There are times when the God will open up His Universe and communicate with me on a visceral level. His message will rumble through every muscle and organ and bone in my body and I will learn something about His creation through unexpected ways.
On one of those times, I walked into Java Joe’s coffeeshop one day to meet with a student. In the midst of waiting for my double shot of espresso, a photograph caught my eye. It was composed of a yellow rose in the foreground superimposed over an out-of-focus tombstone in the background. Not only could I actually touch the delicate petals, but I could see my own grandmother reaching out to me from within the ethereal tombstone. To me, that photograph brought together past and present within a dance of life and death. It spoke of new beginnings emerging from the fertile soil of our history and ancestors.
But, I couldn’t help but also see how in today’s world of compulsive shopping and eating and drinking and drugging, the very things that flowed from that photograph are the very things suppressed and disconnected from our humanity. While I could actually feel the yellow’s vibrations penetrating my eyes hear the voices of all of my ancestors telling me that my life is a gift, I realized that the connections between our past and present are fading away, just like the tombstone in the photograph. In our modern American culture, we live within a constant and driving need to have our impulses satiated immediately. But that photograph told a different story and provided a clue that could yield positive and healthy results.
All life passes like the blooming rose: here one second and gone the next. Rather than waste that time, I think the photo was telling me be present in all that I do and to relate with everything from that sense of presence. The rose reminded me that I am here and now; the tombstone reminded me that I am connected to then and there. Really, there is no separation between all of life, whether here in a physical sense or not.
Therefore, I think it’s critical that we all learn that our relationships are sacred. If we do, then I think the need to comfort our anxieties will diminish and lose its power. Really, if we could see that every day is a new beginning (as symbolized through the yellow rose in the photo) and that our ancestors are never completely gone from our lives (evidenced in the out-of-focus tombstone), then I believe with all that I am that we will gain a deeper sense of being alive. When all is said and done, I hope for two (2) things: 1) that I reveled in the fleeting beauty of all life; and, 2) that, once I’m gone, that I’ve left my memory alive in the hearts and minds of those who carry on.