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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

death Archives

afterwards

After any death, there is (at least in all the cultures I’m familiar with) a ceremony. In our case, Mom’s funeral. It was definitely a family affair: my sister-in-law led the service, reading well-known & well-loved excerpts from the Bible. […]

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the hardest kind of letting go

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them. ~ Buddha As my beloved & my sister-in-law held vigil, my beloved mother-in-law slipped […]

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the names of the dead are ghosts

A couple of weeks ago I upgraded my phone. Which meant shifting contacts. And as there was a major update on my desktop as well, it seemed a good idea to go through my directory. Because people die. And it […]

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moving toward light: opening up and letting go

Photographers have a term for when there’s not light to shoot a picture. It’s called ‘opening up': you increase the aperture — the hole through which you shoot the picture — to allow more light in. Otherwise, you get a dark […]

the vulnerability of grace

This is a post about sharing. About a man who has inspired me for a long time, and his impending loss. It’s about intelligence, wit, and vulnerability. And the irreplaceable magic of those braided qualities. It’s about making a good life, […]

in praise of autumn colour and light

As a kid, summer was my favourite season. Then spring, as I grew into adulthood. Now, as I age further, it’s autumn. It’s the only season we have two names for: autumn, and fall, to commemorate the incredible palette of […]

a bardo for Richard

My friend Richard died this week. Tuesday, to be precise. And in light of that precision, he was really my sister’s friend, at least at first. But because we ended up talking across her FB page, we became friends too. […]

a single squirrel

When I took this picture, I was thrilled. Here was a hawk, on our corner, w/ its kill! And a second later, I noticed another hawk — a mature one, sitting atop the fence behind its offspring, watching as the […]

mourning a mentor and friend

It feels like my world is losing important pieces, lately. A death here, a death there, a third one just behind them. A lot of friends, colleagues, and the family of both have taken wing. Elsewhere. Wherever the dead go. […]

time runs away from us

An old and dear friend lost her husband yesterday. Walking together to his work, she must have watched as he fell to the ground with a heart attack, his second in two years. He was dead by the time they […]

the mortality of cats

At her best, my 14-year-old cat Kali is doing great. She can still jump (most of the time) onto my desk to eat the snack I fixed (NOT for her). She usually maneuvers the leap from the coffee table to […]

farewells, and a goodbye belief

I’m not good at goodbye. Nor farewell, nor see ya later. Nor any kind of leave-taking. HATE them. Too many moves as a kid. Too many folks I’ll never see again. Buddhism is the ultimate goodbye belief. You know: the […]

in memoriam…

There is little left to say about the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Except that many died, and we lost a kind of global innocence. When tragedy struck, I took refuge in poetry, ultimately. Because there is also little that […]

after…

I don’t know what happens when we die. After, I mean. I don’t believe in heaven — but I don’t believe in hell, either. I have no idea if we reincarnate, although many Buddhists do believe in reincarnation. I only […]

death of a blue jay ~

I don’t want to tell you how much of our retirement fund goes for bird seed. Not to mention bird feeders, suet and the containers to put it in, hummer feeders (and sugar for it — we make our own […]

days of youth, death, & disconnection ~

I just heard that an old and very dear friend died. It was last year, but I only heard today. Some of you probably knew Larry Megill — especially those of my local friends. He and my dear dear friend […]

day #23 of National Poetry Month ~

Today is my father’s birthday. He would be 96. It also happens to be Shakespeare’s, which should probably be more important (he’s a LOT older, for one) to a poet. But it’s not. I looked for poems about fathers, which […]

day #17 of National Poetry Month ~

Poetry always helps me with grief. With rage at injustice, with loss. With all the sorrows — as well as joys — of human existence. Today’s poem is for the many victims rippling out from the horrific centre of the […]

holy days, fire & faith ~

It is Good Friday.  It is Holy Week. It is Passover. And other faiths, too — more individual, more isolate — also bear witness to death and redemption. In California, a dear friend still mourns the death of his beloved. […]

a case for poets ~

When you think of people who are useful, poets probably aren’t high on your list. After all, who needs poetry? (Well, I do, but that isn’t typical, I realise ) And yet, when there is sorrow, or great joy, or […]

time & transience ~

Yesterday, we thought we might be godparents to a skein of goslings — tiny yellow-grey fluffballs hatching from the goose we hoped was nesting, not resting, in our front yard. (Note: Canadian geese — at least in our neighbourhood — […]

friendship, funerals, & the bus people ~

Today is my friend Carol’s memorial service. It will be held in the chapel where I was married, on the campus where Carol, her husband , and most of my family — including my husband & I — went to […]

grieving for Carol ~

Once again I am wishing I believed in an afterlife where I would reconnect with people who leave me too soon. Leave irredeemably. Permanently. That hard word forever. But I don’t. Once again I wish I had had more time. […]

tragedy, great sorrow, and the breath ~

I have nothing to say after a tragedy of this magnitude. My heart hurts — I have to catch my breath, thinking of sending a child or children off to school, and never seeing them again… My mind races: what […]

day 24 of Thanksgiving month: seatbelts and nieces ~

My youngest niece (I have a bouquet of wonderful nieces :)) walked away this morning from her mother’s totalled Honda. Anne was wearing her seatbelt. So this my BIG thank-you today: Anne and her seatbelt. Buddhism, as the Buddhist writer […]

it’s just school/ work/ a relationship…NOT LIFE ~

I had a note from a former student today. This isn’t unusual — I’m fortunate to have contact w/ many of my wonderful former students. But this was a bit different. It was a thank-you note. Because of you, it […]

planning funerals (spoiler alert: not to hold for a while, hopefully) ~

I want this read at my funeral. Which I hope is many years in the future (my good news yesterday — no cancer! — certainly helps me believe that!). I want it read because it’s what I’ve always believed, even […]

waiting games ~

Some time today or tomorrow, I will receive a phone call that will — or won’t — change my life. It’s not often you reach a juncture where you know that what just happened, or what happens next, is life […]

ashes to ashes… we all fall down ~

Two friends who attend my church — or at least what I think of as ‘my’ church, despite not attending it w/ any degree of frequency! — lost their nephew today. Lost him in a pool of dark red blood […]

death & loss & grief & rites of passage ~

My cousin’s son died this past weekend. Killed instantly, with his best friend, in a tragic car accident. He was 25. A funeral is no celebration of life when the dead are young. Their lives cut short by the snick […]

death, not taxes ~

I am working on my death. Well, actually, it’s more like I’m working on my life up to my death. But I’m trying to hold that singularly discomforting goal in mind — the one event no one avoids. My friends […]

Previous Posts

the gospel of tea
No one who knows me more than a few hours misses that I am nuts about tea. It not only tastes good: it's good for you. And not just those ...

posted 2:07:06pm Feb. 10, 2016 | read full post »

The sting of snow and the warmth of hearts
Snow doesn't bother me. As long as I don't have to drive in it...! In fact, I quite like it. So knowing that there was going to be snow while I'm visiting my ...

posted 11:34:35am Feb. 08, 2016 | read full post »

saving the world
I can't save the world. And it makes me crazy. I can't even save individual people. Or cats & dogs. And that makes me crazy, too. Because I'm a fixer, ...

posted 7:51:19pm Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

a happily full-isa calendar, and a thank-you to Jimmy Carter
My calendar for the next few months is filling up quickly. And while usually that makes me feel overwhelmed (and I confess to moments of that still!), my ...

posted 9:25:31pm Jan. 31, 2016 | read full post »

temper temper
I don't have a terrible temper. I can take quite a bit of hassle, as long as it's just about me. No one will agree w/ you all the time, nor will everyone ...

posted 3:16:38pm Jan. 27, 2016 | read full post »

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