Some Thoughts on Legacy Work

My initial thoughts about legacy are twofold. 1) In healthcare chaplaincy–and to some extent social work, “Legacy Work” usually involves making hand prints, taking photographs, hair clippings, or similar arts and crafts to create keepsakes to which a dying patient’s loved ones (especially children) may hold on after their loved one dies. It is not my place to judge the suitability of such exercises for those who may find them meaningful, but I do ask myself, “Is this the best we can do?” (In fairness, helping patient’s create an Ethical Will is also a regularly mentioned possibility as well.)

2) I’m sitting with what Stephen Jenkinson identifies as most people’s real “fear of death”: Not the actual dying, or whether there is an afterlife or not, but, how we will be remembered? This seems to be a motivating observation in much of his work (and Native American piety) around honoring our connection to our ancestors and what they have taught us.

Three potential legacy paths (having kids, planting trees, and writing books) are worth pointing to with intentionality. They are natural human legacy paths, i.e., the kinds of things humans do anyway, each of which will survive our own deaths. The shadow side is they are so imminently practical as to be possibly taken for granted, and to trigger grief expressions as well. What if one’s kids are not “turning out” as one had hoped? What if the relationship is estranged? What if the oak tree you planted in the front yard intending it to outlast you and your children got a disease and died before you did? And what if the blog/book you’ve poured so much of yourself into reads like the contradictory ravings of a confused soul?

Of what value is a life lived in obscurity? How is the world still made better by those who cannot reproduce, plant, or create lasting art? Stephen Hawking is a magnificent example of one who–through technology–overcame debilitating and terminal physical limitations to contribute to our understanding of the cosmos. But how many Hawking minds lay trapped without access to such technology? What is their legacy? I suspect loving and being loved is always enough.

It seems that any intentional way of life and death must be large enough to transcend and include such failures. After all, the spiritual journey of death is the great letting go of everything. Including, sometimes, legacy.

Love One Person

Poetry

“The Veil”

by: Mary Oliver

There are moments when the veil seems
almost to lift, and we understand what
the earth is meant to mean to us — the
trees in their docility, the hills in
their patience, the flowers and the
vines in their wild, sweet vitality.
Then the Word is within us, and the
Book is put away.

Love One Person

Do the Next Human Thing

I am writing this article in an attempt to get at a phenomenon I encountered over and over again in my nearly thirteen years as a Lutheran parish pastor. Retrospectively, I realize I have encountered this phenomenon throughout both my upbringing and adult life as a Christian, finding myself on different sides of it at different times and in various situations. The gradual solidifying of my own human response to this phenomenon has been a significant impulse over the past decade in my journey out of the religion of Christianity and into the universal, human-centered Spiritual Naturalism I have come to embrace.

What is the phenomenon? Let me try and articulate it: “I don’t have to behave humanely toward you—or treat you with the dignity due a fellow human being—because there is something disqualifying about you in relation to my understanding of reality.” Stated more simply, “Allegiance to my ideology is more important than you are in all your uniqueness.” 

In the history of religion, this perspective has been called “taking a god’s eye view” (i.e., if the deity disapproves of something or someone then its adherents disapprove as well). Sociologists call this phenomenon Othering. Othering arises from human tribal survival instincts. Othering establishes Us vs. Them relationships where people like us are In, and people different than us are Out. Professor Darren J. N. Middleton identifies Them as people “outside the official range of sympathy”—at least according to the Us group.

Another layer of Othering emerges when tension arises within the Us/In group who lays blame for that tension on a particular person or persons within the group (a Them who are here with Us causing problems!). Group survival instincts drive the group to expel Them out from among Us. The historically scriptural term for this version of the Othering phenomenon is called Scapegoating.

What if one’s god commands, or the tenets of one’s religion require that certain people be excluded on the basis of differing beliefs, unacceptable behavior, or discriminated against for any number of other reasons? Or what if, somewhat more charitably, the god/religion requires that others convert and become like Us before they can be included in the In group? 

