I don’t know who wants to hear this right now, but I hope you will share this with anyone who needs it. I promise you, there are people you love out there right now who are scared, and they don’t feel like they can talk to anyone about what they are truly afraid of. You probably also have loved ones in high risk groups who are not afraid and who are ready to talk, but they may be quite lonely because no one will listen.
As many of you know, I used to work as a hospice chaplain, visiting people in their final months, weeks, days, and hours, as well as sitting and praying at the deathbed after a loved one’s passing. I’ve had terrifying experiences as well as profoundly blissful ones, but every single encounter with death has been humbling. There were times I felt the pull of dark energies nearby and times I was floating in bottomless peace. Yet one of the most important insights that came from those families I had the honor to witness and care about was this: much of the fear of death is really a fear of grief.
Where there is love, there is loss. Where there is loss, there is love. This is what it means to be a human being. This is what we signed up for. There is no need to wait until you or your loved one or the whole world is in crisis. Healing can happen now. Maybe not curing, but real healing. We can forgive ourselves, we can reach out and protect each other, we can draw boundaries and forge a new way, for as long or as short a time as we have left.
I’d like to share with you again a Hebrew song from Kol Nidre, a holy of holy nights where all the individuals in the community together release unmet expectations, forgive broken promises, and start over completely. It has just two lines:
Kol ha-olam kulo gesher tzar m’od
V’ha-ikkar lo l’faheid k’lal
The first line translates as:
“The whole world is a very narrow bridge.”
We are being slapped in the face with this reality right now. The entire world is a very narrow bridge. Everything can and will be taken away from us. Eventually, what we have left is the spirit of who we really are—the pure essence only–and absolutely nothing else. This is nature. This is the existence we know.
We can’t stop at just the awareness of the narrow bridge though! Stopping here has caused, at least in my lineage, chronic anxiety, worry, and fear for generations, a collective PTSD from a long history of sudden loss. No, we must absolutely remember the second half:
“The essential thing is not to fear at all.”
Feeling all the feelings, even and especially the grief and the fear.
Letting those feelings pass and moving forward.
Knowing necessity to be the mother of invention and finding creative solutions.
Taking the next right step in the direction of wellness and peace.
Changing alongside with change.
So yes, nothing feels secure. But what if we could dance across that narrow bridge anyway? I’ll do a little hip shimmy, maybe you’ll do the cha-cha. Both of us with our eyes wide open, balancing on one foot, then the next.
Fear, I see you! Fear, I hear you! Thank you. You remind me: I am choosing Love.
PS-I’ve been feeling called to write more in these times of isolation, so please do share this sign-up link with friends and family who may need some alternative messages coming into their inbox.
PPS- I also write about this song in my early motherhood memoir of anxiety and personal growth, if you’re looking for reading material.