A Death Bell Tolled…

Several years ago, when I was leading weekly healing circles in Ashland, Oregon, in the Autumn when the leaves were decaying on the Earth I got stuck on the theme of death for many weeks. After about six weeks of readings and meditations on death, those who attended the circles began to wonder if I would ever stop talking about death!

In the Northern Hemisphere now, the trees are growing more bare each moment. As I write, the wind is swirling dried brown leaves through the air outside my window. The cold white sky invites me to turn inward and to contemplate reality. It seems that just yesterday the trees were filled with bright green leaves, but now they are emptying, like we all will have to do when our death time arrives.

Recently I came across my youngest brother’s college textbook, The Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying, and I skimmed it to find a few jewels. Today I will share one… When describing the death rituals in America in the nineteenth century, the authors (DeSpelder and Strickland) say that in close-knit communities, a death bell tolled the age of the deceased, to notify the people. I found this totally fascinating:

“You can feel the silence pass over the community as all activity is stopped and the number of rings is counted. One, two, three — it must be the Myer’s baby that has the fever. No, it’s still tolling — four, five, six. There is another pause at twenty — could that be Molly Shields? Her baby is due at any time now — no, it’s still tolling. Will it never stop? Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, another pause — who? It couldn’t be Ben; he was here just yesterday; said he was feeling fit as a fiddle — no, it’s starting again. Seventy, seventy-one, seventy-two. Silence. You listen, but there is no sound — only silence. Isaac Tipton. He has been ailing for two weeks now. It must be Isaac.”

Dear reader, how did you feel when reading that passage? Can you even imagine living in such a community?

The way we think about death affects the way we live our lives. Are you comfortable thinking about death? When you walk on decaying brown leaves, can you feel the inter-connectedness of life and death?

Contemplating death helps us to happy up, because it reminds us that we are alive right now in this present moment, and we can enjoy life so much, even during difficult times.

What are you enjoying right now? What do you feel grateful for? Are you loving yourself fully today?

With reverence for life and death,
Sister Teja

 

Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash.

 

A Celebration of You

Have you been to a Celebration of Life service recently? Or ever?

“Celebration of Life” is a term being used instead of funeral or memorial service, and some people with life-limiting illnesses are opting to have this celebration before they die, so that they can be present at their own service! Have you heard of this practice already?

In my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life, I share a few writing exercises to help you explore the topic of death. Death meditations are practiced in many spiritual traditions, because they actually help people to live more fully in the present moment. Contemplating death can help you to keep your problems in perspective and to prioritize so that you keep focusing on what is most important to you in life.

Here is another writing exercise that can serve as a form of death meditation:

First write what you would want people to read, written by you, at the Celebration of your life. Then write what you would like to hear others say about you. Finally, reflect: Are you living up to what you would like to hear said about you? If not, do you need to set some doable goals towards being the You who you want to be?

After writing your answers, spend some time out in the trees, or if that’s not possible, then look at some photos of trees… While tuning in to the energies of the trees, contemplate what you wrote. Notice what arises in your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations… Lastly, place one hand on your heart, and the other hand on your belly. While feeling your loving touch, take a few slow breaths, and savor feelings of self-love. Conclude your personal mini Celebration of You in some way that feels precious and meaningful to you.

I hope this exercise is beneficial to you or to someone you love.

Please feel free to share your experiences with me here…

With a spirit of celebration for life,
Sister Teja

 

Photo by Jesse Gardner on Unsplash.

 

StarFire Friday Blessing: May You Feel the Sacredness of Life and Death

 

May you honor the living and the dead by celebrating your loved ones and remembering your ancestors.

May you feel connected to the Earth, Trees, Sun, Stars, Fire, Water, and Air.

May your weekend be blessed with holy moments of gratitude, goodness, and peace.

May you feel the sacredness of life and death.

 

Happy Day of the Dead to all who celebrate!

Happy November to Everyone!

 

Skull and flames image by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.

