It’s been one of those weekends where I’ve been apart of a circle. Each day, for hours on end, I was mostly silent because I was being taught from others that had experience in a practice/circumstance of living that I hadn’t, namely, being present with people that know their mortality is ending very soon.
I’ve been attending a workshop at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco and it’s time to go home. The place where I’m staying is quiet, my friend sleeps, and I’m shuffling around in silence as I pack my bags, shower, and walk through his home during the gray, morning-softness.
Taking a moment to flip through my notebook, seeing the many impressions I picked up from my lovely teachers, as well as some of my new friends. These people, all of them, came with such open minds and hearts… I’m still being moved by their thoughts and willingnesses to do this thing called “care-taking.”
I went places within my self this weekend, that previously I hadn’t, for long periods of time. Perhaps the most poignant was a sort of ritual of seeing my own death, watching as parts of my life were “taken” from me without any real control on my end. Names. Roles. Favorite activities. Objects. Shaun. Photographer. Uncle. Connecting through food. Amy. Greg’s Voltron. Advocate.
The potency of this exercise can’t be expressed here, with words. It was intentionally something needing guidance and assistance—with physical presence.
I wept, feeling the recognition of my end. I watched, motionless, as all these things that make me ME were taken, sometimes many at once, sometimes one at a time.
Another significant portion of the workshop was being taught by the lovely Irene Smith, a care-taker devoting her life to a very specific practice, that of touch awareness. Completely elevating!
In these last few minutes, of thinking I wanted to share just a little something with you, what I can’t shake is just how FULLY these people are showing up. In life. For others. For themselves. And I guess its that real REAL space where compassion and being present to another person is really the most important thing we can do, as can only be truly seen at the end of life. "And can't we just somehow learn to show up that same way, while we live?" I ask myself repeatedly.
My eyes and fingers rested on a few pages with these salient questions and thoughts, all coming from my new friends, and I wanted to share them with you. Please enjoy them, as you may. Sending you all golden love and intention today… Dal
How do we use our wounds to heal others?
Can we see the whole person lying in the bed?
The healing place—not the curing place
Courage: the core of compassion
Listening to respond vs listening to understand
Listen generously without knowing what you’re going to say.
The long pauses in the silence are important.