Touch the Water to Find Joy and Peace
Last night, a dear friend I haven’t heard from in a while sent me a text that said, “I was listening to ‘Harry’s song’ tonight and I thought of you.”
Harry Hedges was my first husband … my first love. He died 30 years ago this year. Harry’s song was The Leader of the Band by Dan Fogelberg. It was the CD that was in our CD player when he died, and it described him perfectly … “a quiet man of music.”
I was surprised by how much grief and sadness was aroused when I listened to his song again. And it couldn’t help but reactivate the feelings of loss surrounding the death of my dear friend, Stephen, just one month ago.
We’ve all suffered losses over the last year. Our loss of freedom. Loss of family and friends. Some through death … some through the divisiveness created in our country … some through the inability to connect in person.
This week, my husband, Tom, handed me a treasured book of mine I’d read years ago by Thich Nhat Hanh that talks about “realizing ultimate reality.”
“There are two dimensions to life, and we should be able to touch both. One is like a wave, and we call it the historical dimension. The other is like water, and we call it the ultimate dimension.
We usually touch just the wave.
It is characterized by birth and death, ups and downs, being and non-being. A wave has a beginning and end, but we cannot ascribe these characteristics to water.
In the world of water, there is no birth or death, no being or non-being, nor beginning or end. When we touch the water, we touch reality in its ultimate dimension …
One day as I was about to step on a dry leaf, I saw the leaf in the ultimate dimension. I saw that it was not really dead, but was merging with the moist soil and preparing to appear on the tree the following spring in another form. I smiled at the leaf and said, ‘You are pretending.’”
Pretending to have separated from us. Pretending to have been ephemeral and impermanent.
As if water ever disappears as it transforms from one state to the next.
As if our loved ones’ voices are silenced just because they’re no longer here to sing their songs.
What I’ve truly come to understand is that the voices of the people we love remain with us always. “Their song is still in our soul.”
All we have to do is get quiet and listen.
Take some time to stop and listen this week.
And, please, take 4 minutes to listen to this beautiful musical testimony … and reflect on the legacy you want to leave.
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