An Untimely Death

Last weekend, I presided at a friend’s memorial service. Ten years ago, I presided at their wedding. A second marriage for both and a happy marriage. They were out bicycling on a sunny day; an undetected blood clot; a heart attack; sudden death.

This isn’t a post I particularly wanted to write, and yet, it kept digging at me. In part, because I’m still in dismay and sadness as I was all last week. In part, because I, too, am in a second and happy marriage; in part, because of the truth I spoke at the memorial service and which lingers.

None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

At some level or another, we all know that. We just don’t want to recognize it or think about it.

None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

It’s a very old idea: Benjamin Franklin said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”; from the Book of Proverbs, much older than Ben Franklin and said to contain the sayings of King Solomon, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

I think I’m wandering in the land of meaning to avoid the reality: it sucks. It really sucks. But I didn’t say that.

What I said to the some 200 friends gathered was to live as our friend lived: kind, generous, loving, laughing. I said, take a moment to slow down in traffic; let someone in who’s trying to change lanes; take time to laugh with your family, to be generous to others in need.

All of which I believe. All of which I endeavor to do, even from my isolated perch at my desk at home.

I guess I thought writing might ease some of the sorrow I’m feeling, both for life and for my other friend in that marriage. A few months ago, my husband and I did both a marriage and two months later, a memorial service for a different couple.

Baby christenings are happier, as are weddings, usually, but the same rules apply. We do not know what tomorrow will bring.

Impermanence, the Buddhists teach: all things are in a constant state of flux.

We’ve had rain the past few days, finally, after a winter of drought with very little snow. The bluebonnets are thrusting little blue heads through the cold dirt and leftover oak leaves. That’s courage.

Perhaps that’s what I’m struggling with: the courage to accept impermanence. And yet, I know when the sun and warm days return, the bluebonnets will fade quickly as they do every year, leaving a mat of green leaves…as one thing transforms to another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going With the Flow

Fr. Klaas is a Transformational Therapist, empowering people through counselling (in-person and distance), retreats, workshops and seminars, as well as a huge informational support website Dawn Cove Abbey http://www.dawncoveabbey.org , and separate blog Voices In Dialogue http://dawncoveabbey.org/blog1/, a place where visitors can finally have a ‘voice’, too and be heard. The following post is reprinted with his permission from his blog site.

Going with the flow. It’s a nice thought and forms a nice mental picture. It’s also an excellent way to go through life. Yet, here too, words can trip us up because ‘going with the flow’ is practiced in two different ways; two incompatible contrasts. The more common way to go with the flow is what many would describe as ‘drifting’, and not just drifting, but drifting aimlessly, going from one thing to another with no connection necessarily between any of the points. Somewhat like a cork tossed about on the waves. 

The other way is quite different. While it is a ‘flow’, and the location or activity changed regularly, it is part of the stream, part of a pattern, a pattern that is clear and known. One point is connected to the last, and the ones before that, and ready to connect with the upcoming ones. Somewhat like the pieces of a puzzle or a quilt whose pattern will become distinct as the pieces are assembled. 

But in life, the pieces are not assembled into a picture, a completed puzzle or a finished quilt. One’s life is the finished product – a life made up from all the connected pieces and points, and stops and flows – all of it adding to one’s personality and character. Much like music is made from separate notes – but not randomly – they are part of an integrated whole: even in improvisations. 

What is really awesome is that each of us has a choice as to which kind of flow we’ll choose: the random one (one unfulfilling novelty after another), or the connected one which reaches down to deep inside you – and makes you feel complete, content; fulfilled.

The one is an avoidance of life; a running away. The other is a celebration of life; to be embraced. Which flow are you immersed in? 

I look forward to hearing your views on this, and about your flow. -Klaas