Trust in mystery. Trust in love.

Posted by in letters to the boys

Over the past few days I really relied on my friends and family near and far.  I didn’t talk to many people in person or over the phone because for some reason I felt like I need to hold my grief close.  But I reached out through my blog and facebook and your response was overwhelming.  Every few minutes, it seemed, someone was thinking of us, sending us love, holding us in the light and sharing memories.   You can read much of what people wrote here.

I had wanted Ayrie’s birthday to be special.  Many of you know that when Ayrie died he told me after his passing that he would be back.  And I promised over and over to be open so that I would be able to know when he was back.  The last 4.5 months have been an incredible and life altering journey as I open up and learn about the world through Ayrie’s eyes and under his guidance.   I get frustrated that I can’t communicate with him better, can’t ‘hear’ his messages more clearly, but between his visits as a purple light, the images he gives me when I ask him questions, the people he has spoken to me through, the dreams he has entered… I guess I’m doing alright for such a novice.

But even so, I wanted to do more.  I kept thinking about this passage in John Burnside’s ‘Traveling into the Quotidian’.

Let us précis. For now, I am using the term the quotidian to mean the actual unfolding of the world around us, the ‘out-there’ of it, the kingdom-at-hand. Set against that is the banal. The banal is what we make of the quotidian when imagination fails: a condition that can arise from fatigue, dislocation, need, or simply as the result of ‘socialisation’. The quotidian is the lyric poet’s grail: the otherworld so carefully folded within the taken-for-granted as to be almost invisible. One glimpse of that otherworld can be the making of a lyric poem – and, by extension, another step towards pleroma. In the Midwest, it seems to me, the celui-là is very thin. The earth is open to the sky, the land is wide and self-similar for hundreds of miles and there are moments when the world seems empty, or as the American poet Allison Funk puts it, in the final section of her third book, The Knot Garden:

Nothing. Nothing again.

Its dominion.

I wanted, on Ayrie’s birthday, to make the barrier between this earthly world and the otherworld as thin as possible. I wanted him to see how hard I was trying.  I wanted to hear the lessons he has to share with me.  I wanted to better know him as the eternal Ayrie that I am beginning to know.   I just wanted to feel close to him.

So I was hoping my day would unfold like this.  I would take Shiya to school and then go out for breakfast to read and write over a leisurely cup of coffee and a meal.  I would go back to Shiya’s school to watch movies with Ayrie’s class, movies that Ayrie was in.  I would then talk with MO, who can talk to Ayrie and perhaps other spirits that might want to talk with me.  I was then going to do a 45 minute float in a sensory deprivation tank, come home clean the house, and have a few people over for a shamanic drumming circle.  I feel close to Ayrie when I am with his friends, when I am writing openly and honestly, and when I am able to focus on him and my breathing.

Well, every breakfast place I tried to go to was closed.  I ended up getting a fruit smoothie to drink in the car.  No writing.  Next I went to the school and it was great to see him on video (his zest, his smile, his love of learning) but so many of the kids in his class have moved on that it didn’t feel the same.  The phone conversation with MO didn’t work out because in my grief over the previous days I had forgotten to confirm.  And finally, when I went to the flotation tank at 1:30pm and they told me that I wasn’t going to be able to have the session that day I just sat in my car and sobbed.  I had planned this peaceful spiritual day only to find myself driving from one place to another with opportunities to connect with Ayrie.

Crying.  Despairing.  Don’t know what to do.  Called my very special friend JK who had just called a few minutes earlier, as though she know I was about to fall apart.  Called IB and got a recommendation for where to go outside.

Deep breath.

I wanted to drive my car to the mall.  Maybe making myself feel better by buying something.  Jewelry?  Food that’s not good for me?  But I made myself turn my car towards the MN Valley Wildlife Refuge.

When I got there was a barrier in from of the path that said ‘closed for winter’ or something like that.  Are you serious?!  I can’t even go out into nature without it falling apart?  What is the lesson here? I wondered.  Surely these can’t all be coincidences?  I must be doing something wrong.  I am not honoring Ayrie in the right way.

I found a way to enter the woods through a foot path and not even 20 feet into the trees I found a small soft birds nest near my feet.  And next to the birds nest was a ball of 4 nettles stuck together.  I picked up the nest and felt its soft weightlessness in my hands.  What a perfect metaphor for the new life that I am cultivating.  And the nettles? Perfect as well.  The number 4 is significant because I feel strongly that someone significant has/will enter my and Shiya’s life soon.  I used to see things in three and Shiya would point to things and say “that one for you, for me, and for ayrie.”  The nettle was important because they were stuck together with all of these tiny little prickly arms that break when you try to pull them apart.  It reminded me of love.  When you love someone deeply, be it a relative, child, spouse or friend, you are connected in so many ways that you can’t even begin to count or name them.  And you are stuck to that person, for better or worse, even though love never comes without some pain.  Each of the little pointy arms on that nettle made me think of the way innumerable memories, words, feelings, touches, smells and gestures bind us so closely to our loved ones.

I had a feeling that there was more that I was supposed to find in those woods so I tucked the nest into the crook of a tree and walked on.  It was a warm day and we’ve had more than 60 inches of snow in Minnesota so sometimes I was able to walk on top of the snow and at other times my feet fell through.  Most of the tracks around me were prints from snow shoes.

There was a small wall overlooking the river valley and I sat and meditated on that wall.  Opening up, feeling the wind, listening to the birds.  When I looked down after opening my eyes there was a small red heart in the snow.  It seemed like it might have been a sticker that fell off of someone’s shirt a few days earlier on valentine’s day.  It was still a little bit sticky so I put it on my cheek.

