…called to be a hospice-worker to what is dying, midwife to what is waiting to be born…
On the homepage of this site, these words declare what I believe to be one of the most important tasks of our time. Following the thread of my last post, I want to look at what being a hospice-worker for our species and our planet might mean.
When my mother was dying at home with the aid of Hospice, my family members all had different ways of dealing with it. Some disappeared, some got drunk, some got religion, and some retreated behind a stony, affect-less wall. I settled into a paralysis of grief, denial, and powerlessness: I waited and I watched, I watched and I waited. All alone with her in her last hours, I waited and I watched. I had never been in the presence of a dying person before. I did not know how to be there for her and in the end I felt I failed her.
If I am to embrace the possibility that Mother Earth is becoming unable to support life, how can I be there for her? How can I be there for ALL my relations?
This story, perhaps, offers a clue. It is from the book “The Hope – A Guide to Sacred Activism” by Andrew Harvey (page xix.)
A beggar had been begging for days in a small dusty town without much success. Then, suddenly, he saw in the distance the golden chariot of the King appear. He started to dance for joy because his hopes rose high and he believed all dark days would soon be over. The King would throw him alms and wealth would gleam all around him in the dust. The King, however, confounded all his expectations by stopping the chariot and asking him what seemed to him like an outrageous question: “What have you got to give me?” The beggar thought it was some kind of incomprehensible, even mad, joke. What could he, a beggar, have to give to the One who had everything? Gingerly, with some reluctance, and a little stunned, the beggar took one tiny little grain of corn out of the small bag he always carried with him to munch on. When at day’s end he came to empty the bag out on the floor of his hut, he found, to his great surprise, that one of the grains of corn had turned to gold. And the beggar wept and wished that he had had the heart and passion and wisdom to give the King everything.
I know in my heart that I didn’t fail my dying mother. Because of my fear and grief and ignorance, however, I didn’t give her everything. I watched and I waited and I did my best to take care of her. But out of my fear and grief and ignorance, I did it for me. I didn’t want to lose my Mom. I wanted her to get better. I wanted all the dark days to soon be over. I didn’t grasp the opportunities that were possible for transformation.
My Mother Earth is dying. It’s possible she might go into remission. It’s possible that she might have a miraculous recovery. And it’s possible she won’t. How can I be there for her and for all beings through whatever transitions lie ahead? How can I give them my everything?
In Kathleen Dowling Singh‘s book “The Grace in Dying” she describes what she has named the “qualities of the nearing death experience.” I studied what I gleaned to be the essence of these qualities to see if they held any clues as to “how to be there” and “give my everything.” Indeed, I feel they are qualities of a profound spiritual journey of transformation that are relevant in all stages of life and death, personal and planetary. Meditate on them for a while. Tell me what you think.
The Quality Of Relaxation
an end of struggle, a letting go, “the emptying of self into the fullness of life.”
The Quality Of Withdrawal
a detachment from all but that which is most precious, in a way that is positive, purposeful, and transforming.
The Quality Of Radiance
an inner illumination, the experience of being filled with light.
The Quality Of Interiority
an accessing of the deeply interior space where creation is unfolding; a threshold or “liminal” experience.
The Quality Of Silence
much communication is beyond words; if there is communication, it is essential and deep, often symbolic or metaphoric, pointing toward the ineffable.
The Quality Of The Sacred
a feeling of entering holy ground; awareness moves closer and closer in to the great mystery.
The Quality Of Transcendence
development of a consciousness beyond the personal self; a transpersonal consciousness.
The Quality Of Knowing
becoming part of something vast; a recognition of the need to experience death so that the next experience might be begun.
The Quality Of Intensity
energy field opens, enlarges, intensifies; rises through the chakras.
The Quality Of Merging
an end of separation, a cessation of duality.
The Quality Of Experienced Perfection
a sense that this experience is right, fitting and just; complete appropriateness and absolute safety.