Dear Still Water Friends,
This Thursday evening, after our meditation, we will gather for a Night of Remembrance to honor loved ones who have passed away. It is a time to celebrate, to share, to mourn, and to look more deeply into our interbeing. Mary Beth Hatem, who originated the idea for a Still Water Night of Remembrance six years ago, writes in the note below about her plans to honor her sister this year:
This year I’d like to dedicate my “Night of Remembrance” to my sister. Joanne was one year younger, and she died suddenly in September, 1997. This was the loss that cracked me open to an ocean of pain and a sea of compassion, starting me on a journey that my mindfulness practice helps me continue.
I was the oldest of six, but I wasn’t that interested in acting the part. Joanne wanted to be in charge, and that suited me, too. With Joanne in the role of disciplinarian, I was free to concentrate on the parts of the role that were more natural to me–providing encouragement or instruction, evoking a much-needed laugh.
Joanne wasn’t mean-spirited, but she loved keeping us in line. We weren’t going to watch just anything on television. She would consult The Catholic Review. Was the content deemed by the experts “morally unobjectionable.”? She was zealous. Her standards were high. She knew right from wrong. I remember her realizing that a clerk had given her too much change. The amount seemed trivial to me. Were we really going to drive back to McDonald’s so she could square accounts? Yes. Absolutely. A matter of principle. But not only that. She thought of the clerk, what the ramifications might be. Other people were real to her in a way that I had to learn years later. I’m still catching up with some of the lessons Joanne put in motion.
I’ve been to a lot of memorial services lately. And it’s been a gift: a chance to see how important we are to each other—how, in a sense, we make each other.
I have no children, but I know somehow that when I’m gone I will still be around. I will be part of the “not me” elements that make up many people, people I know and love and some I will never meet. I know this as surely as I know that Joanne, my grandparents, and Mom and Dad are a big part of the “not me” elements that will be with you Thursday night.
You are invited to join the Still Water community for our Night of Remembrance. We will create a memorial table in the center of our circle. If it feels right for you, please bring a photo of a loved one, or a memento, to place on the table.
What would you like your Still Water community to know or understand about a deceased loved one? What gifts or lessons did you receive from that person? How are you bearing your loss? These will be the questions we will explore together Thursday evening.
Below are excerpts on loss and sorrow by Thich Nhat Hanh and Naomi Shihab Nye.
Two upcoming Still Water special events are now open for registration:
Transforming Anger and Fear: Embracing the Radical Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh, A Still Water Day of Practice on Saturday, March 4th, 2017, 8:45 am– 3:30 pm, at Blueberry Gardens in Ashton, Maryland.
The Present Moment is Our True Teacher: Still Water Easter Practice Retreat, Friday, April 14th to Monday, April 17th, at the Charter Hall Retreat Center near Perryville, Maryland.
We Can Only Inter-Be
By Thich Nhat Hanh, from How To Love
We think we have a self. But there is no such thing as an individual separate self. A flower is made only of non-flower elements, such as chlorophyll, sunlight, and water. If we were to remove all the non-flower elements from the flower, there would be no flower left. A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower can only inter-be with all of us… Humans are like this too. We can’t exist by ourselves alone. We can only inter-be. I am made only of non-me elements, such as the Earth, the sun, parents, and ancestors. Thich Nhat Hanh, How To Love
by Naomi Shihab Nye, from her poem “Kindness”
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice catches
the thread of all sorrows
And you see the size of the cloth.