Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The closing (day 49)

And so we are coming to the end of this journey together.  So many of you came tonight to the closing ritual, I am deeply touched.  There were more than seventy people attending, in a room with seating for fifty.  I collected dozens of hugs, and my body is still reverberating.  I saw friends from thirty years ago, a dozen of Nancy's fellow designers and architects, Pathways comrades and mystery scholars and mentors and mentees, family and friends...I feel so full.

And so empty.  The white roses from tonight's altar are on the table next to me, lovely and simple like the ritual Val Szymanski led tonight.  Zen teaches the beauty of emptiness, and I can feel that through the memorial service, and through the loneliness of my silent home.  The cooling fan in my laptop is the only sound, except when I click the keys to write this.  Or sniff back my tears.

Like the Tara prayer, which has held me so well for 49 days, the Funeral Prayer we chanted together tonight brought an ancient wisdom to the process of grieving our loss.  We were a great chanting group, make no mistake.  As we spoke the words of the prayer, at first only the Priest, and then the Collective, a lot of energy moved through the room, and perhaps the cosmos.

If you were not there, you might speak the prayer aloud.  First, set sacred space, as Val did so well...we took refuge in the buddha, the dharma and the sangha, but I believe you might choose your own sacred space, as this is a transcendent prayer.  If you can do it with another, in a measured cadence spoken and not sung, repeated three times with a pause between lines so the synergy of your voices moves the intention, you may feel a bit of the force of seventy good chanters in a small room, addressing a beautiful focused altar with Nancy's ashes, flowers, our wedding rings, a picture.  It was like sitting in the middle of the Gyuto Monks, throat-singing a bridge to the divine.

O Compassionate Ones,
Abiding in all directions,
Endowed with the great compassion,
Endowed with love, affording protection to sentient beings,
Consent through the power of your great compassion to come forth;
Consent to accept these offerings concretely laid out and mentally created.
O Compassionate Ones,
You who possess the wisdom of understanding,
The love of compassion,
The power of doing divine deeds and of protecting in incomprehensible measure;
Nancy is passing from this world to the next.
She is taking a great leap.
The light of this world has faded for her.
She has entered solitude with her karmic forces.
She has gone into a vast silence.
She is borne away by the great ocean of birth and death
O Compassionate Ones,
Protect Nancy, who is defenseless
Be to her like a mother and a father.
O Compassionate Ones,
Let not the force of your compassion be weak
But aid her.
Forget not your ancient vows…

I feel cleaned, empty, soft-lonely-grateful-content-quiet.  I have one more thing to send to you, as we breathe our sadness, and turn our attention back out to our own incarnations, allowing Nancy's to start to fade from our presence.  Perhaps tomorrow.


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