“Death: Sacred, Necessary, Real” by Rev. Michael Dowd

freethnkr1965:

I have never reblogged a post much less reblogged a reblogged post but this article by Michael Dowd that was originally published on The Huffington Post says so eloquently what I have been stumbling through in my mind and some of these pages that I am making an exception. It’s just beautiful.

Originally posted on Humanistic Paganism:

This article is reblogged from The Huffington Post.

Everything we value is possible only because of death. The ancients couldn’t have known this truth revealed by science. We can no longer afford to remain ignorant of it; the cost is too high. Death is no less sacred than life.

Most people, whether religious or not, are tragically unaware of what has been revealed about death in the past few hundred years, through evidence. This ignorance now fosters untold suffering — for families and for society, as well as for individuals.

I am regularly asked (especially since I was diagnosed with cancer three years ago), “Do you believe in an afterlife? What do you think happens to us when we die?” My typical response is to make one or more of the following points…

2012-05-24-MDgratitude2.jpg1. As I discuss in “The Gifts of Death” section in my 2009 book

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Orcas Island, Washington

We arrived early at the ferry only to find one ship was out of service.  In all, it took us 9 hours to travel 150 miles to Orcas Island.
We arrived early at the ferry only to find one ship was out of service. In all, it took us 9 hours to travel 150 miles to Orcas Island.
While we were waiting for a ferry we watched a gorgeous sunset.
While we were waiting for a ferry we watched a gorgeous sunset.
Yep, still waiting.
Yep, still waiting.
We finally made it to the island and our hotel.  We awoke to beautiful fog-draped scenery like this.
We finally made it to the island and our hotel. We awoke to beautiful fog-draped scenery like this.
And this.
And this.
On our search for whales we encountered seal lions and Canadians.
On our search for whales we encountered sea lions and Canadians.
Cormorants all in a row.
Cormorants all in a row.
Harbor seals sunning.
Harbor seals sunning.
Canadian geese.
Canadian geese.
And big ships.
And big ships.
We saw a neat little house perched on the shore.  It looked lonely and perfect.
We saw a neat little house perched on the shore. It looked lonely and perfect.
This lighthouse still runs although it's totally automated now.  No lighthouse keeper.  I find that kind of sad.
This lighthouse still runs although it’s totally automated now. No lighthouse keeper. I find that kind of sad.
It looks like a lovely place to live and be rugged.
It looks like a lovely place to live and be rugged.
We did eventually find whales, Orcas, and spent about two hours following and watching them.  I finally stopped trying to get a photograph and just enjoyed being there.
We did eventually find whales, Orcas, and spent about two hours following and watching them. I finally stopped trying to get a photograph and just enjoyed being there.
Then we started back and began saying goodbye to the magical San Juan Islands.
Then we started back and began saying goodbye to the magical San Juan Islands.
On the way back to shore I got lost in the beauty of our wake.
On the way back to shore I got lost in the beauty of our wake.
The ferry back to the mainland was late as well, but the sunset was right on time.  Somehow it pulled the magic down into the sea and tucked it safely away.  Island magic is strong, you can't carry it with you back into the real world.
The ferry back to the mainland was late as well, but the sunset was right on time. Somehow it pulled the magic down into the sea and tucked it safely away. Island magic is strong, you can’t carry it with you back into the real world.

Fried Biscuits

Sometimes I fry biscuits just because my mom used to sometimes fry biscuits.  This takes patience and courage.  Patience because too high a temp will leave you with a charcoal crust.  Courage because you’ve got to use a lid and the condensation you will see dripping will engender horrible thoughts of soggy bread.  But don’t despair, if you persevere you will have little nuggets of golden deliciousness.

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Idle Hands

IMG_0754My friend says my quilting always seems to precede large life changes.  Maybe it’s my way of processing things I know are coming but am unready to face.  I don’t know, she’s much wiser than me.

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Lately though, I feel as if idle hands are a sin.  Recently while puttering in the garden I had the thought that I should occupy my hands as much as possible with work that adds to my household.

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Since then I’ve kept a stash of scrap material, scissors, needle, and thread in a drawer in the end table next to the love seat where I sit to watch television.  This quilt is paper-pieced in the English tradition.  It’s very easy but very time consuming.

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Each little hexagon is a small piece of fabric folded over a paper template and basted in place.

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Then each of the hexagons are whip stitched together.

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It’s a lot of small steps but not complicated.

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I don’t know what the future holds for me or what it is that I am working through but at least I know that I will have a quilt (something beautiful?) at the end.

You Never Know Until You Try

At roughly $95 an ounce you would think you could get rich growing Saffron.  Probably not gonna happen.  Saffron is the stigma from the flower of the Saffron Crocus.  Each flower produces only three of the tiny filaments and each one has to be harvested by hand.  It takes about an acre and several hundred thousand plants to produce one pound of spice.  That’s only $1500 an acre.  It’s not a winning agricultural strategy.

But we’re going to try growing our own anyway.

We ordered bulbs from the Dutch Grown catalog and they arrived a few days ago.  The instructions said to plant them as soon as they arrived.  Well, we couldn’t really decide on a spot in our tiny yard.  They need rich soil that is well drained.  Rich soil we got. Well drained? Well, that’s a rare commodity in the Pacific Northwest.  What we did have was some lumber from some crappy shelves my husband had removed from the utility room recently.

IMG_0697Rip, screw, and fill with compost and potting soil and voila – Saffron Crocus bed.

IMG_0699The bulbs go in two four inches deep, four inches apart.  Easy peasy tucked away to grow or not as they see fit.  Worse comes to worst I will at least have another bed to utilize in the spring.

IMG_0707This little guy approves.

IMG_0711Just another shot cause he’s so cute.

Realization

I had two job interviews yesterday, both for the same position I hold now but at different sites.  They both went well, the second maybe not quite as well as the first. I finished the day feeling like I was trying to trade my current hair-shirt for one in a brighter color. There is no joy in inauthentic living, only differing shades of discomfort.

Serendipity

This is the Himalayan Blackberry, or as I like to call it, the Kudzu of the Northwest.  Several years ago this non-native bramble found its way into Washington state and now covers practically every non-mown square inch of land.  We looked at a house here where the backyard was seriously, no lie, so packed with these things that you couldn’t go in.IMG_0484

This is my husband picking said blackberries while we were out riding bikes on the edge of town.  I think he’s so hot when he’s out foraging food.  Hahaha, he will kill me when he sees I’ve posted that he was “foraging food.”IMG_0487

This is the juice of those berries coupled with some sugar (ok, a lot of sugar), and some pectin.IMG_0490

I didn’t feel like digging out my water-bath canner so this is the pot with a folded tea towel in the bottom that I used to can the delicious black jellied bounty.  One of the greatest and most discouraging myths about canning your own food, especially high acid food like jellies, jams, and pickles is that it is difficult to do and requires large amounts of equipment.  It doesn’t.  If more people would learn that this is not true the world would be a better place I believe.  It’s tough to be mad at the world when you’re licking sweet blackberry juice off a spoon.  I mean really.IMG_0492

And this, this is wondrousness in a jar.  Gift of mother earth and some thoughtless horticulturalist.  Life is beautiful and sweet if you just take the time to pick the free berries.IMG_0497