The Life that’s Left
Summer leaves and winter comes
Romance is over but the photo is still on the table
Walk away from what’s left behind, yet are still burdened
When the life is gone, life still stays behind.
The human heart longs for gathering
By these we are trapped, possessed of the other and by the other
We are haunted in our hearts by ghosts of longing.
Bereavement is like an animal pack, a nomadic tribe; the pack/tribe moves on and we are left with the dying and dead. We know somewhere that if we stay we will die with them; we also know that if we leave our memories will die in guilt.
Everyone who waits with us is afraid that they too may be infected with that same death.
Each time we are close to the dying we touch the shores of Bhás (the land of the Dead), we find it difficult to pull away; each time we die a little, and yet there is that opposite, for each time we are birthed a little.
‘Terminal Diagnosis’, we hear this and our heart sinks, and yet we are fooling ourselves if we cannot admit we are all in possession of a terminal diagnosis, we just pretend we do not have this disease. And this is our first dilemma, considering death as a disease. It is no more a disease than birth. A more correct term might be un-ease; and honestly we are all uneasy about death, as we may be uneasy about birth.
That unease is about the unknown, maybe about pain, or non-resolution, or loneliness, in actuality it is about not being in control
We come to the shores of Bhás with its silver sands and tall towers built from the life we sail from. Over the waters of Diochuimhne, forgetfulness, we hear the soft calling songs of the great mountains of Tír Na Frìnn, Land of the Free, the place of Innocence.
In our fiery wild hearts, in the wild wind song of our breath, in the elements of our bodies, we know the surrender of love.
Birth and death, not two destinations, rather to shores from which we set sail to a new dream; that sailing is a choice and as such is not simply and act of love, it is love. Love is not a thing it is who we are.
When it comes to death, we all to quickly distance ‘it’ make it a thing, most often than not a ‘grim’ thing that takes control.
Laurel Hamilton says, “…Death is the last intimate thing we do.”
And when we think about intimacy, intimacy requires relationship and love!
And we are back to what we are and not what we do.
Love, Birth, Death, what we are not what we do.
Our problem is that we expunge joy from death. It is said that when we lose joy, it is almost impossible to get it back. Why? Because we need to have a joyous energy to seek and find and relish joy; without joy we have no inclination to find joy. This might be said of happiness and life.
Intimacy means to be one with, it is difficult to be one with an infection that deprives us of joy.
It is like falling into a deep dark well. We can look up and see the light of the world, yet it is a long way to climb, we know we should, have to, must, got to, but all these are rules to please others and we are here in this deep well seemingly on our own in the dark, and the dark is more present than the distant light. In this state we have a need to maintain the life of the dead, so we don’t fall, we can pretend that we are at the well-head and we possess the dead, or allow ourselves to be possessed by them. We have to ensure that we have enough joy for life that will tip a balance to call us into the onward journey or support us to find our way back.
The intimacy we fear is the ones of life and death, rather than the struggle to seemingly reconcile each with the other.
Love, joy, death, three beautiful things we are, three beautiful states we can hold others in.
It is said that, “In the midst of life we are in death.” Let us always remember the opposite is equally true, “In the midst of death we are in life and in that place of ‘midst’ we are in love.”
Once the dark Grandmother of the waters sang a song of love to the darkness around her. It was from that darkness the song was answered by yet another wilder song of passion, that of Father Fire.
Two seemingly opposite elements came together and created the blood of genesis.
That blood, the blood of passion, that fluidic love ripples out through the darkness and everything and all touched by that blood comes into being.
These ancient elementals of Fire and Water, melding together to become blood.
Some say that our bodies contain that Ocean and that our hearts contain that Fire.
The magic of our heart, the forge of our soul combines the two, and that sanguine fluidic love flows with the song of the Ancestors around our bodies, sparking them into the dance of life.
And yet in that blood water and fire have surrendered their individual identities and become some thing new; they have died in that passion, so that blood can be created.
Life gives way to death and death gives way to life
It is never about life and death; it is about the love that surrenders in that ‘giving way’.
The Sagh’ic have two fierce spirits;
Arrnwath – born of Fire and the dark,
Mear Dao-ean – born of the Water and the dark.
In the stories both come into being through weeping
Arrnwath, The Green Huntsman and the Guardian of the Dead, takes life into death
Mear Dao-ean, The Ghost Mother, brings life from death.
It is said that these two in tears, blood and love gave birth to Grroh-Goh the Wilden One, and by this we understand the innocent, primal soul, like the seed waiting to burst into some new and great thing.
Yet we fear the wild, the savage, the primal, and the dark, within us.
It is this fear that holds us from being our true nature, that of collaborative creators in this world.
You have heard said many times, we would rather hold our aching hearts, then suffer that moment of heartbreak and set the blood and fire free to change this aching world and society.
Sounds like rebel words!
There are many traditions that link clay pots and death
There is a Hopi Indian tradition that speaks about the passing from father to son.
When a son is born, the father collects a few grains from each harvest of each year of the boy’s life till manhood. The grains are placed in a clay pot with a very small opening to protect the seeds
When the boy reaches manhood, the father gives him a now full pot of seed ready for his first planting.
In some African tribes, the bodies of our elders are place in large clay pots, whilst all the grieving and preparations for spirit passage is completed; only then are the bones buried
When clay is first used, virgin clay, the pot made is often weak, fragile, and porous.
Potters discovered that if they were to grind up shards of broken pottery into new clay out of which they made pots, once fired a much stronger, viable pot resulted.
In all of these, to move forward, to grow, to ascend, to be stronger….
You have to break the pot.
In every heart is the fire of change, the power of being love, the light that cleaves the shadows.
Sometimes the pot has to be broken to make stronger clay.
Sometimes the heart has to break to let the fire shine.
There was a time I worked in a hospital, training nursing students. During one training a young student, after hearing about elderly care wards, went to the managers and stated she “Did not do death!” So as not to lose the student, they agreed that she did not have to attend any lectures that had to do with death and after training would go to the children’s ward! I am supposing he rationale was that despite being a hospital were sick people came, children did not die.
On her first week on the ward a child died and she was asked to be part of the Last Offices team; hysterics, fainting, long term sick and threats against the hospital
If we are so preoccupied with death, we cannot see it from the ‘living’ perspective!
We see death as something separate, to be avoided, to be put off, rather than a completion of the life process.
Death is a part of the life process, which is an affection
Life is a part of the death process, which is an infection.
Summer, Winter, Spring Fall, death does not have a time, because we are death and we are present everywhere and every time.
According to Assagioli’s theories, we come into the world grieving not just the loss of the womb but also our separation from the divine, from unity.
His theoretical concept was, ‘Everything is a re-enactment of the maternal care system.’ which included that first great human loss.
And, according to the theory, we strive to ‘make it better this time’. The truth is we are afraid to make it better, for in doing that we have to first stand in the place of being ‘worse’.
So we are all children, trying to get over our childhood separation from the security of mother! No matter how adult we are this at some level appears to be the case
Here is that preoccupation with death as if it is over there stalking us; in stories and theories like this, maybe we are stalking death. I suggest that there is some truth to this, for we are love trying to reconcile to the part of us that gives love meaning.