“Before I met my husband, I'd never fallen in love . . .
I'd stepped in it a few times.” ~ Rita Rudner. [i]
Advertisers use “love” to sell lipstick, cars, toothpaste, orange juice and disposable diapers. These ephemera are supposed to capture the shopping-induced bliss of love. And speaking of ephemera, or that which does not endure, you can find a society, a speakers bureau, and even a mentoring program dedicated to preserving these tangible things in, for instance, university libraries. With proper ID, you can check out some ephemera and fondle it in the comfort of your own home.
But love is more difficult to find. Like our cave-dwelling ancestors, we attribute to things magical powers. The right car or slipcover casts a benevolent spell ensuring love and happiness. Such bliss endures only until a new model or design emerges the following day.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of “love,” I don’t imagine it being so flimsy and fickle. More than an unstable state of being, love is a verb. Sometimes love originates from on high, in a moment of rapture. Other times, love’s expression may seem prosaic, anchored in everyday gestures revealing compassion for and acknowledgment of “the other.” Both kinds tap into the unseen but intuitively “felt” understanding that comes from the soul connected to the invisible and infinite world of spirit.
The moment of physical death, like physical birth, changes the earthly and spiritual landscape by one unit. When faced with a beloved dying, why is it that we resist letting go? When their body no longer responds to their demands, when it is time for them to transition, why do we want to keep them “here” with us? What are we holding onto and why?
A friend shared a video of a young grey whale tangled in fishing nets. A small boating party freed him. They were not “professional” whale rescuers. They did not have fancy diving equipment–just a snorkeling mask, flippers and a steak knife. They didn’t use a tranquilizer gun to subdue the frightened two-ton mammal. They didn’t have swarthy fishing gear. They were out whale watching with a toddler on board, enjoying the sea. When they encountered the creature, they thought he was doing a dead-whale float when a geyser of air and water shot out of its blowhole —a last gasp to breathe. The video captures the drama of the rescue and the spectacular finale – the whale breaching and tail slapping in a display of nothing less than pure joy.
Humpback Whale shows AMAZING Appreciation after Being Freed from Nets!
This video illustrates how we could feel when someone dies. Freed from the mortal snare, free to cavort and join friends and ancestors on the other side, our dearly departed enters a spiritual realm as mysterious as the unexplored depths of the ocean. We humans resemble whales—not only as oxygen breathing mammals—but also as creatures that swim between two worlds: the world of air symbolizing the external elements exposed to the sun, and the world of water symbolizing the unseen world of the spiritual realm.
Some say we are born all knowing and that we forget as we live. We are born from the world of water and emerge only to respond to love. It is the same on the way out of this world: we emerge from the world of sun to the realm of spirit only to respond to love. The spiritual world does not require designer shoes, diplomas, money, or air; love is the only clothing, the only thing worth knowing, the only currency and oxygen.
If people have been birthing and dying for eons, why is this process still so mysterious? Why are we so often blind to our own heart’s desires? We cannot perceive our own soul’s journey. Great spiritual teachers throughout human history have told us over and over: true love is our common origin and destination. But we refuse to believe it.
Without a living will, as someone lies dying, instead of freeing the whale, we look on helplessly. Instead of removing the unnecessary net—the IV drips, mechanical lungs, and feeding tubes—we lament the whale is trapped. We write letters to Congress about the injustice of trapped whales. Attaching elaborate, mechanical life-support systems, we ensure the trapped whale can survive for years, unable to swim with friends or visit its favorite krill bistros.
Without understanding the origin and destination of our souls, we cannot understand what we need for our end-of-life voyage. As we release someone to the next realm, may we rejoice in their freedom from bondage in this world and their joy in returning home.
[i][i] HBO: "Born to be Mild"