Meeting Death~ Peering Through the Window of Life Without Us In It

Meeting Death~ Peering Through the Window of Life Without Us In It

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I’m finding my way towards what words wish to be shared following a very profound experience of illness and healing last week. How ironic that the day after I posted my poem “Gravity” and was inspired to write towards my lifelong dance with the holy descent into Body, I would be taken once again (for the first time in many, many years!) on a sacred journey of intense sickness into the very depths of my human life, it’s preciousness and fleetingness.

A week ago Saturday, on my sweet daughter’s 9th birthday, I woke up in such severe pain in my back that by mid-day I could barely move. At first I thought my back was out, but it was all on my left side, and the pain felt very neuromuscular~ radiating up and down my spine, from my sacrum into my neck. My spine felt like it was on fire. By Sunday I had a very high fever and it was determined what I was working with was actually an intense kidney infection. Even after I started the antibiotics I fevered intensely in my bed, on and off for 3 days. My kids Papa Chris had to come and fully take over with the children as I focused all my attention inward, in stillness, on healing.

I could feel how deeply challenged my children were by the powerful presence of the sickness, and the degree to which it consumed my entire attention. Like all mothers of little ones, we have traveled through our fair share of intense sicknesses~ flu’s, stomach bugs, parasites, severe mastitis, even 3 months of Whooping Cough last fall. My children are used to me rallying, like mothers do, in the most straining of sickness situations~ up sleepless for countless nights, all of us puking at the same time, or all of us up coughing and fevering through the night. They are NOT used to me traveling so deep in, so close to the very edge where life meets death, and they were NOT ok with it. Arayla (9) was very soft, quietly attuned, sensitive, checking on me frequently, deeply concerned, her little eyebrows furrowed. Ezra (5) was narcissistically disturbed by my absence, my weakness, my inability to receive his full-roaring, hugely embodied self, and had a very difficult time, tantrumming loudly in moments about his need for Mama. There was little I could do to soothe them. It WAS scary, and I needed all of my strength and focus to bring my energy back to health for them.

Last Monday night, in the middle of the night while I fevered and sweated intensely again, high into the 103-104 zone once more, my dear heart beating rapidly in my chest, I brushed cheeks with my friend Death, and was invited by her, gently, to peer through the window of what my life would look like without me in it.

I don’t know if most people do this when they get very sick and have high fevers? Or if my past brushes with death have made the pathway very easy to find? Or if it’s because I’m a shaman, priestess and death doula, and I am clearly meant to carry this death medicine in my medicine bag in this lifetime? Whatever the reason, it seems my life brings me, over and over again to this edge, this particularly profound place on the bridge, where there is truly only the finest line between inhabiting this beloved flesh, and crossing over into the purely luminous body of the other side. It feels like I’m brought here continuously to somehow change my relationship with it, and perhaps, I’m imagining, so I can support all the lives I touch, this larger village of beloved human kin, in changing our collective relationship with it.

It is not my Death itself I have feared. It is the thought of leaving my life unfinished, my precious children not fully mothered, my life lessons not yet fully received, the love I came to shine not yet fully imparted. In spite of knowing my life is in the hands of the Great Mystery, I have certainly been haunted many times at the thought of prematurely leaving my children: awakened in the middle of the night by a gripping fear of how much my children need me, horrified at the thought of them needing to live without my special mama love and care, should something happen to take my life from them while they are still young. I have even avoided writing a Living Will as though to write it would somehow communicate to life and death that I was OK with an alternative to my own direct raising of my children into adulthood.

And yet while I fevered, so close to the edge, and Death sweetly asked me to look through the window of my life without me in it, my children’s lives without their Mama… what I saw profoundly surprised me.

I saw YES~ it would be a tragic loss for them, to lose their Mama, one that would break their hearts in a million pieces. But the Light, oh the light and love and wisdom and care of the people who would rush in to take over where I left off, to help their hearts heal and nurture their lives! Oh the amazing wisdom-carriers in my life, my beloved friends, the soul aunties and uncles who adore my children, the devoted grandparents and other blood relatives. I saw, peering through that window at the height of my fever, that somehow, if the great Mystery were to beckon me over, to never return again in this Jesua form, that people would come together to do whatever it took to raise these beautiful angels into the leaders they are destined to be. All would not be lost. And I saw I have given my beautiful children a strong-enough foundation: in spirit, in heart, in attachment, in truth. I saw that the seeds I planted as I nursed them from the heart of my breasts and carried them on my back through their babyhoods and taught them so diligently all these years about what truly matters in life: love, compassion for others, self-respect, using their voices to speak their truth, and seeing always with the eyes of their hearts~ not only have they truly received these gifts, but these seeds have taken root, and begun to sprout from my own children’s hearts and mouths. That, if needed, ONLY if absolutely needed, I could go, I could go, I could go on in peace. What a soothing surprise to feel this, to taste this truth, to really breathe it all the way in.

