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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

questioning death and impermanence ~

My students are struggling with death. This has been a week where two have lost childhood friends — close friends — within 48 hours. Their grief, disbelief, and questions fill the classroom. Why? they ask me. It isn’t fair.

I’m struggling with death as well. My beloved mother-in-law — as dear as my own mother — is fading like an old photo, losing memories like leaf fall. This is the third time I have watched an elder slip into the role of child. The fifth time I have seen my childhood wiped from someone’s eyes. Heard the falter of dementia replace my name on someone’s lips.

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And no, it doesn’t feel fair. But I try to remember that everything passes. Nothing will outlast the gradual unwinding of it all. Everything passes. That’s what Buddhism teaches. That to the things that pass, that do not come, brings suffering.

Right now? My students and I are suffering. We are wanting something else: life to be restored. Mind to be clearer. Love to last forever. None of which will happen. Which is pretty much what the Buddha said two thousand years ago. It’s just as hard to listen and accept today as it probably was then.

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This is not what I offer my students. Them I wrap in hugs. I listen to their grieving. I breathe through my own sadness, offering it for them. It doesn’t change things. But it helps.

I guess that’s what the Buddha meant. It won’t stop the pain, right view. But it helps…

Previous Posts

#myAmtrakWritingRetreat reprised
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posted 4:28:24pm May. 28, 2015 | read full post »

chocolate, and my own #AmtrakWritingRetreat
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posted 2:25:47pm May. 27, 2015 | read full post »

more on the home front ~
Today was 'look at houses' day. Funny how pictures bear so little resemblance to the real thing. When I taught, I used to give my students postcards from ...

posted 2:36:27pm May. 26, 2015 | read full post »

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posted 5:40:03pm May. 25, 2015 | read full post »

living through the unexpected (with equanimity?)
 This is how we spent two hours Friday: lined up to cross the French Broad River bridge. TWICE. (I've been calling it the French Bread River Basin since then; ...

posted 10:32:07pm May. 24, 2015 | read full post »

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