Alternative terms for Death and Dying

 These are our inadequate attempts to report a death to others.  We usually try to say it gently or consolingly, or to make it lighter than we feel. Generally, we express that we hope the Dead still live “Somewhere”.  Or not:  perhaps this explains the sometimes bluntness.
He “died”.  He’s dead. 
He’s gone to heaven. 
She “returned to spirit”   (my own language)
He “went to the rainbow bridge”  Focusing friend John J., speaking of his pet.
“My sister-in-law, L., has crossed the bridge and is no longer suffering.”  (said by a friend)
“Going Home”  “Returning home” “To be called home” “He returned home to his Heavenly Father” “She went to her heavenly home on Sunday” (obituaries)
She went home to Gloryland
 “passing over”  She passed peacefully in her sleep.
“walking on”  (Native American)
 “Meeting one’s Maker”
He’s resting in peace now     R.I.P.
We laid her to rest.  She’s gone to rest
 “before I leave this earth”
He transitioned.  “At a Buddhist temple outside Hue, Vietnam’s onetime capital, 92-year–old Thich Nhat Hanh has come to quietly “transition,” as his [Buddhist] disciples put it.”
She “passed to Spirit” or “passing to the Spirit World”  National Spiritualist Asso. of Churches
He  ”is no longer with us.”
Gordy is with Jesus this morning.  (a friend about a friend)
He’s in the arms of the Savior.
“She was the seventh of the nine children Roxana Foote bore Lyman Beecher before being gathered to her reward,”                          … David McCullough in Brave Companions, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1992, in the chapter on Harriet Beecher Stowe. 
“…his departure from this earth was said to be imminent.  (John Connolly,  The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository, Mysterious Bookshop, NY, 2013)
#21   ”I learned that most of them were Jews who were waiting for what the SS called “transfer to the sky.”  They all knew they would soon die.”  P.169, “Poetry in Buchenwald”, in Against the Pollution of the I, by Jacques Lusseyran.
#22  He’s got to go and stand before his Judge.  He’s meeting his maker.
He transpired.  He expired.
He took his life.
The disease won;  she succumbed to cancer.
He was killed in action.
She was murdered.
He’s gone forever.
She’s six feet under now.
“He departed from the earth plane in 1901.” (Geraldine Cummins)
He bought the farm!
 She’s crossed into Hades (Greek)
 He’s safe in the harbor.
   From Wikepedia:
She’s pushing daisies now
We “put him to sleep; “we put him down” – common reports for mercy killing our pets
…going up to the spirit in the sky (60s pop song)
Marching to Zion (Isaac Watts)
…found everlasting life  (Methodist, 653)
…in Christ have eternal life, released from all the bonds of time (Methodist, 654)
…Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home (Methodist, 703)
We’re going to see the King. (Methodist, 706)
…then he’ll call me some day to my home far away (Methodist, 504)
Pearly gates
Happy hunting ground
Nirvana                    (49)
before I    “shuffle off this mortal coil.” –Hamlet                      (48)

??Why did I come for a week of French Immersion??

Number# 3:   Because I was being pulled here by The Great Unknown,
                           And I said Yes.
Number# 1: to stretch.
                      to open.
                      to allow spring inside me.
                      to get pushed.
  to be with a best-friend for a whole week
  and another best-friend for two days.
  to be with adventurous and open-hearted people.
to sleep beside a large lake-of-living-water
 and a loon
  and the sun setting on the water
    and half a moon rising
    up over the woods in the dark.
Plus
      ten thousand trees as they’re waking up.
      to receive in my body the careful message
        of the one frog singing to me
          in its friendly wooden rhythm.
I am here to shake myself up
and see what I look like after
being upside down for a week.
To have younger people guide me
carefully, lovingly, with humor and fun
   into the different world
      that “French people” have created.
because I’m curious;
because it’s fun to learn new things;
because it feels good to be new to myself.
But yes
I want to learn to speak in French.
This exercise is a pencil sharpener
for my old lazy mind.
It’s the rooster call for the old farm lady:
   “The sun is up!  Nothing’s changed!
     The world still needs you!”
      calls the cock.
I awaken here.  The old body stirs
in the woods
by the lake.
By the campfire
my young spirit rises up again with
the flames of beauty and song.
My young coach,
Like the loon across the lake,
Cheers me on:  “Keep going,
Keep trying.  You can do it!” says
   this wise young companion.
Then he waits, still,
as the motor of my mind sputters
 upward once more to do my bidding.
Number # 2:  I came because it’s good for people who
love each other immensely
to separate now and then.
Just to be sure they can do it.
Just to remember their
responsibility to their own different
Destinies.
Number # 3, again: 
    because I choose
    my courage and my humility
and obey the pull of The Great Unknown.

