A Life Well-Lived

I knew him for a short time—perhaps a year.  Even upon meeting him, from the start I could see that he was near the end of his journey.  The years had accumulated around lesterfordobit.jpghim and were starting to weigh him down. His walk was hesitant; his navigation abilities less certain.

“You remind me of my sister when she was younger,” he once said to me. I smiled and said ‘thank you,’ having no idea what aspect of my appearance or demeanor was so similar. But I knew his sister was no longer in this world.

I complimented his always-dapper appearance at church. He would often wear the beautiful purple shirt and matching tie with his dark suit. His eyes would smile with delight. He was a compassionate but proud man, and he wore his humanity on his sleeve for all to see.

Yesterday, amidst the rain and snow flurries, he was buried.

During the funeral service, the most moving portions were the testimonials of three of his twelve grand-children—all were young adults—all claimed deep love for him and were clearly products of his careful nurturing. They told tales of grandpa’s many skills and helpful nature; of how he had pitched in during their home repairs and computer problems. Who knew, even in his advanced years, that he was such a computer technician besides being a woodworker and general handyman?

I smiled frequently during their choked-up speeches hearing of his many abilities and caring nature–and even of his earlier motorcycling escapades.  These were all aspects of Lester that I never knew—aspects that you didn’t see beyond his body’s more-current frailty during the short church services that I had attended with him.

After the service the large family all slowly filed past, following the casket as it was rolled out of the church and into the hearse to be taken to the burial area.  We sang “Amazing Grace” to their parting processional, and I thought—Wow, that is the true sign of a life well-lived—how deeply this gentle man had affected those around him, especially his loving, close-knit family members.

Other than peripherally, I may not have truly known and appreciated you, Lester, but your loving family certainly did.

Well done sir!

 

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The River of Feelings

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“There is a river of feelings within us, and every drop of water in that river is a feeling. To observe our feelings, we sit on the bank of the river and identify each feeling as it flows by. It may be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. One feeling lasts for a while, and then another comes. Meditation is to be aware of each feeling. Recognize it, smile to it, look deeply into it, and embrace it with all our heart. If we continue to look deeply, we discover the true nature of that feeling, and we are no longer afraid, even of a painful feeling. We know we are more than our feelings, and we are able to embrace each feeling and take good care of it.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh
Photo: © Yvonne D. Williams

For some reason this Thich Nhat Hanh quote stuck in my head when I read it because I know what he is referring to—I’ve felt it myself—the stepping out of intense feeling, no matter how painful it may be, and simply watching it flow over us as we remain sitting on the bank in silence before the enormity of the water passing through on its journey elsewhere.

If you aren’t sitting a part from it on the bank, that “River of Feelings” is a flow we continually ride—sometimes in a kayak gliding above the water and sometimes in an inner-tube with half our body immersed into it.kayakriverswirl67.jpg

So for us to say that we do not “feel” something emotionally is to say that we are riding the kayak as we skim the waves while still feeling the froth of turbulence. We may bob around a bit with emotion, but we’ve elevated our heads above the water and as long as we remain upright, we know that we won’t drown.

Inversely, when we are immersed in the feeling, we become the feeling and may struggle for our lives; clinging tightly to our inner-tube to keep our heads above water—for fear it drowns us with wave after wave of intense, gut-clenching emotion.

tube on river67Grief is an inner-tube type feeling. So is rage. It’s easy to be swamped when you immerse yourself in those feelings.

Some would say depression is such a feeling, but I believe that depression isn’t really a feeling as much as it is the result of losing the inner-tube completely and accumulating body fatigue from continually treading water without relief in sight.

So what is the difference between riding the kayak and sitting on the bank?

The kayak provides an experiential option for riding the feelings we naturally have during the course of our lives. It gives us buoyancy and distance from the worst of the emotional waves sloshing about us.

The bank is an entirely different perspective on emotional impaction. From the bank you do not participate in the feeling, you only observe it as it comes and goes, and try not to judge its rightness or wrongness; its power or onriverbank45.jpgaffectation on you.  You acknowledge it as it impacts you and note what is being felt, but you let it go—you let it move on and away without clinging to it—without wallowing in it or calling it back to re-experience, over and over.

It’s not easy sitting on the bank and observing your own river of feelings; and sometimes it’s hard to even find a kayak from which to navigate the powerful river of emotions that we feel.  At times when life takes a tumultuous turn for us, we feel fortunate enough to simply have that inner-tube to help keep our heads above the overwhelming waves.

What I think Thick Nhat Hanh was saying in this quote is that observing from the bank (meditation) is the far safer option for dealing with intense feelings, because it allows the greatest perspective on the river of emotion itself that we must experience over the course of our lives.

As humans, we will have good days and bad ones—people will come to us and then leave us through disagreements, grievances or death.

During the course of our lives, we make efforts to achieve or acquire what we do not have, and those efforts are sometimes successful and sometimes not.

