Saturday, July 2, 2011

Life has taught me undeniably, that surrender, in its place, is as honorable as resistance, especially if one has no choice. -Maya Angelou

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting, 
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And in utter nakedness,
But, trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.- William Wordsworth
This beautiful piece of William Wordsworth’s poem has always provided comfort. Especially in times of tragedy and loss.  If we enter this world trailing clouds of glory, coming from God, who is our home, then it makes sense we would depart this world, joyfully  trailing stars, fireworks of celebration, announcing our return to Home.  I like to think of stars as a portal between heaven and earth.  If I shut my eyes and make a wish I feel the love and energy of the universe holding me in a group hug.  I sense my loved ones who have moved on to their heavenly life, listening to my hopes and dreams.   I have done a lot of wishing upon the stars.   I learned a lesson this week.  Wishing is a wonderful practice,  even necessary.  It’s a faith based act praying our desires  into the Universe.  Occasionally, all the wishing in the world will not change things, and we must simply let go. The answer sometimes is... just let go.   
My cousin decided to do exactly that this week.  She is a beautiful young woman, the mother of two adolescent children, a loving wife; adored by all of her family, treasured by friends.  She’s an accomplished professional, a pillar in her community, and an incredibly wise old soul.  I didn’t know that part of her that is a wise old soul... until recently.  She was diagnosed with a very aggressive, inoperable cancer about five months ago.  Through it all, her mindset has been to fight and win the battle of her life, doing anything she needs to do to be victorious over this insidious disease. There was no room for any other outcome in her mind.   She had so many strikes against her right from the git go, but hasn’t let that stop her from charging ahead, ready to kick-box her illness into remission.  The news in the past weeks from her doctors that  her cancer has spread and there is no more they can do for her from a treatment aspect, would send most into a tailspin, spiraling into depression.  Not her.  She doesn’t have that kind of time.   She said, “It is what it is and I am not afraid to die.”  I am in awe. 
Her quote may sound resigned.  Her behaviour is not.  She has surrendered. Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that just cannot or will not be.  In no way, shape, or form, has she stopped living her life, just for today.  She’s simply taken the energy she was expending slamming her shoulder against the closed door of a return to good health, and is using it to leave something special with each one of her family members.  She’s spent time, sharing her heart’s desires, for their lives. Some of the lessons she’s imparted are; fight for what you want and what you believe in, but when you know it’s not where you need to be, or part of the plan for your life, accept it and retreat.  Use your energy and time on this earth to share what you’ve learned and know, celebrate the fun times, and the abundance of love... mostly the love.  Don’t let self-pity and regret block the beauty of this unpredictable, chaotic, blessed life.  
I know, it would be impossible for me to deal with the sadness and such a profound loss if I felt that this was our final stop, the journey completed upon the  death of the body.  I know there is so much more.  I know our loved ones that go before us, are present in our lives always. Not in the same way, but perhaps, in a more powerful way.  The goodness of their lives, the kindnesses extended, the sacrifices made, the examples set, remains always, and changes us at our very core.  
My husband has been gone for twelve years.  I attended church a few weeks ago only to have him touch in and remind us all what a spiritual and compassionate person he was in life.  In his homily, one of our Deacons relayed an encounter he had with Mark when he was alive. This memory continues to play a role in how this gentleman conducts his life today.  I smiled and I cried.  They were tears of joy at the reminder of the goodness of my husband and gratitude that his story has continued on.  My three little grand-daughters who never knew him, were there to hear this testament as well. This simple act, many years ago,  that touched our Deacon’s life, has now become a powerful message in guiding others to live their lives less judgmentally and  more spiritually.  Our spirits do go on.  We do make a difference and the ripples of our imprint are felt for all eternity. 

This is the case already with our Kelly.  Her acceptance of her pending death...  Her reassurance to her children that she will always hear them and be an angelic presence in their lives.....  Her “lectures”, as her  nieces call them, reminding them to recognize their own worthiness and value always;  her immense faith and bravery that this is not the end of her, but simply the end of her physical body.  I know what I am witnessing is Grace in action.   I can’t even imagine.  Many of us know what it’s like to let go of  beloved relationship, a marriage, a home, a job... but how do you surrender your own life to death?  There can only be one explanation.  This is a soul that knows this is not her home and can rest comfortably knowing it isn’t ours either.  She knows we will all reconnect with each other again, someday.   
This living angel, a gift to us all, is showing us how we need to live while we are visiting here.  And when the time comes for her to leave this earthly existence, I know the trails of glory she will leave on her way Home, will light up the sky forever.