Thank you all who could come to our home on Monday. There must have been at least sixty people, and there was a steady flow of you all from 2pm until about 10pm. During that time, I heard great stories, some amazing dreams about Nancy since her passing, and met many of you from her life that I did not know well (or at all) before. If you were not there at 7pm, I shared my prayer ritual as it has been, and we had a few minutes of silence. Then the stories started coming out, and we had a gathering much like the Jewish practice of "sitting shiva", where I spoke of my grief, and some of my regrets about our relationship, and others spoke of Nancy's impact and way of being in the world. It was absolutely wonderful, and we wrapped it up by singing Happy Birthday to her, and lighting candles. Some of the best rituals are the unplanned ones.
Lily, Tina and Karla, let me thank you again publicly for the insight and contribution you offered on this day.
I'm very grateful for all the spontaneous support that has shown up, bringing prayer and ritual to this 49-day mourning period. Now, in addition to my Soto Zen friend, Meiren Valerie Szymanski, and Lama Palden and so many of you praying for Nancy, Pearl Ubungen of the Shambhala Center in Boulder, Colorado is holding a sukhavati ceremony according to their Tibetan buddhist tradition. This ceremony is generally held every seven days during the 49-day mourning, and we will have one tonight during the 7pm prayer period. She mentioned to me,
the practice of Sukhavati is connected to Amitabha Buddha and goes well, i think, with your daily Tara practice...there is a short (ten minutes) tonglen practice (sending and taking) where i will practice focusing on taking in whatever nancy might be experiencing in terms of attachment to this life, fear, or any sense of not being able to let go and transition....then sending her a sense of openness, letting go, and confidence to move forward. then i will extend this tonglen practice to include all of nancy's family, friends, communities with the intention of supporting their letting go of nancy.
I've needed a bit of hand-holding to connect my practices to my mourning, and this is a real gift. A tonglen is a meditation where one inhales something they wish to transform, and exhales the transformation. For example, I can meditate to bring in the agony of the victims of a natural disaster, and exhale compassion and resource. The special gift here is the reminder that my Tara prayer is about transformation, that I can pray for Nancy's spirit to let go of any remaining attachment to this life of hers, any fear she may have of moving forward.
Lastly, I'd like to share an image and comments I received from one of Nancy's mystery school friends.
The image on the right I took on Thanksgiving day and as I looked though the lens to take the picture my thoughts and feelings were of Nancy. The image on the left is the image I had selected for Nancy as part of my Mystery School gift. I have placed it adjacent to the recent photo image as I sense the recent photo on the right as a continuum of the earlier image. I have not tried to analyze or place context to the photo, other than to say while at the surface a stillness seems to appear on both sides of the log, below the surface, there is a very powerful flow that continues.
I completely agree that there is flow beneath the surface, both in the images, and in the movement of Nancy's spirit through our hearts, the realms and the bardo. My practice continues.
With love and gratitude,