Oh, Oh–Obits! Monday Meanderings

Photo: cbsnews

Photo: cbsnews

I’d like to begin this morbid-sounding article with a few unrelated incidents about obituaries:

• A recent obituary in our local paper, the Reno Gazette Journal, went viral—perhaps you saw it. The children of an abusive woman wrote a scathing indictment of their mother, tracing the history of their life with her, which was one of torture.
• At a writer’s conference I attended a number of years ago, in the poetry breakout session, the poet, Julia Conner, began by asking us to write our own obituary.
• While I’ve always skimmed obituaries, recently I’ve begun to notice that many dates-of-birth are clustered around my own age group. This morning, for example, 30% of them dealt with persons my age or younger.
• Now and again, there are stories of people’s lives that make me wish I’d known them in life. These are the ones that go beyond the facts, successes and CV’s and are able to capture the essence of a person’s humor, joie de vivre or loving nature.

How can an article summarize a life? How can we really get to know the real person?

I attended a funeral once of a good-hearted but psychologically wounded man who was known to be a pathological liar. He was someone I knew so many years, but who I had learned to accept with a bit of discernment. So did most everyone else who knew and, yes, loved him. His daughter, in eulogizing him said, “In his own way, Dad taught us about truth.” Most of those attending the crowded service knew what she was getting at and we laughed. I wonder what the priest thought.

My suggestion for a bit of reflection is to write your own obituary…twice.

• Write one as it would be today in complete honesty, sort of like the brutal one about the abusive woman Her children explained, in a subsequent interview by the RGJ, that their intent was to draw attention to the reality of child abuse. Oh, but please don’t make it depressing. Don’t forget those wonderful things about you you would want others to remember.
• Now, write the second one the way you wish to be remembered. All of us still have time to make those desires become reality.

In the workshop, the poet-leader had us read our own obituaries as a way to introduce ourselves to one another. I’m not asking you to share yours here, though. I’m sure most of us, if we had to post it, would have a hard time being totally honest. Somewhere I have the notes from that workshop. I wonder what I wrote and how it really reflects my life.

I got the idea for this post from a poem I wrote years ago and had no idea what to do with…so, here it is. Not stellar poetry, but hopefully it makes the point.


How to sum up a life
in 200 words or less:
No adjectives
or otherwise descriptive
phrases. Forget those
gone ahead
or somewhat
No room for emotion.
Focus on achievement.
But does that really plumb
the depths of
who you are?
What’s left?
What remains?

Have a wonderful fulfilling week! I’m still having to limit my time at the computer because of a minor health issue (tendonitis). Not a condition that should be life-limiting!

Photo: newsone

Photo: newsone

Live Today–A Sestina

Fireworks Finale

Image via Wikipedia

Submitted to Riika Infinity’s 2011 Wish List Challenge: http://riikainfinityy.com/2010/12/28/wishylissy-for-2011/ in which we were challenged to think about what we want to have, do and wish for this upcoming new year.

I chose to do a sestina, choosing as the end words those that represent my deepest wishes:

Truth–to live without illusion, to understand and speak my truth;
Words–to express these truth’s in my writing and speech;
Presence–to be aware of the Divine in creation;
Bliss–to live in joy;
Now–to live in the present moment;
Earth–to enjoy the gifts of creation

Live Today
A Sestina

I ask for strength that I may live in truth,
that clarity may seal my every word.
My life unfolds within the silent Presence
of the Divine—it’s here that I find bliss.
Awake, I feast in the eternal Now
yet revel in the offerings of earth.

I taste and touch and breathe the joys of earth,
partake of what I see of beauty’s truth:
the flight of birds, the frosty tendrils now
that etch the glass and hold my every word
displaying beauty on the face of bliss.
I bow before the Godhead’s sacred Presence,

surrender to the very hope of present
pledges offered to the waiting earth,
dance with abandon to the sounds of bliss—
chords that echo in harmonic truth.
Succumbing to the utterance of Your Word
that in my own, another may find Now.

And can it be that only in the Now
I may be welcomed in the blessed Presence,
attend in faith the murmur of the Word?
My sure companion of this walk on earth
will cloth me in a garment spun of truth
that I may wear the wedding garb of bliss.

Because it is God’s will we drink of bliss,
I choose to stride along the path of Now,
relish the textures, colors true—
the vivid palettes painted by the presence
of rainbow’s arc bending towards the earth,
soaking rain that nourishes the word.

You strip away illusions with your words,
comfort my exposure to the truth.
Into deep sleep I fall, await Your presence,
awaken to the touch of brilliant bliss.
At last, You come, I rise unto the Now
and bending, touch my lips upon the earth.

You speak Your truth within a whispered word.
Today Your presence seizes me in bliss
enjoying in the Now my moment on this earth.