Holding with Love & Grace in Life & Death

I know I'm being invited into a heart touching experience when Christy points my eyes towards something by saying that it "glows with special fire, and offers up with deep and breathtaking tenderness the essence of love and community and thankfulness."

It is true, this piece at 37days touched me in so many ways. I've mentioned my own frustrations with how our culture interacts with death and grief. This story empowered me with hope and inspiration. I highly recommend the long read. Here are a couple of passages that spoke to me in various ways. They ring with a vibrant clarity when read in their context... and may they open our hearts to unknown healing as we feel them in whatever context resonates with our soul.

From Ren, written to 37days:
“I agree with you that the grieving process is a life-long thing. It's about coming to terms with the new relationship you've got with the person. Because death doesn't end the relationship, it ends a life (there’s an old quote about that...who is it?) and it's this constant coming to terms with the fact that they aren't physically there.”
And quotes from 37days:
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” – Jack Lemmon

We thank the body of Meta for housing her spirit.

Pema Chodron has written that “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

What I found in this story was a group of people who so loved this young woman that they walked solidly toward their fear and their not knowing. They had never done this before; it was not a reflex of habit, but of sheer, pure love.

“For me, there’s a decision point of opening my heart to love. And once I did that, I could do much more. I could remain really calm and loving.”

“Our approach,” Walker explained, "was trying to stay in our hearts, to create a loving place, a place in which grief could come up and into your mind, and then leave, replaced by love. There was so much love in that room, it was palpable," she recalled.

That Monday morning, they didn’t put Meta in a cardboard box, no. They put the body of Meta in a cardboard box. There is a difference. Meta lives, her body doesn't. Would we look at death and dead bodies differently if we changed our language to reflect the reality of body and spirit?

“This is how a community is supposed to work. Imagine if we held each other with the same grace in life as they have shown Meta in death."
My heart thrives and my spirit soars as I both imagine and deepen my own practice of holding each other with such love and grace in life and in death.

P.S. This reminds me of one of my favorite conversations that unfolded here at easily amazed... It's never too late to share your own wishes and/or to share new thoughts that have emerged as more life has been lived.
posted by ashley


Journey With Me In My World


Today was a snow day and thus an opportunity to explore the wonders of my backyard through this cycle of the seasons. Here's a slide show of moments that caught my eye.

I read an inspiring story of a doctor Attending to Sick Children Along a Gulf Coast Still in Tatters

Every weekday morning, Dr. Dixon boards a blue Winnebago that goes to schoolyards in the Katrina-ravaged towns along Mississippi’s coast. From the Winnebago — which is staffed with a nurse, a social worker and two aides — Dr. Dixon, 42, dispenses routine health care to thousands of youngsters who still suffer the aftereffects of the hurricane.

“This is the kind of pediatrics I’ve always wanted to do,” Dr. Dixon said on a recent morning as her clinic-on-wheels sat outside the Pass/DeLisle Elementary School, not far from where Hurricane Katrina made landfall. “Here I can treat children who really need my help, and I can also be an advocate for them. This is what real medicine is about.”
and at the same time, this article is a heart clutching article informing me about how others are experiencing life right now:

A child we’ve treated was approached for sex by an adult at the FEMA camp where his family lives. The boy tells us whenever he comes out of his trailer now, he runs; wherever he goes, he’s afraid. In school, he acts out, and they want to expel him.

Frankly, we’re overwhelmed by the number of children needing mental health services. There are quite a few kids where the parents were forced to take jobs elsewhere. We’re seeing 4- or 5-year-olds on the verge of being expelled. I mean, who gets expelled from Head Start? We think this is because of all the separations.

The kids don’t feel secure because the parents aren’t. When I examine kids, I always ask, “How is your family doing?” It leads to things I need to know, like, “My dad is upset because he doesn’t have his job anymore,” or “My brother’s upset because he has to sleep in a room with Grandma.”

You see a lot of depression with the parents... The parents feel like they have no control over their lives.

As I read such an article and sit with other life events of people I know and love and many more people that I don't know, I feel a pull of my heart that wants to wrap myself around these places of pain and embrace them with life, love, rest, peace, health... And I also feel an icy cold contraction that points to questions of Am I doing enough in my life to serve? Am I adding to the problems by the way I choose to live? Do I live in too isolated of a reality?

