by Dick Alton, June 2022
I would like to take a moment to reflect on death – it seems to be my constant companion. In fact, I am fascinated with death. Want to share two reflections with you today. First, aI would like to share some of Larry Ward’s new book and then a final reflection.
At the end of Larry’s new book, America Racial Karma, he talks of practices that enable one to act with integrity in the present. He starts every day when he wakes up with the Buddha’s 5 Remembrances. He reads the 5 lines and after each line takes a breath:
I am of the nature to grow old. Breath
I am of the nature to have ill health. Breath
I am the nature to die. Breath
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. Breath
My actions are my only belongings. Breath
In the face of great loss, no words convey the sadness we feel for those we have loved. Yet we dare to say Death is neither a curse nor a blessing, an end, or a beginning, but only that it is a wondrous, frightening and redemptive reality. It is a step into the Unknown Unknown. It is sacred, and it is good.
Even though Death is universal, it is also unique—because every life is unrepeatable. It arrives in its own time and is always shocking, even when it is anticipated. It can be painful or peaceful, timely or not, tragic or strangely welcome, or all of the above at once. We don’t choose the manner or the moment and can only respond by acknowledging its finality and trusting what was, is and will be. We go on.
Whether you celebrate death as a Home Going or as a finality that prevents you from being with your loved one physically, acknowledging death is important. We accompany you in your grief. We pray for you in your journey. We hope for your experience of being accompanied by the Divine Spirit. May it sustain you in your sorrow. Our hearts are with you.