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Grim Advice

We will all age, and one day, our bodies will fail. It may be sooner or later for you or me. Maybe it's in ten, fifteen years, forty years, maybe it's next month, or tomorrow. Disease will wrack us, deepen and wreck us; perhaps our minds will fail us too if we are unlucky enough to contract such illnesses. And at some point we will die. All of us will one day die. And we shall never know when.

Only those who die suddenly, unexpectedly, only they escape this. And dying young is not glory, it is a tragedy, yes, even in the face of the struggles of aging. Wisdom is seldom won in one's youth. They remain half-wise until they resolve within the Cauldron to be reborn.

Before my beloved Teacher passed on, deep in the well of his illness, he shared this small treasure with me: Love is what our human existence is all about. We only have one another in this vast, cold, dark Cosmos. We must care for one another, we must love -hard-, and tend to it like a watchfire in the wilderness of the desert or the pitch black night of the deep forest. We mustn't let fear, cynicism, pent-up resentment, selfishness, or any other ego-born distraction make us forget this truth.

For in death we are cleaved from that fire and taken into the darkness unto an unknown journey, into the long wilderness and beyond the shores of mortal conception. Our humanity is gone, the vital humanity of those we loved is lost...

With the struggles of age, disease, frailty -- and their acceptance -- may come wisdom, a deep knowing of self and an understanding of the world. It is the exchange, the price for the vital fire we took from the deep place. In the end, even that must be given back, and we realize we were always stewards; so tend, care, nurture that flame in yourself, in those around you. Care about people! Tend to the environment that sustains all the life about us, the Land and our green kindred, the oceans and rivers and lakes, the air we breath. Care about other non-human animals, our brothers, sisters and others who have faces and hearts just as we do. Love the whole mess of it; struggle, ease, the tides of life!

Love hard, deep, fierce, passionate! It's the only thing that will keep the chill of loneliness, of isolation, of disconnection away -- that cold, wild night that we will truly encounter in some way, some day, when our time has come to die.

I know, grim advice for the Season of the Dead...for in the black heart of grim reality is the seed of boundless joy, lasting peace, and true wisdom.

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