I recently read Kerry Egan’s book, On Living. Egan is a hospice chaplain and her insightful stories of her patients and the things that are important in our life is magnificent. Actually that word is an understatement. I was glued to each word, paragraph and page. It made me gasp several times with awareness, heartache and joy. This little glimpse into ordinary lives, with extraordinary stories, will remind you why we are here and how not to take things for granted.
Having been around folks with dementia, terminal illnesses, dying individuals of all kinds, I understand that the transition from this world is always challenging. The five plus years of owning a motel/retreat center allowed me to visit with some incredible folks from all walks of life. I witnessed the essence of the human spirit. I noticed that every single person can have four basic experiences in those lonely moments when they know death is near: Regrets, Nostalgia, Fear, and Shame. I have witnessed it over and over. Life becomes a delicate dance with the unknown and time seems to never be on their side.
I’ve heard stories from family members, friends, and strangers. The dying, most times, isolate experiences in order to leave a legacy behind. They magnify events. They idolize others. They share secrets on their dying moments in hope of being released from shame and humiliation. They want to be heard and understood and forgiven. We all want to be acknowledged for our lives. At the end of the journey we want to know that we mattered. We want to believe we did the best we could without hurting our loved ones. We want to be loved. We want to know that someone will miss us because we were important.
Throughout the book the author takes you on a small voyage into the lives of some beautiful souls in her care. She shares her own shame and guilt from an experience that changed her life. She is able to take the reader through a mirage of emotions that is recognizable to all. I don’t care what your belief system entails, this book will touch a part of your truth and humanity.
The human spirit is absolutely beautiful. The things we hold and treasure; the events that change us; the things that bring us joy and sorrow; the greatest loves that touched us; the regrets for not moving past fear…and so on…create the composition of who we are. We, as spiritual beings, are created from a source so bright but we forget to shine. The things we hold inside are the things that keep us prisoners or in some cases allow us to fly freely. It all depends on the type of life you have lived.
I love this passage:
“What if the thing you consider to be your greatest accomplishment is not seen that way by anyone else? What if the thing you are proudest of is also the thing that you are most ashamed of? What if your great love is also your deepest secret?
People keep secrets in a desperate and often ultimately futile attempt to protect themselves or the people they love. They thing that the secret will be a bulwark against rejection and public humiliation, and so they carry it, no matter the weight. In so many cases, people keep secrets and even lie to each other out of love, and not malice.
What they may not realize is that in holding on so fiercely to what they see as shameful secrets, they’re actually strengthening that system of shame. Keeping a secret is like fertilizing a weed, and the family secrets that fertilize shame choke out love before it can even grow. The secrets themselves, instead of protecting anyone from shame, become a source of it instead. Shame is the enemy of love; it can never serve it.”
I read a lot of books, but this one touched me deeply. I love stories about the human spirit. I was inspired to reach into my own collective memories and find the stories from so many folks who have shared their journey with me. I feel a book being created.
May this new year allow you the freedom to let go of all that keeps you in a prison of emotional turmoil. May you find joy, wisdom, forgiveness and an exceptional amount of endless love. I see you…I feel you…I know a part of you because we are all interconnected through the Divine essence called Love.
See you on the other side. I love you!!!!