Sunday, November 15, 2015

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

by Stephie Goldfish, aka Stephie Bigheart

I often have these visions of my last days.

My last therapist or someone angelic and strong like her would be there through it all with me until my last breath. I often think about what it would take for someone to do this, be there through to the end, and a lot of my preconceived ideas seem a little selfish and delusional.

On my way to help my mother who is very ill and needs someone now to help her and be with her around the clock, I heard the words that Jesus spoke to his followers and apostles who had left their families and work to follow him:

Let the dead bury the dead.

It was odd, and it would seem an odd thing to say if your loved one was dying or near death.

I knew it couldn't mean that Jesus was uncaring or unkind.

Jesus also said, Come with me, I have living waters. And in truth, both statements he spoke are in a spiritual sense, to the spiritual dead and spiritual living.

But I think only someone familiar with suffering and sickness would understand about death and someone dying. 

Like the women who were there at Jesus' death, they knew suffering and dying. Yet, they had also been the givers of life to their children. They would be very aware that life is sacred and precious, having born children into the world.

And they would know that being there at someone's death is not much different.

While at the hospital, with our mom, a social worker was there to help figure out how best to help our mom, if and when she is able to go home. My sister and I mentioned to her that our mom has missed being around her grandchildren and seeing them grow up. And we said we wished they would visit her more often. The social worker mentioned that while she was caring for her mother she did not have her two nephews help in any way, and she wouldn't recommend having mom's grandchildren care for her. I think she misunderstood, we didn't say that they should be her sole caretakers. But maybe come visit their grandmother once or twice a year.

But I see her point. 

I know that I am dying, yet, still living. I have been near death's door many times. I have witnessed so much tragedy.

It seems my sister and I have seen so much death while we were younger. We weren't as protected. Our first funeral was at the formative years of two or three years of age. I think by the time we were five years old we had been to at least three or four funerals: Our uncle Benny (our aunt Dorothy's husband), our step-father's father, and our uncle Harold. Our two-year-old nephew died in the year we were in 6th grade. And our uncle's wife, Lina, died while we were in 7th grade, and so on.

So it seems we have only known death. We weren't around very many births, except when our first niece was born.

As it takes a strong person to assist in birthing one to life, it will take a strong person to assist the dying.

It takes one who knows life to assist the living.

It takes one who knows death to assist the dying.

It takes love, either way, but in a different capacity.

It takes strong hearts to assist the weak. It takes knowing their strengths, and your own.

It takes someone who wants to be there, and knows the way to where you're going.

Those who know the way will guide the dying, because they know they are not too far from behind death themselves.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Self-Observation Is The Wise Way To Salvation

Association with human beings lures one into self-observation.
—Franz Kafka

written by Stephie Goldfish, aka Stephie Bigheart

A few nights ago, I dreamt I was heading down a road, and up ahead was what looked like an object in the middle of the road. As I got closer, I realized it was a turtle, but it was flipped over on its back, just lying there, determined to get back to an upright position. And it was as if everyone on the road had stopped just to marvel at this turtle on its backside.

I live near a small pond, where turtles are thriving. I go out to visit them, and they hold their heads up out of the water, for a little while, getting air, until they take a last breath and plop down into the water, swim off, and, in their trail, leave a quiet ripple out through the pond.

But, I woke from that dream and wondered what it all meant.

My writing has been likened to Kafka, and, right away, I related this dream to the short story Kafka wrote, Metamorphosis, where, in the dream, the main character turns into a giant bug in his apartment, and the bug ends up, at one point in the story, on its back.

It has been written that much of Kafka’s writing pictures his life in the social world. He had a complicated and troubled relationship with his father that had a major effect on his writing. Kafka also suffered with his identity, feeling that his Jewish-ness had little to do with him, although critics argue that it influenced his writing.

Most of Kafka’s works are filled with themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent-child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.

And, so, I also sense these qualities about my writing world and the way I see myself in the real world.

I notice these qualities about me in the "social media world", but especially so when presented in a live setting among a group of individuals, which happened not too far back, at The New Moon Fire Circle retreat I attended, held by Pixie Lighthorse, at her SouLodge Ranch, in Central Oregon.

While there, at some points of the retreat, I felt like that over-turned turtle in my dream, or the over-sized bug Franz Kafka wrote about, feeling completely out of place, not being able to relax, and being anxious most of the time.

I know that what I feel inside has prevented me from realizing my true wise self.

People often tell me that my presence in the writing world is very big and real, but when those who read my works and writing actually meet me in the physical, they’re taken aback, because my physical world doesn’t seem to match up to my writing world.

At the SouLodge retreat, we did a journey meditation, and a yellow butterfly took me out to a field on the plains where I met with White Buffalo among the herd. And Eagle flew over, saying, "Up, fly with me!" 

The buffalo herd began running, and I jumped on one of the buffalo, and I flew up with Eagle.

Eagle said, "Honor your journey, where your heart has been, where your feet have walked. See, how far you have come?" 

"What do you want me to honor?" I asked. 

"Your wisdom," Eagle said, "Walk in your wisdom — your wisdom needs to match your walk. Bring them back in sync."

So, I’ve been thinking that these Kafkaesque situations I often find myself in, even in my dreams, have been showing up in order for me to learn the valuable wisdom of self-observation, in a way that brings me more healing.

One of the precious gifts I received at The New Moon Fire Circle, was her first book, Prayers of Honoring, written by Pixie Lighthorse. 

I love every prayer Pixie offers, because she speaks from her heart, her true wise, yet, humble self.

And in one of her prayers called, Honoring Wisdom, Pixie prays:

"Please help us to hold ourselves in high integrity so that we can shed all that keeps us from experiencing intimacy with you, and our loved ones. We know that it is through deep compassion, respect and love that we become wise. We understand that it is love, not knowledge, which begets intelligence. Help us to grasp that we must love ourselves before we can truly love others, and the world."

And, when it came time for the honoring ceremony circle at SouLodge, I made a declaration to honor my wisdom, knowing that I have to bring my wise self into sync and harmony with my true physical authentic presence, full of love, and humbleness.