We love and we lose love.

We agree and disagree with others, and feel both great joy and great fear at many aspects of life, including our own mortality.

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But during the course of our lives, that river of feelings flows on and on, over familiar ground or new ground—but it keeps moving onward until we individually feel no more and merge again with the Great Ocean of Consciousness that logs “all feelings” as simply a part of the living experience.

So keep your inner-tube always handy, and find a kayak when you can do so to keep your head higher above the waves; but if possible, try instead the view from the bank for its safer, broader perspective, and simply allow that emotional river to flow on by without judgment or clinging.

I know—easier said than done—but it IS possible to do it. Trust me on this one.

 

You Are Not Alone

Quote from: Psychic Medium Savonn Champelle

“It is during the darkest moments in our lives that the light shines the brightest and it lets us know that it always was, always is and always will be there. All we needed to do is connect to it, tap into it and led it guide us. Many times during those ‘dark’ moments we can feel abandoned by Spirit or let down because we feel savonnangel.jpgsomething is happening to us, when in reality something is actually being ‘Birthed’ through us and a powerful healing and transformation is taking place ❤ When going through hard times, or ‘dark’ times in your life call out to the Light within you, Call out to your Angels and simply ask what is the healing and transformation that is wanting to happen through me? What is this situation here showing me? Ask them to surround you and lift you up, for you are never alone. Angels are the silent whisper that are often heard moments after asking them your question ❤ You are not alone ”

Seeing Savonn’s sentiments on Facebook this morning, it was an important reminder that this time in which we all are traversing is a tough one for many. Many are facing their own version of “dark night of the soul,” and that is not a pleasant place to visit or linger in for long.

Many have lost loved ones over the past year or two and are still stinging from the pain and emptiness in parts of their lives.

Many are feeling disconnected from life in general and feeling isolated from people that they were once close to and relied upon for support and friendship.

Others are feeling a gnawing in their gut that some part of their lives is dissolving away to nothing and the void left behind will be too overwhelming to accept.

All I can say to you who are feeling these very things is to repeat what Savonn said at the end of his comment. “You are not alone.”  Yes, the Angels are there for all of us, but more than that—we are there for each other as well.

You might feel like you are very alone, but you aren’t—we’re all here.  We’ve all been where you presently stand or sit or lie or wallow or crawl, or curl up into a ball in the corner of the room. We’ve been there also.

I know that I have been, and I know from the story Savonn has told in the past that he also has been there. I don’t know what worked for him, but for myself, I told myself all sorts of things to keep pushing through the darkness back toward the light—like trudging down the dark train tunnel  where you can lighttunnel35.jpgonly see a faint hint of daylight at the end and hope like hell it isn’t the train itself.

Well, it isn’t the train.  It truly is the light. And if you just keep holding on and hanging in there—no matter how trite that sounds—that is exactly what you have to do to get through the tough times in life.

The greatest gift I ever received was the knowledge that no matter what happened to me, I could handle it.  I could get though it—someway—somehow.  I could endure it—I WOULD endure it!   And I did.

I think that is often the purpose of many ‘dark nights of the soul’—to show us what we are really made of—to show us our resilience and our determination to rise after falling—to lift ourselves off the floor when others aren’t there to assist us.  We must learn to do it for ourselves.

And in the process of picking ourselves back up, we realize that we rise stronger than we were before and wiser in many respects because we’ve dropped our delusions about our self-importance and jettisoned our assumptions/expectations for others in our life.timesaretoughyoucan do it

We learn quickly that the only person you can ever truly rely on is yourself—and that is how it must be because no matter how much any other person wants to help you—they simply can’t.  It is something only you can do for yourself.

So know now that no matter how difficult your present situation is, you are gaining great personal knowledge from it. You are testing your own metal in unimaginable ways that will make you stronger, wiser, more compassionate toward others, and far more humble than you ever believed that you could become.

The worth of a life is not measured by the quantity of the days it holds, or the material items it accumulates.  True soul-worth is gauged by the self-knowledge and wisdom gained during the process of living. That’s what you are doing at present—you are gaining hard-won knowledge and higher wisdom on your life journey.

Live with courage, my friends—live with the integrity to be who you truly are as loving individuals—and live with the determination to be the very best YOU that it is possible to be, because that is the ONLY way you can live.  notalone78.jpg

 

Silence Speaks So Loudly

During the most difficult times of our lives, there really are no words that sooth us as much as loving arms that hold us.

There really are no right words to speak when words are meaningless compared to actions.

Empathy is such a grace-filled quality—just being—just feeling—just knowing that only the warmth of another human body can calm grace.jpganother’s shaking.

With loss so deep there are few consolations that matter—even fewer wanting to be heard.

So say nothing other than your sorrow for such a personal vacuum.

And simply BE THERE for all who suffer.

BE THERE.

Silently.