Friday, May 21, 2010

My Knight in the Shining SUV!

Merry Meet and Happy Morning Family and Friends!

"I'm late, I'm late.....I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!"

Ok, so yesterday I had one of those mornings that, no matter how much good intention went into the planning of my day, the Universe had better things in mind!

Technically, I'm supposed to be at my desk at 9 a.m., so at five minutes before, when I still hadn't dressed, I had to face the reality of the situation...I was going to be shamefully and tragically late!

The day held all the promise of being a spectacular one. Bright sun, warm breezes. I found myself envisioning sitting on my deck with a good book, blissfully communing with the Elements! The thought of being confined to my desk all day was truly blasphemous!

I begrudgingly made my way through my morning ritual, pausing occasionally to listen to the birds singing outside my best intentions thwarted by singing birdies! They are such a terrible influence on me, you know!

Since there was nothing I could do change my obvious state of tardiness, I did the next best thing. I called my office, told them I wouldn't be in for the next half hour and proceeded to walk the mile and a half to work! I was already late, after all!!

As I popped on my IPod and headed out the door, it occurred to me that being "time challenged" may not be such a bad thing. I set out thinking that I would enjoy every moment of my glorious walk in the sun!

A few minutes into my journey, I noticed a woman coming towards me on the same side of the street. I recognized her as a neighbor who visited us often when her children need to sell cookies or gift wrap for the school or church. She usually waves a cheerful greeting as she passes by on her morning walk.

As she approached, I took off my headphones, thinking that I would wish her a "Good Morning". Apparently this was not to be the case. She glanced in my direction, put her head down as if we were strangers and kept walking. Perhaps she didn't recognize me?", I thought. This seemed highly unlikely since we've spoken often enough. It indeed seemed very odd! Could it be that she'd heard "rumors" around the Village about my being, :::gasp::: a Witch! Those Witches! You never know where they'll turn up! I guess I'll have to watch for a future decrease in cookie sales!

As I came up upon one of our busier intersections, I watched as the cars whizzed by without even thinking of stopping. We have a State law here in New Jersey that a driver must stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk. It seemed unlikely that this would occur before the end of time and my mind wandered back to the encounter with my "neighbor". "So perplexing!", I thought.

It was then I noticed that a handsome man in a silver Lexus SUV had stopped to allow me cross. Unfortunately, the driver's coming from the opposite direction had no intention of doing the same. I watched as they sped by, chatting on their cell phones, completely dismissing the fact that the other driver had stopped for me. I was suddenly startled by the blaring of the SUV's horn! As I turned in the direction of the sound, I realized that the gentleman, my Knight in Shining SUV, was giving the other inconsiderate drivers a none too subtle warning! He had turned the front of his own car into the oncoming lane of traffic, forcing them to stop and allow me to cross!

One of the reasons that I'd been so late on this particular morning was that I'd spent extra time performing my devotional to Hekate. I asked that she reveal to me those mysteries which would provide me with greater wisdom and understanding.

This morning the mysteries of the light and dark side of human nature were revealed. A neighbor became a stranger...a stranger, a Prince!

In Darkness, Light!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Exquisite Witness...

Merry Meet Family and Friends:

This weekend marked a growth spurt, of sorts, for me. Firstly, Friday, April 30th, was my birthday. As I mentioned earlier, I celebrated in a most unusual way. Instead of the traditional cakes and candles, I began my training to become certified as an "End of Life" Doula.

A "Doula" is typically someone who provides emotional support to laboring mothers. An "End of Life" Doula is someone who assists in the emotional and spiritual transition of someone who is approaching the end of their physical life. In essence, I celebrated the beginning of my life learning how to assist the dying in the last moments of theirs.

This wasn't the only milestone I'd reached however. This Sunday morning past, I took my first solo trip to New York City. I know there are people for whom this is a natural occurrence. They travel there for business or pleasure. For them, hopping on a train or bus is merely part of their daily routine. For me however, this was a major accomplishment in my quest towards independence!

On occasions when I do go into the City, I'm usually traveling with my husband, who is more willing to brave the traffic. This Sunday however, he needed to work and I needed to be at my workshop, so I was on my own. I have to say, it was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking all at the same time. With each leg of my journey however, from catching train here at home, to transferring trains at the next stop and finally arriving at New York Penn Station, I felt more empowered!

The course itself however, proved to be much more emotionally challenging than I'd anticipated. We were asked to share the memories of our most significant losses, describing in depth the feelings associated with them. I found myself reliving my sister's death in vivid detail, weeping openly as I shared much of the grief that I believed had long since passed. I soon realized that there were still some wounds that were not well healed.

We were then asked to enter a meditative state and imagine how we would feel if we had just learned that we were facing death. Who would we want to share the news with. What would we want to do before we died? What plans did we want carried out? Were we frightened by the thought of dying? As you might imagine, there was nothing at all fun about this exercise!

I learned that I wasn't afraid of dying. I was more concerned with leaving! Would Ray be able to raise my children alone? How would my death effect them? What about my animals! "Fuck this!", I thought. I'm just not going!" I was then struck with a profound sadness that left me exhausted and feeling that perhaps this might not be right for me. Although I certainly have had enough experience with death and dying, this brought it to a whole new level of personal intensity.

Then we talked about what it meant to be an "exquisite witness". To be truly present in the moment of death. It's not simply being there as a life slips away, but a personal ritual celebrating all the cherished moments that this person lived. It's about helping the patient and family create a "vigil plan" to be carried out in the last moments of life and to bring peaceful closure. It's both exquisitely beautiful, yet heart-wrenchingly sorrowful. Hence the name.

The instructor explained that the "End of Life" Doula program is only a pilot program and not offered everywhere. It is a complimentary service provided by select hospice programs in New York and New Jersey. The course was not inexpensive and I was disappointed that I might be training for something I wouldn't have the opportunity to practice. Then he went on to mention that the hospital that he works for in New Jersey offered a Doula Program.

At that point I raised my hand and asked, "do you mind if I ask what hospital you work for in New Jersey?" He responded, "I work for Valley Health Systems" "Valley Hospital? In Ridgewood, New Jersey? Where I live!" Ahhh, ya just gotta love the synchronicity of life!

A friend of mine wrote me yesterday with these words of encouragement...

"It is a awe-inspiring gift to work as what I call, a "Shadow Walker." However, it comes with it's own balance, sense of timing and does not surprise, since you are the Dark mother's child, you are called to it".

And, while I questioned whether I have the strength to be present when a life ends, it is this strength, this courage born of healing from my own personal experiences that has brought me to this place. I have no doubt it will serve me well. So, when I am called to be a "witness" to this soul's new beginning, I will be honored.

In Darkness, Light!