Monday, November 4, 2013

Joining the saints...

I have been experiencing life very intensely lately.  It is a combination of the loss of close companions and relatives in juxtaposition with the lively, lovable, presence of Chayo, our 13 year old goddaughter and Leah, her 2 year old sister.  I am simultaneously letting go and embracing something new.  The letting go is not the easy part.  I don't want to rush forward.  I want to take time, contemplate and sit and savor what these precious ones gave to me and I want to find new ways to live with them so that they live on in my life, inspiring me to live beauti-fully and in that way be a living memorial.  Henri J. M. Nouwen wrote in Bread for the Journey:

"As we grow older we have more and more people to remember, people who have died before us. It is very important to remember those who have loved us and those we have loved. Remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives. They can become part of our spiritual communities and gently help us as we make decisions on our journeys. Parents, spouses, children, and friends can become true spiritual companions after they have died. Sometimes they can become even more intimate to us after death than when they were with us in life. Remembering the dead is choosing their ongoing companionship."
This week we celebrated the Day of the Dead, or All Saints Day, an important solemnity in the Catholic church and in the culture of Mexico.  It was a good opportunity to reach out to Chayo in regard to the death of her mother.  A couple weeks earlier I had made a memorial in our home to honor my uncle Toshi who passed on October 20th. So the week before November 2, I added photos of Chayo's mother's along with photos of my father, my beloved old dogs, and my friend Jeanne.  I had gathered a few other meaningful things to add to the altar.  I wanted to show Chayo how we can use symbols for what is intangible as ways of honoring and staying present to the real.  It is also satisfying and comforting to express ourselves with these meaningful tablescapes.  In my house, they change and move like seasons, they speak life and lessons to me.

My family in Japan is closing the residence of my grandmother and this is another "letting go".  It is an exercise similar to painting from memory.  I train my eyes to take in as much information as I can hold and then commit it to a multi sensational impression in my cells - light, color, shape, composition, mood, feeling, taste, sound.  This is something that moth and mold cannot destroy and can always be revisited to savor over and over again...much better than a photo. 

This is what I hope to pass on to Chayo:  the awareness that we are shaped by others -  good and bad.  We know the bad is there, but we can be deliberate in concentrating the good and develop, celebrate and honor that.  

We are a complex brew of tea.  We are deepened and enriched as we steep in the qualities and characteristics of the ones who loved us.  We are tea to be savored, giving back in our way what others have added to our lives.  When we do we become fully ourselves.  We move into our own sainthood.

I like how Christine Valters Paintner expresses it:   "To become a Saint doesn't mean to be some contrived image of holiness, practicing your faith in ways that imitate others, but to find your own unique expression in the world. You are a revelation of the sacred, and there is only one revelation just like you."

No comments: