As Robin and I returned from a friend’s memorial service this afternoon, for his recently departed wife, we could not help but reflect on the fleeting nature of our time in this life and the complexities of reconciling life and death. I would guess that we all have a spiritual relationship that usually hides quietly, for some, behind an artifice that screens our true feelings. This is not a revelation but simply a recognition of how guarded we are when it comes to talking about the inner journey we all experience. Organized religions compete for our pastoral care and our contributions, but when one really drills down, how different are we? My guess is that the answer is not much. To that point Robin reminded me of two transcendent Native American poems that capture eloquently that sense of universal loss, hope, and reconciliation that we all struggle to embrace as those we love depart.
A Native American Prayer
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow,
I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am the morning hush. I am the graceful rush of beautiful birds in circling flight.
I am the star shine of the night,
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room,
I am in the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there,
I do not die.
A Lakota Prayer
Oh, great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world,
Hear Me ! I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to you without shame.
As you reflect on these words let us be reminded that we are all travelers on this earth each sharing a piece of the universal truth of why we are here and what we are meant to do. Our charge is to find the language that allows us all to converse and share, as eloquently as we can, about how each of us effects change in the hearts of those we encounter.
Peace be with you…