And then, to let the fever break, slowly back away from the window, from that sacred edge on the bridge between worlds, and come back to doing everything in my power to heal my kidneys, heal my body, so it can live in total strength, health and freedom…for what I hope is a very, very long time to come. What a gift it will be, grace willing, to someday hold Arayla’s grandchild in my arms, bring her soft baby cheek to my ancient, wrinkled lips; to bare witness, through these very eyes of mine, to the many amazing gifts my powerful daughter’s life is sure to birth. What a gift it will be, grace willing, to witness Ezra as a grown man, radiantly fathering his potential children, rocking the boat of life with his strong, bright soul, and making gorgeous starry waves in all the ways he’s bound to. And all the gifts I’ve yet to bring, yet to extend with my life, books I’ve yet to write, dances still to be danced, love yearning to be deepened, shared, offered, lived. I’m here for it! I’m so willing. I’m fully available to serve. My heart is empty and full of nothing but love. The fevers stripped me bare of everything but what truly matters.

Today, this moment, I live for you, my friend. I live for your heart’s blossoming. Here’s to you~ tasting this moment for the first time. Here’s to you tasting the gift that THIS is your day~ the day you get to live your truest heart. This is the day we came to live with all our love. This is the day. And I invite you, without needing a fever, to peer through the window of your life without you in it. I invite you to meet what comes up as you courageously look and take in what you see. I invite you to see what’s still yearning for completion, release, resolution, forgiveness. I invite you to be surprised. Bowing: Love in all directions~ <3

Gravity~ The Holy Path of Descent

Gravity~ The Holy Path of Descent

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It took me a long time to choose to fully incarnate in this lifetime. After being really sick as a child, living with neurological issues and wearing leg braces, dealing with the lack of breath of debilitating asthma and allergies, and feeling the tremendous weight of suffering in our human world, I heartily resisted coming all the way in to my body, my human life. From an early age I sought refuge in Spirit, in my imagination, in psychic capacity and fantasy. I continued to attend my lineage in the stars and nurtured my relations with angels; within my private inner world I cultivated the practices of moving up, up, out and away.

My body continued to manifest sickness~ until I was 19 and was faced with a very dramatic health situation which called for 2 surgeries. I knew the sickness was born of my essential ambivalence about being here, and that I needed to finally make a choice~ either to fully go, or fully stay; I could not simply hover above my life any longer, loosely tethered. And so: I chose to live, to be of the flesh and this world, the full weight and darkness of human matter. I was guided to study dance, to practice yoga, to repair the neurological pathways between my mind and my legs, to open my lower chakras, to meet continuously my immense discomfort with the clumsiness of assuming density.

And then when I was 24 I had a phenomenal enlightenment experience leaving me without a personal reference point, my consciousness blissfully transcended in a 6-week-long state of absolute oneness with all of life. When I finally came down from that it was with the sober and grief-filled realization that my true path in this life was to be one of truly DESCENDING, not ascending, nor transcending anything. My sacred assignment was to come all the way in to my human self, to fully be WOMAN, to learn to cherish every day of this impermanent lifetime, this precious, transient flesh, and the absolute messiness of living a full life of love.

Motherhood, of course, was (and still IS) the ultimate ongoing surrender in this way of holy descent. Every day we get to choose how we show up for this life we are here to live, with the gift of attending our little starbeams of human children.  My children call me to life, to presence, to my own delicious breath and laughter, to my outer limits of patience, like nothing else. They anchor me to our world, to my body’s ancestors and my great, great grandchildren. And every single day it takes courage. For some of us it takes less courage than others to choose this life of body, of full incarnation, of wholly embodied YES. I know for some of you beloveds it comes so naturally; it is a sweet and sacred given. But I know I am also not alone in being divinely challenged to continuously make this brave choice of body, of human, of fully living this life I have come to live.

I recently wrote this poem “Gravity”, and it was the last poem of the evening I shared in our recent TAKE HEART concerts. I wrote it for those of us who must continuously muster the courage to find our YES to life, to body, to allowing “our very own/ blood and bones/ to be the only home we seek.” I offer it to you with my deepest love. <3

Gravity

Courage is another name
for the heart: to find it
we must stop and listen~
to this which yearns
to simply live, to fully become,
to finally release
its weary, frightened grip
within us.

We think we want
some awakened luminosity,
the open hand of transcendence;
some grand or private,
majestic escape
from the dreary weight
of human existence.

We think we crave
that lift, that wide
exhaling soar,
that buoyed breath
of light, right?

But I’ll tell you, my Love,
what we truly yearn for
is the flesh, our very own
blood and bones
to be the only home we seek.

It takes courage to listen
to the heart’s want
for body, for gravity,
for this bittersweet gem
of impermanence.

Distinct from bravery,
our valiance is uncalled for. Put down
your weapons, your cape,
your skillful wand, your shining sword.

Because all that is wanted, finally?
Is to let what’s infinite
meet your beating heart,
lift your fingers to your face,
trace the edges of your skin,
lay your footprints on the land,
and taste the rain, taste the rain.

It takes courage to listen
to the heart’s want
for body, for gravity,
for this bittersweet gem
of impermanence.

Courage is saying yes
to the next bow, the next birth,
to new love
in the wake of loss
inside waves of grief,
in the certainty
of continuous imperfection,
and endless possibilities of failure.

Courage is saying yes,
still yes~ when we wake up
in the morning
alone and tired:
our bodies worn
and minds torn down
by everything in life
not being
what we thought.

Because all that is wanted, finally?
Is to purely love what’s here,
knowing soon it will be gone.

And all that is needed finally
is your open
ear pressed
with attentive curiosity,
eavesdropping at the door
of your heart, and then this:
the simple courage
to hear what’s said.

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