"An Ancestor Worth Coming From"
Hello Dear Friends,
Today I share with you once again some of the wisdom - or perhaps you might say, the curious viewpoint - of the phenomenon and very human entity that is Steven Jenkinson. I hope you find something here that lights up your heart in one way or another (I think you will). Take a look, a read, a think. . . and as always, feel welcome to reach out to me with your thoughts.
Every blessing to each and all. Here you go:
Steven Jenkinson feels that "what modern Western people suffer from most is culture failure, amnesia of ancestry and deep family… no instruction on how to live with each other or with the world around us or with our dead or our history”
Steven earned a divinity degree from Harvard University and for a time was director of palliative care at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto. But in 2010 he gave up a notable career in what he not-so-fondly calls “the death trade”, and founded Orphan Wisdom, a alternative-culture school for “the skills of deep living and making human culture”.
He is a Canadian writer, known for his provocative, anti-death phobia stance and is a strong advocate of cultural grief literacy; He says our well-being
It is rooted in knowing history, being claimed by ancestry – two things we have lost much of.
Contrary to what our death-fighting culture tends toward, from his book “Die Wise; A Manifest for Sanity and Soul”
(P. 309) “Dying is a time for untying the knots of strength, competence, and familiarity that have bound us to our bodies.”
Read that one again: UNTYING.
(P. 378) “Loving and grieving are joined at the hip, for all the beauty, soul, and travail that brings. Grief is a way of loving what has slipped from view. Love is a way of grieving that which has not yet done so. We would do well to say this aloud for many days, to help get it learned: Grief is a way of loving, love is a way of grieving. They need each other in order to be themselves.”
More quotes from Jenkinson:
“Grief is the midwife of your capacity to be immensely grateful for being born.”
“Not success. Not growth. Not happiness. The cradle of your love of life … is death.”
“It is not dying that is traumatic, it is dying in a death-phobic culture that is traumatic.”
In the piece you will read below, might there be something in the prayer that your deepest heart or widest self wants you to explore or simply know today?
Steven Jenkinson’s Prayer for the Dying:
“I make a prayer now to your old ones,
to those whose face you never saw
and voice you never heard
and name you haven’t known,
that they remember you
while you try to find them remembering you,
that they come at the proper time to gather you in,
that they whisper to you the truth that you haven’t been alone,
and won’t be,
that they know the hard friendship of the ending of days;
I make a prayer that all who were there at your making
will be there for your gathering in,
that their hands will be there just by your opening hand,
to make a home for your sorrowing heart and for you;
I make a prayer that your house and your people
will be blessed by your coming and your going,
that the day will come
when they will boast of for a while having known you,
and will marvel at the WAY of your going out from among them,
and that you might be reason enough for them to continue for a while,
and that in the days to come
you will be claimed as noble,
as an ancestor worth coming from.”
I have shared these before, but I renew the invitation to check them out again:
If you are moved by his words, please consider
SUPPORTING STEVEN'S WORK - BUY HIS BOOKS:
CLICK HERE TO VISIT HIS ONLINE STORE
The National Film Board of Canada's award-winning documentary "Griefwalker" (mentioned elsewhere in this blog, and listed on the resources page) is well worth a watch for anyone alive - for we will all find our selves in need of befriendment of death at some point.
Here is a trailer for the film:
I am wishing each and all an ever deepening friendship with the process of death and dying and an embracing of grief as the magnificent gateway to an ever more delightful dance with life and living, and the LOVE that is at the center of it all!
Live Heartfully, Friends.
With Love Always,
Note: The beautiful music in the video below is from the album Requiem, by Lindsey Gaia/Winterbird; You can hear the full song here: Artemis
Yesterday, I had the profound honor of offering space for hospice staff at Community Health & Counseling Services to enter into some deep rest and renewal. As many of you know, Rest & Renewal Sessions, Rituals and Events are some of my regular offerings (CLICK HERE FOR WINDFIRE MINISTRIES REST & RENEWAL SESSIONS), but it was a special privilege to make some sacred Renewal time for these hard working human beings. I was deeply moved by the raw authenticity, expansive hearts and impeccable integrity with which participants shared, supported one another and expressed love for the work - for patients, families and co-workers - they each love so completely.
We sought and found lost parts of ourselves, shared deeply, did some somatic cleansing exercises, rested and re-energized one another, and planted seeds of hopes and dreams we want to see come to fruition this year. . . Isn't this what Springtime is for??
I want to take this moment also, to say (yet again) that if you or your family experienced anything other than utmost respect, kindness and support in a hospice experience, you were in the wrong place. Hospice, at it's best, is nothing more and nothing less than a WHOLE TEAM OF FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE THERE TO SUPPORT YOU (or your loved one). I have worked with three hospice organizations, and each has had at the center of it's purpose,
the aim and intention to HONOR THE PATIENT'S WISHES.
Hospice is there to make your lived moments all you can hope for them to be; not only to mitigate pain (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) - which we are quite good at doing - but to make your moments here on Earth as full of delight and wonder, love and connection, life-healing, meaning-making, and a sense of personal completion - even JOY - as possible.
The staff I work with are committed so deeply to the task of supporting you and your family; they work overtime, show up at all hours, make referrals when you need them, carry you in their hearts throughout your journey with us - and well beyond. Hospice is not about "it's time to die" - hospice is about enlisting a team of devoted humans to support you in
LOVING THE MOMENTS YOU HAVE AS BEST YOU CAN.
My personal belief is that we should ALL have the benefits of hospice - all through life!! Imagine this: You have a compassionate and knowledgeable doctor who deeply listens to your story; nurses who come to know you intimately and offer a compassionate ear as well as expert medical training, experience and access to medications and any equipment you might need for comfort in your life; a social worker who is familiar with the ins and outs of writing a will, having your health and death wishes set up legally, can connect you to services you or your family will need upon your death, offer bereavement support to your loved ones; a spiritual advisor who has NO AGENDA other than to be present with you on your own terms - a fellow human being who is there to discuss all the many issues around fear and grace in living and dying, after life or not, whether you are deeply religious or full on atheist; a home health aide to assist with any physical needs such as bathing or moving a tired body; and even a volunteer who shows up to read to you or help with chores or just give you a moment of joy in the midst of all life piles upon us. . . and that regularly, this devoted team meets to discuss HOW THEY CAN BETTER SERVE YOU IN MAKING YOUR LIFE WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE, no matter how much or how little time you may have on this precious journey we call Life. Your team will facilitate you in making amends or completing tasks or gathering family. They will assist you in learning about what to expect. They will do their best to show up when you need them. They will help you communicate with distanced loved ones, write letters to those you feel you can't speak with, offer kindness in the face of your deepest fears and celebrate with you as you harvest the learnings your life offers you.
Hospice is a magical, meaningful tribe that gathers with you in honor of you.
Again, I was so moved to be there for these fabulous people who are there for so many.
Thank you Bangor office, for trusting and risking and so bravely loving your patients, one another, and your selves.
Live and Die Heartfully, Dear Friends.
PS: To inquire about Community Health & Counseling Services Hospice or Home Healthcare:
Bangor Contact Information:
Rev. Maya Massar