Tonight, on Halloween, we will be in our old Victorian house by the graveyard, luring little children with candy so we can put them to work doing Winning Writers tech support. Maybe we’ll even watch “Rocky Horror” on Netflix, because we’re too Brad-and-Janet to go to the theater with all those icky people throwing toast.
Humor, masquerade, song — these things help us face death and even celebrate it (with fingers crossed). All Hallows’ Eve, and tomorrow’s All Saints’ Day, are times when we can throw off the stifling solemnity of grief, but opt for something a little darker and truer than sentimental consolation.
In memory of our friend, Roc Ahrensdorf, who died of cancer this summer at age 57, I’d like to share these reflections from Kahlil Gibran.
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Roc working on our house, April 2008