Recently, I had my first ever bout of shingles and I read it as a sign to look hard at what I do and where I show up in this world. I realized I was trying to be everywhere, but the icy jab of shingles, made me see that my true path is as healer, guide and helper of people at key life transitions; not as a hot-shot entrepreneur pushing for more markets, more sales, more, more, more.
My deep relationship with the natural world grew out of an event that marked the death of my childhood innocence. Nature was the healer who came to my side and somewhere in between the trauma and the tree trunks that saved me, I lost my fear of death. Since then I have often found myself at the bedside of others: friends, family and strangers, helping them and their loved ones find their oneness, find their star as they journey towards their own death.
To some, this might sound grim, but in showing in the sacred spaces of transition, I have found something else – I have found that looking at how we can navigate death, can teach us so, so much about life.
When we can find a quiet place away from fear and anxiety, a crystal pool to gaze upon and see our deepest Self reflected, we can start to recognize the things that really matter to us. The things that are precious, sacred. The things that bring us joy, fulfillment. The things that bring us love and acceptance. We can find peace in acceptance and peace in forgiveness. We find ourselves asking, what is it that really matters now? How would I want this time to be? What are the memories I wish to create, or that we can create together with loved ones?
So many questions. So many possibilities.
When my father was dying, I held his hand for three full days. I swabbed his parched mouth. I told him stories. I sat in silence. I cried on his chest. I counted breath. I slept by his side. I recalled fond memories. And in the spaces in which he journeyed from in-breath to out-breath, I learned more about love than I ever thought possible.
in the spaces in which he journeyed from in-breath to out-breath, I learned more about love than I ever thought possible.
As the end of life draws near, we ask ourselves and our loved ones how we want that time to be. What would we wish to fill it with? A ticking clock creates honesty. It creates its own simplicity. What really matters?
What really matters?
The more I work with people who are experiencing the advancing reality of their own mortality, the more I learn about how people, at any stage of their life, can find their magic, find the things that really matter and in doing so, transform the way they show up in this world. This life that we have, you and I, here and now.
What is it that really matters to you? Right now. What is it you value most?
Where do you find comfort?
And why wait for death to show up before you ask yourself these questions? Don’t wait. Give yourself the gift of Being Here Now.
Don’t wait. Give yourself the gift of Being Here Now.
I was walking with friends on the weekend. We came to a grove of young redwood trees. Towering juveniles. One of my friends said, “It’s like this is a redwood chapel, rather than the cathedral of older trees further ahead.” We entered the green dappled light of the grove. Each of us drawn to a tree and we sat. Our backs to the trunks. Silence. Birdsong. The energy of the trees. Nothing else mattered.
In those moments, we each found comfort. Each moved by spirit of place. In Nature everything is sacred. Nature shows us that life is a continuum of endings and beginnings and that everything, is made up of everything.
What death has taught me about life, Nature has helped heal and support, inspire and revitalize. It has been the church I have prayed in. Nature has been anchor and wings, belonging and mystery. The deeper we look into Nature, the more connection and support and inspiration we can find. It can become hard to feel lonely, when you have developed your own unique resonance and relationship with the natural world; when your breath is the forest’s breath, your interior world and the coastal tides togetherness of shifting and moving in synchronicity with the moon.
I have seen how creating a connection to Nature has helped people as they near death. I have seen how it has helped those left behind.
In the minutiae of my daily life and work, I know now the time is near for cutting away old growth so that the heart of the work I do can find more light, more space, more connection.
I’ve asked myself, “what really matters?”
If you would like support in the form of guidance, coaching and nature-based therapy for life transitions, personal development or end of life journeys, see my services here.