat times, the thin times, and in the ever-fluctuating ever-fascinating in-between?

I do.”

So, I guess my question for you today, my question for all of us, is, during this season of “all souls” and “all bodies”, do you  and will you always say, “I do”?

Standing on the Threshold of Now

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On the threshold of now.  A door is opening. I don’t know what is on the other side. I guess it is being open to all that is that counts. The possibility of pain, hardship. The possibility of release, relief, beauty, gratitude. It is all there. And I am here.

For a moment, I step out of my own shadow. Sometimes we look at shadows as the places of our own darkness, and that’s fine, but they are also the sum of the sun and earth- proof of our own physicality. My hair blows in the wind in the late afternoon, strands of shadow on the ground are the picture show of what is. We are here. A black silhouette of ourselves moving or standing still shows it.

If I can step outside of this portrait for a moment, what do I see feel in front of me? What can I see in the long stretch of shadow that feeds into the distance? Will it be a surprise gift? Good health? Strength? Or will it be illness, challenge, difficulty?

I don’t know, but I’ll standing in that outside place for just a moment. Looking on. Hoping to be open to receive the bounty beyond the door.