Alternative Words for “God”

Alternative terms for “God”
“I say God.  I am not sure that is the name.  You will know whom I mean.”  Thoreau
Some basic general categories for these terms:  this force is “out there” separate from us.” or this force is inside us,  or we are inside it.  Or this force is both inside us and other than us.
   This force is male. This force is female. This force is both male and female.
   This force is benign and loving.  This force is indifferent.  This force is judgmental and punitive.
 -God.  Goddess.
 -The Source.  The Source of All Life.  (my terms)
 -The Tao / the Way
-“Ultimate Reality” (per David Finke, Quaker friend)
 -The Real Presence      “To them the  unanswerables are no longer pools of terrible drowning.  They are the depth and body of the sea, the lifting presence beneath the keels of their vessels” – Alan Patton
-The Fountainhead
-Yahweh, Jehovah   the Jewish Bible/Christian Old Testament
-The Father, per Jesus.  “Not a hair falls from their head but their heavenly father sees it.”  However, also Jesus:  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
-Divine Spirit
 -The Holy Spirit (Ghost) the feminine aspect of the Divine ?
 -Nuos/ World Soul.  Greek:  all are connected through Her.  Earth= Her body = a part of Her
 -Gaia, Greek

 -Shekhinah:    Kabbalahassociates the Shekhinah with the female.[8]:128, n.51 According to Gershom Scholem, “The introduction of this idea was one of the most important and lasting innovations of Kabbalism. …no other element of Kabbalism won such a degree of popular approval.”[15]The “feminine Jewish divine presence, the Shekhinah, distinguishes Kabbalistic literature from earlier Jewish literature.”[16]   [Wikipedia] 

 -Amaterasu,  Japanese Sun Goddess, still honored today in Japan as the major deity of Shintoism.
 -Brigid, Celtic highest deity, Source of all Life, the Great Mother.
 -The Growth Drive:  impulses to grow and survive and adapt that make it possible to survive.
 – Wakan Tanka:  “The Lakota completed their spiritual duty as willed by Wakan Tanka, the Great Mystery.”    “That Which is Mysterious” – Quentin Young, Native American teacher in the Chicago Area.
 -The Everywhere Spirit,”  Native American who cursed Custer if Custer was dishonest
 -“What Gives Us All Life”
 -“The Bigger System”  – Eugene Gendlin, founder of Focusing, a body centered psychotherapeutic technique.
 -“That Which is Larger”, Joseph Campbell:  “We are not separate from That Which is Larger; we are in it.”
 -“The Atmospheric Presence” – William James, in The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher, a Jane Roberts book New Awareness Network, Inc., Manhasset N.Y., 1978. 
  -“The Benign Indifference of the Universe.”  -Albert Camus
 -Paolo Coelho:  “The World Soul”:  Is fed by all experience, has no preference for “good or bad”.   e- “The hand that wrote all”  Paolo Coelho in The Alchemist.
-I pray to “Everything I don’t know”  – Steve Walsh,  Quaker friend
 -The Center from Which we come and to Which we go”
 -Transcendent Energy
 -the Absolute, the Universal, the Divine.” 
    “If prayer is not for asking, what is it for?  I asked him.
    “It isn’t ‘for’ anything,” he said thoughtfully.  “It only reminds me I’m not alone.” …It is…our tie to the Absolute, a reminder of our nonlocal, unbounded nature, of that part of us that is infinite in space and time and is Divine.  … our origin and destiny: the Absolute, the Universal, the Divine.”     ?  Larry Dossey, pg. 290?
 -The Life Force:  “A sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused, whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean and the living air, and the blue sky, and in the mind of man: a motion and a spirit, that impels all thinking things, all objects of all thought, and rolls through all things.”  William Wordsworth, in Tintern Abbey.
 

          The life force:   “Deep in meditation, it is possible to become aware of the life-force itself.  You can see it if you learn how to look within. To describe it as electricity, or power, or light, or consciousness is all somewhat correct.  But such descriptions are inadequate.  You have to see it for yourself. You have to feel it for yourself.  Yu have to know it for yourself.

