“Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness” 

Julia Cameron. The Artist’s Way

This Memorial Day weekend, this quote really struck me. There’s a solemness about it, a darkness if you will. And yet, it’s a powerful and telling statement, about where we came from, and where we are headed.  And, suggestive of what we might do in the meantime. 

We all come from darkness, beginning in the womb and then in life, as we fumble along.  ‘The light at the end of the tunnel,’ ‘Seeing the light’; there’s hope ahead, especially if we allow ourselves to be guided. In Buddhism the First Noble Truth is about the truth of suffering in this lifetime. Depressing? Not really, just realistic. This is followed by truths about how to transcend suffering and attain En-light-enment.

Now is a time we must creatively find our way out of the darkness of these scary times, same as our parents and grandparents and ancestors did, in different times. But then what? Does all that energy and love we invest here, and in others, just go away when we die? I believe not.

I believe in the wisdom of many traditions: Christianity, Native American tradition, Islam, and Judaism – in which we are called to worship a Creator with a spirit of love and creativity, which really means to honor Him by creating and loving with our own hands and feet. And after our hands and feet are no longer touching the earth, we remain here in spirit, in the hearts and minds of our loved ones.

Yogic wisdom talks a lot about the heart as the center of our being, and the energy that resides there. It’s where we feel love, and where I feel our loved ones live on when they are no longer in our sight. 

It’s hard not to get a little existential on Memorial Day, or this one, anyway…

I remember after a cousin of mine lost her mother, which was a few years after I had lost my father, she said to me, “ I know this is going to sound weird, but I feel like she is in me now.” I didn’t think it was weird at all. She put to words something I now feel.

I am often aware of my father’s way, knowing he would handle any given crisis with honor and grace (maybe a red faced tantrum before he got there, but ultimately, and always, with love and forgiveness.)  And that’s the part I really feel to be true about our late loved ones. We remember the memories fondly, but we feel the spirit of their being, which is alive and well in us. We do this by living out their own dreams and values, as we can now be the hands and feet of their “best practices” and intentions. (Hopefully not so many of their worst !:)

During this time in quarantine many have shared that they have been thinking about, reflecting upon, making peace with, and even talking to loved ones they have lost. It makes sense; we are both grappling with our mortality right now, and it feels like the end of the world as we know it.  Time and space have been given to us, or forced upon us, and past experiences and emotions are surfacing. That’s a good thing, but not necessarily easy.

When we tune in, we often see glimpses of the spirit of loved ones… in nature, or in hearing a favorite song. Someone sent me information on Baltimore Orioles feeders the other day, something I hadn’t thought about since childhood. Memories of cutting oranges and putting them out with my bird-loving mother flooded back. Made me connect a dot to my growing Corona birding hobby. I responded, “Thanks, and I think you just channeled my  mom…”

With the anticipation of sunshine and healing ahead, we have much to be hopeful and inspired about this Memorial Day. Plenty of worry too, but I am putting my energy into the living up to the legacy of those who came before me, and endured darkness of their own.

Today, I am remembering with gratitude, so many, and doing my darnedest to carry on with the courage, creativity, perseverance, and most importantly, the love that they left behind ~ for me, and, I believe, in me.

Thank you for joining me in seeking peace and clarity, in these goofy, frustrating, hopeful, scary and inspired times. Be well spirited friendsuntil next year ~

Gone From My Sight
By Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, ‘There, she is gone

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me – not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, ‘There, she is gone,’
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, ‘Here she comes!’

And that is dying…