Death

Recently, several people I know have had someone close to them die. It is never easy to deal with the death of a loved one. I don’t believe that those who die are ever really gone as long as there is someone who remembers them.

I don’t see death as an ending but a beginning. Not in the sense of an ‘afterlife’ perhaps, but in the sense that the soul lives on. I agree with certain Native American cultures that believe the soul has many lives, and the soul chooses the life it will live, knowing full well what will happen to it in that life. However, at the moment of birth, that foreknowledge disappears. We may have glimpses of what we were told, intuition, deja vu, call it what you will. When someone close to me dies, after the grief has spent its first storm, I start to wonder what that person’s next life will be like; will I meet that person again and will I know who he or she is? Have you ever met someone who ‘clicks with you right away? Who makes you feel you have known each other for ever? Maybe you have.
Death is all around us. Anyone who enjoys Nature knows that. Everything dies eventually, even mountains. But when plants die, they leave behind something of themselves, seeds, to live again. When a tree dies, it has left behind children that are probably already growing somewhere from seeds scattered by birds, the wind, other animals. When a mountain dies, it is washed to the sea and reborn as sand on some foreign shore perhaps. It is a never-ending cycle.

The soul is only in this earthly body for a short time. And when we die, our soul doesn’t die, just the body, the shell, that is no longer inhabited by the soul. So do animals have souls? I believe they do. Can you look into the eyes of a dog and tell me there is no soul there? If the Creator made everything before she made human beings, who is to say that plants and animals aren’t imbued with some sort of soul. It may not be a soul like we have; it may be something different; but nevertheless, it is still like the soul in that it is a living essence, an indescribable something.

We can die at any time; we won’t know where or when or how. We can lose someone we love at any time and not know where, when, or how.  Life is short, for all of us. Eulogies are beautiful things; but how about letting the people we love know that we love them now; after they’re dead is too late. And we can take comfort in the fact that the soul never dies.


Death is at once
The end of the body’s
Old journey
And the beginning of the soul‘s
New journey.
~~~~
Death is not the end.
Death can never be the end.
Death is the road.
Life is the traveller.
The soul is the guide.
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Respect

Respect is something we all want, but what exactly is it? It is the need to be treated like a human being; to be given consideration; to be validated for who we are. If this is something we want, why do we persist in denying it to others?

We may disagree with the opinions of others, but we do not have to denigrate them or call them names. Starting down the path to viewing others as not human beings leads to at best, prejudice; at worst, genocide. Saying that a group is less than human is what led to the Holocaust, Jim Crow laws, denying citizenship to Native Americans, ‘ethnic cleansing’. Think about it.

When we dehumanize any group of people, it is so much easier to believe they don’t count so we don’t have to listen to them, don’t have to grant them human rights, don’t have to call them by their given names; we can lump them altogether in one group and give them a name that is hurtful. We do the same when we discount someone else’s opinion because it doesn’t match ours. Isn’t it easier to blow someone off if we can say they are less than we are? That we are more important than they are? That they don’t agree with us so they must be stupid? Anti-American? Communist? Socialist? Fascist?

We can respect a person without agreeing with his/her opinions. Respect is something that all human beings deserve. Remember growing up when you were taught not to disrespect your elders, teachers, anyone in authority? Where did that go? How did it become okay to belittle those who are different than we are?

If we are not respecting others, I can only assume that we don’t respect ourselves, either. If we can be so easily swayed by the people we choose to associate with, perhaps we need to bolster our own self-respect; and perhaps start associating with a different group of people. We are human beings; we are worthy of respect; we owe respect to other human beings.

I’m sure there are people who may not deserve respect as human beings, but I have never met one. All life is sacred; it isn’t up to us to decide who lives and who dies.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

World wonders

We have forgotten how to slow down; we have forgotten the wonder of a child seeing the world with new eyes. The world is full of wonders if we only take the time to see them. We don’t even have to go searching for them; they are all around us. Consider how a tree grows; it has been said that every leaf is situated perfectly so that it doesn’t shade another leaf and no other leaf shades it; all of the leaves are in the sunlight. I find that amazing!

Have you ever watched a bird fly? Each bird seems to have its own way of flying: the sparrow flaps its wings in spurts; the finches fold their wings against their body, fall a few inches, flap some more and rise, fold their wings and fall and on and on. Their flight looks like a giant sine wave. Hawks flap lazily until they hit a thermal and then soar effortlessly. Hummingbirds hover, can fly up, down and backwards.

Butterflies come in so many sizes, colors, patterns, you would have to be an expert to identify them all. Then there’s the sphinx moth that looks and flies like a miniature hummingbird. I remember the first time I saw one; I was so entranced watching it and then had to go look it up to see what it was!

Then there’s the flowers! We have wildflowers in a couple of beds in the front yard. I planted the seeds about 4 or 5 years ago, yet they continue to reseed and grow year after year. We scattered bulbs in various places about 10 years ago – so long ago we forgot where they were until spring when they sprout and grow and flower. Isn’t that amazing!!

Trees are just as amazing – I have seen little trees sprouting out of cracks in the sidewalk or out of the side of a mountain where no crack is visible. And there are so many shades of green here – who knew there were an infinite number of greens? In spring, when things start waking up after winter (and here that means Feb or March) the variety of shades of green is mind-boggling.

Since living in the desert, I have learned that most of the flora and fauna have adapted in unique ways to living in the hot, dry, climate. The jackrabbit has huge ears that are riddled with blood vessels that serve as air conditioning. Other mammals stay in burrows during the day and are only out to forage early mornings and late evenings. And how do the birds manage to perch on the prickly cactus without getting spines in their feet! The toads only come out to sing in the spring after a rain; the rest of the time they stay hidden in their holes in the riverbank. Tarantulas, too, mostly only come out after a rain.

Yes, we live in an amazing world and I thank the Creator every day for allowing me to see and hear all this wonderful world has to offer.

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Words of wisdom?

Here are a few random things I have learned over the years:

Just because a car has its turn signal on doesn’t mean it’s going to turn; just because the turn signal isn’t on doesn’t mean it won’t.

People who fall on hard times do one of two things; they either give up or fight.

Being kind is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.

The older you get, the easier it is to speak your mind.

It’s no fun being around people with closed minds.

Laughter is the best exercise for body, mind, and soul.

Wearing a smile does more for your looks than wearing makeup.

Inner beauty is more lasting and more important than outer beauty.

Freedom and liberty are not the same thing.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

You can’t have freedom and security – pick one.

It’s becoming harder and harder to have a rational discussion with someone whose mind is made up.

A day without laughter is like a day without sunshine.

Gratitude shouldn’t just be for the good things in life; we should be grateful for the bad, too, because those are the times that refine us and make us think about who we are and what is important to us.

Diversity

Imagine if there were no mountains, no hills, only flat land; only one type of tree, only one color of flower.  Imagine if all people had the same eye color, same hair color, same skin color, spoke the same language.

Fortunately, there are almost infinite varieties of landscapes, trees, flowers, people, languages. Each of us is unique. No-one else has my combination of physical attributes and my combination of experiences that make me who I am today and the exact same opinions and knowledge that I do. Isn’t that wonderful?

If everyone were the same, it would be like living in a gray world or like watching TV in black and white. It would be like looking out my window and seeing no mountains, no blue sky, no fifty shades of green in the trees alone. I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that. I love the diversity in this one. I like having color in my life. I like having a diverse group of friends in my life who keep me thinking, and discussing, and talking about anything and everything.

How about you?