It is a strange experience when we say goodbye to the departed. Everything seems a bit bigger, closer, brighter. And yet one does not see what is right in front of us. For some it is about the arrangements, about the practicalities. For others like me it is like entering a perspective shift haze. A jungle that looks like the city I live in, but with different beasts. A fear of mortality, is it that, what makes us realise how small the mundane can be and how meaningful each moment can become?
Or is it reliving the past and seeing it in the light of the present? Which one is the seeing and which one is the lens? Can we alternate them to see what we see? It is death of a close one that brings questions such as these. Easy ones where one questions what matters in life, and what remains after death. Or tougher ones such as how do you deal with the myriad conflicting rules and opinions that want to break the calm you crave at that moment to begin the healing.
For all the opinions and rules and protocols that crowd around you, you also realise the immensity of the support system. Men and women from the neighbouring houses gather, many taking the morning off from work or their businesses. Wordlessly, the four men one needs for the last journey gather. And four more, to back them up. The women are there, on call. All the resources from their houses available for the last journey of one who they barely knew. The thread that binds us moves laterally through the present moment, connecting the living to support the one who has gone. Seamlessly they come together as a team, silently they bear her, quietly they melt away as the rest of the family gathers. I have never been as moved by anything as I am at this moment.
The rituals bind us to the past, and to the present. They keep us busy, pacing out the shock in moments between extreme exhaustion. The mind, body and soul are pushed to keep pace with each other, each overstretched, taut for a while. Till you know they have come together again, the skien of life is whole and will hold. The traditions allow you to slow down, give space to reflect. They bring the elements to you, and take you out to seek the elements again. Fire, water, dust, ashes, wood, fat, sky … they all are called upon to bless the mortal bodies of those who are here, and the soul of the one who has departed.
We find our place in the world again.
Life beckons and you navigate gingerly. Knowing that the lens has shifted ever so slightly, again.