 

Spiritual Care for the Sunset Chapter

Dear readers,

Happy Monday to you! As I sip my happy black coffee in my happy orange mug, I am feeling grateful that I do not feel dizzy today. Last week I had a run of bad days in which I experienced dizziness for seven days. Thankfully I have an appointment with my new doctor this Thursday. Hopefully she will figure out what causes my bad days.

Anyhow, yesterday was my first good day without dizziness, and I enjoyed creating a new page on my website. The Sunset~Chapter page describes my offering of online spiritual care to the dying and their families during the sunset chapter. Here is the first paragraph, in which I explain the symbolism:

“The Sunset Chapter is the last chapter as the sun is going down at the end of the book of life. Chapter one begins with birth, the sunrise… the middle chapters are the days and nights of the lifetime, with a sunset each night to help us practice letting go (of each day), in preparation for the ultimate letting go of our lives at the last sunset, at the end of the last chapter.”

This online offering is one more way that I hope to serve others – as part of my ministry as a spiritual helper who works to elevate the human species to healthier and happier vibrations.

Last week, due to all those bad days, I was not able to visit my hospice patients, but I’m really hoping to feel better and be able to make some visits this week.

Please check out my new offering, and keep it in mind for future reference, for when you might know someone who is dying and needs spiritual care support. Here is my new page: Sunset~Chapter.

Thank you for reading this post!
I hope you enjoy your week! 🙂

Bright Blessings for Goodness,
Teja

Sunset_Chapter_Ministry_StarFireTeja

 

Photo of Sunset on Mt. Ashland taken by Teja’s son Gabe.

 

Three Hours Left

Dear readers, the intention of this post is not to induce fear, but rather to impart feelings of awe, appreciation, positivity, connectivity, and rootedness in the priorities dwelling in the ground of your being.

Imagine that we humans discovered that in three hours time, some natural force was going to cause planet Earth to explode and entirely disintegrate.

What were your first thoughts when you read that?

When I imagine that there are only three hours left, my first thoughts go towards trying to grok what would happen to everything and everyone… Where would all of our souls go? What would happen to all the memories and experiences and energies?

All of the stories would just be done. All of the histories, cultures, art, music, inventions, and creations would be gone. It is mind-blowing to even consider the ramifications of such an explosion. All of the mountains, oceans, rivers, deserts, canyons, forests, flowers, birds, butterflies, cows, and bears would be gone. And what would happen next?

After considering all of that, my next thoughts go towards deciding how to spend the last three hours. I decided I would spend the first hour calling loved ones and saying good-byes, and the last two hours praying and chanting (singing sacred mantras). My intention would be to die consciously while feeling connected to the Divine Source. To me, that would be the ultimate Surrender to God. I am not sure what happens to us after we die, but I know that when I am singing spiritual songs, I feel connected with Something Greater, and I feel calmed by that Force from beyond this realm. So, I feel that chanting at the time of death would be a way to die peacefully.

I began chanting as a daily spiritual practice more than fifteen years ago. I usually sing along with CDs by my favorite chant artist, Krishna Das. One day in 2008, I was evaluating my priorities in life, and I suddenly found myself saying out loud, “I want to live inside the chant.” Well, at that time my sons were 8 and 11, and I was busy with many worldly responsibilities, so it was not possible to live inside the chant all the time!

Now I’m in a new nun phase, but still there are many things to do each day beyond chanting. So when I think about my priorities if there were three hours left, versus what is happening in my life now, it makes me wonder if I could somehow commit to chanting more each day… But, then I also think that if you knew you were about to die, and you wanted to die a peaceful, conscious death, then of course you would drop everything and just focus on that. Whereas, if you are still in the midst of full-on living, you can’t just drop everything and do your top passion all the time.

What do you think about all that? What would you do if there were only three hours left, and how would those priorities line up with how you live your daily life now?

I hope this post inspires you to feel awe and appreciation for this sacred planet Earth, as well as rootedness in the priorities dwelling in the ground of your being.

May you feel positively connected to everyone and everything!

 

 

image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech