Hey fellow exopermaculturists, it’s not only Death and Resurrection that’s recollected during this season considered holy by Christianity. To think of it that way, as a mere polarity, is to ignore what comes between, GRIEF.
While polarity is the name of the game in 3D (indeed, all attempts to smear polarity out of existence by dividing people into tinier and tinier “identities” are pernicious), on the other hand, what spurs us to expand into larger dimensions IS, in fact, GRIEF.
Grief over loss. Grief that we didn’t get out way. Grief that we didn’t let the deceased person know that we loved them. Grief for not following our soul’s path, but instead “working for money.” Grief for marrying the “wrong” person, and then pretending, ever since. Grief for the pollution of waters and soil and air and our poisoned, crippled, diseased bodies. Grief over the mental and spiritual programming that tells us we are “up to date” on the “news;” that sees us as flawed, full of original sin, condemned, unless baptized, to “limbo” (or hell). Grief that attends thinking and feeling that we are alone and isolated, and that no one understands us; but (oxymoron alert): we need help from others to figure out what to do next, or even, who we are, inside. Grief for lying to ourselves and others. Grief for our addictions, and especially now, to screens. Grief for all the unfinished business that remains on this dear planet and inside its human inhabitants, all nailed to the cross of suffering for thousands of years.
The Christ figure story crystallizes our experience here on Mother Earth. It did not originate it. Nor did the suffering of this culturally iconic figure erase the suffering that each of us must experience in order to learn, to grow, to evolve mentally, spiritually and emotionally. The best teacher is pain. The best student is one who dares to be at one with his or her suffering, to the point where, after seconds, or minutes, or days, or months, or years, or lifetimes, pain dissolves into joy.
Yet grief is always present. Loss is always present. We cannot live an incarnated life without experiencing the body’s built-in timer: A certain span of time, during which, once we reach adulthood, the body begins to slowly or quickly degrade. No one escapes this fate. Death is our common denominator.
And of course, in this western culture that celebrates only youth, endless growth and progress; in this culture that thinks in linear causal chains, so that the full cycle of life, of any life, is basically ignored, in favor of only the first ascending half of the cycle (viewed, however, remember as a straight line leading on, we wish, forever), we simply cannot, if we are to remain enculturated, immerse ourselves in the grief that attends the descending half of any cycle — and let’s face it: we are always smack dab in the exact center of an endless series of concentric cycles, all with both ascending and descending arcs — without being considered crazy, or depressed, and why go buy something, or take a pill, or a drink, or a new lover, a vacation? You’ll get over it! Let it go!
In the Christian symbology, I’m talking about what I would call the infinitely spacious presence between Good Friday’s Crucifixion and Easter Sunday’s Resurrection. This interim contains worlds, multitudes. It is the space of Grief, and sooner or later it swells to overflowing howls and/or tears, if we allow it. These howls and these tears cleanse; they are necessary. They do not lie. Once we begin to convulsively howl or to abjectly weep, our false identities fall away. The grim, or stern, or stoic, or “smiley” false faces of centuries fall away. In our howling, and in our weeping, our usually flighty monkey minds land — splat! kerplunk! — into our bodies; we are (finally) at one with our deeply feeling, sensing, squirming bodies, and with the living Earth of which they are loving and compassionate participants. And oh my, does that fully incarnated self then feel (if briefly) good!
In celebration of Easter Sunday, my dear introverted and poetic sister Katharine sent the poem that follows to us remaining sibs (seven out of eight), and brother-in-law John, who had been married to Mary, also deceased, along with our parents, in a one, two, three punch over three years (2012-2015) that is documented, from my perspective, in The Grieving Time.
Here we are, Seattle, 2012, Mary is in back, on left. I’m in front of her. Dad has already died. Katherine, who sent the poem below, is on the right. Paula is absent; Kristin, in blue, and John, back right, are about to accompany Mom by plane to Baton Rouge, where, despite her dementia, she had briefly surfaced to ask that she be allowed to “live with a loving family” (rather than in the very caring nursing home where she and Dad had briefly resided). Paula had long expressed a desire to care for Mom. Paula’s two year service to Mom’s dying process was about to begin.
As a friend put it, someone whose husband of over 50 years died nine months ago, and though of course she grieves, she also feels his presence continuously, so too myself, with both the three members of my nuclear family who recently passed as well as with my husband of twelve years, Jeff Joel, who passed on 2003, and whose death and life with me I documented in the award-winning This Vast Being: A Voyage through Grief and Exaltation. (Want a signed copy? Send me $15 and I’ll put it in the mail.)
For that truly is what it was, grief AND exaltation. I discovered that the fullness of being required in the grieving process is exactly what we need to voyage through, both on a personal level and culturally, in order to profoundly shift the current timeline that, thanks to accelerating technological “progress,” has us separating, from Earth, from our bodies, and from each other, in accelerating centrifugal motion.
Yet, know this: None of us are EVER alone, EVER.
Just last week, trickster Jeff was at it again. As the years go on, his presence becomes less and less palpable in the material world, though there are times, like what just happened, that remind me he is still not just here, with me, but having a grand time.
I had misplaced my wrist brace, having removed it in order to do my daily yoga, chikung, taichi practice. Then I went to dinner with my son Colin. When I returned, and started to get ready for bed, I looked for the brace. Not there. What? Not anywhere! Not in the living room where i had been practicing, and not in the kitchen, or bedroom, or bathroom, or den . . . I thoroughly scoured the place, not just on top of surfaces, but under piles. What? No. Not. There.
The next morning, I resumed the search, repeating the movements and determination of the night before — to no avail. Okay. Well, whatever happened, I’m going to have to go buy another one! $30. Not too bad, considering. On the other hand, damn! where is it? It HAS to be here!
I finally gave up and took puppy Shadow for our morning walk. When I returned, and walked towards my living room desk to get his regular morning after-walk treat, guess what? There it was. The damn wrist brace! Right on top. Obvious. Between two piles. (By the way, no one had been in the house since late afternoon the day before, except me.)
Disincarnate Jeff seems to be a master at bringing “things” into and out of form, dematerializing, and rematerializing objects. He’s been doing it to me periodically ever since he died.
So yes, poetic and other “Traces,” and not all of them psychic, dreamtime, imagined, or energetic. Some actually manifest in the “real world.” Given the way Jeff has been playing with me, how could I not realize that Death is followed by Rebirth in the spirit world?
And truly allowing in our grief, I do feel, is key; honoring and valuing the pain of loss, grief, is the missing ingredient in our culture. The more we can allow ourselves to fully experience that mysterious, profound, three day interim between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the more full and resonant our lives become. We die and are reborn in every moment, once we allow in our own suffering, of whatever the length, in the descending half of any cycle.