   To be in its presence is like being in front of something primeval, basic, mysterious, shamanistic, and profound.  To be in its presence makes all references mute and all senses slack, leaving only deep awe.  One is drawn to it in utter fascination.  It is the mighty flame to our mothlike consciousness.”
       (365 Tao Daily Meditations, by Deng Ming-Dao, Harper San Fransisco, 1992, p.273)

          The Field.  The Zero Force.  Lynn McTaggert, The Field, 
          “Emerson points us toward a unifying force greater than ourselves.”  Thoreau
           Birther of Creation     Aramaic translation of “Our Father”
          “the origin”  Rumi, Afghani mystic, in “Moses and the Shepherd”
          The Magic,   The Secret Garden,  Frances Hodgson Burnett
“Then I will chant” he said.  And he began, looking like a strange boy spirit.  “The sun is shining – the sun is shining.  That is the magic.  The flowers are growing – the roots are stirring.  That is the Magic.  Being alive is the Magic – being strong is the Magic.  The Magic is in me – the Magic is in me.  It is in me – it is in me.  It’s in every one of us.  It’s in Ben Weatherstaff’s back.  Magic!  Magic!  Come and help!”
          “The Powers That Be”    common phrase
          God” is the aspirations of humans, what we wish we could eventually become!   5/9/18  me! 
          Plus: the “sacred” is an escape from reality.   All this after a visit to Temple el Zedek, a Jewish temple near me in Indianapolis
          God = “The Eternal Witness”    according to something read by Eliz. Valencia on Fathers’ Day 6/17/18  at U.U.I. Indianapolis
          The Great Mystery  -Albert Einstein  “Do not grow old, no matter how long you live.  Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we are born.”
– The Absolute, the Causeless Cause,  The Theosophical Society 
From Theosophy, Wikipedia
Revision as of 15:07, 30 May 2018 by Janet Kerschner
Absolute is a term derived from the Latin absolūtus which means “loosened from” or “unattached.” As such, the word “Absolute” points out a negative concept meaning non-relative, non-comparative, or without relation to anything else. In philosophy it refers to an unconditioned reality which transcends the limited, conditional, everyday existence. It is sometimes conceived of as the source through which all beings emanate. This, however, is not an accurate expression. Beings and objects cannot be emanated from the absolute as if there was an “outside” to it but, rather, they are aspects of the absolute reality itself.
In the Theosophicalview, the ultimate reality of the universe is regarded to be Absolute. It is atemporal, meaning that the absolute reality was, is, and will be, whether there is a universe manifested or not. It is boundless and omnipresent, being the essence of spirit, matter, and energy. It is immutable, which implies that it cannot grow, change, or evolve. Being absolute, it transcends any opposites (such as fullness and emptiness, good and evil, being and non-being, transcendent and immanent, etc.) It cannot be grasped by the mind, though it can be sensed by the spiritual intuition.
Mme. Blavatsky postulates that the Absolute has two aspects: the absolute abstract motionand the absolute abstract space. There is also some mention of “duration“, a kind of absolute lasting, as a third aspect.
Some synonyms used in Theosophical literature are Be-ness, One Life, Parabrahman, Sat, Adi-Buddha, Ain Soph, among others.
General description
This Absolute reality is the first fundamental proposition found in The Secret Doctrine, described as follows:
An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought—in the words of Mandukya, “unthinkable and unspeakable.” To render these ideas clearer to the general reader, let him set out with the postulate that there is one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned, being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause—dimly formulated in the “Unconscious” and “Unknowable” of current European philosophy—is the rootless root of “all that was, is, or ever shall be.” It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is “Be-ness” rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat), and is beyond all thought or speculation.[1]
Elaborating on the fact that the Absolute is “beyond the range and reach of thought,” H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
