The Next Stage of Life: A Journey to Peace at Last
Yesterday “marked” the beginning of the season of Lent. It also marked the beginning of another season. My sister Sally Kukla Taylor met with palliative care and was referred to hospice which they will be beginning in the next couple of days as the details are worked out.
We do not know what the season will be, will it be harsh and cold and drawn out? Will it be soft and quiet and pure, will peace enfold quickly?
Life has taught us it will be some of all of that, and something else entirely unexpected thrown in whether we are willing to receive it or not.
My sister Sally has always been the strongest of us. She still is, though harsh winter makes that hard to see now for those who are not experienced in seeing it. Our family has a certain learned resilience that comes of repeated “winters.” So the family rallies to rearrange the house again for a whole new kind of hospital room to be erected in a place that was constructed for more happy occasions and entirely different family gatherings. But its okay. We didn’t choose this – who would!?! But we will survive what the winds blow our way – because we aren’t doing this alone. Because we have also learned that wonders are revealed like crystal works of art in an otherwise forbidding snow. And we will find those wonders together… as we walk a journey to peace and wholeness – an elusive but certain goal.
And I guess I want to say one more thing as I process this all out loud. You have heard or will hear me say this again. I hate that we talk about fighting disease and illness and death. There is struggle. And surely there is a sense of fighting for energy and life and all that… But its not a fight. There is no winner and loser.
If you are fighting death. You will lose. Any of us; all of us.
If you are seeking life – in all that this may mean and in whatever spiritual or aspiritual tradition you practice – you will win. There comes a time when the life we seek is on the other side of death. It is not losing, or giving up, to acknowledge that. In fact its a certain kind of holy and blessed realization. Its hard. We don’t want it. But that day comes. Sally and my family aren’t there… yet. We are still carving out a place of life here and now. But we step quite tangibly with every new phase towards a day when we will coast downhill through death. And it will be okay, and it will not be losing. It will be sad, heart-wrenching, and it will make us question what comes next… but it will not be losing. It was be peace at last.
If anyone has taught me that… Sally has. You are an inspiration to me – even if you were my enemy for the first 18 or so years of my life. I love my enemy! You got this, we got this – together until the end and beyond no matter what lies between us.