Recall with me, for a moment, how it feels to stand before something enormous--
Like the sea, when the beach is empty; or the sky at night full of stars over a quiet plain.
I stand- awestruck- at the vastness that I am trying to comprehend, and yet I know that I can not comprehend it. The enormity of the ocean, or sky, or mountainside, seems to fill up my being- as if these that take up so much space must claim my space as well.
My mind, especially when viewing the ocean, likes to use the word "nothing" to describe it, as in, "nothing but sand and water as far as the eye can see", but of course, it's NOT "nothing". It's actually everything, or everything at the moment. The sea is not empty, nor is the sky, nor are the mountains. And when standing before them they eclipse and absorb me too.
Is this the "something" in our life experience that prepares us for death?
When I think about death and the finality of it I have the same feelings as when I stand before the ocean...It's huge, it's enormous...it will, or can, swallow me.
I ponder death...I peer, though not too closely, because I am not able.
And even if I were able I'm still not sure I would; and what I think I can see is deceiving.
It seems tranquil and quiet, but I strongly suspect otherwise.
What I know of death is the same as what a person knows about the ocean from a photograph...or better still, what they don't know, what they can not see.
The vastness, the depth, all the huge and tiny things swimming just beneath the suface, things that one could never imagine, existing right there under the rippling blue green water.
One of my childhood friends died in 2000, she was 33.
She had battled cancer off and on since she was 12, and finally the treatment caught up with her. She passed into death, and when I saw her--in her casket-- this friend I had loved and laughed with, she was no longer there. What remained was a shell...her spirit was gone. She got caught up in the tide and was swept out, past the surf, past the big waves...way out there...where I can not reach her.
Sometimes I think of her and of all the things we learned together as children...and I wish I knew, or understood, what she knows now.
I stand at the shore and I feel so small. I stand under the midnight sky and I feel so tiny and insignificant...so transient.
Is it work, or family, or love that makes us feel more permanent and less temporary?
Or is it simply that we long for the country of our eternity...which is not here...and we will never feel as though we quite fit in because we are not supposed to?
I understand more this year about death than I ever have- and the one thing I do know is that love is greater than death and I take great comfort in that.
My love is never wasted.
It might be mis-understood, or not needed, or even unwanted...but it's never wasted. What I send out into the world, what I invest in others- comes back to me.
Death can not contain it, or stop it. I know that for certain...and I'm thankful.
You will be greatly missed JL4