The “Absolute Consciousness” . . . “behind” phenomena, which is only termed unconsciousness in the absence of any element of personality, transcends human conception. Man, unable to form one concept except in terms of empirical phenomena, is powerless from the very constitution of his being to raise the veil that shrouds the majesty of the Absolute. Only the liberated Spirit is able to faintly realise the nature of the source whence it sprung and whither it must eventually return. . . . The highest Dhyan Chohan, however, can but bow in ignorance before the awful mystery of Absolute Being; and . . . even in that culmination of conscious existence—“the merging of the individual in the universal consciousness”—to use a phrase of Fichte’s—the Finite cannot conceive the Infinite, nor can it apply to it its own standard of mental experiences.[2]
Although it is regarded as the “Causeless Cause” of the universe, we should not think the universe is produced “out of the Absolute”. Both manifestation and dissolutionare facets of the Absolute reality, which nevertheless remains immutable. As Mme. Blavatsky wrote:
The first lesson taught in Esoteric philosophy is, that the incognizable Cause does not put forth evolution, whether consciously or unconsciously, but only exhibits periodically different aspects of itself to the perception of finite Minds.[3]
The “Causeless Cause” of the universe,[4]however, does not correspond to the usual concept of God in monotheistic religions:
We deny the existence of a thinking conscious God, on the grounds that such a God must either be conditioned, limited and subject to change, therefore not infinite, or … if he is represented to us as an eternal unchangeable and independent being, with not a particle of matter in him, then we answer that it is no being but an immutable blind principle, a law.[5]
The God of theology, we say — and prove it — is a bundle of contradictions and a logical impossibility. Therefore, we will have nothing to do with him. . . This God is called by his devotees infinite and absolute . . . Then, if infinite — i. e., limitless — and especially if absolute, how can he have a form, and be a creator of anything? Form implies limitation, and a beginning as well as an end; and, in order to create, a Being must think and plan. How can the ABSOLUTE be supposed to think — i. e., to have any relation whatever to that which is limited, finite, and conditioned? This is a philosophical, and a logical absurdity.[6]
No feelings, even the highest, can be attributed to the Absolute. H. P. Blavatsky answered a question about this as follows:
Q. But we understand that bliss, as the state of the Absolute, was intended to be referred to.
A. This is still more illogical. How can the ABSOLUTE be said to feel? The Absolute can have no condition nor attribute. It is only that which is finite and differentiated which can have any feeling or attitude predicated of it.[7]
In several instances Mme. Blavatsky stated that the Absolute can be regarded to be both Absolute Being and Non-Being.[8]On certain occasions the termed “Absoluteness” is used to provide an even less concrete idea of the Absolute:
Absoluteness. When predicated of the UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE, it denotes an abstract noun, which is more correct and logical than to apply the adjective “absolute” to that which has neither attributes nor limitations, nor can IT have any.[9]
A frequently asked question is why the Absolute puts forth a cosmos, if the former is perfect in itself and cannot gain or be affected in any way by the latter? Mme. Blavatsky said:
Ah! It is a very easy question to ask. . . . He wants to ask what is the cause that propels or compels Parabrahman to create. Parabrahman is not a cause. It is not even the Absolute, as I say, but absolutness. Now, how can we know the cause that propels Parabrahman to create? That which is behind all veil of matter is incomprehensible, and no finite intellect can conceive it. . . . and to come and ask for the cause is perfectly ridiculous. . . . Just try to imagine two forces: the centripetal and the centrifugal, which periodically must emanate from IT. Just as the clock must strike so this strikes and emanates periodically. When it has done striking it goes to sleep again. Try to imagine that and then you will have perhaps a notion. . . . Mind you, it is not that I say, and certainly not that I would go and advocate, the automatic creation of the materialists; never. But it is for the purpose of giving a shape to it, and to allow people to conceive of it, because otherwise, you cannot.”

