dear young friend & family in Shiva, when i speak of age, you
seem to hear death, probably because of your youth. but for me at
eighty-one, age is a victory, something amazing that is
given to me to rejoice in, & i do! you seem to think that
i rejoice in the nearness of death, but no! it is this life that
i rejoice in. i delight in beauty, goodness & truth. if it
doesn't relate to my purpose, i pay no attention to it.
my purpose is to celebrate life & to release the outworn,
that Shiva & i can commune together more meaningfully.
so think not that age means closer to death! age just as vividly
can mean closer to life, because i can so fully & deeply
enjoy this life now as a seasoned spiritual connoisseur.
years of arcane experience now reveal its value to me.
that's the name that my final husband, bill, & i called our home to the
various friends, family & wanderers who came our way over
the years. we were the gates family, & we named our home "way station"
to indicate that it was a place to rest while on a long journey.
some came & left quickly, while others became a good part of our lives
for ages. all were teachers of various kinds, & we also shared
all that we could with them of positive world views & lessons we learned.
we included the planet "saturn" in our home name, for he is the
task master & way shower, the wise companion of our elderhood.
thrift & discipline as a way of life were acceptable to us:
we learned from everyone & everything, intending good will to all.
we named our home "space refinery" because we so cherished the deep
philosophical discussions & spiritual musings that we
often enjoyed with other people. we felt that we contributed
positively to the planetary noosphere in this small way.
for more than forty years bill & i held this vision dear to our hearts,
& manifested it in our lives. even here in this nursing home,
we held fast to a positive vision & ideal, glad that we were
able to remain at least under the same roof until death did part
us physically. we are still together in the space refinery
though, for it is nonphysical in its essence. the subtle inner
work continues onward, only briefly interrupted after all.
such has been Your influence on me, Shiva, silently guiding me
through the years, refining the best in me to a realm of purity
i could not imagine in my younger years of untried ignorance.
saturn is another teacher in Your cosmic university.
the gates' saturn way station & space refinery was just one small
classroom in Your vast cosmic university, one among many.
ah Shiva, so we move into the evolving energies of now,
as i plunge wholly into You: the gates' saturn way station & space
refinery merges fully into the infinite unknown in
sacred solemn trust in You. You take this awareness far beyond the
human & temporal into my true home in You, as You. just as
the planet is one with the solar system, & the solar system
is one with the galaxy, so am i also one with You, Shiva.
i rest in You, never to be parted, for the body's death is but
the opening of the door for me finally to come home to You.
a rowdy pack of dogs goads a herd of cows through the rugged woods, where the cows take asylum in the fallow corn field by our house. during the weeks they are here they graze the field clear & they open a pathway down to shelter valley by the creek. here the cows rest safely beneath the great hemlock tree whom i call mother because of her broad, thick & wide-stretched open arms that guard & secure the cool protected cave-like chamber beneath this sentinel tree.
it is a sanctuary for the cows & later, for me, my haven where i meditate, self-review & become absorbed in the ancient energies of the mountain, valley & free-flowing streams of water bordering toward the east & the west of this secluded nature preserve & branch-cloistered nurturing retreat.
i call the auspicious spacious chamber beneath mother hemlock the temple of the green sun. sunlight filters through the green hemlock needles, casting an undersea glow because the branches sweep the earth around the tree & the feeling is of a sanctified place. my chair leans against her trunk as sunlight streams in long shifting bands of swirling dusty light all around & arching high overhead. for years we commune daily, the mother hemlock & i, in all kinds of weather, both inside my head & touching on the outer.
then it happens: the plague of wooly adelgids arrives at the blue ridge mountains & the mother hemlock falls a victim to it. the invasive insects slowly vampirize the tree, drinking her juices. her needles fall, branches becoming bare in a few years, her power & glory sucked away, her dark bones starkly showing. i am watching a loved one slowly die during these years, for there's no cure or help for the mother hemlock. we are all powerless in the face of this fierce invading pestilence that ravages.
the temple of the green sun is gone. it's now a somber graveyard, a tomb marking the death of a local goddess, & i am but memorializing her & the peaceful shelter she furnished. now she is a skeleton, bare & dark against the empty sky. goodbye, mother hemlock, farewell & my gratitude goes with you. i also no longer flourish & thrive, though it's better for me than for you, yet you are always in my memory: teacher, friend & dear companion for long, wonderful country-time years down the curvy backroads of the blue ridge mountains of north carolina.
ah Shiva! growing as a tree, You show me blessings & teach me patience, acceptance & detachment. I thank You for giving this insight, for showing me You can change form yet ever reappear as the consummate teacher & companion. You are woven like a heartening red thread patterned throughout my whole life, revealing Yourself to be the heart & soul of every blessing & every challenge, connecting the varied myriad parts as one, having a single intent. You make of me a better person so that my personality may serve the world. You show me that i also, in essence, extend far beyond form, merging myself into You at deepest core & fundament, eluding words altogether.
You are the dogs, the cows, the hemlock tree, wooly adelgids too. just because i cannot comprehend the whole pattern does not mean a thing & i know that fact well! i have taken refuge in You, Shiva, so let the drama play out; it's beyond my concern now. all i need is You, my Beloved, & You know that very well: You have been lighting the way ceaselessly since time & space burst forth. OM NAMAH SHIVAYA