Today is the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. I am sad.
We all have them: Sorrows, troubles, heartaches, challenges. If our biggest challenge is a remodel of the house we are blessed. If we are raising a grandchild because cancer stole our daughter, Lord Jesus give us the strength to get out of bed in the morning. If we lost a baby the day he was born, and don’t believe in God, may we dig deep for the courage to keep going. If we can’t see our way out of the dark, may we still keep our eyes open and searching for a light.
Naughty children. Arthritic toes. Aging parents. Empty bank accounts. Crushing debt. Dead-end jobs. No jobs. Another mill shuttered. Bad test results. A broken heart. A lump. An accident. The front page horror that is your own. A broken home. One more drink. Black lives matter. All lives matter. Nobody can begin to understand what’s the matter. A gun, a gun, another gun. Her black eye, his bruised knuckles. The secrets that we keep. The dog in the crate all day, all day, all day, all day.
Humble me, Lord. How can we think of saving the planet when we cannot save ourselves?
Brent Cecil. When the end came, he was alone. Or at least I think it is extremely likely that he was, for two reasons: First, if someone had been there when he’d crashed (slumped? slipped?) to the floor, they probably would have gone for help, unless they were too trashed to notice. (Such is the range of humanity in a facility built to house the most vulnerable of the chronically homeless, with a focus on “housing first” and sobriety perhaps never.) Second, and more likely, my father was alone because that was his preference.
At his funeral, after the dough-faced minister had gone and the small gathering had dispersed, my mother called her children to her in the tone she used when we were young and believed that our parents knew best. She stood near the hole that would cradle my father in death. I don’t remember how his urn – a teak wood box that my brother crafted – got into the hole, but she lifted it up and tossed her sweetheart ring gently beneath it, and then I placed a picture of our family, a relic from twenty-five years ago, on top of the box.
Five faces stared back at us: my mother with a calm smile, holding my baby sister, who beams with unbounded joy; my older brother, smiling, too, but with a question in his eyes; me, sandwiched between my parents, smiling the trusting smile of a little girl who doesn’t know what life is going to do to her; and my father – not smiling at all, his ice-blue eyes staring into a distance that none of us would ever understand.
Tomorrow is a fresh day.
In the Kundalini tradition of yoga, one of the most powerful mantras is SA, TA, NA, MA:
SA is the beginning, infinity, the totality of everything that ever was, is or will be.
TA is life, existence and creativity that manifests from infinity.
NA is death, change and the transformation of consciousness.
MA is rebirth, regeneration and resurrection which allows us to consciously experience the joy of the infinite.
This week at work, I had several clients share personal stories of horror and heartbreak that made me grateful for my story of sorrow. Children lose parents every day: accidents, illness, abandonment. Suicide is not an acceptable avenue of departure from this earth, save perhaps for the terminally ill. So if your father points a gun at himself and pulls the trigger, or pours poison down his throat until his liver quits, you mourn your loss quietly and with a sense of shame – you are your father’s son, and you are your father’s daughter, are you not? No. No. No.
Tomorrow is a fresh day.
So first, do no harm. And then do one better and make a difference in somebody’s day. What can you give tomorrow to make your existence more meaningful? A smile to a stranger? A silent blessing to someone who is struggling? A piece of litter picked up and thrown away? Five miles per hour slower and move over a bit more for the guy on the bike?
With each passing day we lose something that we’ll never get back. Time passes, bodies age, flowers die. But we are here. And we have choices. Make them count.
This week I have seen the nature of Maine in different guises. This is a hard life. And a hard state to make a living in and to just plain live in. And it seems silly to worry about weedy lakes when we are still paying last winter’s oil bill. But Maine is nothing without its natural beauty, and so those of us who can care must.
For a list of Maine’s endangered or threatened species check out: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/endangered/listed_species_me.htm
For a discussion of the fact that 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record, see http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/18/health/2016-global-heat-noaa-report-irpt/.
To understand about the connection between climate change, drought, and wildfires, see http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-fingerprints-are-all-over-california-wildfires/
Tomorrow is a fresh day. Humble me, Lord.
And thank you, Mr. Owl, for landing on the edge of our property and staying long enough for my husband to see and hear you.