Monday, February 16, 2009

This one's for Katie ...

This morning, over at "at the Half Note," Katie posted a beautiful note about her father Roger Bowen who passed away 13 years ago today ... Katie notes that her missing of him has never gone away ...

Today as I moved through my day and thought about her eloquent posting I recalled a conversation I had long ago over a cup of tea in the back of a Church one Sunday night ... it altered my view of the world and of life and death and our place therein ...

It all began when over tea after worship the elders sat around the table and chatted about life and the universe ... somehow the conversation turned to life and death and then inevitably we began to talk about what lies beyond life ...

One of the elders said - "You white guys got it all wrong ..."

"What do you mean?" I ventured.

"Well," she said with a smile, but with seriousness in her eyes, "you tell us that when we die we go to heaven and become angels and sit around on clouds with wings and flowing gowns and playing harps ... I'm not interested in any of that stuff ..."

"How come?" I asked, wondering where this was going.

"I don't know how to play a harp," she said, her face stern but her eyes twinkling. Much to the delight of the other elders.

"You'll have lots of time to learn," I said laughing.

"Not interested," she said, "I want to go to the heaven my grandmothers told me about."

"What's it like?" I asked, now very intrigued by this conversation.

She went on to describe a place that is all around us ALL THE TIME. She described it as being "as far away as your next breath and as close as the wind on your cheek." She said in the Spirit World that her grandmothers told her of, you are surrounded by the family that has gone before you, and you can move among the family that are left behind.

"My heaven," she said, "will be watching over my family and being present with them while
I am in the Spirit World and they remain in this one ..."

She went on to describe her late husband as "still here," and noted that she talked with him every day. It was hard to argue with her version of heaven ... it did indeed seem heavenly ...

She spoke of KNOWING that the departed are around us, watching, loving, caring for us ... and that if we have eyes to see and a heart to feel, we'll see and feel them - "they are right here" ... in those moments when after the death of a loved one we think to ourselves - "we need to tell ..." they are there ... when we walk into a familiar place and think we see them - they are there. In those moments, according to the elders the veil between the Spirit World and our world has thinned and WE are very aware of the presence of the Spirit World and the very presence of those we love ...

Later I read more about the Spirit World among other First peoples, and as I reflected on the vision shared by the elder that night I felt the pull of this idea and realized the validity and truth of it ... I take comfort in the thought that those I've loved and who have passed on to whatever lies beyond this life are NOT sitting on a cloud, playing a harp with their flowing gowns and feathery wings, but instead they are somewhere very near - as far away as our next breath and as close as the wind across our cheeks ... and today I have no doubt that Roger Bowen is somewhere very near the life of his daughter and grand daughter ...

1 comment:

itzktb said...

I'm sure my father would have enjoyed having a conversation and a cup of tea with you.

Thank you Rev, I am deeply touched by your thoughtful post.