Adding the divine mandate overlaying the Othering/Scapegoating phenomenon can result in a literal death sentence. Consider the tribal motivations behind stoning, stake-burning, exiling, witch-hunting, Crusade-fighting, and even proselytism. Cloaking those motivations with a divine commandment and a compulsion for religious institutional survival, results in people dying. People have killed and people have died. This is not okay even when supposedly commanded by a god.

Unfortunately, however satisfying getting rid of the identified scapegoat may feel at the moment, it is never a long-term remedy for a group’s dysfunction. (Incidentally, the Scapegoating phenomenon has been at play in the rhetoric surrounding the congressional impeachment of the 45th President, and the subsequent trial in the U.S. Senate.)

In Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, Silence (marvellously represented by Martin Scorsese in his 2016 film of the same title), Portugese Jesuit priests secretly enter Japan attempting to bring the Catholic Church’s sacramental ministry to the Kakure Kirishitan, the Hidden Christians of Japan’s Edo period in the early 17th century.

Filled with religious idealism and missionary zeal, Father Sebastian Rodrigues and his companion are also trying to find another priest, Father Ferriera who is rumored to have apostatized from the faith and to be living as a Japanese. 

As the story progresses, Father Rodrigues (endowed with a robust messiah complex) is betrayed by an important character named Kichijiro who embodies both Judas (from the Gospels) and Gollum (The Lord of the Rings). While in prison, Rodrigues is repeatedly questioned by the Samurai governor of the region. Curiously, the official Japanese agenda presented in Endo’s story is one of nationalistic Othering that is bent on Scapegoating the Christian religion and its adherents out of Japan. The personal impact of the various forces brought to bear on Father Rodrigues is what makes the story so compelling.

The dilemma to which Father Rodrigues is brought by the governor, and by the now-apostatized Ferreira is this: Japanese Christians will continue to be tortured and killed unless you, as a priest, apostatize by stepping on an image of Jesus. Do that, and the torture of these people will stop—they will be set free. Rodrigues’ frustration is compounded in the realization that his fervent prayers on behalf of the suffering Japanese Christians are met not with divine intervention, but rather with silence. Henry van Dyke, in his timeless classic The Story of the Other Wise Man, casts such dilemmas in terms of: “the conflict between the expectation of faith and the impulse of love.” 

Potentially infuriating to a devout Christian believer, Rodrigues’ dilemma takes on a beautiful hue when viewed from the perspective of a Zen Koan. The priest is presented with a double bind calling forth a spontaneous response. He is “damned if he do, and damned if he don’t.” 

How can an act of betrayal also be an act of faith? Is faithfulness found in clinging to stories, ideas, and even the content of faith within oneself, or is it found in taking whatever action lies within one’s power to alleviate the suffering of other living beings? Can one renounce Christianity and still follow Jesus? Is it worth losing one’s religion if it means helping others? These are the questions with which Endo invites our engagement in Silence. Like a skillful Zen Master, he does not give us any answers.

The Othering and Scapegoating phenomenon are common to groups of every kind. Othering is behind systemic racism, sexism, ableism, and gender discrimination. Secular Humanists “other” Christian Nationalists and vice versa. Hindus “other” Muslims. Capitalists “other” Socialists. Chevy drivers “other” Ford people. All of us “other” people we don’t like or who make us feel uncomfortable. None of us are immune from this tribal instinct. How can we find a more adaptive way forward together both individually and collectively? 

In 12 Step spirituality there is a practice some people find useful: “Do the next right thing.” My own practice is to try and “Do the next human thing.” Jesus, the Buddha, and one of the Hadith’s in Islam all speak of discovering the divine in the faces of ordinary people. This is the invitation of compassion. The religious impulse finding its ultimate fulfillment in service to humanity. We are all connected, and we are in this together. Our ultimate concerns are met in loving service to one another.

“But what if I don’t like my ‘neighbor’?” The Othering/Scapegoating phenomenon arises out of fear of difference and of the unknown. The antidote to Othering is not a forced sameness, but rather recognition of oneness and honoring its manifestation in diversity. 

I am offering us a practice of embracing. Interiorly, and when possible, literally. To embrace what makes us uncomfortable in others and in ourselves. To bring the unknown in close and just be with it. I have found that it is difficult to keep Othering or Scapegoating a person while I am embracing them. And it is difficult to engage in Othering or Scapegoating the parts of myself I find uncomfortable when I embrace them instead of rejecting them. 

