A Word to the Spiritual Seekers
From: Don Murray
The hummingbird feeder hangs abandoned. No longer the whirr of wings and the hover and dart as they settle to drink in the sweet and nourishing nectar. The hummingbirds have left for their long journey south; an insistent hint that summer is drawing to its close.
As the days shorten and the chill of the evening descends, we gather ourselves up for the last round of friends and family before we settle in for the more normal (we hope) routine of the rest of the year. But, oh how wonderful to see friends who come from a distance, to have time to hang out with one’s children and grandchildren, to enjoy the lush beauty of the world around us.
As the years creep on, faster than we would like, these things take on even more significance. It will not go on for ever. Life has its times and seasons and the hope is that we experience each one as deeply and fully as possible.
In a recent conversation someone was reflecting on the change that has taken place in our funeral rites. It used to be, in the Christian tradition at least, that the emphasis was on the after life and that the dear departed had entered into “the joy of their Lord.” And I’m sure that those of us involved in conducting such rituals did our best to find reason to believe that the person had made it to that glorious heavenly destination and not the other place!
In recent years, as belief in or concern about our ultimate destination has faded, the emphasis has changed to focus on a celebration of the person’s life. Now there will be pictures, often a power-point presentation. In the actual ceremony several people may speak of their experience of the person being remembered. Everyone involved, even those close, come to know the person at a new depth and completeness. Something more of who that person was and the wholeness of their life can now remain with us.
Often, as we celebrate the life lived we also grieve the life not lived. In cases of early death and tragedy this is especially true. But even the briefest of lives has left a mark which is to be celebrated and remembered.
This may sound like a dismal subject for the end of summer, but the summer’s events remind me that it is the living of life that is important. Savour the moments. Appreciate the day. We don’t know what life will bring us. Sometimes we will be called to courage and endurance. Sometimes we will have to bear our own and others’ pain. Being with a loved one through illness and death can be a trying yet profound experience. It is our experience of living that shapes us and calls from us the best that is in us.
Every life is a story. There will be comedy and tragedy, success and failure, moments of fulfilment and times of disillusionment. As we reflect on our lives we may discover a theme, a purpose, or it may be seemingly random chapters. Whatever it is, your life is a unique experience of living. No other ever was, is, or will be just like yours, or mine.
Everyone wants to have, and to make, the best life possible. There are many things over which we have little or no control. We need to accept them and live into them. There is, however, much over which we do have a degree of say. Our attitude, our decisions, how we deal with joy and adversity, will tell much about how our story takes shape.
Many traditions urge us to live in the moment. Good advice. Live in the moment of now and live in the long moment of your life. In the big scheme it is but a moment, a drop in the great ocean of existence. But out of drops the ocean is made.
I believe that our lives, whatever they may be, add something to this ocean. Call it heaven, the collective unconscious, the psyche, the zero point field or whatever. We are part of the fabric of the universe and we weave our own unique thread.
Enjoy the last of summer. Then move on to whatever life holds.
In the spring the hummingbirds will be back. And if we don’t have the feeder out they will hover there telling us to get with it! Good advice.