I can feel everything dying, falling away. Old versions of myself, ideas that once served me but have completed their work, dreams that guided me to here but were never meant to become reality….not to mention the life that dies in the world around us as we head into winter. I used to hate death. Between the ages of 14 and 18, 6 people I love died and it felt like a curse. My heart kept getting shattered and since I didn’t know how to process it, I kept building more and more walls around it to try to avoid the grief and sorrow. I feared death and I was sure that all it brought with it would destroy me if I felt it.
And last night, standing in my friend Sandra’s kitchen, cooking up some kale, white bean, and butternut squash soup, I heard myself say, “I love death.”
We both chuckled. What an absurd thing to say. But really, I do. When my Aunt Jeanmarie died in 2004, it seemed to be the nail in the coffin for me. I hit the OFF button in my heart. Spent the next few years anesthetizing myself into numbness. But the thing about shutting off feeling sorrow is that you also shut off feeling joy. You are left with emptiness, which robs us of any value or meaning to Life. With no feeling and such emptiness, what is the point of being here at all? About the only thing I could feel was rage. At God, Life, the Universe. This woman was my first guide and guardian on my path, and I could not believe that her death had more to teach me and offer me and the world than having her live longer. So I put a symbolic middle finger up at life, right smack dab in the middle of my heart.
Well, I was wrong.
What I have been learning since is that the full power and potency of a human life and the spirit that carried it is not released into the world until death. Death is the great release, both of the spirit FROM the world of form, as well as of the spirit’s power INTO the world of form. We do not die once our work is completed. Our death completes our work. Our death infuses our work with depth and meaning. Without death, what would be the value of life?
The approach towards the winter solstice is the march towards death. The warmth and light of the sun grows weaker and weaker in our world until we reach the darkest day. December 21. It is a time of falling away, a chance to practice the part of life we have long been robbed of. When dying is seen as an illness or a curse, and we push it away, we push away life. But we are here for this temporary time and it is rich beyond understanding. What a strange thing, this life is. Here, go into the world of form in which there is tremendous beauty that you will want to grab and hold on to forever, and oh yeah, remember that you and everything else dies. All form falls away. All people and trees and canyons and buildings and civilizations and planets and stars. Everything dies.
This could be taken as quite the “existential bummer,” as I recently heard it called. But maybe it is simply the great lesson of it all. Go into the world of impermanence and experience the eternal. For when we feel love, true blazing unattached freedom LOVE, we experience the eternal. LOVE doesn’t exist in time or space, has no form, and never falls away. And it is ever-present to all beings, if we so chose to step into it.
Solstice is not just about death, though. It is about life. Again, they are separate only in our perception. Solstice is a threshold between the two. As we fall to ruin, as we collapse into nothingness and allow ourselves to be burned away in the fires, we simultaneously are renewed and reborn. We rise out of our own ashes and spread our flaming wings and cast ourselves upward into the dark star-filled skies and fly with newfound exuberance into the heart of existence.
We die so that we may remember that we live.
Many blessings on all of you tribespeople. Many blessings on all beings. May your solstice be filled with grace and humility and surrender, may your death serve your spirit and your work here, and may the growing light on the other side of the threshold fill you so full that it shines out of every fiber of your being, illuminating all the cosmos with LOVE