Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We Live and Die in an Elegant Universe

My brother-in-law, Michael Chaves, was a confirmed Atheist who wanted no part of ‘god’.  My last visit with Michael before he could no longer talk, we laughed about how both of us had the same relationship with death; neither of us feared it. Michael was sure that once he died he’d simply no longer exist, and of course I knew that death was simply the transformation of life from one form to the next.

Yet as I contemplated Michael’s life and transition, it was obvious to me that his life was a solid example of the laws of cause and effect. Michael was clear in his convictions and they showed up in the way he lived his life. He believed that he had to be proactive or suffer the consequences. He believed in fairness and just compensation and this belief consistently resulted in Michael's willingness to compensate others well as well as receive his own fair compensation. By all accounts Michael lived a prosperous life.

When he received his diagnosis, true to who he was, Michael immediately decided he did not want treatment. He did not believe in life at all costs and that one should quit while their ahead and he did just that. Twenty-two days after his diagnosis Michael made his transition. I am a bit amazed at the elegance of the timing of everything that transpired once Michael received his diagnosis; you see last year Michael and I decided to extend our annual family vacation from 1 week to 2 weeks. Our families had been vacationing together for 15 years. This year he invited his brother and his family as well. All this was in place well before Michael got sick.
Twelve days after his diagnosis we all gathered from various parts of the country at the North Carolina shore, just a little over 2 hours from Michael's home. We took turns driving to Michael's home and visiting with him and my sister. Midway through our 'vacation' Michael opened his home to family and friends for what turned out to be a kind of living wake where over 100 people came for one last hello and goodbye. Further, since I was already off work and close by I was able to be with them as Michael made his final transition, which took about two days after the living wake. After his death I took my sister to the beach house where we surrounded her with our love for the remainder of our 'vacation'.

This was not the vacation we had all planned but I have to believe on some level it went exactly as planned. Michael went the way he wanted to, quickly and with relatively little pain in his own bed with his wife by his side supported by others. His family was close by and we were all provided for in a lovely beach house where we began our mourning together. In deed, we live in an elegant Universe and we are always provided for when we are willing to accept our place in it and willing to take responsibility for our choices. Michael did not choose terminal illness but he did choose how he dealt with it and in the end it was graceful. Farewell Michael Chaves and thank you for being such a light on this earth in your own authentic way.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Actions to Promote a More Peaceful and Loving World

What happened in Aurora, Colorado last week was senseless; but it’s exactly at these times that we need to recall our interconnectedness. While it would be absurd to say that anyone other than the shooter was directly responsible for what happened in Colorado, I would say we are responsible for how we hold it and how we respond to it.

It’s tempting to get caught up in the media spin and the hype, especially since that’s exactly what the ego uses to keep us a sleep – we create an emotional bypass where we allow the media to spoon feed us the public opinion rather than feel our own feelings and form our own opinions. But if we want to be conscious we need to pay attention to what’s going on inside our hearts. Listen to our feelings and see what’s there for us to learn or just release.

I read a compelling statement by Arun Gandhi yesterday where he challenges us to consider our love affair with violence in our culture.  I do not consider myself a violent person but I had to look at my acquiescence and eventual acceptance of violence in my world.  Here's what I know to be true for me...  if I see discord in the world it's because somewhere within me I believe it's ok.

Consciousness is a powerful thing.  If none of us believed it was acceptable to cause harm to others, violence would cease to be a problem in our world.  The incident in Aurora begs for me to consider where in my own consciousness I still find violence acceptable.  I can't do anything that will directly alieviate the pain of the effected families in Aurora but I can choose how I think and what I believe and I can be vigilant with my thoughts and actions to promote a more peaceful and loving world in my own mind and in my own community.

I am reminded of the Amish school shooting about 6 years ago in Pennsylvania. Remember how the community responded? With compassion and forgiveness, compassion for their own families and compassion for family of the man who shot their children. That was an amazing act of love and forgiveness in the midst of great personal tragedy. 

So today I choose to stand the high watch in my own life and make conscious choices about what I read, watch and tolerate in my own backyard. While I've never even held a firearm, I accept my responsibility in last week's violent action in Colorado and I now choose peace.  If each of us did this we could change the world.