I was reminded of this certainty of life this past weekend as my father-in-law passed away. He had been ill for some time, and while this wasn’t unexpected, physically he is no longer here. Much of what I read these days uses the term crossing over, as in, he is no longer in the physical realm, but he is still here with us.
Of that I cannot guarantee, until I myself “cross over”. However, I can tell you of my brother, who died more then 10 years ago and I’m certain I’ve not only felt his presence, but often have exchanges with him.
“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” George Eliot
Are my conversations made up, memories of banters past? Or are they as real as my most recent discussion on the telephone this morning? While I may not actually speak them, I certainly feel them, trust them, and act upon them.
Yesterday, as we were in the process of “sitting shivah”, the weeklong mourning period in Judaism for loved ones, my wife felt like getting some air. Rather than just taking a walk around the block, she requested I take her to the woods. As we stepped outside, the sky seemed to open, and the rains started coming down. I asked if she would rather stay in, maybe do a meditation, but she was not to be deterred. We grabbed our raincoats, and off we went, “into the woods”.
As we walked, and breathed, and walked and breathed, a sense of calm came over her. It was good to see her returning to herself, especially after a weekend of mourning and crying, only interrupted by brief moments of her yelling at me. Yes, even with the rain falling down upon us, the walk had been a successful one.
But we were not done yet. As we started our way back, a huge hawk came out of the trees, with a wingspan that made it impossible to miss. As it circled above us, my wife looked up and surprisingly called out “Hi Dad”. It was strange, yet comforting, as this giant hawk stayed with us until we reached the end of our path, and it flew off into the rainy afternoon.
Coincidence? Maybe. So as we got back to the house, and returned to conversations with family and friends, I went to my computer to look up “seeing a hawk”.
Lo and behold, the first thing I saw, “The hawk is the messenger from the spirit world”. And while you, and my mother-in law for that matter, may require a bit more scientific proof, I choose to believe. As I said to my mother-in-law, doesn’t science have to include the possibility of the unknown?
I know seeing that hawk was very comforting to my wife, and for that, I need no proof.
Today’s Practice: For one minute, practice connecting with a loved one who’s crossed over. See how it feels. And remember, as neuroscience will tell you, you don’t have to believe, you just have practice.
May this holiday season bring you much comfort and loving memories,