I love constructive criticism. Really. It’s a gift. And it means somebody cares enough to pay attention.
But what I want to say is: this web log is not about grieving, or death and dying. Especially, it’s not about getting stuck in perpetual sadness, no matter how noble, personally sacred, or elaborately fortified might be the reasons. One of my plans for this web log was to start posting chapters from my most recent book, Death is an Impostor: Life, Death, and the Path of the Heart, as yet unpublished. The book might be described as an autobiographical spiritual travelogue, the chronicle of a spiritual journey leading in no certain direction but towards awakening, ever-greater and deeper, and healing.
I‘ve gotten thoughtful feedback from a couple of people I much admire, along the lines of “Your blog is cool, but, honestly, I can’t really deal with all that stuff about grieving, right now.” Another reader told me, “Paul, it’s like I felt your soul, I mean really felt it, all of it, reading what you had written there.” Pause. I could almost feel her wince. “I had no idea that you were still in such pain.” I said, “Debbie, you have to realize that I wrote those words ten years ago. Really, I’m OK.” “Oh, Good,” she breathed. “You had me worried!”
Live and learn, right? I now realize that part of the confusion here results from a lack of context for the chapters I’ve chosen to post. As with any book of substance, I suppose the chapters need one other to fully make sense, or start to tell a full story. Also, since web logs typically report on the last ten minutes, or less, it’s understandable that my account of that raw time could well tend to disturb readers who have no idea the words were written ten years ago. (That being said, I know damned well that though the more raw aspects of the grief experience may be in some measure “past tense” for me they are current reality for somebody. It it is for that somebody that I take the time to share.)
OK, so let me clarify for the record. Please. The story does involve death, and my often agonizing experience of loss. It must, since the very rocket fuel for the amazing spiritual journey that has transpired over the last twelve years was provided by the death of my life partner and soul mate, Scott Richard Gillen.
So those things, the darker struggles, are very much part of my experience, and they are not to be denied. They are part of my story because I am human and because I have allowed myself to let go at last, and really love. I have lost all in one instant, the moment when my partner’s heart stopped beating forever.
Or so I believed. And you see, there’s the story! When Scott died, I thought he was gone. Of course I did. I am a reasonable and rational kind of guy, and I not really insane (at least no more than anybody else!). But I was completely wrong on that matter of most critical importance. He was not finished with me simply by reason of his death, nor I with him. My heart told me this from the beginning, but at first I could consider such feelings only cruel. I had to learn to listen. Or, put another way, learn to open, and stay open.
In a very real sense our journey together, our partnership of the Spirit, continued. In a new phase that, remarkably, took off with a power all its own. That is what happened. That is what is happening, even as I write these words. And if that is really so, if that is true for me, so it is for you. Right now, as you’re sitting in front of your computer, and forevermore. That is why I am telling my story.
In essence, it is the story of how I came to know, rather than merely believe, that true love never dies, and that “death ends a life, but not a relationship.” And what’s interesting is that I’ve never been a sucker for this “going into the light” kind of stuff, and never before considered seriously the real existence of angels, or especially their relevance to our daily lives. If I’d thought about them at all, I suppose I’d seen them as purely symbolic, strictly figurative expressions of our hearts’ desire. The stuff of poetry and art, and thus of no small importance, but nevertheless not to be confused with fact, under any circumstances.
My message is really about life, and successfully making one’s way through the struggles inevitably arising in the long, dark shadow of its sudden absence when a piece of your heart (and sometimes a big one) has been suddenly taken away from you, forever. It is about finding your way back to the light you once so took for granted, and maybe even learning to love and trust in life once again, and how true love never deserts you. Its about the miracle of receiving the help you know you need, when you really can’t imagine how that’s going to happen, and may even be fairly certain it’s not possible.
It has a great deal to do with learning to set aside what you might think you know, which could damn you, and daring listen to your heart. Since the inevitable reality of death lies very near the beating heart of life, always, it might be about facing up to that great horror (as with all else, given power mainly in the denial), and thus allowing yourself to breathe deep and free as perhaps never before. Strangely, it is about “abundant life,” and the possibility of really living each and every day, unto your last.
Carpe diem, folks! It’s time for lunch.