The wheel of the year is turning, fall recently arrived but it feels winter is not far from the doorstep. Winds have been wild over the past few weeks, and it seems that no sooner had the leaves turned to red and gold but they were viciously blown away, leaving stem, trunk and branch seemingly naked and bereft… bare, lonely, waiting…
Seeing this rapid change in landscape and turn of the seasons made me reflect on my work, my life, and the lives of those with whom I am blessed to care for in one way or another. Fall shows her beautiful colours but all too soon the leaves are shed, leaving the trees standing alone – bare, stripped of their former beauty, and waiting. Seeing those parallels reflected in the journey of life made me pause and think.
Living our lives as we do, most of us make a concentrated effort to be the best person we can, to help others when we are able and to share empathy and compassion with those in need. We share light, we share love, we laugh, cry, teach and learn. We share the essence of ourselves with those around us for whom we care and love and consider family and friends. And, when our time comes to take leave of this body and this earth, we must do so alone leaving our loved ones behind as we continue on this journey.
We start our lives on a precarious footing, relying on others to nurture us and allow us space to grow. We gain strength, we reach out, we explore and discover who we are as individuals and where we fit in to the bigger picture. We find our space. As we develop into the unique beings that we are, we branch out and start reaching toward new and loftier goals – new jobs, new friends, expanding our families. We share our love, our light, we nurture and protect those we care for, we support others on their journey by sharing our strength and our experience. This is where we are in our glory, bright, shining, living life to its fullest. And then… the wheel turns… we grow older, our bodies are perhaps not as strong as they once were, we become more reliant upon others to help us with tasks we were once able to do for ourselves. The love and compassion and caring we once gave to others is now (if we are fortunate) returned to us by those we raised and taught and love. Our leaves begin to fall.
As end of life approaches oftentimes people are worried about unfinished business; words left unsaid, things left undone, broken relationships and past regrets that need to be rectified in order that they may die peacefully. This is where I encourage talking, sharing, writing, recording. Leaving a legacy to those we love is not always done in a physical manner. Legacy work can be something as simple as putting together favourite family recipes, completing that photo album, writing letters or a biography of your life in one way or another, leaving a video recording for family and friends, or putting together a memory box with items inside to be opened by those you love throughout their lives. In doing work as a Thanadoula, and in my studies, I have discovered that one of the biggest fears people have is that they will be forgotten after they die. Again, I look to the trees.
We see trees as they go through their cycles of life, the same way we do as I have outlined above. When it comes time for them to shed their leaves they stand alone, waiting… as we may do also. We live our lives the best way we can, our body slowly breaks down, and finally becomes still, allowing our spirit to soar free. Look to the leaves. They start as buds, growing green and lush and providing shade and shelter, then become gloriously vibrant and do their dance of descent and land on the ground. Look to the sidewalk. The leaves fall. They rest for a while and then they blow away… leaving behind an imprint on the sidewalk. That happens with each and every one of us. We fall, rest for a while, but our spirit leaves an imprint on the hearts of each and every being we have ever touched with our lives. Whether it is a small act of kindness, a word, a thought, a helping hand, or a heart and life full of love and caring, each of us has something to contribute to this world. Rest assured that when your time comes, you will not be forgotten. Blessed be your journey xo