Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Evening Gatha

All day I had fleeting ideas for blogging today.  I want this to be honest but not trivial, but my day moves through dozens, hundreds of moments, all trivial, all important to me.  I want to give updates on my slow progress back to health, but who cares?  I want to talk about how I think about getting so close to death - almost 68 now, that's almost 70.  Another weird illness.  It never occurred to me I would die.  There are things I didn't do and can't do now.  And so on.

But a moment ago my correspondence with a spiritual friend was interrupted by an e-mail from my Uncle Bob down in Virginia: Cousin Freddie died.  The obituary will be in the Youngstown Vindicator tomorrow.

Tom and I get chills when the voice calls from outside the zendo after the last sit, the Evening Gatha.  I beg you, do not squander time.  Life and death is the great matter.  It is one of the attempts Zen makes to shake us hard and sit us down in reality.  This felt like that.  A call.  Cousin Freddie, one of hundreds of friends and relatives younger than me whom I never expected to die.

I felt bad about a comment that yesterday's post caused a reader a bad night.  I hope there is a way that if we sit with our understanding of our peril, we come to more peace with birth and death.  I hope my shock at  Freddie's death adds to the meaning of his life.
[image:  This summer's last lily]

1 comment:

  1. Awww please don't feel bad. Contemplating about death is necessary for each one of us. It adds meaning and purpose to the way we live our lives. Believe me, your post was a way better reminder, than meditating about death the whole night in a cemetery. Alone. With mosquitos buzzing, and god knows what other crawling creatures there are.

    I'm sorry to hear about your cousin leaving. But it probably is a kind of relief knowing people we love are paving the paths for us out there... it makes death less scary. (To be selfish about it..)