Ancient philosophers and spiritual teachers were explorers. They wanted us to be as well. They thought we should understand this physical world, but not get stuck here. For thousands of years we have shared their insights, over-analyzed and repeated their words; quoting and re-translating until all meaning has been lost. These great minds, great souls, great beings sought to be jumping off points, not merely the originators of emptied out and desiccated cliches. They wanted to be doorways, not doorstops.
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[Charlie is dying:] After what seemed a long while, but hadn't been, Marsh gave Paulette's hand a warm and caring squeeze. 'They're here for him, ' she said. But their heavenly visitors didn't take him right away. They had to make room for the chaos of modern medical urgencies. To get out of the way of well-trained professionals who had dedicated their lives to holding back Heaven. Choppers are just as noisy and turbulent as we imagine them to be. One tore in over the hills and shattered every bit of peace Charlie otherwise could have lost himself into. In an instant the Med-Evac team was all over him. In the midst of that blatant orchestrated chaos Paulette fought to find her peace, and to hold him inside it. 'Hang on, buddy, ' techs kept telling him. 'Don't go leaving us now. You just hang in there.' But they didn't understand, Paulette thought. It was his time. The chopper made a horrible racket carrying him off. Marsh, Paulette, and Ailana held their peace as its winds whipped their world into a froth. Harve's face twisted with something that might conceivably have been rage. Then, all of a sudden, the birds sang, as though someone had given them a cue. 'So that's what it's like, ' Marsha said, very softly. 'The afterlife. 'My God, it's so beautiful.
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Paulette had never been flush with self-confidence. People took that as humility, but humility isn't painful and crippling. She hadn't yet learned that humble and self-destructive aren't the same thing at all. They're not even on the same team. - From "The Gardens of Ailana" handbook for healers & mystics
I miss you so much in these wee morning hours, when the depth of the night sets my spirit free. When the forest is dark, and there doesn't have to be anything in the world but the beauty I pull out of it. I miss you throughout the day, as I come across glories and wonders that could easily overwhelm me, but just dull because you're not here to enjoy them.
The back of the church was raised up from the ground. Tossed in among its supports were what looked like moldering bones. My heart ached so much for these poor souls, neglected even after death, I turned away to head back, but managed only a few burdened steps. I drew up abruptly and froze. An old, worn marker, standing off by itself, grabbed at my heart. It was Edgar Alan Poe. He fit in so perfectly there. Maybe I did, too. His sorrow and pain ate through me as I stood, head lowered. Can't even death let us step away from our darkness? It was like he was scratching a warning into the dirt with his finger, and meant it specifically for me. Don't wait around for sermons to wash you clean, he seemed to say, for death or drugs to close your eyes. God won't come roaring in with fresh troops to drive away the darkness we've walled our own souls up in. He didn't put us there; we'll have to dig ourselves out. I looked at my own life as I stood there, feeling buried alive, like some of his characters. But unlike his characters I had caught a flash of hope.
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There comes a hush between darkness and day. Like expectation of a caress. A murmur of silence. Tree crests peeked down at Paulette through slowly lifting fog. Bark felt around for its texture again. Morning gathered and drifted through mere hints; through vague hopeful nuances of 'Just maybe'. - From "The Gardens of Ailana" handbook for healers & mystics
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Decades after little Colleen's death, my sister Kathy still loves her daughter dearly. Colleen was born with cerebral palsy. She died in Kath's arms in a rocking chair at the age of six. They were listening to a music box that looked very much like a smiling pink bunny. The opening quote in this book, 'I will love you forever, but I'll only miss you for the rest of my life, ' is from Kath's nightly prayers to her child. Colleen couldn't really talk or walk very well, but loved untying my mother's tennis shoes and then laughing. When Mom died decades later we sent her off in tennis shoes so Colleen would have something to untie in Heaven. In the meantime, Dad had probably been taking really good care of her up there. He must have been aching to hug her for all of her six years on earth. Mom's spirit comes back to play with great grandchildren she'd never met or had a chance to love while she was still - I almost said 'among the living.' In my family, though, the dead don't always stay that way. You can be among the living without technically being alive. Mom comes back to play, but Dad shows up only in emergencies. They are both watching over their loved ones. 'The Mourning After' is dedicated to all those we have had the joy of loving before they've slipped away to the other side. It then celebrates the joy of re-unions.
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