The Planetary Chorus

Cedar Lake photo by Renee Dehler

A dear friend called this morning to let me know her father died earlier in his sleep and to share her memories, her reflections of a lifetime with this man, her Papa. I recalled the desire I felt when faced with a death, wishing the world would slow down with everyone stopping for this momentous loss. While we take a breath to take it all in, attend to the many details of death, and take the time to mourn, life does not. While my friend is grieving, I am playing. While her family makes burial plans a baby is being born, wars are fought, political rivalries take the headlines, others in the world are dying, are starving, are migrating. Life continues in its complexity and in all manner of love, hate, care, compassion, and regret. All unfolding while we are busy minding our own life.

My friends call came while I am camping near Cedar Lake for the third family reunion that we have attended this summer. We here are enjoying lawn games, card games, kayaking, swimming, and biking. With a large family and a possible 104 who could attend, this year 74 join in for a day or a week. An incredible number which speaks to the value placed on showing up and being part of the whole. Under the harvest moon we gather around the campfire widening the circle as people arrive to sit and tell stories. The days are relaxing, fun, informative, and comforting as I feel the pleasure of belonging in this tribe as well as the other tribes that we have gathered with this summer. We have place on this planet.

As we catch up on each other’s lives, I learn of those who have quit drinking, pursued further education, left a marriage, celebrated the birth of a great grandchild, made travel plans, or dealt with health complications. During the week I move from a heartful conversation with a niece to a zoom session with a client, to the phone conversation announcing a death, then to visit with my sister-in-law, soon to watch my grandson on the paddle board as I move to my kayak and on through the days and into the nights in a seamless flow.

I find it heartening that in any moment of loss and grief, others are living their moments of life in a different way. The stories of existence continue, and we feel the breath of Spirit throughout our lives and those around us. In unison we rejoice, we wail, we celebrate, we love. We are the planetary chorus heard, reverberating throughout time.

“Each moment is a note in the song of today.”

Michael Brant DeMaria

“I was sitting under a tree on the riverbank enjoying the flow of life.”

Debasish Mridha

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ongoing Resource List: Reading for Heart and Mind

  • Forever Ours: Real Stories of Immortality and Living by Janis Amatuzio
  • Personal Power Through Awareness by Sanaya Roman
  • Violence & Compassion by His Holiness the Dahlai Lama
  • Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Devotions by Mary Oliver
  • To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue
  • Meditations From the Mat by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison
  • The House of Belonging: poems by David Whyte
  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
  • Soul an Archaeology Edited by Phil Cousineau
  • A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield
  • Listening Point by Sigurd Olson
  • I Sit Listening to the Wind by Judith Duerk
  • Dancing Moons by Nancy Wood
  • The Soul of Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks
  • Keep Going by Joseph M. Marshall III
  • Arriving at your own Door by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
  • The Hidden Secrets of Water by Paolo Consigli
  • Conquest of Mind by Eknath Easwaran
  • Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
  • Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown
  • Practicing Peace in Times of War by Pema Chodron
  • When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
  • On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
  • Unattended Sorrow by Stephen Levine
  • Joy in Loving, Mother Theresa
  • The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
  • Let Your LIfe Speak by Parker Palmer
  • Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The Essence of the Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran
  • Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chodron
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through The Ways Of Animals by Jamie Sams and David Carson
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