Thursday, January 17, 2013

Beyond the shadow of death

Our dog has been slowly going blind, but this morning it seemed clear he had passed over the threshold from "going" into "blind."  I stood by the front door waiting with his leash, but I hadn't turned on the hall light, and he refused to cross the line where the kitchen light ended and the hall shadow began.

In the end, I had to physically drag him to the door because he saw that shadow as a wall -- much as, in this image, there appears to be a dark wall between the camera and the ferry, even though what exists, in fact, is a ramp ready for boarding.

This morning I heard from a friend that her cancer is not responding to treatment and her physician has recommended she move into hospice care.  And I find myself thinking -- even hoping -- that the wall we imagine to exist between life and death may also be only a shadow; that we, blinded by our own perceptions of what life is, may be incapable of seeing that wall as a ramp, a dark passage into light, and may, like my dog, have to be dragged across and through the shadow of resistance to discover that all the relief we seek awaits us on the other side...

Here's a related quote I found in Mark Nepo's Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: "Until I had cancer, until I found myself close to death, I had thought of life and death as two different continents, one leading to the other.  But almost dying thrust me below these distinctions, below the map of names.  And in that tide of pure, unnameable experience, life and death pooled together; indistinguishable, one informing the other."

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