Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Words That Move Me...(Part 1)

I find it nothing short of a miracle how symbols scratched or printed on a page can stir our reservoir of emotion and memory; how inky shapes can come alive in our minds so that they penetrate our very being, changing the landscape, expanding the view. When I read or hear words that pull out something like a distant memory from my soul, I come to feel a kinship with the spokesman; either because they are the mouthpiece of such words that hint at truths I feel I've known before, or because there is a kind of kinship in our common experience that my memories confirm.

It is of the latter variety, that I feel when reading the passage I'll share in this post. (Click here for part 2)

My first experience with death was as a young girl of fourteen.
I was one of three at the bed of my great-grandfather (in the room where I now write this post).  He was the only grandpa I had a relationship with and we were especially fond of each other. When his spirit left his body, there was so much love in the embrace that brushed my soul.  I've come to recognize that feeling in sacred places. 

A more recent experience was being present at my grandmother's passing in 2005 (in the room across the hall).  I remember waking many times during her last night, not wanting to miss the moment when we would send her off on her "long journey."  I finally came into her bedroom to lay next to her for a time. I told her how I loved her. Her body, starving itself, "closing it's doors" slowly one by one in response to the cancer, had almost closed the door of speech, but she gathered the energy to murmur, "love you, too."  The next morning, we couldn't help but see it as a labor in reverse as we watched her in her final struggle to let go of this life.  There was sorrow here, but joy and welcoming on the other side.
. . . At each of these deaths, I felt love and gratitude; and throughout my life, these experiences of death have built up into one of the most positive things in my life. . . It is that without death we should not fully understand how much we love those who go; and this is equally true of our dying: we know when we are dying how much we love those we are leaving behind.  And I wonder how many of us sufficiently feel how profoundly grateful we should be to death for the way it intensifies our love as nothing else could do. And how many of us realize that it may intensify our love, not only at the moment it comes, but all our life, if we remember when we are with people that we may not, after all, be always with them . . .  Now, for [those who believe in life after death], death is not much worse perhaps than a visit to an airport to say goodbye to someone for a long time - every absence is a little death, and death is just a long absence. But death is a hard separation, and may take a great deal of recovery. It requires all the preparation we can get. We need to prepare our children for death, as Dickens's deaths prepared me to take as I should the deaths that came to me. It is wrong to bring up children ignorant of death . . . and it is from literature that they can best learn it . . . Our grandparents and great-grandparents understood death better than we do . . . the absence of death is a dangerous thing . . . If our lives are to be of quality, we need to comprehend that death is always around the corner.  Those who are egocentric have no understanding of this . . . 

 As I have tried to show you, the experience of death is perhaps the greatest experience of love that we can have in this world. . . There are so many kinds of love for us . . . and yet all of these loves contain that element of the love of God which is essential to all love . . . It is one of my strongest convictions that all love is ultimately one, in the sense that all love partakes of divine love . . . There ought to be a physical element in everybody's affection.  We ought to be able to put a hand on the shoulder or around the waist of a fellow female or a fellow male without people raising their eyebrows . . . for us . . . who believe in the oneness of the spirit and body in soul, there is one love, and it is divine love in all its forms.

~ Arthur Henry King, "The Child is Father of the Man" from Abundance of the Heart/Arm the Children

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