Reprinted here in my blog for the first time is “The House That Love Built: as lives and buildings crumble, love and hope endure” written 10 years ago following the death of my father, and immediately afterward, the events of 9/11.
I hope that everyone who reads this will choose one positive goal today to work toward, and take the first step on that path of creation. Let’s counter negative events and energy with positive change.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead
Never in my life have I experienced so much loss in such a short period of time. In the past three months I have seen the death of my relationship with the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with—the man that I sold my home in Massachusetts and packed up all my animals to be with; the death of my father after a year-long battle with cancer; and now with the recent tragic events surrounding the terrorist hijacking of four jet airplanes, the possible death of freedom and hope for a balanced existence on this planet.
A month ago my search for a place to live that would accept myself, five cats and a large dog was interrupted by the chilling news that my father had two days to two weeks to live. I made my arrangements and flew back to the East Coast to be with my sisters and my father. There I did my best to run a mobile graphic design office, and cope with the nightmare of assisting with hospice care for my father. I say nightmare, because nothing could have prepared me for watching my father, a formerly very active man, make a rapid descent into a complete invalid. He did not share his feelings with us, but I am certain it was as difficult for him as it was for us. We were all gathered around him, holding space and energy as he struggled valiantly to die with dignity. As he drew his last breath he was looking straight into my eyes and I can tell you that one of the most difficult tasks I have ever undertaken was to hold fast to my intent to be balanced, grounded and centered in the face of the death of my own father. To do any less would not have been to his benefit, but it took everything I knew and every ounce of determination I could muster to do it.
Prior to his passing I had struggled with the fact that my father did not share his feelings about death or about how he felt about us in his last weeks of life. In retrospect I believe that he had to turn inward in order to prepare himself, but I struggled at the time with why he was not opening his heart to us. After he died my sisters and I had the task of writing separate eulogies for his memorial service. I opened my healing mesa and began to search for the truth behind the appearance. I would like to share what I finally wrote.
“Dad was a man of few words, unlike his daughters. As his illness progressed I had an opportunity to reflect on how little I really knew about him since he seldom spoke about how he felt. Our conversations were usually about day-to-day matters, rather than heart-to-heart.
“One day, while taking a break from caregiving, I stepped outside onto the deck for a breath of fresh air, and dissolved into tears at the thought that my father would be leaving without my ever having truly known him.“Through my tears I suddenly noticed the playhouse that my father had built for us when we were children. Originally it had been a wooden slide that ended in a sandbox that cushioned our landings. When we got too big for it Dad rebuilt it into a magical space, with seats that folded up into the walls when we finished with them, a table that folded down with separate front legs you attached for greater support, windows that opened and closed, with screens to let the breeze in and clear plastic panes to keep the weather out. All fashioned with great care, and still standing after almost 35 years. I marveled at the craftsmanship and attention to detail and wondered about the man who had built this for his children.
“And then it struck me, images of my father’s hands through the years, hands that shaped much of the house we grew up in: the mahogany cabinets, sideboards, and built-ins in every room of the house, most of the woodwork on the patio, every pachysandra-filled flowerbed on the property—everywhere I looked bore eloquently expressed testament to my father’s love, care, practicality, imagination and attention to detail.
“I recalled stories that close friends of Dad’s had shared with me in past weeks, all speaking of his compassionate care for others. One woman told me of the time when she was pregnant and her husband was out of town and she awoke one night with a painful tooth abcess and called Dad. He drove across several towns and picked her up, brought her to the office, drained the abcess and drove her back home again. Others spoke of fillings that had lasted them 40-50 years, far exceeding the average lifespan of dental work, and of Dad’s devotion to painless dentistry.
“Dad was a man of few words, but I realized in a moment of awareness that all these years he has spoken to us all through his hands—hands that have touched the lives of many. Those same hands that fashioned delicate and strong dental work for his patients also built a magical playhouse for his children.”
I flew back to Seattle on Sunday afternoon, September 9, and arrived with the sure knowledge that my life had changed irrevocably with the death of my father, and that it would continue to change as I still faced the dissolution of my current living situation and partnership and the difficult task of finding a place to live. And then on Tuesday morning, September 11, the lives of the world changed as the news of terrorist attacks filled the media and disrupted all our lives.
My first response was sheer inability to take it all in. My second was to seek to find how I could help, perhaps sending energy in some fashion. But my third response was the hardest to deal with. I became angrier and angrier. I could feel a desire building to seek out and destroy those that had visited this terrible destruction on innocent beings. I struggled with my desire to lash out at them, and in my line of work intent governs all, energy can be used for positive or negative effect. I brought to mind all of my teachers and all I had learned searching for what I should do. Should I give in to the overwhelming urge to destroy, exercising power ultimately for self-gratification, or should I seek to find compassion and understanding to facilitate healing and sponsor balance, as espoused by the Tibetan lama and others I have encountered? The classic struggle waged its war inside me, and ultimately the desire for healing rather than destruction won.
The struggle took its toll, that afternoon I became very ill as all of the stressful events finally caught up with my physical body. As a result I have been an observer rather than a participant in all of the events that have followed this past week. Many people have been active in sending energy or prayers for healing of the earth, and many politicians have been equally busy shaping policy and response. The general populace has been mourning, seemingly with sentiment divided in the same struggle I underwent.
I have no great wisdom to impart as to how the situation should be handled, but my illness forced me into a position where I could DO NOTHING, I could only BE. Within that stillness I could taste the wrongness of the some of the energy currents that circulated, and I realized that the entire world had been affected and thrown off balance, not just our country. Further I could see that some of the energy lines encircling the earth were massively tangled, as though a kitten had snarled a ball of yarn.
My enforced stillness left me in the position of only being able to observe the natural world around me. In contrast to the devastation I saw on television, life continued; birds flew and sang, insects swirled in the sunlight, squirrels ran races up and down the trees. It was forcibly driven home that humans are not the only life on this planet, yet we hold an inordinate amount of power over the lives of other beings. It was that urge for power, the desire to forcibly manipulate the lives of others that motivated the terrorists. Should it be our intent to follow their lead and meet force with force? Or can we set a different intent, one that can prevent future violence while maintaining compassion, understanding, care and balance, and promoting healing of ourselves and others?
I ask that each of us search for the meaning beneath the seeming, so that we may experience gratitude for what we do have, rather than anger for what we don’t. Be aware both of self and others. Form a clear intent that helps promote growth rather than destruction. Hold the intent that like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption new life and hope can arise from the ashes of destruction. Like my father’s hands spoke to me, it is our actions that will speak most eloquently to the generations that follow. It is my prayer for all of us that we find the wisdom, love and compassion needed to heal and preserve all life on this planet.
©Rose De Dan 2004. All rights reserved.
This article is collected in Rose De Dan’s book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism and originally printed in the November 2001 issue of Women NetWork.
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©2011 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved. www.reikishamanic.com
Think Outside the Cage
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is a mesa carrier in the Peruvian shamanic tradition. In addition she is also a Reiki Master Teacher, animal communicator, author of the acclaimed book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism, and creator of Animal and Reiki Art. As an animal shaman, she views her role as a healer as one of building bridges between people and animals, and of empowering them to reconnect with Pachamama, Mother Earth.
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