Friday, October 22, 2010

Breath of the Woman at the Well

There is a story in the bible of a woman who comes to Jacob's well every day. She is a water-bearer, and carries her heavy load back to others. Day after day she makes this back-breaking, yet very necessary journey.

One evening, when she arrives around six o'clock, there is a Jew, Jesus, waiting for her, a woman of Samaria. 

Two souls from two different worlds, meeting at a well she admits herself, is Deep.

He asks her for water, and she questions his lack of prejudice toward her. Jesus tells her: If you really knew who I am, you would ask ME for living water, rather than me asking you, and once you drank it you would never thirst again.

Jesus had peaked her curiosity and she felt a new kind of thirst, like never before. She recognized for the first time, that she was tired of carrying the heavy load on her shoulders, back from the well every day. The idea of not only having her thirst quenched for good, but her daily load removed from her frame was intoxicating, as Christ told her: "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life" (John 4:14)

In my work, often when I am faced with some burden that feels beyond my own strength as a healer, I readily use the imagery of this woman's story with my breath, on behalf of my client.

With Rex's recent hospital stay this past June, I found myself relying on it yet again. I had arrived one evening to find him struggling to breathe, following the monumental journey from the bathroom to his bed. By the time we got him into bed, I could feel and see the distress and discomfort in his countenance.

Many years before, when I was in pain myself, I stopped by his office. Rex took a moment for me out of his busy day, as I wept at pain from rheumatoid arthritis in the ankle of one leg and the knee of my other leg. I explained to him, through tears of distress, that no matter what leg I step forward with, my pain was mind-numbing. My burden was heavy. I was frustrated, anxious and overwhelmed.

He pulled a chair up to face me in my seat, reached down and lifted my ankle, holding it to rest on his thigh and placed his other hand on the knee of my opposite leg. We just sat facing each other, heads bowed, for several minutes and breathed together. Rex let out a gentle sigh, asked me to look him in the eyes, and said: "Syl, I am gonna hold some of your pain for the day, just know I am here and have some of your load with me, and that I love you." At that moment I felt my burden lift a bit, we embraced, and I went on with my day, in less struggle.

In his hospital room, this past summer, I sat gently holding the back of his head, where he now struggled for breath, and said to him: "Rex, I want you to breathe with me, just follow my inhale and exhale". Not one drop of the significance of this moment was lost on me.

I explained to the others in the room (because of the intimacy of the situation), that in my work, when I feel like the healing I can offer my partner falls short of their need, that I visualize my breath with the woman at the well, from the bible.

I told Rex that on my inhale I was drinking in the living water, that comes from the Savior. It flows infinite, so filling me up and spilling over through us both, as we exhale together.  I was aware of his sweet diligence at mirroring his breath to mine and could feel that he knew and was doing what I suggested. 

Several moments of breathing with him passed (as I cradled his head in one hand, with my other hand gently resting on his heart).  The energy of the room shifted into a calmer space, where his labored breathing eased. So sacred, stillness beyond my own comprehension by the time I left him settling into sleep.

Nearly 10 days later, I stepped off the elevator to find that Rex was dying.  

I asked permission to stay, and felt my back against the wall as I lowered myself to a squat and placed my hands in Namaste at my forehead, and dropped into the woman at the well breath

I sent all the faith and strength my heart could muster, as I worked the life-force of "Living Water" in my breath.  My eyes closed, I exhaled this visualization through Rex as deeply as I could. Within a half hour he had passed. So sacred, such stillness...

It took me several days to realize that, as he was crossing the veil, I was yet again sharing this deeply spiritual space, as his breath transformed from mortal air into the reality of the breath of living water, of eternal light.

Recently one evening, following his funeral, I found myself looking at the printed program. The top of the back of the program had a scripture reference with the caption: "We love him because he loved us first - John 4:19". Puzzled I turned to John 4:19 in my bible and found the reference on the program to be a slight misprint, (as there are many chapters of John in the New Testament).   The John 4:19, I had inadvertently turned to was actually a verse from the story of the Woman at the Well, where she said to Christ: "Sir I perceive that thou art a prophet". A moment of recognition.

