October Reverence

October Reverence                                    October 4, 2014 (some names are changed)
     busting out of four walls

June, Anne, Nadie,
opening themselves to sun
like sunflowers making effort
to turn faces toward light
light that moves across the skies all day
and fades at evening time.

This morning I anticipate visiting June,
yesterday hearing her condition is changing.
Perhaps we’ll talk of this next step as a deep meditative state
that she has long searched for and spoken about.
But as I gather my things for the drive
I hear that she died last night.

I collapse on my bed

Today she will follow the sun
freely without her oxygen tether
flying now with the agility of the butterfly
darting in and out of my yard outside
she’ll travel places I’ve not yet been
but can only glimpse.
I shed my tears into my love
his ready and soft embrace.

I accompanied each of these women for a brief time
finding delight as they search for light amidst darkness
each one finding some meaning within their four walls
I love pointing towards the markers each is discovering
but not always seeing, and watch her nod and sigh, “oh yes.”

Anne, the queen of reverence* I call her,
which makes her faintly smile,
the phrase inspired from a book she gave me,
she feels discomfort needing someone to help her stand.
I see her the day it progresses to needing two people
way too hard, she says.
They love you, Anne
and she turns her face upward and begins
to accept their physical strength as mutual love
as she wraps her arms around their necks for the lift
leaning into them now feeling it as love and embrace
the kind that is present and real within these four walls.

Nadie no longer walks outside in nature, her life teacher,
she believes nature can teach her about death too
she tells me this as she struggles with end of life questions
well how does one hear from trees and wildlife inside four walls
we look around… I inquire about the three fabrics hanging there
a quilted gift from her sister shows grandmother Moon
tribal wisdom says grandmother watches over the women.
A red Sun Dancer crown is tacked up next to her bed
worn recently by the woman who dances on her behalf.
The appliquéd turtle in front of her bed
carries the entire world on its back, creation itself.
We brought the whole world into the room that day
or rather it was there all along
grandmother moon and the Sun Dancer and the turtle
watch over her and take her to those places
teachers of death and life.

The last time I saw June
she showed me her sketch of the story chair
where so many spun stories throughout the nine decades of her life
I saw that worn chair each time I visited.
June loved to meditate and draw
wanting to use all her energy for her search
and yet needing to respect her breathing, her limited breath.
Life culminates in breath and no breath
and then freedom
bursting out of the four walls.

I put my car keys away and decide
not to make any visits today
I wash my hair, I write these ramblings
I feel the sadness, and ponder what it means to be reverent
in the midst of the things life brings me.

Pamela Dintaman

*Reverence “…people receive countless opportunities to be reverent before whatever is set before them. Sometimes it’s a wedding, sometimes a funeral. It could be a sunny spring morning; it could be a cancer ward. You don’t get to choose the event. You only get to choose whether or not you will be reverent.” Kabbalah: A Love Story, by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, pp 82-83

 

Grief Haiku

collage-grief-lo

I introduced myself as chaplain to a patient’s wife in the hospital, a man who came in for a minor problem. We briefly talked…When I met her the next morning, he had died unexpectedly during the night. Our brief interaction the day before opened up a safe space for her grief. Later I had to create some haiku and a “grief” collage for my own process.

Walk into the woods
Surrounded by large darkness
With shapes barely seen.

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