Death and Rebirth
My friend Marcia died in March. She was 71. A beautiful woman, friend, accomplished artist, a beautiful soul if ever there was one. Her death seemed so premature, sad, and certainly had me think about my own death—or not want to think about it. Lots of people die, of course. Thousands of people die every day– 150,000 of them, according to Siri — 6390 every hour, 107 every minute and 1.78 every second. And we’re just talking about people here, not trees or ants or elephants or species or ecosystems. Death actually is everywhere, just as much as life is, just as much as birth and creation are. But somehow human death still seems more like a bad afterthought, a fluke of nature God should have somehow fixed by now, and not a beautiful Reality like birth and flowers opening and stars being born somewhere out there in the cosmos or even flaming their way to extinction.
I tend to feel repelled, either a little or a lot, when I take a good look or even a sideways glance at the wrinkles in my face and the grey hair I no longer dye (but still sometimes want to). I don’t fully accept the woman in the mirror who is 68. I resist her, even on a good day. Even when the resistance is small, it’s still there. Just the other day I had a client, who is in her early 50’s, say she has maybe 25 good years left. I felt a pang of terrible dis-ease shoot through my body. If she has maybe 25 good years left, what do I have left? I felt sick. Well at least there is a lot of longevity in my family, I tell myself. I still expect to be here well into my nineties.
I believe in the infinite nature of Soul, you know, and I have lots of evidence that all does not die when the body returns to dust. I’ve had spontaneous past life memories and “visitations” and experiences, as so many of us have had, that did not appear to originate from the incarnate world we tend to think of as Reality. But there has been a gap between my beliefs and undeniable experiences, and my feelings. I think of my friend Marcia, how she didn’t get to see this beautiful spring, but maybe, just maybe, she got to see the last episode of Downton Abbey, got to see Carson ask Mrs. Hughes to marry him, before she lost consciousness. And at those moments of tender sadness, life just feels so frigging precious, and I don’t want to leave, not in the worst way.
But I came up short yesterday realizing that my life, all human life and all incarnated life, IS frigging here-and-gone, and nothing is gained by holding on so tightly. I can’t be fully here in this beautiful moment with my precious grandchildren when I’m thinking about maybe not being around to see them graduate or get married. I came up short realizing how much energy I waste holding on, denying, even subtly, my own face in the mirror and the incontrovertible fact that I will leave this body one day.
And I came up short realizing that I don’t actually live my belief in the eternal nature of my soul, that my fears are out of alignment with my deepest belief that this body and all my life experiences are the food I have been given to eat, digest, and transform for the journey Home to Oneness. That Soul took this form for a reason and it will leave when it is ready. What would my life be like from here on out if I did live that belief? What could it be like right now?
For the briefest moment I actually let go. I felt myself lift off into a profound and panoramic peace, an enormity of perspective, like a great bird might feel soaring high above. And from up there, “time-limited” was not even an issue. Death, as I tend to think of it like some big black-hole ending, was not an issue. Marcia is okay…and coming back down again, I felt grateful to still have this face, wrinkles and all.
On the day of my death, I hope to be flying. And if or when I come back into yet another human body—well, I hope next time to bring that great bird with me.