Friday, June 18, 2010

Honoring the Dead for the Things We Hold Together

When someone that you have known a bit, resonated with, and loved dies there is an opportunity, no, an imperative to carry on the goodness you have seen in this person. When my dear Grandmother died, it showed up in my awareness as a natural way I could move through a feeling of loss to a feeling of doing and empowerment. I knew I had to make the space to allow Nana’s goodness to shine through me in whatever way it could. It was her excellent listening, undivided attention, complete acceptance, and enthusiasm for whatever was coming next that I recognized as a divine gift of helpful goodness existing in this world. So I have endeavored to take on those enthusiastic listening skills and offer them to the people in my life.

There can also be disappointment and anger showing up around somebody’s death. Like we might want to pick apart something about something they had done in their life, or we might not approve of how they ended it, if it is perceived as careless or intentional. But, I think that we need to discern this aspect of death, and to consciously put it in the right place. Because what is really important, as seen through my eyes right now, is taking steps to ensure that the goodness in this person does not die.

People bring gifts to the world. I’m seeing this more clearly today than ever before. And the circumstances that allow for the correct birth of these divinely good gifts are (or can be) extraordinarily difficult. Life is not easy. So as we can acknowledge this inherent difficulty in the process of life, might we also acknowledge the necessity of forgiveness in favor of offering our thoughts and actions towards preserving and energizing the goodness in the world? Because it is here, and requires our acknowledgement and energy in order to flourish.

The goodness I’m talking about is born through the individuals we know in our lives. Real people. And while this goodness is born through us and through the people we are blessed to know, it is something that we all hold together. And when we honor, acknowledge and take on these aspects of goodness as our own, we make the world a better place. This goodness exists across people and across time, so when someone dies their goodness might still live on through the people who knew that person.

I’d like to acknowledge the goodness that I witnessed in Katy Maguire, who’s life here ended on Friday, June 11, 2010.

My first strong and personal memory of Katy happened on the balcony at the old yogaview on Clybourn Ave. I was just hanging out after yoga and she came out, too. I told her about how much I was enjoying the flowers. And she told me that she had planted them. I shared about how much I was enjoying all the purple flowers with vibrant green foliage. What was amazing about the planting out there, to me, was that there were different varieties of flowers out there in many pots and planters, but they were all purple with vibrantly green foliage. I had hit the jackpot of beauty! I love purple and green! Then she showed me the herbs she had also planted, and pinched off a few leaves for me to smell. There was one I particularly responded to. “This smells so good,” I said. Suddenly she handed me a big hunk of this herb to take home with me. It seemed almost too generous. I enjoyed enjoying it, but I didn’t know that I needed to take it with me. But I did enjoy it later, as I smelled it and enjoyed the memory of that pleasant interchange. It’s kind of like this moment now, as if I’m enjoying the lingering scent of this memory…

Katy brought joy wherever she was with her laughter. It always made me feel good when I heard her laughter in yoga class. And like my grandmother, she was a beautiful listener. She also had an incredible gift of stopping what she was doing to help and support other people.

This week, in honor of Katy Maguire, I’ve been reading this poem to classes:

Laughing Song

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When *Katy and Lisa and (insert your name here)*
With their sweet round mouths sing 'Ha, ha he!'

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of 'Ha, ha, he!'

~ William Blake

* I found the poem at, and I changed the names in the poem to honor one of the many blessings of divine and magical goodness I saw in Katy and her friendships *

* Katy's last profile pic on Facebook. *


Unknown said...

what a lovely memory

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful way to remember your friend. I hope she's found the peace she was looking for. I hope you have found some peace, too.

YogaforCynics said...

Beautiful post.
Today being father's day, the dead are very present in my thoughts...