Up at Saint John’s, as I was rising from what I hope and trust to be the darkest moments of my grief after Hal’s passing, an email buzzed through my phone from Pastor Richard, Hal’s gallery co-artist and my co-eulogist. It said, in part, “You will have pain, but don’t be afraid, it can’t harm you.”
It made me recall a favorite Zen teaching, by the Korean master Seung Sahn, who preached the importance of a “don’t-know mind” that lets loose of selfish thoughts so the big mind of the universe – what a Christian like me calls God – can take over. “If you keep a don’t-know mind one hundred percent, then your demons cannot find you. Suffering cannot find you. Karma, problems, life, death, coming and going, good and bad; nothing can touch you when you only keep a don’t-know mind.”
It’s Good Friday as I write this. On this day a couple of thousand years ago, an angry mob tried to kill a radical prophet who’d come into the world to turn its ungodly power structure upside-down. To make the lowest of the visible world into the highest of the ultimate world. His prosecutors nailed his body to a cross. But they couldn’t get at his spirit. They couldn’t harm him. His love spilled out into the embodiment of God for me and more than two billion other people today.
My husband’s fuel pump gave out. But the true self of his spirit was not harmed. His love lives on as strongly as when he was in bodily form. I felt a rush of it this morning looking at the goofy picture of me he painted as a visual bandage one Saturday after I wiped out on my bicycle. I feel it when I water his plants and maintain our house. I feel it when I tend his gallery and carry forward his artistic vision. I feel it when I turn what he means to me into words I hope will benefit others.
As a fan of words I know “grief” and “mourning” don’t have the same meaning. Grief is a feeling of loss. Mourning is the public expression of it.
When love is strong, physical loss brings grief, in some form, forever. Mourning is meant to be temporary. If mourning goes on too long, it confines the spirit of those we mourn. This blog is about to become something new in Hal’s spirit. Watch and see.
Easter is nearly here. Mourning will be over. Love will never end.