Life, Death and Love

This is a speech written in honor of a family friend who recently passed. I spoke it at his service, but thought someone else might get something out of it if I made it available to everyone.

"The Gift" by Ian R Anderson, C.Ht.

From the air we breathe, that we share with the eagle of the sky, the deer of the forest, the dolphin, whale and fish of the sea, that we share with the oak of the sun, the ash of the mountain, the apple of the grove, the alder of the wetlands and the Hazel of the mound. From the water of life which makes it all possible, and the golden light of the life giving sun. From the enshrinement of spirit in the body of life, and from the infinite and eternal source of God’s Prana, that spiritual light which animates matter and flows freely from the ever-giving gifter of life’s bounty. To the ever-changing nature of being and the mysteries that we all find within as we unceasingly create and re- create ourselves, our experience of reality and the meaning we find in our love, our care, and our connections with each other... we are all one.

Moments like this cause us to question life’s meaning and purpose; to look deeper into ourselves and our memories, our dreams and our hearts. There we find those paradoxes and conundrums which are so deeply and inextricably part of life. But if we are able to find a deeper meaning as we wander down these difficult, and often painful paths into the unknown, we are sometimes able to gain wisdom, and through that wisdom, find healing. “Why” we ask, “are we given this blessing - this beautiful experience of life: the wonders of nature, the fathomless depths of being in Love, the joy of having a family, the opportunity to be an infinitely unique expression of the limitless variability of the creative

potential of this universe - only to have it all taken away in the end?”

“Why must death be part of life?”

This question I have explored and meditated upon possibly more than any other thought. To answer it, I think, we cannot approach it directly. We must circle around, follow the clues left by other questions and truths. We have to look at the nature of things, into the way reality is structured and the rules upon which it operates. Whether we look at galaxies, stars, planets, or individual life forms what we see, even at the level of the atom, is movement, the exchange and transformation of matter, energy and information.

Not the creation of new matter, but the fusion of light elements into heavy elements in the heart of a star, which powers the stars, not by creating new energy but by releasing what was already inherent in the atoms themselves. You see this movement in the convergence of energy, matter, and information in the organization of all three into the conditions for, and the existence of Life. And you see it in the dissolution of these as well, in the process of death, when everything: the matter and energy of the body, the essence of spirit, and the information that makes each being who and what they were returns to the sources from which they came. These cycles within cycles and rhythms within rhythms aren’t circular, they are spirals, for each time the cycle returns to a familiar place the whole universe has moved as one, the Allness of it moving through space and time. At every conceivable scale this is always true, nothing ever repeats exactly.

Every moment is unique.

This is the one absolute, the one thing that never changes, and that is that everything is always changing. This fact and everything that it implies is built on one simple principle - the principle of imperfection. Perfection, although an interesting concept is one of those things which has never truly been observed or experienced, but it has a name and it seems to attract all of existence toward it like some kind of cosmic vortex. Because perfection, a state of super-symmetry and ultimate stillness was, perhaps, at some time sacrificed by the universal mind and imagination, we have the experience of being. We are all blessed with the ability to be ourselves, to live in this world, perfectly imperfect, exactly as we are and are meant to be in every moment, yet always in a state of becoming the person we are capable of being. This is what makes evolution, progress and growth possible. For this to happen we go through this process of birth, life and death, all supporting each other in learning to be ourselves by connecting, interacting, loving, sometimes conflicting, and always on the fine line between the familiar and the unknown.

The ultimate unknown is confronted at each of the ends of life. Birth, the first bookend to life - a new being who has never existed before enters the world - not in a way very different from how we leave the world if you really look closely. Someone for whom the birth process was totally unfamiliar would need to take an incredible leap of the imagination to comprehend that a miracle rather than a crisis were taking place. Death - the second bookend - as the story reaches its resolution, the unknown is just on the other side of this moment - a moment which, in a way, is present with us, with everything, always. And we, those living on with the loss of the people we have loved, reach ever-deeper into the mysteries of who we are, what we are, where we are from, where we are going, and our unique individual purpose. Beethoven said “There is no loftier mission than to approach Divinity nearer than other men, and to disseminate the divine rays among mankind” This perpetual movement is taking everything back to perfection, back to re-unification with the Divine. Through these moments of joy, Love, pain, and loss, we are able to

develop toward this transcendental state by learning a few very simple but very important lessons which make us more Divine ourselves. Although the transcendental is mysterious by nature, we have some sense of what is right and ultimately good because when we truly Love another soul it elevates our entire self toward these Divine energies. If we meditate upon the Divine we find that it is infinitely self-sacrificing, infinitely forgiving, reconciled unto itself in an eternal state of surrender and acceptance, and infinitely, unconditionally, Loving. This is what it is all about: Life and Being. Life gives the Universe purpose - and conscious, self-aware beings of intelligence, emotion and spirit are what give the universe meaning. We are what make the universe something that is experienced. It is both infinitely complex and beautifully simple. Life and being is eternally renewing through the fact that nothing is ever created or destroyed, just eternally transforming. But that also means that nothing lasts forever.

So in honor of the infinitely unique being, NAME REMOVED, who has taken his first steps beyond this world’s realm, I hold my hand over my heart and bid him farewell on his journey into the light. Thank you.

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