A Messenger From The Divine
An unexpected call. From a man I knew. Husband and father of a young family. He called to tell me that they had lost their nearly born baby. “Would you consider coming to help us say goodbye to her?” I was surprised and honored that he would ask.
“Of course,” I answered, having no idea how to do that. I am not a Minister, or Rabbi, Priest, Celebrant, or…... I just knew that if they wanted me to be there, that is all I needed to know. I’ve learned many, many times that showing up is mostly all I need to do.
A tragedy beyond measure for this young family. In my privileged first world, parents are not supposed to have bury their babies. I say privileged because in many parts of the world, in many cultures of the dispossessed, including minority populations in my own country, it is all too common for moms and dads to witness the premature end of their children’s lives.
They had consciously, lovingly prepared a place for this new baby in their family. Now there would be no joining those who waited.
I had no idea at all what my role was to be, but I would be there during the time set aside to honor that too brief life with those who loved and had already fallen in love and had been anxiously awaiting the new one’s arrival. The truth is, that the moment they became aware of the presence of this new life, she had arrived. Emotionally. Spiritually. They had just not seen her physical form yet, but she was already a very real and total presence in their lives.
I told them that in my life there have been circumstances that were larger, way larger, than the way I was taught things were “supposed” to be. The subsequent advice, the mottoes, rationalizations, explanations and platitudes just fell flat. “We’re praying for you”; “God’s will”; “God has his reasons that we aren’t privy to”; “Someday you’ll understand”; the ubiquitous “Thoughts and Prayers”. The advice, someone else’s answers to the unknowable that seem so simple to them, they who seem or pretend to have it all figured out. Empty. Well-meaning perhaps, but silently painful. Alienating. Not helpful. Sometimes, such responses to a loss like this, leaves the recipients of such ‘caring,’ the ones needing comforting, feeling lonelier than ever. As we talked, this had been exactly this young couple’s experience. They could relate.
In situations like this, perhaps there are actually no words, and it might be best to just admit that. Better yet (in my experience) just having someone touch me, hold me, a kiss on the hand or forehead, share a tear of hopelessness with me or sit in silence with me at the mystery of what I am going through, have provided some of the most memorable healing moments in my life.
It is also during those times in my life, that I have chosen (or been forced by some unseen hand?) to look outside my too tiny belief system and into other worlds. Worlds that are bigger than mine. Worlds that encompass more of what life is about than what I had been taught. Moving beyond the boundaries and limits of my belief system, whether it be religious, philosophical, scientific, or all combined.
As the day approached, I thought of the lessons and stories (we all have a story we believe, otherwise we would be institutionalized) about what this human experience, including death is all about. I have been taught these lessons and stories by people and other cultures (beyond what I am asked to believe by the dominant culture and its ‘answers’). I have been very blessed to have been visited by and allowed to visit many other cultures, belief systems and ways of interpreting this thing we call being human. Those teachings have helped me get through many moments and gifted me with understanding a bigger world.
I have found that the people who populated this continent before we colonized them, and who, despite our best efforts, have refused to move into our smaller world, have something to offer me during times like this.
I have also learned from my relationships with my Jewish friends, who know a thing or two about life and death, especially of their children.
Quantum Physics has taught me important lessons.
The little I understand about Buddhism, Islam, and other religions, who are all trying to make sense of what it means to have the human experience, have helped me.
I believe they all have a piece of the answer, whatever that word, “answer,” means.
What have I been taught? What did I share with the group of people who were gathered to honor this young couple and their baby girl?
The mere fact that we were all gathered there, connected by celebrating this young life, means that we had all been provided a spiritual moment.
That we were there to release her spirit (and ours) so that it might freely move about the universe.
She is considered the most recent visitor from the creator. As such, she was fulfilling her duty of bringing a lesson from the divine that everyone gathered there (and those of us reading this message) must need to know or be reminded of. I shared that her lesson to me, was to remind me of the preciousness and fragility of life. Everyone gathered there was asked to reflect on a lesson she had brought to them.
That the prayers offered up for her by those gathered, were answered in the offering of them.
That we humans serve as alchemists to the universe, bringing together (through our mere existence) parts of the expanding universe that needs to be connected. A task the only we, each one of us, our own unique self, can do. And, that it is impossible to know (as long as we are alive) when we have completed that task, but that one could surmise that she had completed hers.
That the spirits of those no longer with us are carried on the backs of the winged ones, and if we pay close attention, we can see them. That, by the way, wasn’t much of a stretch for Mom, because since her daughter’s death, her world had been full of butterflies. Before Mom had even heard of the “winged ones” belief of some cultures, she “knew” they were the spirit of her daughter.
Many approached me after our time together and suggested that what they had heard helped them ‘make sense’ of what had happened. They allowed themselves, as I have, to entertain the idea that no one group of people or beliefs has all the answers.
As I mentioned earlier, we all have a story about life and what happens after. We have a story about life’s purpose. It works for us. For some of us, it works until it doesn’t anymore. Some of us will seek to make the story a little bigger, finding peace in the new or amended story. Those of us who don’t suffer.
Understanding that we have all made up our own stories or bought into someone else’s story helps me not judge others. The terrible tragedy of it all is when we believe that we have THE (religious, political, philosophical, etc.) STORY and anyone who does not buy into it, is seen as a prospect or potential convert, and failing that, deserves a type of death (too often literal) and rejection.
What’s your story?