Tuesday, September 11, 2007

indulging ~ thinking of suffering and death

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
EDIT: I have decided to re-post this ~ i.e. make it current, once again ~ in remembering September 11th. I remember. I seek no revenge ... just peace for those suffering with hatred and vengeance in their hearts and minds ~ that's the suffering hurts humanity the very most.

Luciano Pavarotti died the other day. And, when I reflect on him, I find myself wondering how the disease manifested itself in him ~ how he suffered, and what the suffering looked like. And what his death looked like. My husband smiled dryly and replied, "Once a palliative nurse, always a palliative nurse, huh?" I suppose he means the part of my soul that needs to bear witness to the suffering of others will never stop throbbing for more. That's the contradiction inherent in me ~ for the very experience my soul yearns to witness, to me feels crushingly unbearable to endure on so many levels. I thought about this. About my capacity to channel what surrounds me. And how that capacity renders me vulnerable to humanity ... far more vulnerable than I care to admit.

I thought about a comment I made at Aunty Belle's Front Porch ~ expressing my concept of a sacred pilgrimage as a visit to the places of WWII's of greatest human suffering and death. Why, when witnessing the suffering of others caused me the greatest anguish, would I seek out such a pilgrimage? What makes suffering and death so sacred? It purifies, and that's part of it. But, also, the scale. The scale on which the carnage and cruelty occurred in these places renders each place special. Special, in the sense that it symbolizes the monstrosity of evil. Special, in the sense that it symbolisms bright potential lost to that monstrosity. And, special, in the sense that death occurred there. And, some small essence of the spirits, and their suffering, lingers. They want us to bear witness. They want us to confess, on behalf of the human race. They want us to surrender hatred, anger, and other such violence. They, who suffered so immensely in the carnage of war, bask in divine light. I always witnessed death and the suffering of imminent death as quite mystical. I often felt divine presence(s) close at hand ~ a silent, yet sweet guide for the suffering soul. And suffering, in and of itself, seems to me a sort of pilgrimage.

What happens when we die? Does the body die, thereby expelling the soul into the waiting arms of its guide? Does the waiting guide pluck the suffering soul from the bondage of its dying companion, the body, at which point, physical death occurs? I feel inclined to reject the first possibility in favour of the second. I have always believed the soul animated the physical body. To the point of making us look the way we do. Even immediately after death, a corpse looks different than the person did alive. Why? Because, I believe, the soul has departed. Convincing me that the formless soul gives a person her form, as an individual. And that despite the tension between soul and body, the two fuse seemlessly to provide existence. Like lovers fuse seemlessly to produce a life. I suspect the bond between soul and body exists at that level of intimacy. I should think, then, that the soul feels some sort of trauma on separating itself from the body, at the time of physical death. Similarly, at birth. Unboxing and also, boxing, of the soul must cause some level of pain or discomfort. I imagine, then, that upon physical death, the lingering divine presence, of which I spoke earlier, comforts and soothes a bewildered and throbbing soul, the way a mother comforts her distressed child.

4 comments:

Aunty Belle said...

MY gracious--how beautiful!
" And, some small essence of the spirits, and their suffering, lingers. They want us to bear witness. They want us to confess, on behalf of the human race. They want us to surrender hatred, anger, and other such violence."

Indeed, darlin'...in deed.

the.red.mantissa said...

thanx AB. to bear witness ~ that's hard, ain't it? coz a witness is just that ~ a witness. not a saviour, not necessarily even a soother. just a witness. its the humility we try to resist, i think.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Oh, and you know how much I contemplate these issues, my dear friend.

the.red.mantissa said...

thoughts of you crossed my mind as i wrote this post.