Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Only Antidote to Death, and Ash Wednesday

It's Saturday morning, and absolutely beautiful in North Texas. The sun is shining. The air looks clean (for a change). And it's suppose to be about 70 by mid-afternoon. Life is so incredibly good.

D's play, Driving Miss Daisy, is doing well. Thursday night I attended the "preview" performance, where they invite people in from retirement homes for free. The house was about half full, I'd say. D was great! I admire his talent for acting and performing like that. The whole cast was wonderful. In fact, during the last act, when Hoak is visiting Daisy in the nursing home, feeding her with his old, shaking hand, I found tears streaming down my face.

There is such a sadness involved in getting old. I mean, just existentially ~ sadness at the approaching end. I remember, when I decided to jump off the cliff and leave my oil company job...my Zen teacher, Ruben, told me that I had one month to live and challenged me: what will you do in the time you have remaining on this earth? what will you do, see, think, feel, be?
As I went back to the meditation room, I sat back down on my pillow, faced the wall, and suddenly I was above the earth, looking down at it. The GREEN of the earth -- the GREEN was everywhere below me, and oh, it was breathtaking. I remember feeling such a pounding sadness. I don't want to leave this beauty!

But we all leave it. We all move on to something else, something even more beautiful, hopefully.

That experience of knowing I was about to die, that I had but one short month left to live, put everything into perspective for me. I wasn't about to waste my life working in a job that held no meaning for me. With one month to live I was determined to taste life in its fullness.

In many other ways, since then, I have experienced the only true antidote to death: living LIFE!

RevDrKate has a beautiful meditation on this in her reflections of the Ash Wednesday service at her church. Like her, Wednesday evening, as people came forward for communion, I was privileged to remind them of the transitory nature of their lives, the fragility each day carries within it: Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Remember, as far as we know we have one shot at this thing we call living. Don't waste it. Live. Live now. Live fully.

My dear friend Seeker Executive lost one of her dearest friends this week. Cathy died of cancer. She was a true soul friend for Seeker Executive. They had known each other since college and had always been able to speak of what was important, truly truly important, in life. This was no surface friendship...they went to the marrow with and for each other. Seeker Executive was with Cathy last week. They were able to speak of the meaning death held for each of them, and there was a pervading sense that this was coming too soon...too soon. Like us, Cathy was in her 50's. Cathy died on Monday, February 4th. And Seeker Executive is returning from Austin today, having attended what I'm sure was an exquisite memorial service yesterday ~ exquisite in its beauty and its pain.

Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Seeker Executive and her dear Cathy embodied a friendship in which life was lived to the fullest, I think. Depth of feeling ...depth of understanding...

The cost of love is beyond measure. Ah, I can hardly breathe as, even now, I take in this Reality.


...Still, the sun is shining. The air is clean. It's a beautiful day in North Texas.

7 comments:

Songbird said...

Thank you for this beautiful reflection. I am touched by your story and your friend's.

RevDrKate said...

Oh, indeed! I saw Dancing at Lughnasa the other night....another wonderful reminder of the brevity and sanctity and preciousness of life...and too how we are carried through. I love how literature and drama (and a good Zen teacher) can bring us to remember those things.

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

Soul friends are indeed a gift from God. Beautiful post, Katherine.

Jiff said...

Oh, Katherine, you share such touching moments and weave them into a beatuiful tapesty.

What a joy to have, and to witness, such beauty in life!

Jan said...

I always love your reflections. Thank you for your thoughtful writings.

mompriest said...

Ah, such sweet love-loss of a friendship....I had a college roomate die about 18 years ago from breast cancer...it was similar...life is truly fragile and precious...prayers for you friend...

Diane said...

just to let you know I tagged you for a meme ...