The key to the conquest of death is to find out who you are. Deepak Chopra
I’ve spent the last few weeks working on my eulogy. I’ve come to one conclusion: this is one of the best exercises for framing life I’ve ever been assigned.
The reason for this exercise: it’s an assignment in the third trimester of my Spiritual Practitioner program. This program is one that aims to prepare you to get a state license as a spiritual therapist after a four year period and was recently highlighted in Newsweek’s April Special Edition called Spiritual Living. It’s also one I fell into by following an intuitive hit. It is definitely one of the best follows I’ve ever pursued.
One reason is the consciousness opening it facilitates. I am blessed to have an amazing spiritual teacher as well as a cohort of 3 other practitioners ranging in age from 52 to 85 and all in between. With that range comes many different ways of thinking and watching the opening of those patterns is so inspiring.
Each term has a focus and this term is a cross study of the five major world religions and death/dying. As the program transcends religion per se, we look at how the way one’s spiritual body is affected by death is really about the religious paradigm (or lack thereof) in which that person views the world.
But the even more interesting thing becomes how one’s idea of death bleeds over to influence how one lives. For example, if the belief is that when a person dies, that’s it, it can make death a little harder to swallow than for the human that believes death is just life reformatted. The choices one makes while living, then, often react off fear or avoidance instead of intrigue and curiosity. The closer that person gets toward the exit, the louder that gets.
That became really clear to me in my own little laboratory as I asked friends and family to speak at my “pretend” celebration of life. Each person’s reaction was so unique. Some people got mad at me. Some people couldn’t bring themselves to do it. Some people forgot (you know who you are.) Some people wrote me the most beautiful, poignant words/poems/jewels that made me laugh and cry simultaneously. I will keep them and cherish them forever.
During the course of writing out my ceremony which I will present to my cohort the day after tomorrow, I spent a week in Pacific Grove, California at CHMACY, the California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth. As a member of the Executive Board of United Advocates for Children and Families, I attended this conference with travel arrangements made by UACF. The Conference was held at the Asilomar Conference Center which is where I drove after landing at SFO. I had printed up my confirmation number and drove straight to Asilomar. When I arrived the lady said, “These aren’t our confirmation numbers. You’re staying down the street at the Lighthouse Lodges.”
She was right. I’d missed that detail. Back in my rental car, I headed to the Lighthouse Lodges. After checking in, I walked up to my room (these rooms are AWESOME, by the way!) and looked out the sliding glass door. I laughed out loud. Right outside my window was a huge, beautiful graveyard. I would be spending four nights sleeping with dead people. How appropriate for somebody studying death and working on their pretend eulogy.
During the course of those few days, I noticed several things. One, other hotel guests requested to move because they were so freaked out that their sliders opened to the graves. I had a lengthy conversation with a woman who just couldn’t take it. Another observation: graveyards are very peaceful and quiet. The deer love them.
In this particular one, the trees towered over creating a beautiful canopy for visitors and headstones alike.
Each morning I got up at the crack of dawn to walk through the graveyard to the beautiful central California coastline. The first morning I found the lighthouse for which the lodge was named: the Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the Pacific. I watched as the light scanned the water just as it had since 1855, a beacon showing the way to seeking travelers.
I thought about how the Light is there to guide us, but so often we get caught up in the illusion of business and fear. I thought about how every person I heard from the highest state and agency positions in California talk about their ideas of how we needed to move from nearly the worst of the 50 states in how we handle homeless children (and mental health), only behind Mississippi and Alabama, to some place more respectable. I thought about how they all talked about involving families and yet nobody really seemed to be doing that.
And yet the Light continues to shine, jumping up and down, beckoning, “Here I am. Here I am!” It’s a consciousness that shines brighter than all the mumbo jumbo that fills the halls of people verbally running in circles and trying to explain why things are the way they are and how to make them better. It’s an awareness that knows that the autumn leaves falling and decomposing into the earth are what makes it rich with life. We see it in nature, and all the beauty around us.
There is an Intelligence, a consciousness here waiting to shine Its Light. This is not a metaphor. We’d do well to listen.