WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND

Monday, December 27th, 2021

Though it arrives a few days later, what with all of the commotion of the Holidays, here is Louise’s most recent offering:

CITATION/OFFERING:

From The Princess [Sweet and low, sweet and low]

Alfred Lord Tennyson – 1809-1892

Sweet and low, sweet and low,
   Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
   Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
   Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
   Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
   Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
   Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.

It’s a lovely poem that I had never read or heard, and her choice surprised me. She wrote:

Ce poème m’a rappelé mon père qui travaillait de longues heures et qui le soir venu, lorsqu’il rentrait à la maison, venait me voir dans mon lit et me chantait “C’est la poulette grise…..”. Ma mère m’a racontée cette portion d’histoire de ces moments tendres que mon père se permettait sans que j’en sois consciente. Je suis certaine, que j’en ai gardé des traces. J’ai toujours senti que mon père m’aimait même si cela ne se traduisait pas par des mots, mais plus par des instants partagés à cueillir des petits fruits, à déneiger la cour ensemble, à aller en camion avec lui passer de longues journées à l’attendre. Je me sentais bien et sécure à ses côtés. J’ai aimé et j’aime encore profondément mon père pour tout ce qu’il était et qu’il a fait pour que j’aie une vie meilleure que la sienne. (LC)

My translation:

This poem reminded me of my father whose work days were long and who, at day’s end, when he returned home, came to my bedside and sang “C’est la poulette grise…“. It’s my mother who told me this part of the story of those tender moments that my father created as I lay sleeping. I feel sure that I still carry traces of them. I always felt my father’s love for me, even if it wasn’t expressed in words, but mostly in such shared moments as picking berries together, or clearing the yard of snow together, or spending long days travelling alongside him in his truck, and waiting for him. I felt safe next to him. I loved him and still love him dearly for everything he was and everything he did to give me a better life than what he had known. (LC)

* * * *

After reading this, I messaged Louise, asking her how old she was when her father died. She wrote back that she was in her forties, and that her father died on her birthday. She added: “Il ne voulait pas que je l’oublie.” [He didn’t want me to forget him!]. Finally, she wrote: “Il est présent dans ma vie chaque jour.” [ ! feel his presence in my life every day.]

And this got me thinking about love, and death, and what we leave behind. I’m certainly moving ever closer to that moment, and as the seasons change, so do my fears and feelings. Of late, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about when we pass through death’s doorway and if I’m honest with myself–in an understandable bit of wishful thinking–I imagine that door staying just slightly ajar, so that I will continue to look back at those I have loved. And left.

And ah! I have to remind myself that the door will shut tight, and I will see nothing and know nothing. I will have simply ceased to be. And this harsh thought of something severed, of my love extinguished, hurts.

Today, Louise’s words remind me of the gentleness and the love that continue to live and flow on the other side of the door. Her memories of her father are vivid and specific and will exist as long as she does…

So there it is: this bridge between life and death, love and separation, need not last forever…It seems to me that if the memory of those I have loved and lost lives on, vividly, and then less and less so, for as long as my children, and perhaps also my grandchildren, live, then my love will have run its course. And what will remain will be the slightest of seeds that may, if the conditions are right, sprout into unknowable, unpredictable, and brand new expressions of love.

ART: The Silver Moon, Karen Kansala

4 Comments on “WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND

  1. Oh my god, I feel the same. It’s heartbreaking, cold & darkly beautiful at once. This is what I feel comfortable knowing, as well. I hope love never dies, but does that translate into the non existence with us, after we’re gone? Ugh. Who knows. I sure hope so.

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  2. You know, John, I think it’s a matter of language (which is somehow ironic 🙂 ). The language of science, when speaking of the Universe, affirms that nothing created is lost (“Rien ne se crée, rien ne se perd”). What IS, is.
    Buddhism seems to have developed language for this, as well. A language that is compatible with what science tells us–and so, it transcends culture and religion,.
    My friend Gail, whose Zen buddhist practice is advanced, speaks of Awareness. Beyond everything, is Awareness: IS, IS, IS, IS, IS…
    Have you read Marie Howe’s poem, Siingularity?
    What science refers to as the Singularity, buddhists refer to as Awareness.
    I think Howe’s poem is sublime.

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  3. Thoughts on doors closing… on ceasing to be….

    Our current and generally agreed-upon materialist view is that the brain somehow produces consciousness, and it therefore follows that the death of the brain is the death of consciousness.

    Contemporary spiritual teacher Rupert Spira, in line with the ancient sages, says we have it all backwards. Rather, consciousness is primordial and the brain, along with everything else, arises from it, in it, and as it.

    Psychiatrist Dr Bruce Greyson (author of After) following his 45 year sideline study of thousands of Near Death Experiences, is now open to the hypothesis that consciousness exists outside the brain, and that the brain filters both the world and consciousness.

    Shuffling off her mortal coil caused neuroanatomist Jill Bolte-Taylor to declare herself “a genie liberated from its bottle” and remarked “it was obvious to me that I would never be able to squeeze the enormousness of my spirit, gliding like a great whale through a sea of silent euphoria, back inside this tiny cellular matrix.”

    “I ask you only to stop imagining that you were born, have parents, are a body, will die, and so on. Just try. Make a beginning, it’s not as hard as you think.” Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

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  4. Hello dear Gail.

    I was so hoping you would appear here, prepared to share your thoughts and acquired wisdom with readers (and me!).

    When I lost my third child, I spent months reading about near death experiences. Every book the library had.

    Twenty years later, physicists who are also drawn to the metaphysical are comfortable using terms like Consciousness alongside the term Singularity.

    Does the word “consciousness” simply pre-date the term “Awareness”? Are they synonymous at some level?

    These are ideas or concepts that I’m happy to dance with. As my death approaches, I spend a little more time trying to prepare a place inside me where what lies ahead can be reconciled with comfort, or at least, a “destination”–which I imagine as a state of being, not a place or space…

    But my daily life experience suggests that the living are not burdened by those who no longer “live”…We remember them, we carry them with us, but
    to me, this feels like a sort of necessary closing door that every mortal must make his/her peace with…The separation. The loss.

    Your offering of spiritual alternatives is most welcome.

    Thank you xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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