Now, I can hear the objections brewing: “What about Hitler and axe murderers? Isn’t Othering/Scapegoating okay in relation to ‘bad’ people like that?” Compassion invites us to embrace all living beings, even people considered “outside the official range of sympathy.” For many religious people that group also includes those of weak faith, apostates, and non-believers.

We embrace the other with compassion and with boundaries. Social Worker and researcher, Brené Brown has said that the most compassionate people in the world are able to be so because they have ironclad boundaries. Compassion and boundaries go together like fronts go with backs. It is also true—axiomatic even—that love changes people. Compassion invites us to trust that and to act accordingly. 

The invitation to embrace the other is not only extended to us in group contexts; it is also an invitation toward personal integration. From beginning to end in Silence, Endo gives us a window into Father Rodrigues interior journey. In one encounter, Rodrigues is confronted with how he is clinging to his illusions and calling it faith. To what illusions am I clinging? What about myself am I Othering? What parts of my own shadow side have I Scapegoated into exile? What we Other/Scapegoat outside of us is a clue to what we are Othering/Scapegoating about ourselves. Some have suggested that the silence referred to in Endo’s title includes Rodrigues’ struggle to silence his own ego.

I used to say, “Jesus is proof that God is more human than most humans are.” Now I say, “Whatever we call our gods are as human or inhuman as we are.” It is not okay to blame a god, religion, ideology, or whatever group we belong to with our instinctive tendency toward Othering/Scapegoating. We are each responsible for how we treat each other, and for how we treat ourselves. 

Compassion is the guiding light on the path away from Othering/Scapegoating and toward the loving embrace of ourselves, each other, and even our enemies. In the practice of embrace, we keep on asking, “What is the next human thing?” And even if it means letting go of gods and religions; egos and illusions; ideologies and the stories we tell in our heads, keep on trying to do the next human thing.

Love One Person

Poetry

TERNS

Don’t think just now of the trudging forward of thought,
but of the wing-drive of unquestioning affirmation.

It’s summer, you never saw such a blue sky,
and here they are, those white birds with quick wings,

sweeping over the waves,
chattering and plunging,

their thin beaks snapping, their hard eyes
happy as little nails.

The years to come—this is a promise—
will grant you ample time

to try the difficult steps in the empire of thought
where you seek for the shining proofs you think you must have.

But nothing you ever understand will be sweeter, or more binding,
than this deepest affinity between your eyes an the world.

The flock thickens
over the roiling, salt brightness. Listen,

maybe such devotion, in which one holds the world
in the clasp of attention, isn’t the perfect prayer,

but it must be close, for the sorrow, whose name is doubt,
is thus subdued, and not through the weaponry of reason,

but of pure submission. Tell me, what else
could beauty be for? And now the tide

is at its very crown,
the white birds sprinkle down,

gathering up the loose silver, rising
as if weightless. It isn’t instruction, or a parable.

It isn’t for any vanity or ambition
except for the one allowed, to stay alive.

It’s only a nimble frolic
over the waves. And you find, for hours,

you cannot even remember the questions
that weigh so in your mind.

— Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

Love One Person

Poetry

OXYGEN
Everything needs it: bone, muscles, and even,
while it calls the earth its home, the soul.
So the merciful, noisy machine

stands in our house working away in its
lung-like voice. I hear it as I kneel
before the fire, stirring with a

stick of iron, letting the logs
lie more loosely. You, in the upstairs room,
are in your usual position, leaning on your

right shoulder which aches
all day. You are breathing
patiently; it is a

beautiful sound. It is
your life, which is so close
to my own that I would not know

where to drop the knife of
separation. And what does this have to do
with love, except

everything? Now the fire rises
and offers a dozen, singing, deep-red
roses of flame. Then it settles

to quietude, or maybe gratitude, as it feeds
as we all do, as we must, upon the invisible gift:
our purest, sweet necessity: the air.

— Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

Love One Person

A Thanksgiving Blessing

One Heart Grace
As we make ready to eat this food
we remember with gratitude
the many people, tools, animals, and plants,
air and water, sky and earth,
turned in the wheel of living and dying,
whose joyful exertion
provide our sustenance this day.
May we with the blessing of this food
join our hearts
to the one heart of the world
in awareness and love,
and may we together with everyone
realize the path of awakening,
and never stop making effort,
for the benefit of others.

by Zoketsu Norman Fischer as shared by Frank Ostaseski in the Metta Institute greeting for Thanksgiving 2020.

Love One Person

The 12 Steps as Myth-Transcending Technology

I can already guess what you may be thinking. “The 12 Steps? Isn’t that for people with problems? You know, like uncontrollable addictions that lead to things like job loss and jail time? What help are the 12 Steps for us ‘regular’ people?”

I was talking about this very question with my brother-in-law a few years back, and he told me, “James, you don’t have an alcohol or drug problem, you have a James problem.” Precisely. And while I am glad they don’t lock people up for too much James-ing, over-identifying with my ego-self has led to suffering for myself and the people around me. I have experienced my share of relationship turmoil over it. And lost at least one job.

Bill W. was introduced Dr. Bob S. in Akron, Ohio in 1935 when Bill W. realized that he could not stay sober himself unless he shared the help he had discovered with another suffering drunk. The relationship that developed between these two alcoholics–one a Wall Street businessman and the other a Midwestern physician–led to the development of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as a spiritual program for recovery.

Influenced by Carl G. Jung, the group dynamics of the Oxford Group, and the pragmatic philosophy of William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience, the following twelve steps have become a practical foundation for recovery helping people address addictions of every kind around substances, behaviors, and relationships.

THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

(Copyright (c) 1952, 1953, 1981 by Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.) All rights reserved.)

With 8 references to “God” (complete with capital “G’s” and “H’s”) it is not surprising that the 12 Steps of AA arise out of the religious tradition of Christianity. It has been said that the 12 Steps are a modern form of the historic Christian practice of purgation (or purification). In contemplative Christianity purgation is the initial phase of the spiritual journey that goes on toward illumination and union with the divine. (Richard Rohr)

However, neither the god-language nor the particular religious soil from which they have sprung need prevent people of other faiths, including nontheists, from practicing the 12 Steps with benefit. Bill W. always insisted that AA was spiritual, but not religious. He said:

It must never be forgotten that the purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous is to sober up alcoholics. There is no religious or spiritual requirement for membership. No demands are made on anyone. An experience is offered which members may accept or reject. That is up to them.

Bill W., Letter to Father Marcus O’Brien, written in 1943, and quoted in The Soul of Sponsorship by Robert Fitzgerald.

And Dr. Bob S.:

The spiritual life is by no means a Christian monopoly… Consider the eight-part program laid down in Buddhism: Right view, right aim, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindedness and right contemplation. The Buddhist philosophy, as exemplified by these eight points, could be literally adopted by AA as a substitute for or in addition to the Twelve Steps. Generosity, universal love and welfare of others rather than considerations of self are basic to Buddhism.

Akron Pamphlet, “Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics Anonymous”, edited by Dr. Bob, 1940.

Again, Bill W.:

In Step Two we decided to describe God as a “Power greater than ourselves.” In Steps Three and Eleven we inserted the words “God as we understood Him.” From Step Seven we deleted the expression “on our knees.” And, as a lead-in sentence to all the steps we wrote these words: “Here are the steps we took which are suggested as a Program of Recovery.” AA’s Twelve Steps were to be suggestions only.

Such were the final concessions to those of little of [sic] no faith; this was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. They had widened our gateway so that all who suffer may pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.”

Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of AgePage 167, 1957.

Why even bother with the 12 Steps? Why not just use an alternative “science-based, self-empowered” recovery program such as SMART Recovery? The simple answer is that while the 12 Steps may not be for everyone, they still help people in a way that works. I am suggesting here that this has less to do with unprovable metaphysics and much more to do with the subjective human experience of responding to and interacting with a natural healing process. In other words, the 12 Steps are a myth-transcending technology* that works.

