Life and Death

IMG_8191Last Wednesday, I left to Sidemen, where for a few days (and except for my cellphone), I disconnected from the rest of the world. I had no internet access – not only because it’s rare to find a wi-fi connection in the village, but also because I’d gone there for the express purpose of attending a significant multi-day, post-cremation ceremony and was kept busy for most my stay. I intended to blog about it on my return, seeing that it was so unlike anything else I’ve experienced here thus far – and because, even in death, the Balinese mark these occasions with joy, humor, dance, music and feasting.

A couple of evenings ago, upon my return to Ubud, I only had enough time to check through the slew of emails that piled up in my sort-of absence. And yesterday morning, I was headed back to Tabanan, site of the retreat center where I’ve come yet again to try and salvage the labyrinth.

Late last night, even though I was tired from uploading pictures from the Sidemen ceremony, I decided to do a quick skim through Facebook; friends and family excited about upcoming holidays and travels were interspersed with references to Newtown. What was that – a new Facebook game? Then: References to NRA, Columbine, Adam Lanza…IMG_5570My heart sank.

On Friday, I spent the day in a joyous and festive atmosphere, while this horror was going on on the other side of the world.

I was weeding and cutting and spreading fertilizer on the labyrinth early this morning under an unusually overcast sky when I got choked up and started to cry: I don’t have children myself, but I have four niblings (nieces & nephews) that come close – even if they live half a world away. One of them turned 7 last month.

It was unthinkable to me that, I might not hear her excitable voice on the other end of the line again, not see her latest hairdo or watch her do a series of cartwheels over Skype, not hear any more of her stories about swimming, gymnastics, birthday parties, the latest tooth to fall out or being chosen for a lead part in school. Unthinkable that her future might never unfold.

And so, today I walked the labyrinth and prayed for the souls and families of those kids (the adults too).

And I share just these images because even in death, we must choose life.

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