Learning From the Dead

Parker J. Palmer, and the organization he founded, the Center for Courage and Renewal, are two very interesting and enlightening ‘opportunities’ that I stumbled upon via Facebook recently. I use the term, ‘opportunities’ as I do believe they give us another avenue to explore our lives, to learn, and to improve.

“Daily keep your death before your eyes.” That’s a recommended practice in many spiritual traditions. Some may find it morbid, but I’m not one of them. From age 20 onward, that daily reminder has enhanced my love of life, my gratitude for it, and my desire to live it well.

I can’t imagine living a life that depends on trying to ignore death—especially in an era framed by a pandemic, Putin’s murderous attack on Ukraine, mass shootings and hate crimes here at home, and famine and forced migration abroad. I understand the temptation to look away, but to live in denial of death is not to live at all.

Nor can I imagine failing to ask, “What can we learn about living from those who are gone?” Surely, they will tell us to remember that the gift of life is ours for only a while, and encourage us to use it well, in service of more life.

Marie Howe has asked a very personal version of this question, and listened as her dead friends answer. “Do whatever leads to joy,” they say—and that includes doing the hard things that will help us feel whole.

Memo to Self: Listen to the living and listen to the dead. In politics, work to defeat those who are no respecters of death. Live in gratitude, live in service, and live to the end.

[The poem is from Marie Howe, “What the Living Do.”

At http://lindajging.com learn more about Linda J. Ging’s art.

Parker J. Palmer’s books are available at: tiny.cc/qocmuz AND http://tiny.cc/5rcmuz.]

I am currently reading his book, On the Brink of Everything, Grace, Gravity, & Getting Old. I highly recommend it for everyone, regardless of age!

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