Memo # 8 ~ Deep River (Shusako Endo)

“…And death itself began working backwards…”

A tree grows up into the light, oxygen-laden air from out of the dark, decaying remains of its parent. Forest fires are part of the cycle of a healthy forest. Ever noticed that serving someone makes your heart more glad than being served. In my own experience, dying to myself brings new vigour and life to my soul. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’ve also heard that people who have a near-death experience are filled with inexplicable thirst for life and growth and change ever-afterward.The death of a relationship can signal, for both people, the beginning of more genuine life than either has ever experienced before. The death of innocence can be the resuscitation of a truly child-like heart. Oddly, embracing the death in yourself and making mud to smear on its eyes can signal the birth of vision and the beginning of authenticity. It would seem that the dark, wormy soil in which we think to bury our dead is the self-same ground which produces sunflowers bigger than my head and pumpkins larger than I can hold, trees we can’t see the tops of and countless colorful foods full of nutrients to nourish growing bodies.

There’s no denying the tightly interwoven nature of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in reality. Not even just interwoven, but overlapping and constantly transformed. Teleologically, the yin and yang are not linear, but Whole, like the holy will of God. In the end, Life comes from out of Death, connection from out of solitude, and love from our recognition of sin, because Death, solitude, and sin cause us to recognize our lack of control and reach out for our Source in the unknown: to grasp Beginner’s Mind.

“They laid the stretcher near the riverbank… First a swarm of flies, smelling death, gathered round, followed soon by a flock of crows which began pacing nearby. But the mourners remained crouched by the river, and made no move to drive the scavangers away.” (144)

I am bird-boned; body twisted with suffering, hanging from a perch from which I cannot descend. I suffer.

And yet I live.

Somehow I cannot help but allow death to do its work in me.

And so I live.

I have wondered, often, about the river of life. Are its waters the unfettered flow of blood and tears within its banks?

c. all text Mary Kathryn Gough, 2005

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