Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Ash Wednesday work day began with entering a woman's hospital room, asking, "So what did the Doctor have to say?" And like it so often is, I was a participant in a dramatic movie scene, except this was not movie.

She answered, " He says it has gone to the liver and I have three to six months to live."

And then we just sat together as she cried.
Nothing to say, nothing to do but to be with this information, absorbing it in the mind and body.

Part of the liturgy in the Ash Wednesday service for many denominations is "Remember from dust you came and from dust you shall return"

In other words, "Remember your death, remember you will die like all those who have gone before you"

Walking into that room yesterday reminds me that I have many Ash Wednesdays throughout the whole year, being reminded that death will come, death is real.

And I am thankful!
But I still don't know if I believe I am going to die.

James Finley, talking about contemplative wisdom in The Contemplative Heart  says:
What is it that contemplative wisdom looks for in order to discern that we are on the path that enhances rather than the path that hinders our ongoing contemplative self-transformation? I answer this way: Contemplative wisdom discerns our efforts in contemplative living to be effective insofar as our efforts are bringing us, with out our knowing how, into the horizonless domain of serenity in the no-hope-for-recovery situation. We can discern the effectiveness of our efforts insofar as they embody our stepping across the line to join those who have come to serenity in knowing they are about to die.

So often in my work I encounter persons who have just been living their lives without intention to the spiritual, even while professing some kind of faith. And then the news comes "three to six months" and they are at a loss in what to do.
I am not talking about the initial shock and the initial reactions. I think no matter what we have been doing spiritually, initially we will react, not respond. 

The woman I was with yesterday was in shock, yet she had been dealing with this for quite some time.

Now she sits with "just this. "
And I will sit with her as needed as she sits with "just this."

Hoping we both can find that serenity in the midst of this truth.

Remembering we both came from dust and from dust we shall return.

We shall all die.

What does this mean in our living?


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