In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Look at Life -- and Death

As I watched my friend, Sue's last breaths, a newsreel of memories flashed through my head. Her outstretched hand to me, an interloper in the organization where she was director of research, a young, beautiful woman who offered me her guest bedroom until I found a new home, making me laugh when I wanted to scream, noting the good points of a colleague whose pettiness annoyed, and more recently, her courage, strength and positive outlook as she battled the acute myeloid leukemia that was ebbing the life from her still lovely body.

I recalled the irony of times, much earlier, when some part of Sue craved oblivion strongly enough to make her tussle with death a close one, and matched that with the determination she showed in her battle with this, the fourth cancer, intending to beat it until it seemed pointless to try another treatment.

How often is there, for even a split second, a dashing thought of what am I doing here? What's the use? Or what do I have to contribute?

As I ponder my impatience with not knowing what opportunities to share, inspire, or lead might be around the next curve, I wonder about that sense of "being" that's prevalent in meditation circles, that higher state of consciousness that one or another practice can evoke. Am I to sit on my cushion and watch my breath morning, noon and night?

I'm inclined to find a need and fill it, but am aware that at this stage of life, discernment is important.  "There is something you can contribute that no one else can. Find that and you will, as Joseph Campbell famously said, "find your bliss," a spiritual director told her audience. I have a glimpse of what that might be, but the bend in the road is obscuring it. As I get closer, the road seems longer, the curve farther ahead.

Tears come unbidden as I ask, "is healing my contribution?" and "how does that look?" The opening lies hidden around the curve, through the trees. "Can't Even Let Yourself Know," my childhood memoir being perused by that illusive agent, could be the platform. But will publication happen while I can still toddle to the front of a room, I wonder. How many more curves in the winding road before the field opens in the light.

My prayers for others end with "Okay, God, Holy Spirit, Divine Mother, what, pray tell, am I doing here? Pull the curtain so I can see around the next curve--please."

I'll also pray for some of Sue's courage to do whatever's next.