[ Well,  if you read all that from the Theosophists, good for you!  And if it enlightened you, then you’re ahead of me!  -Marti J]

Saving the Bobcat

      I did a brave and interesting thing this morning:  I got myself up and out and drove to a place I’ve never been for a 10:00 am Indiana Department of Natural Resources Commission Meeting to speak up for saving the bobcat from open hunting.   I had almost no idea of what I was getting into and could hardly sleep last night feeling called to do this but very scared to do it.  Public speaking is not my favorite sport.
   I’ve attended one other government committee meeting:  an Indiana Senate subcommittee about the proposal to cut down the several-hundred-year-old trees in Crown Hill Cemetery.   From that equally scary and interesting experience I knew a few helpful things.  Probably there will be some “experts” there to speak with facts about the subject.  Anyone can speak:  you sign a card as you come in if you want to speak.  They’ll ask first for the people who have titles after their names like “PhD”, or “Professor of__”.  And bodies matter:  I felt both times that at the very least I could be a body showing support for this cause.
     But what could I say if I had to speak?  Some sweet silly thing like “Please don’t kill off the bobcats.  They’re beautiful beings!”  I had read enough to know that they are no threat to humans at all:  they never attack humans nor pets.  And they’ve been on the endangered list for awhile, recently downgraded to the “watch” list. They’re actually helpful because they eat rodents and rabbits.  And there are no current counts in Indiana about how many bobcats we now have.  Are there lots and hunting them is needed, or are their numbers still few?
    After a restless night, I awoke feeling fairly brave and definitely committed to going.  I called to my mind all the great images of famous people bravely speaking up that I could remember:  I’m a Quaker!  We speak truth to power, even when we quake and shake!   Lucretia Mott!  Elizabeth Cady Stanton!  Even Susan B. Anthony had been a Quaker for awhile!  Had they not spoken up, women might still not have the vote.  I remembered that Jesus had said something to the apostles like, “Don’t worry about what you are to say.  The Spirit whom I will send will tell you what to say.”  How many famous people have had to just stand up and trust that the words will come to them.  It’s just first essential for us to stand up, to get our bodies there. And I always refer back to a man who is a template for me, Jacques Lusseyran, a young blind Frenchman who led 500 young men in resistance to the Nazis occupation; he said he always felt safe, in touch with his Inner Guidance, as long as he avoided three things;  anger, fear, and feeling in competition.  He survived 18 months in Buchenwald Concentration Camp, blind!  That is what it looks like to stay centered and listen inwardly in a stressful situation.
   So, with much emotion I prepared to go to a government committee meeting.  A surprisingly happy song came into my head from somewhere:  “I saw the light!   I saw the light!   No more darkness, no more night.  Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord! I saw the light.”  Why was this song coming to me now, I wondered?  I knew perhaps all the drama inside me might not be necessary:  maybe this would be a piece of cake.  Experts would be there and I’d never have to speak at all.  But I had the impression that there had been other hearings on this in different parts of the state.  Perhaps the experts had already spoken and wouldn’t be here todayI felt determined to speak if it seemed necessary, to say whatever I could find inside me to help save the beautiful little bobcats.
   So I dressed “seriously”  – wore my large gold earrings because I feel stronger wearing them. I took care with my clothes and hair, got my stuff altogether, knew the route and gave myself plenty of time to get there.  All I knew was that it was somewhere at Fort Harrison State Park, where I’ve never been. The park is gigantic.  At the park entrance I was told the large conference building I needed to find and headed there.  Outside stood a small circle of five women with signs:  “Save the bobcat!”  OK!  Right place and I won’t be alone.  I took from them my bobcat sticker for my shirt and headed into the very fancy hotel, was directed to the large ballroom where this committee would meet.  The Senate committee I’d gone to before had been in a very small crowded room; this was large, coffee and water available, many rows of seats.  I signed in and hesitated about filling out the little card which would say that I wanted to speak.  I still didn’t know if there were “experts” here ready to speak my mind, or just the enthusiastic little circle of women outside.  I was told that I had to fill it out before the meeting began, but if I changed my mind and didn’t want to speak I could just decline when my name was called.  So I filled out the form.
