The theme of the Fall issue of Parabola magazine is Seeing. The lead article is “Where’s the Temple, seeing beyond the foreground,” by Trebbe Johnson. A paragraph in her essay begins “there is a doorway into the world of the unknown.”
I spent the past weekend in Belle Fouche, South Dakota celebrating life and mourning the death of dear friends’ daughter and sister. Nellie, a Navaho died of alcohol poisoning. She leaves three children, an 18, 6 and 4 year-old to make sense of her life and theirs.
When I arrived home my brother called to ask why I was in South Dakota. I told him, then he told me that a close friend of his, an Episcopal priest, moved to Rapid City, South Dakota 3 years ago to serve the people there. Carl told me his friend says mostly what he does is bury people who’ve died from alcohol poisoning or in car crashes. We know that grief. Our family lost my brother John to alcohol poisoning many times before it killed him a few months ago.
During a walk in the woods, Nellie’s father asked me if I believe in spirits. With tree and sky spirits all around I answered I do believe that we hold the spirit of people we love in our hearts; The spirit of the joyful Navaho girl will remain with us and my family has our handsome cowboy’s spirit hovering around. Their pain has ended – their demons flown free to haunt us.
We are all grieving deeply. In that grief I wonder how do we heal the deep errors, the demons we set loose in our world? My friend and I both believe in transcendence – an awareness beyond our immediate knowledge. I believe that we must seek that awareness and use it in the here and now!
How we see in our grief is how we will act.
“If anyone went on for a thousand years asking of life: ‘Why are you living?’ life, if it could answer, would only say, ‘I live so that I may live.’ That is because life lives out of its own ground and springs from its own source, and so it lives without asking why it is itself living.”
― Meister Eckhart
* Side canyon in Spearfish Canyon, Spearfish, South Dakota, 10/24/2011, Marian Methner