This summer I hope to visit the place I scattered my mom’s ashes 26 years ago, near the foot of Neahkhanie Mountain on the Oregon coast. Standing in the wind above the sea, I will be sure to remember this Hopi Prayer.
“Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circle flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.
My Spirit is still alive.” – Hopi Prayer
Meanwhile, the wind blows, incredibly. The sun rises – seen or unseen – and moves across the sky, incredibly. Water covers most of the planet. Effervescent laughter is remembered. The vast silence of the world helps quiet the noise of your mind. The great emptiness fills you up and calms your heart. Do not be too eaten up by your own life.
For many long years, sleep did not come. Now it is here, a sanctuary, an unremembered temple of well-fed lions.
Summer comes, undeniable as the needs of body and soul. We peel away her nightdress, and when she goes we go with her.
There will still be times we do not feel supported by the earth, and contact with it will need to be reestablished. There will still be times when pain holds us in its mouth like a whale, and we struggle to light our way so we might see better in the darkness of its belly.
The sun is rising, now, again. The earth tilts on its axis, and that star is still there, incomprehensible fire of all fires at its center, and the fire moves ever outward, cooling equally, creating a roundness.
We owe our lives to the circumstances of the earth and the sun, to the distance between them.
It is morning and you are held in sleep. I am held in my usual early wakefulness. Calm water has eased my burning. There is soreness in my body, and insect bites on my skin.
I eat up the world, and am eaten by the world. A humble warrior does not forget to bow to all of it.
A dream of bamboo groves and flickering candles. A dream of sitting in meditation, of the alchemy of bees bringing about the reality of honey.
A dream of desire, awake and alive, of a sanctuary of sleep like a temple of wed-fed lions, of a heart containing both fire and calm understanding.
A dream of crouching down at the edge of water, of the sound of a bullroarer, of the coyote crossing my path and looking back, and he this night twitching as he dreams of the human crossing his path.
Dreams of the language of rivers, the lessons of mountains, the lumbering grace of knowledgeable bears, the songs of birds, the pulse of stillness, the rise and fall of tides, of breath, of energy.
And then the inevitable return. For after the dream, I enter myself again.
Quiet the questions in your mind long enough, and you might hear the answers your heart knows to be true. Trust your heart, listen to it carefully, wear your heart on your sleeve and let it break open.
Let me tell you now how much I will miss you.
Let me not spend another moment wandering the world with words unspoken.
Let me not wait until you are gone, as I have waited with so many now lost from me, and narrowed my eyes as withered chances blew past my flushed cheeks, lifted by a sudden wind, leaves in a wheelbarrow carried back to the place where only a moment before, I gathered them.
As if I were trying to perform a task far too large for me, something to test the bounds of my mortal endurance.
Celebrating life’s riddles as blessings in disguise requires a willingness to be open and flexible.
Rather than questioning everything, you just watch closely, wait patiently, and listen deeply.
It’s kind of like lying down on the ground and letting it support you.