The medicine of being moved to tears is far more powerful and cleansing than one would imagine. Friday was my birthday and a ritual most of my life was to call my mother before doing anything else with the day to thank her for this life. Mom transcended from this plane eight years ago, yet it's still a wonderful practice to honour her in meditation and recognize how she lives in me. We are the continuation of our ancestors and to walk with this awareness is comforting for the love we knew, the teachings that made us strong, or both. It's also another confirmation that we are not separate and isolated in individualism. I have so many non-I components in me, how can I see myself alone?
If Mom was alive she would be 100 this December. I was the last of eight children with almost twenty years between myself and the first born. Looking back at my earliest childhood memories, most of the older siblings were already gone. Mom left the convent to have a family. She ran the home, cooked from the garden, kept a clean house, and laundered our clothes from a washboard and clothesline until I was ten. She was so busy keeping everything in order that none of us really knew her. She remained a bit of a mystery to most of us until her senior years, and shared very little of how much she suffered. We all seem to have different memories and imprints of our childhood. Even for some monumental events in her life, we all have a different memory of it.
When returning from India in September I decided to write a book for the family of all of our interpretations of who mom was in the world and to each of us. Perhaps this sharing will help us understand our ancestry a little more and therefore ourselves and each other. Thich Nhat Hanh once said that if we really knew each other’s stories, there would be no wars. How much do you know of your parents and the life they lived, the struggles they endured and their underlying hopes and dreams?
I spent time in storage Friday perusing boxes of photos. Although finding only few pictures of early days with mom, the pics of the many chapters and reinventions of this life and my children made me laugh out loud and even cry for the beauty and precious fragility of life. Perhaps with an influence of a big blue moon, there was no turning down the dial of feeling everything profoundly deeply. Gratitude was oozing out of my pores and deep into an overwhelming sense of emotion. A couple of letters from siblings came in about Mom. They made me cry and cry. Tears for how Mom suffered in life, how she struggled, how she was loved and how strong her faith was. Tears for the beauty of seeing how her love lives in all her children. We are all quite different from one another, but she taught us that the most important thing is to find your harmony with others. After a certain point in the day, birthday phone calls and tender messages would also choke me up. I’m not usually this emotional but whether it was the blue moon glow or Covid isolation, I could not deny the profound medicine of tears.
This birthday reminded me of the practice of walking for others. Similar to the healing energy that is created in a tonglen meditation practice, where you inhale the grey suffering of another and exhale to them the brilliant light of your heart. In walking meditation, we bring our awareness to the present moment. On the inhale you may say to yourself with one step “I have arrived”. The next step and exhalation “I am home.” To do walking meditation for others, hold their image in your mind and feel within your every step, “I will walk for you.” I have done this for others that have left this plane or people who are really struggling in life. It leaves a sweet aftertaste of presence and purpose, confirming that we are indeed interconnected with one another.