Autumn is breaking in all its multicoloured splendour. Flaming ivy on the wall, lakeside trees tinted orange and yellow, the mornings a chill fog, evenings needing a comfy blanket to cuddle in. Winter has yet to show its face, no need to turn the heating on quite yet. Thick sweaters grace the cupboard again, ready, but not quite needed yet. Strappy T shirts and shorts, sundresses and sandals are packed away. Summer fades behind us. Like trees dropping leaves we forsake summer dreams. Christmas is glimpsed on the far off horizon; meanwhile we gaze in wonder at the beauty of decay transforming the world in glorious hues.
(Excerpt of a letter from Ben Franklin to the widow of his brother John Feb. 1756)
“That bodies should be lent to us is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain instead of pleasure – instead of an aid, become an encumbrance and answer none of the intentions for which they were given – it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them.
Death is that way … Why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him.”
The water was fresh and pure, unadulterated by chemicals and piping. A deep breath of fresh air filled his lungs. He felt… alive! Raising his hands to the sky he yelled for pure joy. It was over.
He began to laugh, a deep-throated laugh that echoed all around him reverberating from the trees and flowers. He began to run free as the breeze, hands brushing the tall grass and leaves. He was free! Where he was he didn’t know only that “life” no longer held him captive. The end had become the beginning. Somewhere doctors fought to bring him back, but his body, old, tired, and riddled with disease no longer responded. He was free!
A touch of sadness tinged his joy. His loved ones, would they understand? Would they see why he couldn’t go back? He’d served his time, done his part, now he was home. He’d wait for them here. They’d come one day when their time was up, when they too had accomplished that for which they went. He wished he could tell them how wonderful it was, how happy he was, but that would distract them. Having seen this, how could they experience joy in their pale earthly lives. He saw the wisdom but was sad to know they’d grieve. Still the sky beckoned him on. In the distance he saw others waiting for him.
Like an eagle confined to a cage,
The soul chaffs for another world,
Brighter, freer world of soft winds,
Refreshing mist and high vistas.
It was never created for the cage.
When the hand of death opens
The confining door of flesh
It flies free
Seeking by instinct its true realm.
Of course there’s a balance to this statement. Wisdom and caution can be good, but fear itself is never good, whether founded or unfounded, it debilitates us. Whether its a result of age or simply that fear is more prevalent these days I find myself having to deal with it more both in my own life and that of others.
It’s probably a combination of both, at least in the west, our society tends to be protective in many ways. We are encouraged to give the thief our wallet, to phone the police and stay locked in our room when being burgled, not to get involved etc. and health and safety laws are everywhere. I sometimes think back to my childhood when no one worried about being “politically correct”, when any adult seeing you misbehaving would take you to task, when any able bodied man would tackle the guy running off with the handbag. Nowadays a would be hero may even find himself doing time for accosting a robber and a policeman dare not put a comforting arm around a distraught crime victim for fear of being charged with sexual harassment! While I appreciate these attempts to keep us safe I also wonder if we have not gone so far as to become dis-empowered?
Sickness tends to be much the same, we give responsibility for our health to the doctor often imagining the worst while pouring over tales in social media. My conclusion? A life lived in fear is no life at all. While I’m all for caution fear is the enemy and makes out lives miserable.
What’s grown within this earthly shell?
Like seed casing
Shelters the essence within,
A means of transport and protection
Finding fertile ground in which to develop.
Unseen it grows, encased, embalmed,
Till, no longer containable.
The husk bursts,
Is blown away on the winds of time.
What has been born within
Looking down at the wooden handle of the kitchen knife grasped in her fingers she took a deep breath. Ridged scars adorned her arm, raised reminders of past pain, agony that wouldn’t go away, that had become so unbearable that only more pain could drive it forth. This time would be different, this time would end all…
She felt the sting, numb yet sharp. Blood welled up, overflowed, spotting the bathroom linoleum, surging, spreading in an expanding pool. Detached she watched it grow as her mind weakened. Faces invaded her vision, the ones that hurt her, that didn’t return the love she craved. Someone was pounding on the door. It didn’t matter, they’d be too late. A whirl of darkness took her, comforting soft oblivion…
Oblivion didn’t last, light appeared. No! Not this! She wanted an end. She wanted it to stop. A form appeared in the glow, a face awash with tears. A homely face, like hers, yet filled with something overflowing. She could not look away. Then she knew – He loved her, loved her without conditions, loved her just as she was, and the love washed away the pain, washed away the scars. She gazed deep into the eyes. The tears were for her. Like a tidal wave, an awe inspiring rush of wind, his love washed through her, cleansing, healing, understanding. She was swept away in its current, waking to a hospital bed.
The banging on the door… one of the other boarders must have saved her. She recalled the blood welling across the lino. It must have reached the door… She’d failed in her attempt, but it didn’t matter, the scars didn’t matter, the pain had gone. She was loved!