I decided to make my way home and was feeling much more relaxed.  Things were okay.   I followed the trail back the to the tree that was holding my nest and at the base of the tree noticed a golf ball peeking out of the snow.  Curious, I wondered.  Is there any significance to this golf ball?  I picked it up and rolled it between my fingers, studying the textures and colors before placing back where I found it.

I drove home and thought about what a renewing place nature is for me.  I need to have more of it my life.  I think I would more regularly find those thin places to between this earthly world and the otherworld.

After a nap I took a quick shower and Emily and Ian helped me set out candles, flowers and food for a small ceremony.  I had invited over a small group of people who have been intimate supporters of us in Ayrie’s life and death.  I also invited Jaime Meyer to facilitate part of the night.  Jamie is an urban shaman (his term) and he is able to work with spirits to lead the right ceremony for a person at a given time.  If you want to learn more about Jaime, he has a book on called Drumming the Soul Awake.  One of Jaime’s reviewers wrote “Meyer is intelligent, educated, well-read, and socially conscious, and this is his story of how he developed a life as a shamanic practitioner without the mumbo jumbo and exotic adventures that many authors imply are necessary to discover, learn, and practice shamanism.”

Jaime showed up at 6pm and unloaded a car full of drums.  He walked over to a photo that I have out of Ayrie and told me that that’s exactly what Ayrie looked like when Ayrie had come to visit him earlier in the week.  Wow, I thought.  What would that be like to be able to connect with people in the other world like that?

People came in and mingled, ate food, relaxed and I told Jaime to get started whenever he felt the time was right.  When people didn’t seem to be eating anymore he pulled the chairs and couches into a circle and helped all find a drum.  We found our places and he started us off with a simple straightforward rhythm, telling us to improvise if it felt right.  He prefaced that he liked to start this way because it clears the energy in the room.

We drummed and then it faded away.  Jaime began to talk about his messages from Ayrie.  He told us about all the layers there are in the world and how few of them we can see with our five senses.  Just a few hundred years ago there were layers that we couldn’t see then that we can see now, like microbes.  Ayrie lives in one of these other layers now and can see us even though we can’t see him.  Ayrie had two wishes for us.  That we trust in the mystery and unknowable of these other layers and that we trust love.  Trust Mystery.  Trust Love.  That every single time we choose a small act of love over fear or hatred, and that every time  we choose to trust the mystery over skepticism, we are  honoring him.  It’s that simple.  He wants us all to trust and love more.

After Jamie shared that with us we drummed again and this time he told us that we should hold a thought in our heads while we drummed.  It might be a prayer for Ayrie, for someone we loved, or maybe for people we don’t know.  So while we drummed I said this in my head over and over again:

May I Trust in mystery

May I Trust in love

May Shiya Trust in mystery

May Shiya Trust in love

May xxx Trust in mystery

May xxx Trust in love

Thank you Ayrie for being my teacher

Thank you Ayrie for being my guide

Thank you Ayrie for being my teacher

Thank you Ayrie for being my guide

I said these words over and over in my head while I we drummed. Jaime brought a hawk feather because I told him how many times people had bird or hawk associations with Ayrie.  As we drummed (I had my eyes closed) he walked around the circle chanting and waving the hawk feather around us.  Sometimes it felt like the hawk feather was making wind, but there were moments when it felt like the wind was mixed with spirit.  He came over and touched me while he was chanting, on my head, face and shoulders.  I thought of it as a touch from Ayrie.

When the ceremony came to an end he opened up the space for people to share thoughts.  Some people talked about Ayrie, others about me, and others were silent.  I talked on and on about love and trust, I think.  I talked about how Ayrie isn’t young anymore.  How he’s ageless.  How he’s an older soul than me.

Slowly and quietly the night came to an end.  I was able to walk Jaime out to his car and share a nice moment with him.  Thankful that he was able to bring so much of himself and Ayrie to such a special day.

I asked Shiya what the night was like for him and he said:

We closed our eyes

It was windy

He patted my head

When everyone left I had a message from MO, the person who can talk to Ayrie who I wasn’t able to meet with earlier that day.  She said:

…I’m feeling your courage in deeply experiencing your grief over the last few days, because the time is right, and you’re being true to what’s emerging for you. There is no missed opportunity…your connection [to Ayrie] is happening anyway. And when again, the time is right, you will experience that connection more fully.  He says that he has friends that will help him to be there [on his birthday]. He says, “Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan!”…

I can’t tell you how full of life Ayrie is right now, and so loving you! Whirling dervish kind of energy! And he says that if you hold that stuffed animal, he’ll be right there….

He is cuddled (his word) by your love, and says “you won’t believe how long we’ll be together later”…..

Ayrie did have a plan.  My intuition (or Ayrie) brought me to Jaime.  My intuition (or Ayrie…are they different?) encouraged me to contact him even though I didn’t know him or his work.  I didn’t need to try hard all day to find Ayrie.  Ayrie made sure that he would be there for me on his birthday, on a day that I needed him so much.  And through Jaime I was able to learn exactly what to do to honor Ayrie.  Trust in mystery.  Trust in love.

And so I will.  I feel uplifted today.  I learned a lot over the last few days and as with all important learning it hurt terribly.  But I had to go through the pain to get to the insight.  Thanks for your persistence, Ayrie.  I’m glad you can feel my ‘cuddles’.  Shiya and I love each other and love you just as fiercely as ever.