   Because I use hearing aids I had to sit up as close as possible.  I didn’t want to sit in the very first row, looked over the second row.  I wished I could sit by someone with a bobcat sticker but I didn’t see any.  I sat on an end where I knew I’d see the committee chairperson so hopefully I could follow what was happening.  An empty seat beside me was filled by a tall strong-looking man;  a “hunter?”  Not a clue, but during the meeting I had to get clear about what was happening so I had no choice but to ask him “What’s being decided?”  He clarified it for me. 
   The 12 committee members sat at a large U-shaped table with white cloths over them.  None of the committee ever had or used a microphone, and because of the largeness of the room, I still could only catch part of what was going on.  I did understand that the issue of the bobcat had been moved from the last item on the agenda to the first!  Evidently, it was clear that many people were here to express themselves on this issue and if they left it till last they’d be here forever.  Also, as it turned out, the committee had informally already decided to cancel the proposal!  They had received enough protest before, saw the crowd here and knew it was useless to try to push this through.  So before they ever heard anything from us, one of the committee members officially asked that this proposal be withdrawn, and then he had to go on about changing line X, change line Y,  change line Z.  That’s where I had to ask my neighbor what exactly was happening.   When they announced that the proposal for open hunting on the bobcats was cancelled, a great and happy applause broke out throughout all of the seated crowd; I could see that we certainly had the bodies present. 
   A few more items were read related to this and then the chairman offered a break so “If anyone would like to leave, feel free”.   All the bobcat fans happily got up and moved toward the door, gathering noisily in the lobby.
   I waited as others came out, watching for someone specifically with a bobcat sticker to get more details, not having heard it all well.  A tall man explained to me that bobcat hunting had been cancelled “for now”, meaning it could be proposed again and we should watch the papers.  Plus, there had been another proposal which was now also cancelled to allow the euthanizing of raccoons, opposums, coyotes, bats,  “nuisance animals”, when they’re trapped in people’s houses or yards.  Till now, these animals are trapped and then released in remote areas.  I didn’t have quite as clear a feeling about this:  I understand the constant problems these animals can be to people, and that catch and release is time-taking, maybe ends up being repeated.  But – what will our lives be like when we no longer have animals around us? The one proposal that did pass in this committee was to allow the shooting of squirrels from moving cars!   Yes!  Incredible to me.  Some people just have to kill something for fun!   So, not bobcats, then get the squirrels.
    When we’ve logged all the giant old trees and killed off all the animals in the wild, when we have all the land to ourselves on which to build our houses and stay inside, warm or cool,  what will we be like?  We need animals around us. Their presence keeps us grounded and present in the Now, aware of the seasons and how to live in synch with the earth.  Without animals, we could drift off into our imaginations and mental activities, forgetting the whole world of our bodies and the energies of the earth.  Indiana has already long ago lost most of its original forests and wildlife.  For our grandchildren, we will be a flat empty state with lots of human houses with lots of space between them.  Beauty will be gone, beauty that relaxes us and affirms living. When we no longer have animals around to show us how to just “be” and play and sing and rejoice in ordinary activities, how will we remember these parts of ourselves?  Long live the bobcats and the squirrels, and the coyotes and the cute opossums and the dear little bats at night.  May we never “get rid of” all mosquitos so we can still have the birds!  Oh, someone please save us from ourselves!