Throughout human history, people have associated transformation with spirituality. I imagine Alan Watts might say, “You only need transformation if you think you do.” Recognizing the insidious game played by our ego-self, Watts definitely observed, “The you that needs to be improved is the one that is doing the improving.” Einstein put it this way, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” This is why any ego-based program of self-improvement is ultimately unsustainable. A power greater than our ego-selves is needed.

The brilliance of 12 Step spirituality is that the Steps lead people through the roadblock of ego-based self-improvement by adopting a rigorously pragmatic, results-oriented approach. “Is it working?” may, in fact, be the only relevant question.

Based on my own extensive research into the history of AA and 12 Step spirituality as well as my own experience as a participant in a 12 Step group for several years, my proposal here is that the 12 Steps work not because there is a being in the sky pulling strings, but because the process of working the 12 Steps actually helps people learn to function in more adaptive ways. The “power greater than ourselves” is our natural human efforts on the spiritual path of learning to see through our ego-games.

Regardless of one’s background, religion, philosophy, education, or particular combination of addictions, a universal experience of every person is that sooner or later in one way or another, life becomes unmanageable. Whether our own maladaptive behaviors (typified in many of the addictions that bring people into the 12 Step rooms) or the forces of life and nature beyond our control, it does not take much for life to feel unmanageable.

From a purely pragmatic point of view the question arises, “If life is unmanageable, how might it become manageable again?” The 12 Steps are one technology that has helped millions of people answer that question. Without the need for dogma, hierarchy, property, money, or paid professionals, the 12 Steps offer a free spiritual practice available to anyone who wishes to try it.

What if when life becomes unmanageable all the higher power we need to restore us to sanity is the gestalt of our human participation in the process of death and rebirth as patterned in the whole of nature and the universe?

The first 3 Steps set the course: 1) Acknowledgement of a problem and life’s resulting unmanageability (helplessness). 2) Awareness that only a power greater than the ego-self can restore one to sanity (help is available); and 3) A surrender of the ego-self (“my life and will”) to the care of the higher power of our own understanding (surrender = removal of the ego’s roadblocks to help).

Our own understanding is the important thing here. For people comfortable in the tradition of the Abrahamic Faiths, it may seem natural for the Higher Power to be God as defined by those religions. For Hindus the higher power is the Universal Self–Brahman. For Buddhists, it is the no-self of anatman. For atheists it might be the group of fellow addicts, or one’s own understanding itself informed by observation and deduction. One’s higher power could be a sense of Love or Justice or a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies shared with another person.

Far less important than who or what the higher power may be, the critical insight of the 12 Steps is that my ego-self is not it. Acknowledging that my own ego is not-god and surrendering to something–anything–greater than my ego is the key.

The experience of “hitting rock-bottom” initiated with the first 3 steps, orients a person seeking manageability in life toward a greater openness to such practices and postures as rigorous honesty (Steps 4-5); accepting responsibility for one’s own shortcomings (Steps 5-6); openness toward their integration (Steps 6-7); amends-making with others who have been harmed (Steps 8-9); continuing to own our own “stuff” (Step 10); and a spiritual practice of seeking guidance through prayer and meditation (ongoing practices of de-centering from the ego-self) (Step 11). The spiritual awakening that results from practicing these Steps inspires one to integrate the practice into “all our affairs” and to share it with others (Step 12).

Such an experience of transformation at the deepest levels of one’s awareness may aptly be called a “spiritual awakening”. The major religions and philosophies, as they are commonly practiced around the world, either lack or have not widely developed technologies for confronting the ego-self or initiating what Bill W. calls, “ego collapse at depth”. Whether Christian or Atheist, Communist or Capitalist, Hindu or Ethicist, the “all or nothing” ego reinforced by religious or philosophical dogma can be every bit as destructive as alcohol or heroin to a user and the people close to them.

Like the practice of Zen, the 12 Steps invite (and force) self-confrontation with one’s problems and through that, the letting go of the ego illusion on the path to more adaptive perspectives and behaviors. It is the process of an instant and of a lifetime.

