While the morning news tells me about the polls and the last frenzy before the elections keeps the messages in my inbox coming, I look outside and see that the first frost killed the tomato plants, the peppers, basil and tender marigolds. I take a stroll in the garden to assess to frost damage. The dahlias that struggled to emerge above ground this year but eventually formed a healthy green plant, never made it to bloom as the flower heads hang in sorrow. Do plants feel sorrow? On the other side of the fence, the frost colored the leaves of the deciduous trees red and yellow and put a smile on the world.
The news tells me about 400 fresh cases of Covid in my state, 4 recent deaths, all seniors. (85,000 new cases nationwide, 923 recent deaths). These are seniors, past blooming. Did they want to continue to live? The prediction is that the pandemic will get worse as winter approaches. As a people do we have the will to turn this trend around?
Katie Mack, a PhD cosmologist, gives a lecture addressing the question: “Will the universe die?” She gives the scientific rationale and theories, nothing more than speculations about what we don’t know. The universe will continue to expand and contract. Our planet will most likely burn up as the sun gets hotter. Already the forests are burning up as the climate gets hotter. Can we avert this heating trend? Put off the inevitable for a while?
Wherever I turn there’s death. I walk and hike to talk with the trees, to feel nature breathing. It doesn’t feel as if nature is taking its last breath. I see change, movement from one season to another. I know the forests and mountains are morphing as some species disappear and new ones enter because of climate change. A nature columnist who’s been writing for the Audubon Society since the seventies, says that we have saved many species. They’ve come back from near extinction in the last 50 years, since we’ve created the endangered species act in the US.
The Sand Conference on Dying and Living brings together science and spirituality. Smart voices point out the process of transformation we call death. There’s no birth without death, no individuality without the cosmic experience, no fear without hope. We cannot have a world without disease, without death, as we have developed into ever more complex creatures. The creatures that don’t die are regenerative; they don’t have sex to create offspring. Do you want to be a worm, and live forever? Death and disease is the price we pay for living with love, emotion, and awareness. We will dissolve and return to the universe, the cosmic being.
While we need to accept our human condition we can know our connection with the greater universe. We can witness the amazing growing, expanding and contracting of forces around us, in the form of stars, galaxies, rainbows, plant and animal life, of water flowing in iridescent colors over rocks into the great oceans of our planet where plant life and water creatures live in a world of marvel.
In my newest book “Fly Free” I describe the experience of being in a state of awareness of the growing, expanding, and transforming energy this universe comprises while sitting at the feet of a master. At the time, I would have exchanged living an ordinary life for continuing to be in that state of awareness. Luckily, I didn’t get the choice and so I learned to find the perspective in living that gives me joy.
How can we be sad or fearful when we can experience joy? If we stay in touch with, and renew our awareness of our place in the universe of things, we can feel the love that permeates all that’s alive. Not an earthy, from you-to-me, me-to-you love, but an endless emerging force of energy that creates and transforms all that is. My body as it ages and disintegrates will dissolve in that energy and my narrow body consciousness will expand and fly free.
All death we see around us then is only a reminder of the force that keeps going, keeps transforming, keeps living. Living with the seasons and turning the frosted dead plants into compost is a promise for spring growth. Living fully, and taking the time to grieve when a loved one dies, to grieve the deaths that are happening around us everywhere - to be a grieving society at this time - is an opportunity to be part of the transformation this world is experiencing and find the life force that will emerge.
The deeper we sink into the darkness of the unknown, the darkness of death, the greater the change will be. Our world is experiencing a time of darkening but like after a long, dark winter, the light will come back. We may not be here to experience it but we’ll be part of that energy that keeps on changing. Knowing this, eases my days and lets me step back from the craziness of pandemic ignorers, climate change deniers, the frenzy of the political scene as if the outcome of these elections can make everything okay again. The outcome of the elections will make us sink deeper, or turn the tide, but neither change will end or make a better world. One thing we can be sure of, there will be change, always.