What has my attention, and has for a while, is how to be in relationship to death. I tried several ways of steering myself away from this answer, but nothing else was as true. When I was diagnosed with cancer about four years ago, I began a rigorous course in the tension of opposites. How does one live committed to the ongoing ceremony of daily life, with its pleasures and dear relationships, and also open the psyche as much as possible to the inevitable that now seems much closer than expected? How does one metabolize and integrate this dilemma as part of the inner journey along with the outer facts? If there is fear, what does it want to say?
Some of the voices and experiences that have spoken to me: Reflections from people who are farther into this journey, which is different and the same for each person. The rise and fall of life in nature. Sometimes I sit in my garden and can feel perfectly at one with the just-so of what comes to life, blooms and dies, and can feel myself part of it. Helen Luke's essay on Suffering. Accompanying my husband in his dying, a year and a half ago. It becomes clear that the body has its own wisdom and prepares itself for death. An image told by Marie-Louise von Franz, from a dying woman who saw, in a dream, a candle burning on the windowsill, and then burning just outside the closed window. The flame endures, but beyond a boundary. My own dreams, which show me also how deeply in life I really am. They invite a playful, creative spirit and I am grateful when they come with their puzzles and story telling. Music, a deep thread in my life and one that also exists in time. Poetry that carries images one can hold, turn over in the hand, and befriend.
This is very much a “here's where I am now” bulletin from the journey. Some years ago, I asked a dear friend who was dying to send me a message if she could from the other side. A bit later I had a dream that she was telling me about a place we could stay, with “so much room, so many rooms, so much bigger than expected”. I'm glad to know that death, like life, is so much bigger than expected. In the meantime, I am living -with curiosity and as much patience as I can muster for the holy unknown.