We human beings tend to use substances, behaviors, stories, and relationships to manage our feelings and sense of well-being in the chaos of life. The 12 steps invite us to practice using awareness through faith in a power greater than ourselves, fellowship with fellow sufferers, and service to others as a helpful way of engaging with life’s unmanageability.

Regardless of whether an actual benevolent power external to the human brain exists, the very process of letting go the ego illusion undertaken with the 12 Steps is, without more, a powerful path toward freedom, integration and restored sanity. The Serenity Prayer is a handy power tool within the 12 Step toolbox that is often collectively voiced at 12 Step meetings:

May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

From a Spiritual Naturalist perspective, considering the 12 Steps as a myth-transcending technology for managing life the relevant question is not, “Is it true?” but rather, “Does it work?” The answer of many people in recovery has been, “It works if you work it, and you’re worth it!”

Love One Person

(*”Myth-transcending technology” is my phrase informed and crystalized by some comments by Michael Gungor, co-host of The Liturgists Podcast in this episode.)

(For more on the 12 Steps in relation to the world’s great spiritual traditions, see: “The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning” by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum. For more on the 12 Steps from a nontheist perspective, check out: “One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps” by Kevin Griffin. Also, the online community, “AA Agnostica” exists to support nontheist alcoholics in their recovery with AA and the 12 Steps. They have an extensive collection of Relevant Quotes for Secular AA.)

At Last (A Parable)

At Last by Phil Harrison

The other day I had a dream. I dreamt I arrived at the gates of heaven, heavyshut, pure oak, bevelled and crafted, glinting sharp in the sunlight. St Peter stood to greet me; the big man wore brown, smile set deep against his ruddy cheeks.

“You’re here,” he said.

“I am,” I said.

“Great to see you – been expecting you,” he smiled. “Come on in.”

He pushed gently against the huge door; it swung silently, creakless. I took a couple of steps forward until, at the threshold, one more step up and in, I realised I wasn’t alone. My friends had joined me, but they hovered behind, silently, looking on. None spoke. I realized only I could speak. I looked at them; some were Christians, some Hindus, some Buddhists, some Muslims, some Jews, some atheists. Some god knows what. I stopped, paused. A hesitant St Peter looked at me, patiently, expectantly.

“What about these guys?” I asked him. “My friends. Can they come?”

“Well, Phil,” he replied, soft in the still air, “You know the rules. I’m sorry, but that’s the way things are. Only the right ones.”

I looked at him. He seemed genuinely pained by his answer. I stood, considering. What should I do? I thought about my reference points, and thought about Jesus, the bastard, the outsider, the unacceptable, the drunkard, the fool, the heretic, the criminal, and I knew exactly where I belonged.

“I’ll just stay here then too,” I said, taking my one foot out of heaven. And I’ll tell you, I’d swear I saw something like a grin break across St Peter’s face, and a voice from inside whispered, “At last.”

Love One Person

Spirituality

Putting this here so, I can find it easily…

“Spirituality is conceptualized as the gestalt of the total process of human life and development, the central dynamic of which is the person’s search for a sense of meaning and purpose through relationships with other people, the non human environment, and the ultimate reality (variously conceived in ‘theistic’, ‘atheistic’, or ‘spiritist’ terms).

Dr. Edward R. Canda, Professor. Coordinator of KU Spiritual Diversity and Social Work Initiative. University of Kansas, Lawrence KS.

Love One Person

Poetry

Would it be okay to die today?
It is a day like any other
Someone’s birthday, anniversary, or holy day
I don’t see why not

Sun has risen and will set
Wind blows
Trees stand tall and reach
Leaves fall and rot and decay

Body weakens
Muscles spasm while others go limp
Thoughts are fuzzy
Blood moves slower

I don’t want to leave
Ones I love and who love me
The work I do
People I do it with and for

To see more of life
To help others
To grow along new pathways
All reasons to go on

Life itself will go on
The ones I leave behind will figure out
How to pay bills and to fix things
And to keep on living

The Universe has been me-ing for 45 years
What will happen when this part of me stops?
I don’t know
It will be okay, I trust

I won’t really be gone
I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done
Loving and being loved
Knowing who I Am or not

I think it would be okay
To die today
And until then
To live

Love One Person