I woke up this morning as if under a blanket of sadness. Not the kind of blanket one can flip away and get up from under. More like a blanket that sticks to the body like a robe made of horse hair — old, heavy, rain-resistant.
I stepped outside to notice that the red garments put on the jizo figures during yesterday’s ceremony were wet with rain, clinging to the concrete. And that the tiny message tags (“Daddy loves you.”), hung on branches of the bare plum-tree had soaked through and been blown away, leaving behind flimsy bits of string. I wanted to go outside and tidy things up, to make things right … .
But I remain standing at the window, paralyzed, realizing that no amount of tidying can undo the knot in my heart. I open a book by Stephen Levine who, with his partner Ondrea, has witnessed a hundred individual deaths. He writes that
“the phrase ‘opening the heart’ can be misleading because it implies that the heart is at times closed — when actually the heart, like the sun, is always shining, though occasionally obscured by passing phenomena. We are not so much opening the heart as clearing the way to the heart, recognizing that hindrances to the heart are the hindrances to healing.”
As I stand at the window, then lie down on a mat, I find my breathing shallow and restricted. As I deliberately breathe into the armour, tears erupt and thoughts go to the people who came to yesterday’s ceremony. Turning inward, I hear words by Rumi —
There is a way of breathing
that’s a shame and a suffocation
then there’s another way of expiring, a love breath,
that lets you open infinitely.
source: Levine, S. (1987). Healing into life and death. New York: Anchor Books, p. 6. image: a tag hung on branches of a cedar tree, two years ago.