From All Limits, Free

In looking through some files this morning (trying to find something for a training I need to facilitate tomorrow), I ran across this reflection written a while back for a memorable hospice patient.

This post is dedicated to a gentle Japanese man who was seemingly alone in the world, with no family, no friends, and language and cultural barriers that made it difficult for us to understand what might comfort him in his last days. What did we do? We sat with him. We smiled. We brought him cookies (he liked cookies). One lovely soul found a copy of Harry Potter in Japanese, which brought a big smile to his face. I played my guitar and sang softly at his bedside.

Outside his room, we cried for him, feeling helpless to bridge the gap of his aloneness. We struggled for him, trying to show him he was loved and valued, even in a culture vastly different from the one he and his ancestors have known. Today we had a memorial service in our lovely courtyard garden, with sweet Japanese music, the stirring aroma of incense, and a lovely responsive reading from a Buddhist sutra.

I offer these haiku in honor of this sweet, gentle man who passed from this world perhaps in the same unassuming way he lived here, leaving no wake of grief except the waves of loss and sadness we continue to feel as we remember him.

The sun shines freely
A soft breeze makes the leaves dance
Incense spirals up.

We gather to bless.
The soft sound of wind and flute
Lifts life’s presence, here.

Movement and release
Spirals of life and binding
A thought: “Now you are free.”

The soul’s mystery
Points to language beyond words:
“May all be One Love.”

Peace upon your house
May your smiling ancestors
Welcome you onward.

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