Ending! So many endings! The end of the year is fast approaching. My scooter went into storage a few weeks ago. The patio furniture has been returned to the garage rafters. Trees are barren now. Even our Thanksgiving gatherings are primarily focused on gratitude for what has been.
Brittle brown stubble, a bit frost touched, marks once lush pastures at Wellsprings Farm. Sunset encroached on my days at the hermitage while dawn’s laboring toyed with my eager, expectant eyes. Ice settled the lake’s surface to a silent sheen, a blanket of white crystals acccenting nature’s somnolence.
Call it culmination, fruition, fulfillment, ending, whatever! There is a certain finality built into all things. Ultimately, we all die. Once death leered on the horizon, frightening, tragic, to be fought and denied, or simply ignored. Eventually, a certain silence dawns. Our eyes eagerly pierce and parse its darkness.
An enduring gift of these recent hermitage days echoes still, blanketing my anxious questioning, casting light beyond my fears. The gift? A poem by Michael Dowd:
Without the death of stars, there would be no planets and no life.
Without the death of creatures, there would be no evolution.
Without the death of elders, there would be no room for children.
Without the death of fetal cells, we would all be spheres.
Without the death of neurons, wisdom and creativity would not blossom.
Without the death of cells in woody plants, there would be no trees.
Without the death of forests by Ice Age advance, there would be no northern lakes.
Without the death of mountains, there would be no sand or soil.
Without the death of plants and animals, there would be no food.
Without the death of old ways of thinking, there would be no room for the new.
Without death there would be no ancestors.
Without death, time would not be precious.
What, then, are the gifts of death?
The gifts of death are Mars and Mercury, Saturn and Earth.
The gifts of death are the stardust within our bodies.
The gifts of death are the splendors of shape and form and color.
The gifts of death are diversity, the immense journey of life.
The gifts of death are woodlands and soils, ponds and lakes.
The gifts of death are food: the sustenance of life.
The gifts of death are seeing, hearing, feeling — deeply feeling.
The gifts of death are wisdom, creativity, and the flow of cultural change.
The gifts of death are the urgency to act, the desire to fully be and become.
The gifts of death are joy and sorrow, laughter and tears.
The gifts of death are lives that are fully and exuberantly lived, and then
graciously and gratefully given up, for now and forevermore. Amen.
Yes, for all that was we give thanks. For all that is and will be we give thanks. For all endings, even death, we give thanks to the One in Whom we all finally abide.
“The Gifts of Death” by Michael Dowd taken from Evidential Mysticism and the Future of Earth, Evidence: Oneings, A Publication of the Center for Action and Contemplation, vol. 2, #2; 2014, pp. 22-23.