Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sweet Sorrow

Day is Done

Our family was all together out here in the desert for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a wonderful time of being together, eating together, riding bikes, walks with the dogs - remembering the past, enjoying one another in the present.  Yesterday we took our eldest son and his wife to the airport for their return East. 

Airports are bittersweet places for me - places of such sweet sorrow. Friends and family arrive and embrace one another with laughter and shouts of joy and then they embrace one another again as they take their leave amidst tears of goodbye and pledges to meet again. 

As we embraced and said goodbye yesterday, the thought came to me that all of us had become different people than we were when we first said our hellos a few days back at that same airport. That's the way our human nature works- in every contact we have with anyone, we are always changed and become someone different. 

This morning I walked into my dining room and stood there touching the wooden table that we have had in our family ever since we were first married over thirty years ago. As I touched the table I was flooded with more than memories of the people who had sat around that table, I was washed in a flood of  "presence."

We had sat around that table for countless meals-  my wife, my children as they grew from infancy, going to school-to college, to adulthood and marriage.  Around that table sat so many friends and family over the years. We had shared our stories and said our prayers around that table in times of joy and in times of sorrow - much laughter and many tears.

As I touched that wooden table I realized that the very DNA of all those countless people who had sat at the table had been infused into the wood; and as such, the table has become a living icon of all the people and all the times and all the places of everyone who had ever sat at it. The people of my life were there sitting at the table I was touching.

As I touched the table, I thought to myself, "every time anyone had ever sat around it, none of us ever left the same."  Every time anyone had ever encountered one another around that table, we had shared something of our selves; and so we all walked away with a little bit of each other as we left and went our separate ways. We had all become someone new. We had all become one another.

How foolish for any of us to think that we are isolated or separated individuals.  There is great wisdom in the Buddhist teaching that "ego" is a delusion. We, human beings, really and truly are "inter-being." We ARE our relationships. We become our relationships. 

Every time we embrace and say" hello," we are different by the time we say "goodbye."

Today our youngest son goes back. The house is pretty quiet now - sweet sorrow. Time to travel on - down new roads. 

But everyone is with me, everyone is in me and I never walk alone.


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