Today and Another Day


     Today the weather is zero degrees outside, and two inches of new bright snow are keeping most folks at home.  The day is sunny and still.  I carefully drove the five blocks to my beauty shop, inside the Jewish old folks’ home.  Here I sit under the hairdryer, watching the slow parade of nodding heads in wheel chairs as they’re pushed back to their rooms after a very quiet bingo game.  To use my time, I’m trying to think of how to describe in words what I see here.  In front of me, a large transparent garbage bag hanging from a square black metal frame with a cheap grey plastic cover standing open.  It’s 1/3 full of used white towels that smell of permanent solution and hair coloring chemicals.  What else is in front of me?  All is rather unglamorous today.
    But suddenly, I’m remembering another day in my life; maybe the sunlight and quietness were the same there as today.  I’m standing in the hallway of the Louvre in Paris, a long, carpeted, quiet hall before me in subdued browns.  Along the left are statues, usually white, standing on pedestals or in glass boxes.  Sunlight flows down through high indirect windows.  Back farther along the walls are famous Renaissance paintings, dark colors, some gruesome religious subjects,  not appealing to me.  I meander down a ways and then turn into the room where Leonardo’s painting of the Mona Lisa is kept, a little back in a large very protected showcase.  My eyebrows rise; I’m stunned!   She doesn’t look anything like the paper posters and refrigerator magnets where I’ve seen her everywhere!  The real Mona Lisa is rich in the warm colors of real paint, burning browns and oranges, even the dark colors are pulsing with life in them.  She is powerfully calm and present, like a Dalai Lama, on the earth and off the earth. It feels to me as if she’s really here!  Behind her I see a brown dirt road and flowing water; I’d never noticed her background before.  On that day, I sit down on a grey cement bench for 45 minutes and take in her live presence. 
   But back again here in the sunny quiet nursing home, captured under the noisy hair dryer, I find myself remembering a different day in my life.  Maybe once more it’s the similar sunlight and quietness.  I’m standing in a surprisingly small garage; all is brick and cement. I notice there’s no place at all to sit.  To my right are two saw horses supporting a long cardboard box, in which lies the six foot body of my son.  On my left stretches a long black rusty narrow furnace, a little higher than myself.  I’d been told I could be present at his cremation, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so – “mundane.”  I open the bent cardboard over his face, the beautiful face I know, but to my touch it’s cold and hard. He’s not here in his body.  I place a red carnation on his chest – his favorite flower.  Then against the control of Fate, I cut a clump of his sandy brown hair from the left side of his head, to keep his real body with me as long as nature will allow.  I cry, and I tell his spirit how sorry I am for all the things I did wrong as a mother, and that I tried my best to save his life but I couldn’t do it.  Suddenly the tall skinny man says “Cremation takes a lotta hours and we need to get goin’.  ‘Fraid your 15 minutes is already up.”  I kiss my son on the forehead, and then, I don’t remember how, they pick up this long heavy box and shove it into the furnace. I hear the door clank shut.  Then the tall man asks  if I want to push the button to turn the furnace on;  in a fatalistic daze, I do it.  I see the red light go on and we have to leave.
    But now, still sitting again under the quietly noisy hairdryer, I try to remember some other calmer day in my life.  Suddenly, I’m standing alone on a very high hill, looking out over the sunny city of Honolulu;  I see the dark blue waters of Pearl Harbor and the lovely gentle turquoise waters of Waikiki Beach, and over there the large cliff called Diamond Head. The white buildings of the city are everywhere dotted with green palm trees.  I lower my eyes to the ground in front of me.  On the other side of the low grey metal fence, I see the evidence of many tourist buses.  The ground slants downward as open dirt for about 12 feet before the soft green of the cactus fields begins.  All this open area is littered with cans and bottles, the remains of sandwiches, small grey and black plastic containers that once held camera film, and plastic bags waving and nodding like flags in the wind.  I pause, now shocked and distraught.  Then I climb over the fence, grab a stray bag, and begin filling it with junk.  For two hours I fill the bag, climb back up the hill to the empty garbage cans, pour out the trash, and then carefully slide down the slanted ground to fill it again.  Finally I’m satisfied and even go a little way into the cactuses, but I give up on that and return to sit on the fence, once again looking out over the vast sunny multicolored city below.  Now, I feel, I have bonded with the land here.  Now we are good friends, and I have reminded her of how beautiful and precious is the island of Hawaii.
    As my awareness returns here to the beauty shop in the nursing home on an ordinary non-adventurous day,   I add up the total for “days of my life.” I’ve already been given approximately 26,700 days!  How many more might I have before I, too, leave my body behind?  Not another 26,000, not in this body, but if I take care, hopefully quite a few more days, each unique though they may seem the same, and though they flow by so quickly I don’t always notice the unexpected.  I hear that the way to live to be 100 is to live to be 99, and then, be very careful.  Part of my slower future is enjoying memories of many interesting days of living.

