Dear Still Water Friends,
This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will share memories of loved ones who have passed away. It is a time to celebrate, to share, to mourn, and to look more deeply into our interbeing. We’ll create a memorial table with photos and mementos we bring to share.
This evening is for all who grieve and especially those actively experiencing grief in its most painful stages. Our Still Water tradition grew out of the discomfort I felt after my father’s death. I was glad to be back at St. Patrick Church with my family, but I also wanted the opportunity to be part of an observance with my sangha and with a mindfulness focus.
I grew up Roman Catholic, well-schooled in the promise of eternal life, but it’s my Thich Nhat Hanh-inspired mindfulness practice that helps me experience the reality of death and dying. I celebrate our nights of remembrance as a time of thanksgiving for the teachings of mindfulness, for Thich Nhat Hanh, and for the Still Water community.
The most searing death I have experienced happened in 1997. My sister Joanne, a physician one year younger, died as a result of a toxic mix of medications that she assembled and ingested. I recall that pain as a hot iron that upended my priorities and initiated me into oceans of compassion and connection beyond imagining.
Every year, every grief is different but, in a curious way, also somehow the same–the continuing masterclass in impermanence, the taste of what it means to “inter-be”–the reminder that “I am in you” and “you are in me.” Again and again, I relearn to accept reality–to let go of the magical thinking that I or my loved ones should be untouched by death and dying.
What comes to mind this year is no one particular grief; instead it is the accelerating pace of death and dying and the warning flares my own body provides. I look forward to learning who is on your heart this year.
On behalf of the Still Water family, I invite you to be part of this special community event and consider bringing a photo or memento to place on the memorial table we will create at the center of our circle.
After our meditation period, our sharing will address three questions:
- What would you like your Still Water siblings to know about your loved ones?
- What is the legacy of those you carry in your heart?
- How are you moving through your grief?
Two excerpts on honoring our loved ones are below.
Mary Beth Hatem
by Stephen Levine from Healing into Life and Death
Most think of grief as a momentous sadness but it is a lot subtler than that. Everyone has grief. Everyone seems to have some unbalanced tally sheet with life, some unfinished business. An incompleteness with the past and with ourselves, a fatiguing self-consciousness, the predominant theme of the unfinished symphony of mind’s yearning.
Our grief manifests as a self-judgment, as fear, as guilt, as anger and blame. It is that insistent mercilessness with ourselves and a world which we hardly let within. Our grief is our fear of loss, our fear of the unknown, our fear of death. Grief is the rope burns left behind when what we have held to most dearly is pulled out of reach, beyond our grasp.
Contemplation of No-Coming, No-Going
By Thich Nhat Hanh, from the Ceremony for the Deceased in Chanting from the Heart
This body is not me,
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
Manifestations from my wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.
So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say good-bye,
say good-bye, to meet again soon.
We meet today,
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.