From my life experience, I would surmise, that the breath of life flows far beyond mortality.  I would have to say that I believe that our body doesn't die because we cease breathing, but that we lay it down in order to continue the breath of life beyond the limitations of our physical experience, held in time.   As we move beyond this limited corridor, the eb and flow, the inhale and exhale, becomes more real, in ways the finite mind can not fully grasp.

I would also add, that in the passing of those we love and are loved by in return, this breath can be a thread of gratitude, that quenches the unquenchable thirsts of grieving and loss.

So as it sunk in, that turning to a different passage, than the  one quoted on the page may not have been just a random coincidence, I marveled in the pages of the story of the woman at the well I had stumbled upon; on a lonely evening, missing him so dearly.  
In reading her story firsthand, I soon felt a familiar warmth wash through my body. I felt waves of comfort, adoration and appreciation, and there was nothing else to do, but simply accept the plain and precious synchronicity of the moment, as a very sacred "Thank You", a sweet message of acknowledgment through the veil from my beloved friend. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Clarity and Love

As the weeks pass since my beloved colleague Rex Kocherhans crossed over, I have experienced a plethora of incredibly intimate and sacred insights into what we would call The Other Side.

The most pronounced?

That the way we choose to live our lives directly affects how we evolve when we pass through the veil.

One of the things I love the most about my dear Rex, is that I don’t have to question what he is doing in some far off obscure place, because I feel him so clearly here now. I am reverenced at the glimpse into the reality of how clearly his work continues on both sides of the veil.

I have had people close to me die before (including my mother). I have, at times in the past, had a sense that they were close. It felt very quiet, like my mind was enlightened to the fact that they were there.

With Rex it has been different...Maybe it is the way we worked in tandem with each other in mortality, or our temperaments that were so similar, or simply the unexplainable ways we always seemed to be synched up with each other on a spiritual level. Whatever the reasons, since almost the moment of his passing, I have felt him with me, in a shockingly tangible way.

What I know for sure is this: In his mortal lifetime, Rex was GOOD, he did his best to be loyal, and strong, he had a profound ability to help others at the soul level, he valued emotional honesty, and he was ALWAYS in some quiet conversation with himself.

I was glad to be perched right next to him. We kept tabs on each other throughout the day, and I got to know his rhythms, and he mine. We took turns as one another’s wingman, and on occasion flew interference for each other.

One day he had finished with a client, and as we maneuvered around each other past the bathroom, he looked me in the eyes, and I knew in an instant it had been intense for him. Rex loved his clients, all of them, but he was certainly human, and as with any work, sometimes we all wonder if we are doing the good we hope to.

So at a glance, I wrapped my arms around him and spoke into his ear a few famous lines I recite to my son Tom, when I know he’s had a rough day:

“How do I love thee, Let me count the ways.”

... But instead of continuing with a poem I have never heard (thought it was Shakespeare), I instead just count really fast, in a distinctively British voice:

“One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, NINE...and on.”

We both chuckled and he said quietly in my ear: “Thanks Syl”, before letting go, I could feel his mood had lifted.

In the future, this little interchange would become a running joke to the point that, when he would give me a squeeze, all I would have to do would be to count from one to twenty really fast, he would be quick to catch my meaning, and we would both chuckle and go on with our day.

So I recently experienced Rex in a dream. He wanted to thank me for the way I loved him during his life, and said he always adored me for my strength, and that he would remain close and continue to support me throughout my life. Lastly, as I felt his familiar warmth and goodness, he told me to study the poet Elizabeth Barrette Browning: “Study her life and her poety, Syl”. He said.

The next evening I googled her and was delighted to the point of laughter when the first poem that came up revealed the line:

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

by the last line of the poem I was in tears as I read:

“--- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee even better after death.”

Of course, true to himself Rex was coming through clearly. Every bit as clearly as in mortality. This is only one of many instances where we have been dancing through the veil, in a similar way that we used to jostle around one another in our little upstairs office.

The very things I loved and admired about him before his passing, continue now beyond what we all seem to take for granted, as our only reality.

In truth the so-called “spirit realm” is right here surrounding us. We only need to be capable of attuning to one another...whatever side of the veil we happen to be on in the moment.

Bless you my friend, you are still giving us all so many reasons to Love you. Thank You!

(by the way, I think it is safe to say that Rex has certainly crossed paths with EBB. Interestingly, Elisabeth Browning and Rex's funerals were held on the same day, July 1st.)