Celebration of the spirit of BEAR


               
   Bear is a symbol of a personality balanced between the active and the nurturing personalities.  We all know that bears are strong, can be ferocious, and are to be feared. The grizzlies and polar bears are the most famous for these characteristics. Bears are generally composed, calm, but at a ready to react swiftly. They’re not aggressive unless they’re given a reason. They are unpredictable because they stand strongly within themselves.  The Bear’s characteristics of strength and courage are respected everywhere.
   We also all know the image of the mother and cub – the tender and long nurturing of the young from winter’s hibernation through two years of childhood where the mother teaches the young all it needs to know and ferociously defends it against all threats to its life.  When male bears meet they go through careful gestures like boxing to establish who is the strongest, who has the rights to the best fishing areas, but even a large male will avoid a smaller mothering female because of the ferociousness of these mothers.
   In summer, Bear is outgoing:   adventurous, curious, playful, assertively searching out every edible resource as it relentlessly prepares for winter.  Bears climb trees;  they can walk on their hind feet;   they run amazingly swiftly (up to 35 miles an hour!)  Bears swim; they even have a swim style called snorkeling where they pull along mostly underwater except for their ears, watching for fish.  . 
Living in synch with the seasons, autumn comes and Bear eventually looks for a place to rest with winter.  Bears do not completely hibernate; they go into what’s called a torpor, sleeping most of the time but wake- able if disturbed. Winter in most places is longer than summer; some bears sleep up to seven months of the year!   This requires an enormous amount of eating all through summer and fall.  Bears eat anything:  Meat, fish, berries, honey, nuts, fruits, and anything edible.  
Like all animals except humans, bears mate only when the female is in estrus, about two or three weeks out of the year.  Newborn cubs may have different fathers.  Mothers give birth in the winter torpor and the cubs are unusually small and unformed, but nursing through the winter sleep they grow big enough to handle spring with the energy and curiosity of all young.  The torpor of winter is shaken off slowly as the ground awakens and the bears slowly wake up.
   For most bears winter is the longest season and so cooperation with the spirit of winter is a prime symbol of bear for us humans.  Simply put, they stand for the value of sleep in wintertime!   Winter is a season of receptiveness and allowing.  They spend much of their lives in the activity of sleep – that is,  “dreaming”.  Not knowing the telepathic language of bears, we don’t know the contents of the dreams of bears, but we do know some about the function of dreams for us.  In human dreams we seem to digest the experiences of our active times; we seem to plan future activities;  some of us seem to travel out of our bodies while our bodies are  in our nightly torpor.  Even Bible stories record how humans can be visited in dreams by angels and messengers, warned of danger, given insights about upcoming plagues or interpersonal squabbles.  We don’t always remember what we’ve dreamed but we often awaken with insights and inspirations.  Sleep is a creative and problem-solving activity, where we seem connected to resources larger than our rational minds.  Some theories say we are all connected by a deep river in the unconscious, where we make plans together!
    For us, Bear is a symbol of being closely connected to earth.  Birds are of the air, fish are of the water, some animals live off the earth in trees, some stay awake all winter.  Bear is definitely connected deeply with Earth and does not fight against the seasons. Bear is usually connected with the heart chakra, the middle place uniting the lower and higher, the earth and the spiritual.  Also, Bear is the animal of the goddess Artemis, or Diana, goddess of childbirth. 
    Bears have also always been a symbol of death and rebirth, because of their deep sinking into the unconscious during winter and then arising again into our world active and renewed.
    Bear is a symbol of creativity growing out of the quiet receptiveness of winter.  Newness comes to us not from our rational planning, which hashes over things we already know, but out of the deep receptiveness of sleep.  By shutting down our rational effort and the chattering monkey of our minds, we can allow inspirations to emerge through us.  Whatever purpose we were born with may rise again more clearly by relaxing in sleep.
    As humans, we won’t slip down into the long deep sleep of Bear, but we feel a similar pull in winter to rest more, to be quieter, to contemplate and meditate, to read and reflect.  Seeds of inspiration come to us in winter and we may slowly find new projects emerging within us.   
Invocation:
Spirit of Bear, be with us here as we consider your example.
We appreciate your presence with us on this earth.
We appreciate your great and beautiful spirit.
We ask your forgiveness for any humans who treat you without respect. 
As we now deal with this winter of the year,
 guide us as we try to learn from you.   Especially,  how to flow with the gifts of this season.
 Help us settle into good habits.     May we receive inspiration and renewal,
 and emerge creative and refreshed with the spring.
MEDITATION ON BEAR
Being guided by Bear we would not fight the natural gifts of winter.  In our own human ways, we can continue active,  while allowing ourselves more rest, sleep, and work of the spirit.  Let us now take a look at our life situations and how we can incorporate obeying the call of the season, as bear does.  I invite you to close your eyes          and think about your attitude to sleep and rest in this winter time.  Do you push against this impulse too much, resenting the need for more sleep, apologizing for it?  Do you overplan activities for the wintertime?
Scientists tell us that we ALL dream several times a night; that we MUST dream to stay mentally healthy.  Remembering our dreams or benefitting from their inspiration takes practice.  Consider altering your habits   to wake up slowly and gently,  allowing images from the night   to linger in your consciousness.
  Arising slowly,  we might write down glimpses from the night   or inspirations coming to us as regarding our day.  Journalingis a helpful spiritual practice for catching intuitions and inspirations.
   Might we add more inspiring reading into our winter schedule?    Perhaps some regular time for meditation, to practice quieting our monkey mind so that  intuitions,  inspiration,  higher guidance can come to us?
Quiet sharings with friends are another human activity in winter that helps us get in touch with our truer selves and to get insights into the challenges of our lives.  Can we make time for open-ended relaxed chatting with good friends?
Can we treat our bodies more gently in winter, keeping them going with appropriate carefulness, not over-pushing but attending to what our bodies need?   Good nutrition, gentle exercise?
Think now of what practices or changes you might put into your winter days to learn from the healthy example of Bear.


ENDING

           –  Make dream bundles, requesting special dreams
           – Pass plate of Bear food (berries, nuts, honey, jerky, etc), then leave food for Bear
       outside  
           Release the elements