This time of year has been momentous in our lives for two reasons that appear on the surface to be opposites. The birth of our precious son, the youngest in our family, as well as the death of loved ones. Events that have forever impacted our lives.
Therefore, I find myself pondering very deep things this time of year. Not in a morbid or depressing way, but in a wondering, amazed, searching way.
Life and Death are inter-dependent in ways I believe we cannot fully understand. They are both beautifully profound. They are the yin and yang, they balance each other in the seemingly never-ending cycle on this planet.
Everyone celebrates life, that is the easy part. Rarely is death celebrated. There is so much unknown about it with our limited perception, so it tends to be shunned in favor of more uplifting topics.
I’m challenging myself to see death as an equally beautiful part of the cycle of life. That doesn’t diminish the void and grief we experience as those losing the loved ones, but I’ve gained a foothold over the notion that it’s a part of life that should be dreaded instead of embraced.
A poem by Mary Oliver titled “White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field” caught my eye this week. You can read it in its entirety here if you wish. In the first half she describes the scene of an owl swooping down to catch and fly off with its prey. Her thoughts then turn to death and how she imagines it:
” … maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us —
as soft as feathers —
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light — scalding, aortal light —
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.
~ Mary Oliver
My intention is not to provide answers. We all have constructed a framework with which to make sense of the life and death cycle that works for us individually. I do not wish to discount anyone’s sincere beliefs. I am merely sharing a glimpse into some of the deeper things that drive my work and are currently at the surface of my mind.
May you all live your lives abundantly and embrace death with peace when it comes!