Archive for June 15th, 2009
I have returned from a short stay with my brother-in-law. The time spent with him was as good as I had hoped for as the weather allowed us to go into the countryside and re-visit places and memories of his past. I did get some photos as anticipated which only made the time even more special.
Of course, all is never perfect. A flat tire revealed that all four tires needed changing, an unexpected expense. But even that had a small blessing as it slowed us down enough to allow relax time together. It makes me think of “Thy will, not mine,” making room in life for the will of the gods, for a divine plane. And wouldn’t you know it, Hollis talks about this in his book Celebrating a Life. Even the title of the book felts somehow in sync with the weekend which was both a visit and a gathering of photos for the purpose of celebrating the present life of my brother-in-law.
The time spent with Mike is best described as a collection of moments of grace. Since his loss of capacity, he lives simply on his own. Unlike those who suffer Alzheimer’s, he has retained some memories and a sense of who he is. He has lost analytic function and cannot cope well with change or complexity. He is entranced by nature and sees the need to keep the environment clean. This is almost an instinctual level of knowledge, not a reasoned response to the environment based on study. It’s as though his soul has taken a shortcut to touch the numinous aspects of the world. He may have lost much of his “mind,” but he has definitely found his soul.
James Hollis talks about us as modern beings go in search of soul as though picking through the shards of ancient civilizations, through the rubbish of the past:
And how does one know which shards to carry forward in the infinite jigsaw puzzle of the soul? When something is of us, is for us, it sets off the tuning fork inside us. It resounds because it has always been there, archetypically. The resonance within us cannot be willed; it happens. No amount of willing will make it happen. But resonance is the surest guide to finding our own right path. (Hollis, Celebrating a Life, 2001, p. 61)
The photo above which I took earlier this evening upon our arrival back at our house was taken before I knew what I was going to write here. I took the photo for reasons of contrast, colour and the play of light. Yet, I see in the photo, shards of a pot, life breaking down, like the life of Mike is breaking down into simpler terms. In a way, it makes the future of growing older and of diminishing capacity something less fearful, something more holy.