Sunday, July 3, 2011

Life and Death Create Us

I'm flashing back to childbirth, to the experience of pain. It was excruciating, but it was mine to have--I was bent over with it, then straddling bedside, stretching, rocking back and forth, and always, always breathing, breathing with stride. Exercising patience with breathing, with being present; with my husband's help, I was able to do both, and possess my pain. Hold it and practically admire it. Oddly, it was awe-inspiring even as it broke me down.

I'll never forget that day--now it's been almost a year, and yet feels like a lifetime. Through initial feeding problems because of her cleft palate, litany of doctor consultations, surgery, fevers and colds, and then watching her learn to become human, we have come to know our little Peanut.

Have I come to know myself in a new way?

The answer came in the death of a friend, in the mundane of life.

When our friend--our favorite lector at church and weaver of stories at social functions there--died, I felt the sorrow and joy from Massachusetts, where I was at the time. Sorrow in loss--and then joy in knowing he was where he'd prepared to be.

What really did it for me was visiting his grave--the simplicity of his death story, the experience of it for his family as told by the groundskeeper of this beautiful conservation burial grounds. Wrapped in a shroud he lay in the shade of the earth before us, and I knew he was in a cool comfort beyond the heat of this world. I experienced in the quiet of those woods, in the company of chirping birds and hushed tones of our conversation, a sense that I would like such a burial, such a return to God, and then such a place for those who loved me to reconnect, spiritually.

In birth and death, we come to know ourselves. We witness that experience of others and, if we're truly open, let the spirit move us, and then move with it, we can come to know something deeply about ourselves, something held secret and quiet even as we were in our mothers' wombs, pressing against bone to get out and get the day started in we know not what. Maybe little minds know the love which created us will hold us up.

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