And I breathe with both of these responses. Breathing as I watch and feel my reactions.

This takes me to an excerpt from Pema Chodron from The Wisdom of No Escape:
"Seeing when you justify yourself and when you blame others is not a reason to criticize yourself, but actually an opportunity to recognize what all people do and how it imprisons us in a very limited perspective of this world. It's a chance to see that you're holding on to your interpretation of reality; it allows you to reflect that that's all it is -- nothing more, nothing less: just your interpretation of reality."
What is my interpretation of reality right now?

Holding the visceral tension of my responses echoes forth a body memory of the tension expressed by the Sankai Juku dancers. Christy expresses poignantly her experience (and mine as well) from that performance and this line catches me right now:
So much happens in ... the expressionless mask broken suddenly open in hilarity or howl (which? or both?).
The swirl of this journey finds it's way to a resting place of play and joy through images that ignite within me wonder, hope and inspiration. I take three slow breaths before posting these last images (a new practice I'm experimenting with as a way to honor transitions).

Scenes Of Mild Peril by Peter Smith

Declaring My Love by Doug Hyde
posted by ashley


Soul Work of Setting Free

Soul work
Setting free

The only task to do



A relief

Being with physically challenging experiences
With loving support and help
Being with one another
Participating in conscious evolution

The voice of God

Willingness to submit and release
Into the process being given

A wonderful lesson for all
Allowing the whole
To evolve in loving service
To set free
In order to heal

Slow breaths of gratitude
For being alive so fully


Play Play

Set Free


A poem remixed with love as an offering in honor of a friend and mentor.

Photo Source
posted by ashley


Subtle Sensing, Clarity, Unknowing


Returning home from 5 days spent on Bowen Island I walk into a new world. The woods beyond my back yard have opened themselves, leaves fallen, bare branches revealing the once mysterious landscape that lies beneath the green and gold canopy I had left. I feel the fierce winds that pruned the trees and flipped our patio umbrella.

Sacred currents of chaotic movement
Winds of change and transformation

Frenetic energy still stirs the air. And I also feel, in a timeless way, the future presencing as a soft resting of deep integration. I can see it here now in the softness of the light and the closing in of space. The clouds are lower, mirroring a turning in, spiraling into wings of flight lifting life’s cradled embrace.

My learning right now circles around the edges. There is a vibrantly solid and fierce ball of energy before me. I am savoring its presence, dancing around its edges, learning about its boundaries and noticing the magnetic pull that draws me towards opportunities of discovery. I am gently leaning in.

Right now I feel the pull most strongly beginning in the space just beneath my heart, below my sternum. It throbs powerfully up through my chest, a slow bulging hum in/as my heart. The force stays centered and resonant in my heart while also bellowing up and arching outwards. That is the bottom line of this pull. The top line is a soft curve along my neck, connected to my throat while also drawing energy down and out, reaching beyond my throat. The fluidity is experienced as a subtle and accentuated curve like taffy being pulled out before me while maintaining a reverent connection with me.

I’m curious. I’m enjoying the game of bringing words and naming this experience. My head is invigorated by this inquiry. I feel that impulse to ‘keep going’ and yet I’m not sure where I’m going. I rest my attention, my thinking, listening for what emerges that will focus my curiosity.

Boundaries. Limits. Pulsing edges that are alive and reflective. Limits that are coherent, serving the health and well being of the whole through reflection of what is.

I wrote the above passage yesterday morning and as the day moved on, I found myself playing in the backyard that had previously only been observed from the window.

Backyard Nov 12 06

The leaves have half fallen from their trees, slowly hinting through flickering smiles at future possibilities of seeing more clearly the shape of the land spread before me. Clues of sight expand my sense, the field of possibilities deepening before my eyes. The still connected scattered leaves of yellow and green bustling in the wind leave greater focus to come, the season’s promise that they will soon be gone (an inherent pattern or boundary?) tempts me. With nature’s time, bare branches will offer a clearer perspective. I sit with a knowing vision of a future when the landscape is clear while I am breathing with the haze of not-knowing tickled by curiosity’s impatience and will’s push to experience clear form.
posted by ashley

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