During the last few days, a dear friend’s daughter gave birth to a little girl and another friend’s 97-year-old mother went to sleep and didn’t wake for three days and three nights. Celebrating birth, I received texts and phone calls and adorable newborn baby photos. Contemplating imminent death, my friend, sitting sleepless at her sleeping mother’s bedside, and I texted about letting go. In a 21st century conversation, with words pared down to the minimum and no disturbance to her somnolent mom, we shared fear and love.
In the last few months, I have found much solace in meditations by The Art of Meditation teacher—Burgs. He explains that in the Buddhist tradition, this human incarnation is a rare and precious event, not easily achieved, not to be taken for granted. Certainly not to be wasted. He ponders why we have arrived here now. How long our souls may have waited and longed for this opportunity to be blessed with the extraordinary good fortune of our human birth.
As I listen to him, I imagine a celestial gathering of souls lining up and waiting with saint-like patience for their turn to enter a human body. Like waiting in line to get into the Beetles’ concert at Shea Stadium in 1965? A once in a lifetime opportunity. No, that’s not right …. And not nearly serious enough. A soul achieving this highest of births is an exceptional spiritual happening. A privilege and an opportunity. How do we forget this?
Buddhist or not … I am gifted, reminded by the darling little being who’s just dared to enter the world and by the 97-year-old, who, like Sleeping Beauty, has waked from her three-day sleep. (She’s still here, still wants to participate in her extraordinary life). Both brave beings inspire me to ask what I am doing with my one precious life. Am I treasuring this brief time? Am I choosing Life and Love so that my soul extends and expands to its greatest potential? And if not, hadn’t I best get started?